All-Star Memorable Moments
By: Jeff Wackerlin - @JWackerlin Twitter and Instagram | MRN.com on May 20, 2011 | 10:08 A.M. EST
The All-Star race was held under the lights for the first time in 1992. (Photo: ISC Archives)
CONCORD, N.C. - This weekend Charlotte Motor Speedway will host the 27th running of the All-Star race. The annual event has been one of the favorites among the fans and has produced many memorable moments dating back to when Darrell Waltrip went to Victory Lane in the inaugural event in 1985.
Charlotte Motor Speedway has held the event every year with the exception of 1986 when it moved to Atlanta Motor Speedway. That event saw Bill Elliott take home $240,000 after he defeated Dale Earnhardt by nearly three seconds.
One of the most memorable All-Star moments came in the third running of the special event when Dale Earnhardt pulled off the "Pass in the Grass" on Bill Elliott to win the 1987 edition.
In 1988, Terry Labonte battled back from a one-lap deficit to take the victory. In the final segment, Labonte moved from sixth to second in the first lap and then passed Bill Elliott on lap 127 and went on to take the $200,000 prize. The victory was the first of two for Labonte in the All-Star race, with the second coming in 1999.
Darrell Waltrip and Rusty Wallace provided some fireworks in 1989 when Wallace made contact with Waltrip in Turn 4 heading to the white flag. Waltrip ended up spinning off the track to a seventh-place finish, while Wallace went on to win the race. Afterward, both drivers and teams had words for each other.
Earnhardt returned to Victory Lane in 1990 after leading the entire race to become the first multiple winner of the All-Star race. He would go on to win the event one more time in 1993.
After winning in 1991, Davey Allison made it back-to-back wins in the All-Star race with a dramatic finish in 1992, which marked the first race under the lights. On the final lap, Earnhardt and Kyle Petty were racing hard together and as the two got close in Turn 3, Earnhardt’s No. 3 Chevrolet went spinning. Allison took advantage of the spin, and Petty checking up, and, with his Ford, chased down Petty to narrowly finish ahead of Petty’s No. 42 Pontiac. Unfortunately, Allison wasn’t able to celebrate the win after he was taken to the hospital after crashing into the wall as he crossed the line when the two cars came together.
In 1994, Geoffrey Bodine became the first owner/driver to win the All-Star race after he defeated Sterling Marlin. Bodine won $250,000 for his No. 7 Exide Batteries Ford team.
Jeff Gordon won his first of three All-Star races in 1995, but his most memorable one came in 1997 when he won the event driving the “Jurassic Park” car, which is among the most legendary racecars in NASCAR history for its revolutionary chassis design.
“I think it’s pretty obvious. The Jurassic Park win, all three stages,” Gordon said about his favorite All-Star moment. “I guess maybe not obvious because we won it the one year where we had the back-up car (2001) after the wreck on the first corner. But to me personally it was the Jurassic Park car that we had. Going out there and dominating that event winning all three segments is something that you don’t see very often.”
Michael Waltrip, who was driving the No. 21 Ford for the Wood Brothers, made history in 1996 when he became the first driver to win the All-Star race by transferring in from a preliminary qualifying race. Michael and Darrell are the only brothers to win the All-Star race.
“It was a great night to be able to celebrate with the Wood Brothers,” Waltrip said. “I remember when Eddie (Wood) and Len (Wood) and Glen (Wood) and Leonard (Wood) handed their car over to me. I thought that was a big deal and they trusted me with the family car – I didn’t get a lot of that when I was a kid. For them to do that and for me to be able to go out there and perform and win the All-Star race for them and us as a team was just one of the highlights of my career.”
In 1998, Mark Martin won his first of two All-Star races after Jeff Gordon ran out of fuel on the final lap. Martin's second win came in 2005 when he piloted a retro paint scheme to Victory Lane.
"I love this race,” Martin said. “It gets a little crazy sometimes, but it's always fun. Winning back in 2005, I have great memories of that night. I was driving a throw-back paint scheme, which I love doing, and it was one of my last wins in the No. 6 car. That was just a great night. I would really, really like to get back up on that stage with Rick (Hendrick)."
Dale Earnhardt Jr. joined his father as the only father-son combination to win the All-Star race after he took the checkered flag in the 2000 edition. Earnhardt won by 1.3 seconds over Dale Jarrett to claim the a little over $516,000 in winnings.
In 2002, Ryan Newman became the second rookie to win the All-Star race after he held of Earnhardt Jr. for the victory.
“We beat everybody on a given night in our backyard, not racing for points but racing for glory and money and it was a great win for us,” Newman said. “We weren’t even expected to be in the race. I mean we raced our way into the race and got the invert and walked away with it for a while there. It was a close finish at the end with (Dale) Earnhardt, Jr. It was just a great team victory and that’s what we’re here for as a team and as an organization is to put those events together and that always doesn’t happen like that. In an All-Star race it’s that much more pride.”
Jimmie Johnson won his first of two All-Star races in 2003 and became the first driver to win more than $1 million in the race. Johnson also won in 2006 over Kevin Harvick.
In 2004, the fan vote element was added to the race and Ken Schrader was voted into the All-Star race. Schrader would go on to finish 13th behind race winner Matt Kenseth, who won his first All-Star race.
Kenseth appeared he would win another All-Star race in the 2007 edition, but a pit road speeding penalty relegated him to a seventh-place finish. Kevin Harvick took over the lead on lap 61 and never looked back en route to his first win in the All-Star race.
In 2008, Kasey Kahne became the first driver to win the All-Star race by virtue of the fan vote. Kahne held off a hard-charging Greg Biffle in the final 25-lap segment of the 100-lap event to pick-up the over $1 million first prize.
The winning move came on pit road during the stop before the fourth and final segment. Kahne did not take tires during the stop to gain track position and that move paved the way to Victory Lane.
In 2009, Tony Stewart passed Kenseth with two laps-to-go in the final segment to score his first career win as an owner/driver and first in the All-Star race.
Last year, Kurt Busch bounced back from hitting the wall and went on to win his first All-Star race in his ninth start in the event. Busch took advantage of misfortune that fell on younger brother Kyle, and had to survive a rash of late race restarts to collect the $1 million in Victory Lane.
"This race is just an entirely different animal," Busch said going into this weekend's race. "It’s a 10-lap shoot-out at the finish, with a cool million dollars on the line. You can bet that things will surely get heated up and there will be fireworks for sure."
Following the win, Busch went on to become the seventh driver to sweep the All-Star race and Coca-Cola 600 in the same season.
Be sure to check with MotorRacingNetwork.com for the latest as we lead up to Saturday’s running of the All-Star race that is sure to provide more memorable moments.