Flashback: Earnhardt's Last Win at Dover
By: Jeff Wackerlin - @JWackerlin on September 28, 2011 | 9:47 A.M. EST
Dale Earnhardt recorded three wins at Dover in his career. (Photo: ISC Archives)
Dale Earnhardt padded his points lead with a victory in the 1993 Budweiser 500 at Dover International Speedway, which helped lead him to the NASCAR Cup Series title that season.
After Rusty Wallace took victories in four of the first eight races that season, Earnhardt took advantage of some misfortune by Wallace, gaining 235 points, in the three races leading up to Dover. Earnhardt took the points lead for the second time two races prior to Dover and never looked back.
Earnhardt jumped out to a 209-point lead over Wallace with his final of three victories at DIS after coming from a lap down to lead 226 laps.
After coming up short to Dale Jarrett in the Daytona 500 that season, the two drivers found themselves together once again. Earnhardt posted consistent lap times at the end of the Budweiser 500, but had Jarrett closing in on him in the closing laps. In the end, Earnhardt was able to hold off Jarrett by 0.38 of a second for his third of six wins in 1993.
"We were able to get our laps back with a good running race car," Earnhardt said in Victory Lane, "I tell you what, I drove the heck out of this thing."
Davey Allison finished third for one of his six top fives in 1993 before losing his life one month later in a helicopter crash.
Mark Martin, who would go on to win five races later that season, finished third after leading 25 laps.
Ken Schrader and Rick Mast rounded out the top six, the last drivers on the lead lap.
The race tied the most cautions at Dover at the time with 14. The current record is 16, which took place on September 19, 1993.
Wallace was one of the drivers that was involved in one of the cautions. On lap 427, Martin got into Wallace while the two were racing side-by-side. The contact sent Wallace's No. 2 Pontiac spinning into the inside retaining wall. Wallace took multiple hard shots on the front straight away including from Jimmy Hensley's No. 7 Ford, who backed into Wallace, and Geoff Bodine's No. 15 Ford that came sliding through the accident.
"He (Martin) got underneath me and just drove right up and wrecked me," Wallace said. "I don't know what caused it. His car might have got loose, or pushed, or something. But something weird happened. Mark is not that kind of guy so something must have happened with the car."
All three drivers involved were contenders for a decent finish, but Wallace, Hensley and Bodine wound up 21st, 22nd and 23rd, respectively, after the incident.
Martin took the blame for the accident after the race.
Rookie Jeff Gordon was involved in two incidents in the race with the first coming on lap 36 when he got together with Harry Gant. The contact sent Gordon's No. 24 Chevrolet to the garage where Ray Evernham and team went to work on the suspension on the right front.
Gordon returned to the race on lap 63 and went on to finish 18th, but not before a run in with Darrell Waltrip on lap 418.
"Jeff Gordon raced me in the corner and didn't give me any room and he slid up and spun me out," said Waltrip, who was out of the race and finished 24th.
Pole winner Ernie Irvan had to start at the rear of the field after crashing in practice. He was able to make his way up to the front to lead 13 laps in the No. 4 Chevrolet, but an engine failure on lap 153 took him out of contention.
Earnhardt's win was the 53rd of 76 career wins. He made 44 starts at Dover and is fourth on the all-time laps led list at the track with 2,151. He won the series title by 80 points over Wallace. Martin (-376), Jarrett (-526) and Kyle Petty (-666) rounded out the top five.
Be sure to join MotorRacingNetwork.com at Noon (ET) Friday to hear a replay of the 1993 Budweiser 500.