MRN Flashback: 1982 Virginia National Bank 500

Harry Gant

After a series of 10 runner-up finishes in the early years of his career, Harry Gant finally found his way to Victory Lane in April 1982 – winning the Virginia National Bank 500 at Martinsville Speedway. (Photo: ISC Archives)

After a series of 10 runner-up finishes in the early years of his career, Harry Gant finally found his way to Victory Lane in April 1982 – winning the Virginia National Bank 500 at Martinsville Speedway.

Gant shed his “bridesmaid” role with a dominating victory, lapping the field in the No. 33 Mach 1 Racing Buick – the only driver to complete all 500 trips around Martinsville’s half-mile oval. Gant started third in the 31-car field and led a race-high 167 laps – including the final 144.

Butch Lindley finished second with Neil Bonnett, Ricky Rudd and Darrell Waltrip completing the top five. Pole sitter Terry Labonte was sidelined with engine problems just before the halfway point of the race and was saddled with a 20th-place finish.

Gant chalked his win up to good fortune, with the victory coming in his 107th Cup Series start.

“We just had some good luck today,” he said from the Winner’s Circle. “You’ve got to have luck to win a race. All I was concerned about the last part of the race was staying ahead of the ‘01’ car (Lindley).”

Gant would win once more during the 1982 season, in October at Charlotte, en route to a fourth-place finish in the final standings. With a series-best 12 wins, Waltrip would claim his second straight championship.

This week, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series returns to Martinsville Speedway for the 65th running of the annual springtime race … known today as the STP 500.

Visit MRN.com on Thursday at 12:30 p.m. (ET) to hear the complete broadcast of the 1982 Virginia National Bank 500 from Martinsville Speedway, anchored by Barney Hall and Eli Gold. Motor Racing Network – “The Voice of NASCAR” – features a classic race each week on “Throwback Thursday” only at MRN.com.

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