2014 Marks BMS Milestones for Some of NASCAR's Biggest Names
A simple definition of anniversary is just that, simple; rather dull actually.
One such description reads: The annual recurrence of the date of an event that took place in a preceding year.
Ho hum, right? Not much excitement in that explanation. But anniversaries of certain events are special, usually because of the moment itself, sometimes because of the year: 10th, 20th, 25th, 50th anniversary.
We celebrate them. Even name them. Sometimes after precious metals -- like Silver and Gold -- to commemorate memorable times.
Spring often brings reflection as well. Warmer weather, flowers budding and trees blooming. So as the spring NASCAR events at Bristol Motor Speedway approach, let's look back at some anniversaries of moments from The Last Great Colosseum.
March 1964: Driving the famed Holman-Moody No. 28 Ford, "Fast Freddie" Lorenzen started second and finished first, leading 494 laps in the process, to win the Southeastern 500. Fireball Roberts started third and finished second, the only other driver on the lead lap. It was Lorenzen's second of three straight wins at Bristol.
March 1974: From the early to the mid-70s, if a driver wanted to win at Bristol Motor Speedway, he had to go through Cale Yarborough to do it. Yarborough accumulated nine wins at BMS during his Hall-of-Fame career. One was 40 years ago this spring. Yarborough led 367 laps and was the only driver to finish on the lead lap in the Southeastern 500. Bobby Isaac, Benny Parsons, Bobby Allison and Donnie Allison completed the top five, respectively, in a brutal race of attrition. Only 11 of the 30 starters were running at the finish.
April 1979: Thirty-five years ago this spring Buddy Baker started on the pole and three different drivers led more than 100 laps in the Southeastern 500. It was the driver who led the last 27 who made history on this day. In just his 16th career start in the "Cup" Series, Dale Earnhardt earned the first of his 76 career wins - nine at Bristol, finishing three seconds ahead of Bobby Allison. Darrell Waltrip, Richard Petty and Benny Parsons rounded out the top five finishers.
April 1984: Five years after Dale Earnhardt won on April Fool's Day, Darrell Waltrip did the same. But more than that, Waltrip's win in the Valleydale 500 was his SEVENTH in a row at Bristol - a streak considered today to be almost untouchable. Like much of Yarborough's success in the 70s driving for Junior Johnson, Waltrip's seven straight came in cars built in Johnson's Wilkes County, N.C., shop. Waltrip took the lead from Tim Richmond and led the last 44 laps for his historical win.
April 1989: Rusty Wallace's Sprint Cup Championship season was off to a great start and just got better at Bristol Motor Speedway. Greg Sacks led more than anyone and he and Wallace swapped the point three times in the closing laps before Wallace took it for good with 63 to go to win the Valleydale Meats 500. Darrell Waltrip, Geoffrey Bodine, who left Bristol the point leader, Davey Allison and Dick Trickle, in that order, made up the rest of the top five.
April 1994: Dale Earnhardt did not take the lead until lap 318, but he did he did not give it up, running up front for the final 183 circuits to win the Food City 500, ending a five-year winless streak at Bristol Motor Speedway. The surprise pole winner was Chuck Bown, starting up front for car owner Bobby Allison, well ahead of Earnhardt, who rolled off deep in the field in 24th . It took more than half the race for Earnhardt to work himself into position, but once he got there, it was over for the rest of the field. Ken Schrader, Lake Speed, Geoffrey Bodine and Michael Waltrip finished second through fifth, respectively. Earnhardt left Bristol in the point lead and finished there for his seventh and final series championship.
March 2004: Nine different drivers led the Food City 500 before Kurt Busch took his turn, but no one else did after that. Busch led the final 119 laps for his third straight win at Bristol Motor Speedway. Then like Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt, Alan Kulwicki, Rusty Wallace, Bill Elliott, Terry Labonte and many more, Busch parlayed his win at the Last Great Colosseum into a great season and a NASCAR Sprint Cup championship. Rusty Wallace, Kevin Harvick, Sterling Marlin and Matt Kenseth were the rest of the top five finishers.