Worlds Greatest Race: Day 3

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Voting: See bottom for simple voting instructions.

Today’s Race: RacingOne 500
Track: 1-mile paved oval in Tupelo, Miss. (just south of Threepelo, Miss.)
Race Length: 500 miles
Today’s Highlights: Laps 101-150

TUPELO, Miss. – Following a two-hour delay so that NASCAR could speak with each driver about whatever it is NASCAR speaks to drivers about in the big red hauler, the World’s Greatest Race was set to go back to green again on Lap 101.

Leading the pack at the restart was three-time Winston Cup champion Cale Yarborough, with Davey Allison and Junior Johnson close behind.

As the green flag flew, 40 of the best drivers in NASCAR history stomped on the gas… but only a few would get their machines up to full speed.

Coming out of Turn 2, on the first lap of the restart, several cars in the field began to slow because of shredded tires, and pulled to the inside of the track along the backstretch.

Not sure how they could have missed seeing any debris on the track – in fact, quite well known for seeing debris on the track that doesn’t even exist most times – NASCAR threw the caution flag and again asked every team to report to its pit stall.

In a careful inspection by the pit officials, more than 1,000 nails were found in the tires of nearly every competitor.

The officials then met in front of the giant tv screen in the infield to watch the replay of the restart. It was then that they found the culprit.

In slow motion, NASCAR officials, drivers and fans watched as the camera zoomed in on Tony Stewart’s Home Depot machine and caught the dropping of thousands of nails out of the back of his No. 20.

When the officials made it back to the Gibbs team’s pits, they caught crew chief Greg Zipadelli red-handed pulling everything from a ladder to light fixtures to a garden hose out of the trunk of the No. 20.

“We have to go straight from this race to a sponsor event down the road and just didn’t want to waste time loading up the Home Depot stuff,” Stewart said after hearing his team was disqualified from the event. “I can’t believe carrying home improvement equipment around in your trunk is illegal. Geez, NASCAR is so restrictive.”

On the way to his motor home, Stewart slapped a recorder out of a reporter’s hand, slapped a pen out of an autograph seeker’s hand, slapped a corn dog out of a vendor’s hand and slapped six beers out of the hands of some fans walking through the infield.

We’ve not seen nor heard from Stewart since those fans hauled him into their tinted-windowed school bus.

Deciding they’d better check all the other trunks before sending the cars back to the track, NASCAR began to inspect all of the remaining machines.

All went well until they got to Junior Johnson’s Ford, where gallons of White Lightnin’ were found.

Johnson, who left the sport years ago and returned only for this race, said he planned on making a few moonshine runs after the event to make some extra cash and figured nobody would care even if it was found.

“Heck, back when I was racin’ regular, we was all full of moonshine – in our bodies and in our cars,” Johnson said. “I’m pretty sure fellers get good and wasted on the stuff before racin’ today, too. I mean, you ever seen Buckshot Jones or Robby Gordon drive? You tellin’ me they’re sober?”

After the long delay – and the disqualification of two strong cars/drivers - NASCAR let the cars back on the track and went racing once again.

Over the next 30 laps, Yarborough, Allison, Richard Petty and Jeff Gordon showed their muscles and began to pull away from the rest of the field.

The best battles were in the middle of the pack, though, and only two other cars fell out of the event.

The first to fall out in this stretch of green was Herb Thomas, a two-time Winston Cup champion.

Rolling along near the back of the field, Thomas just pulled into the pits and then behind the wall, obviously done for the day.

“From the time I got into this machine today I kept hearing this voice saying stuff like ‘clear high’ and ‘keep it smooth,’” Thomas said. “We didn’t have no crew chiefs talkin’ in our helmets back in the day, and it sure would have been nice fer somebody to tell me it’d be happenin’ this time around. Scared the livin’ daylights outta me.”

Upon hearing that Thomas was hearing voices in his car, Bobby Isaac – who retired from the sport because voices in his car told him to retire back in the 1970s – pulled his Dodge behind the wall also.

“I’m supposed to be famous for letting imaginary voices ruin my career,” Isaac said. “How dare that Thomas guy try to steal my thunder.”

As the race approached Lap 150, the leaders pulled up on lapped traffic for the first time in the event. But as the leader – Yarborough – pulled up on the last car on the lead lap – Dave Marcis – a red flag flew from the flagstand.

Once again, the World’s Greatest Race would be haulted, and the cars were forced to stop in Turns 3 and 4.

It wasn’t found out until after the event, but apparently the purpose of this red flag was to give Mark Martin enough time to climb out of his No. 6 Ford for a relief driver. As it turns out, fans really did think and want it to be Bob Dole in that machine.

Unfortunately, Martin was disqualified for getting out of his machine before all the cars were completely stopped, and Dole was disqualified for refusing to let go of the Sharpie in his hand while driving.

(We’ll check back in on the action tomorrow, starting with Lap 151).

Current Running Order (Lap 150)
1. Cale Yarborough
2. Davey Allison
3. Jeff Gordon
4. Richard Petty
5. Dale Earnhardt
6. Lee Petty
7. Curtis Turner
8. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
9. A.J. Foyt
10. Ned Jarrett
11. Bobby Labonte
12. Bobby Allison
13. Harry Gant
14. Tim Richmond
15. Ricky Rudd
16. Rusty Wallace
17. Buck Baker
18. Fireball Roberts
19. Buddy Baker
20. Jeff Burton
21. Bill Elliott
22. Alan Kulwicki
23. David Pearson
24. Benny Parsons
25. Darrell Waltrip
26. Sterling Marlin
27. Tom Pistone
28. LeeRoy Yarbrough
29. Terry Labonte
30. Fred Lorenzen
31. Jimmy Spencer
32. Dale Jarrett
33. Neil Bonnett
34. Kyle Petty
35. Dave Marcis
36. Mark Martin (out)
37. Bobby Isaac (out)
38. Herb Thomas (out)
39. Junior Johnson (out)
40. Tony Stewart (out)
41. Ernie Irvan (out)
42. Speedy Thompson (out)
43. Joe Weatherly (out)
44. Tim Flock (out)
45. Bill Rexford (out)
46. Red Byron (out)
47. Rex White (out)
48. Wendell Scott (out)
49. Jim Paschal (out)
50. Tiny Lund (out)


How to Vote: It’s easy. All you have to do is send an e-mail to greatestrace@racingone.com and list the five drivers you’d most like to see fall out of the event (feel free to tell us why/how they bit the dust). Then, check back tomorrow, see what happens in the race and find out if enough voters agreed with you. Then vote again!!!

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