NASCAR season is just getting on track! So as the 10-season sport gears up for another year, we wanted to bring you through the history of the five most memorable moments.
Tony Stewart Wins the 2011 Championship on Final Race
This win could be possibly the most unexpected in the sport. Tony Stewart entered the final race right after Carl Edwards. He was only behind by three points, but it was seemingly impossible to beat. That was until he did just that in the final race. Edwards finished the last race in second place, and Stewart tied for first with another racer. Luckily, because Stewart had more wins under his belt, he was awarded the winning points that earned him the championship over Edwards!
Richard Petty Wins 200th Race while President Ronald Regan Attends
No president had ever attended a race until President Ronald Regan in 1984. He gave the infamous command, “Gentlemen, start your engines,” while onboard the Air Force One via phone. He was on his way to attend the 4th of July race at Daytona International Speedway. In this very race, Richard Petty got his 200th win sealing his position as the driver with the most wins ever.
Photo Finish at the First Daytona 500
It is effortless to know who wins each race in today’s races, no matter how close they are. None of this technology existed in 1959, but during the inaugural Daytona 500 photos would resolve a false win caught by the naked eye. It was the first-ever Daytona 500 and the first race at Daytona International Speedway, where Johnny Beauchamp and Lee Petty raced against each other. It appeared that Beauchamp won to the naked eye, and NASCAR awarded him with the win. However, after reviewing photos and videos of the race for three days, NASCAR changed their minds. Petty went on to head the most dominant racing family in America and won 10 more races along with the championship that season.
Wendell Scott Becomes the First and Only African American to Win NASCAR Cup Race
Throughout his career, Wendell Scott was the target of racism. So much so that in Jacksonville, Florida, in 1963, he was initially denied his win in the elite Sprint Cup level series. NASCAR officials reportedly did not want a black man kissing a white beauty queen in victory lane. However, a few hours after the race ended, NASCAR admitted that Scott took the checkered flag and did it two laps ahead of the second-place finisher. Throughout the rest of his career, he won 100 other races, but none with the prestige of the Sprint Cup. He remains the only African American ever to win such a race.
Dale Earnhardt Wins Daytona 500 After 19 Tries
Who doesn’t love a good underdog story? One time Dale attempted the Daytona 500, he hit a bird, and another time he got a flat tire. When it came to NASCAR’s biggest race, he was not done trying. After 19 tries, he finally got his win in 1998. This win led to the most famous post-race celebration ever, with members of every team lining up to shake his hand as he drove by