MRN Flashback: Earnhardt Holds Off Rudd

Dale Earnhardt and Ricky Rudd had some great on track battles and exciting finishes during their careers, with some of the best coming on the short tracks.

The 1991 Pontiac Excitement 400 at Richmond International Raceway was one of them.

Earnhardt followed up his win in the 1990 summer race at Richmond to take his second straight at the .75-mile Virginia track after he held off Rudd by 1.5-car lengths.

Both drivers combined to lead 304 of the 400 laps, with Earnhardt taking control in the final 75. But the race’s sixth and final caution on lap 393 gave Rudd one more shot at Earnhardt in a three-lap shootout. When the race went back to green Earnhardt broke away. However, coming to the white flag lap Rudd was at Earnhardt’s bumper and got him loose coming out of Turn 4. From there, Rudd was able to get to the bottom line in his No. 5 Chevrolet and the two raced side-by-side. But in the end, Earnhardt was able to power his No. 3 Goodwrench Chevrolet around the high side to the victory.

"Ricky was real strong there at the end," Earnhardt told MRN's Jim Phillips in Victory Lane. "We got to racing that last lap and he raced me hard and raced me clean. It was a good race."

The finish might have been a clean one, but Earnhardt and Rudd had a previous altercation on a short track that didn't end so well. In the last short track event of the 1980's – the 1989 Holly Farms 400 at North Wilkesboro – Earnhardt and Rudd found themselves battling for the win, but on the last lap Rudd tangled with Earnhardt erasing a shot for both at a victory and hurting Earnhardt's chance at a championship.

Rudd's finish at Richmond was one of 30 career runner-up finishes. Rudd's others where he came up a bridesmaid to Earnhardt came at Bristol in 1985, North Wilkesboro in 1986 and Rockingham in 1987.

"Earnhardt is tough, you never know if you've got him until you get to the stripe," Rudd told MRN's Winston Kelley after climbing from his car. "My car pushed a little bit getting into Turn 3 because I had to run an inside line and if it hadn't been for that would could of had him."

Earnhardt's win in the Pontiac Excitement 400 was his third of five career wins at Richmond and the first of four during his 1991 championship season.

Harry Gant, Rusty Wallace, Alan Kulwicki, Mark Martin and Darrell Waltrip completed the top-seven finishers in the 400-lap race, the only cars on the lead lap.

Kulwicki found himself up front for 48 circuits before having fueling problems. Kulwicki had to come back in under green while running third because they had an issue where all the gas did not get into the car on the previous stop.

Pole-sitter Davey Allison led 38 laps, but he finished 12th, two-laps down, after the handling went away in his No. 28 Ford.

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