Dale Earnhardt, Terry Labonte Battles Voted Top Moments In BMS Summer Race History
There have been many defining moments throughout Bristol Motor Speedway’s 50-year history. None, however, have left quite the impression as a couple featuring the legendary Dale Earnhardt and Terry Labonte.
As the iconic Speedway continues to celebrate its 50th anniversary through the Aug. 27 running of the IRWIN Tools Night Race, fans have been asked throughout the year what they consider to be the most memorable moments from Summer races. Two were overwhelming selections among the top 10 chosen. And both involved Earnhardt and Labonte.
Topping the list is the 1999 confrontation between the two. The duo battled for the lead for much of the last 200 laps, exchanging the top spot eight times.
By lap 490, it appeared that Earnhardt, an eight-time winner at BMS at that point in his career, had command. However, on lap 499, Labonte managed to get around Earnhardt. It was short-lived success however, as Earnhardt came right back, driving deep into Turn 1 to move around Labonte, while also tagging him, sending Labonte spinning.
Earnhardt, amid a thunderous mixture of boos and cheers, went on to take the checkers, and in victory lane made his famous statement about the incident, saying all he meant to do to Labonte, who was seething after limping home eighth, was to “rattle his cage.”
Labonte fared much better in the first clash between the two, which was the fans’ No. 2 selection among the top 10 moments.
It was 1995 Night Race, and Labonte, who had not led, but had stayed among the top five, finally overtook leader Dale Jarrett on lap 432.
But Earnhardt, who had led on and off throughout the race, was coming quickly. And with just a few laps remaining he was on Labonte’s bumper. He finally got into him hard enough on the last lap to send Labonte spinning but the Texan was able to stay out front and, despite fishtailing across the stripe, beat Earnhardt to the line. It was as the checkered was flying that Labonte lost control of his car, slammed the outside wall and skid backward toward Turn 1.
Labonte gingerly drove his mangled ride to victory lane for his second win, and Earnhardt, who finished a mere .10-second behind, had to settle for the runner-up position.
Following are the fan choices for the remainder of the top 10 moments in Night Race history:
- After leading for 415 of the first 469 laps during the 2008 race, Kyle Busch was nudged out of the lead by Carl Edwards, who managed to stay out front the rest of the way to capture his second straight August race win. Busch, however, wasn’t pleased with Edwards’ move earlier in the race and on the cool down lap, the pair got into a bumping contest, spinning each other out. The pair continued the squabble over the BMS public address system in post-race interviews, much to the delight of fans.
- Last year, after winning the O’Reilly Auto Parts 200 Camping World Truck Series race and the Food City 250 Nationwide event, Kyle Busch made NASCAR history when he completed the three-race sweep with his IRWIN Tools Night Race victory. Before Busch’s feat, no driver had ever won in all three national series in the same weekend.
- In 2004, Dale Earnhardt Jr., made it two in a row, becoming, at that time, the only driver to sweep the Nationwide and Sprint Cup events in the same weekend at Bristol Motor Speedway. Earnhardt Jr. led the final 85 laps and cruised to a four-second win over Ryan Newman to his first Cup win at the World’s Fastest Half-Mile.
- Much like the 1997 scuffle in the spring race when Jeff Gordon nudged Rusty Wallace on the final lap to take the win, it happened again in August of 2002. Gordon tapped Wallace, who was leading, with just three circuits remaining, moved him out of the way and went on to score his fifth Cup win at BMS.
- The date was Aug. 25, 1984 when Darrell Waltrip’s amazing streak of seven straight Cup wins at Bristol came to an end as Terry Labonte grabbed his first win at the half-mile oval. Waltrip, who led 144 laps early in the race before having problems, finished 21st.
- The historic Night Race was born on Aug. 25, 1978 and won by Cale Yarborough. Yarborough and Benny Parsons were the only two cars on the lead lap – and Yarbrough beat him to the line by 16 seconds.
- Morgan-McClure Motorsports, from nearby Abingdon, Va., won its first ever Cup race in the 1990 Night Race with Ernie Irvan at the wheel. It was Irvan’s first career Cup win as well. On the team’s 165th start, Irvan, who started sixth, led the final 90 laps and beat runner-up Rusty Wallace to the checkers by .21-second.
- No yellows at Bristol? That was the case July 11, 1971 when Charlie Glotzbach drove his new Junior Johnson-owned ride to the win in the only race ever contested at the World’s Fastest Half-Mile that was caution-free.
The IRWIN Tools Night Race gets under way Aug. 27 at 7:30 p.m., with qualifying slated for Aug. 26 at 5:10 p.m. The Food City 250 takes the green flag after Sprint Cup qualifying at 7:30 p.m. Action begins Aug. 24 with the UNOH Perfect Storm 150 at 6 p.m., followed by the O’Reilly Auto Parts 200 at 8 p.m.
Tickets are available for all four night races at Bristol Motor Speedway. Fans can enjoy both the IRWIN Tools Night Race and the Food City 250 for as little as $99. Should they be in town for the Wednesday night doubleheader, fans can take in all four races under the lights in packages starting at $129.
Single-event tickets for the IRWIN Tools Night Race start at $90 while ticket prices for the Food City 250 begin at $45. Wednesday night doubleheader tickets for the O’Reilly Auto Parts 200 and the UNOH Perfect Storm 150 are $25 in advance of the race and $30 Aug. 24.
Parents also can take advantage of reduced ticket prices for children as kids 12 and under can watch the Food City 250 for only $10 while children in that age bracket will be admitted free to the Wednesday night doubleheader.
To purchase tickets, fans may contact the BMS ticket office at 1-866-415-4158 or 423-BRISTOL.