Pennsylvania 400 - Notable Moments

Notable Moments

  • The 1973 ACME Super Saver 500 was one of four stock car races (1971-4) at Pocono under USAC sanction. The first three were won by Butch Hartman, Roger McCluskey, and Richard Petty. McCluskey's 1972 win came in a Plymouth Superbird and came when the race was run in conjunction with USAC's Schaefer 500 in late July when a hurricane postponed the Indycar race.
  • The 1974 ACME Super Saver 500 was run on April 24, 1974. Buddy Baker won the pole and Ron Keselowski won the race. Keselowski is the brother of Bob and uncle of Brad (Bob's son).
  • 1974: NASCAR shortened its races in the first half of 1974 due to the energy crisis; the crisis had passed and in July races, including Pocono, were put back to their full distance.
  • 1974: Pocono was not listed on the original 1974 NASCAR schedule; a 300 mile race at Trenton Speedway was listed in several issues of Stock Car Racing magazine, notably the magazine's June 1974 issue. The Trenton date was subsequently switched to Pocono.
  • Pocono broke 40 official lead changes in seven of the first nine NASCAR-sanctioned Pennsylvania 500s (1975-7, 1979–80, 1982-3).
  • 1975: David Pearson's win came amid controversy; his Mercury, sponsored by race sponsor Purolator filters, was leaking oil in the form of smoke throughout the race's final ten laps but NASCAR waited until two laps to go to wave a black flag at him, by which time it was too late, since drivers are allowed to stay out for three laps before heeding a black flag. Under current NASCAR rules, if a black flag is waved within the final five laps (offside (illegal pass before crossing start-finish line on start or restart), out of bounds (below double yellow line on restrictor plate tracks or cutting a chicane), or inappropriate driving), and the driver does not respond, he will be assessed a time penalty that will be calculated into final results (often a penalty that moves the driver to the last car on the lap they were running, or a lap penalty).
  • 1976: The next year, 1976, Pearson led 14 times for 124 laps but blew a tire with two to go, giving Petty the win. Bobby Allison, nursing injuries sustained in a short track crash in Elko, MN weeks earlier, battled for the lead in the first 40 laps but during a pitstop took off with unsecured left side tires; they fell off in the track's Tunnel Turn. The lead changed 47 times among eight drivers.
  • 1977: The 1977 running was sponsored by Coca Cola. Darrell Waltrip won the pole, his first on a superspeedway (photos from the race were used by Sports Illustrated in an October piece on Waltrip). The lead changed 46 times among seven drivers as Benny Parsons held off a late charge from Richard Petty for the win.
  • 1979: The 1979 running saw the most lead changes (55) in the track's history. Dale Earnhardt suffered serious injuries on Lap 93 when his Chevrolet shot into the boilerplate wall in Turn Two. Darrell Waltrip pitted under a late yellow for tires, dropping him from third to seventh; the race never restarted and Waltrip's pitstop cost him 19 points; he would lose the 1979 season championship by 11 points. (Currently, if a caution period exists with two laps remaining, the race a two-lap sprint; if during the first two-lap sprint a caution period occurs during the first lap, there will be a second attempt; if it occurs during the first lap again, a third attempt will be made. At any time during the third attempt there is a caution, the race is over.)
  • 1980: In 1980, Petty broke his neck in a huge crash in Turn Two with Waltrip and Chuck Bown. Neil Bonnett escaped with the win on the final lap as Buddy Baker forearmed alongside up high but Cale Yarborough pushed Bonnett into the lead and Baker and Cale banged together. The lead changed 50 times among ten drivers.
  • 1982: Dale Earnhardt's chest injury in 1979 was followed by a leg injury in a tumble in Turn One with Tim Richmond; the crash pierced the boilerplate retaining wall, requiring 40 laps under caution to repair. The race was a ferocious affair as the lead changed 46 times and on several laps changed three times in one lap. Richard Petty ran low on gas in the final laps and Darrell Waltrip ran out on the final lap, securing the win for Bobby Allison.
  • 1986: Richmond won the Pennsylvania 500 in 1983 and 1986; in 1986 he was involved in a crash in Turn Two with Richard Petty; he drove backwards to pit road and lost a lap, then got it back when Earnhardt crashed twice in a span of ten laps; he got four tires with five to go, then passed six cars before winning in a wild three-abreast finish with Ricky Rudd and Geoff Bodine. Neil Bonnett suffered an arm injury on the restart after Richmond's wreck; Morgan Shepherd spun in the Tunnel Turn and several cars plowed into the scene; Bonnett slid into the inside guardrail, flopped onto his side, and landed on four wheels.
  • 1989: The track's boilerplate wall was pierced three times in 1989 - in June Geoff Bodine broke his leg (and didn't find this out until days later) in Turn One; in July Jimmy Horton pierced the wall in Turn Two; during the lengthy yellow for repairs a jack rabbit got onto the speedway near the start-finish line; it escaped initial attempt at capture by the track safety crew but was caught unharmed minutes later and released into the nearby forest. Later in the race in One Greg Sacks and Lake Speed hammered the wall in One and Sacks took a wild tumble reminiscent of Earnhardt's 1982 flip. The boilerplate was replaced by concrete in 1990. Geoff Bodine and Rusty Wallace battled on and off throughout the 500, but Bill Elliott ran both down in the final 20 laps; Bodine spun out of second with 15 to go, then with seven to go Wallace skidded through the Tunnel Turn and Elliott took the win, tying him with Richmond for most wins at Pocono.
  • 1990: Bodine won the Pennsylvania 500 twice, in 1990 driving for Junior Johnson and in 1994 driving the car formerly owned by Alan Kulwicki. His 1990 win came in a spirited contest; the lead changed four times on Lap 117 between Bodine and Davey Allison and three times on Lap 180 between Bodine, Allison, and Rusty Wallace.
  • 1993: Dale Earnhardt won after a spirited affair; on several laps the lead changed twice to three times in a single lap between him, Ernie Irvan, Kyle Petty, Dale Jarrett, and a surprising Brett Bodine. Following the race he was given a Robert Yates Racing #28 flag and flew it while slowly driving clockwise around the track, a tribute to Davey Allison who had died in a helicopter accident days earlier, and Alan Kulwicki, who had died in a plane crash in April.
  • 1995: Dale Jarrett scored his first win for Robert Yates in the 1995 race; he won it again in 1997. The 1995 running was the most competitive (37 lead changes among 13 drivers) since 1983 and once again the lead changed twice a lap on several laps.
  • 2000: Jeremy Mayfield who won in June at Pocono, was well on his to a season sweep of Pocono in 2000. He and teammate Rusty Wallace were battling for the lead in the final laps, when on the final lap, Mayfield blew a tire going into the tunnel turn, allowing Wallace to squirt by and score the upset.
  • 2002: Bill Elliott became Pocono's first five-time winner in 2002's Pennsylvania 500.
  • 2007: Kurt Busch dominated the 2007 race, leading a race record 175 laps. It is the final Pocono race before the debut of NASCAR's Car of Tomorrow.
  • 2009: Denny Hamlin won the 2009 running after rain postponed the race from Sunday to Monday. Pocono had debuted NASCAR's double-file restart rule in June; in August it helped Hamlin gain positions with the leaders sometimes racing four abreast.
  • 2010: Greg Biffle took two tires on the race's final pit stop to grab the lead; his victory snapped a 64-race winless streak. It also came in the first Cup race following a plane crash that left team owner Jack Roush hospitalized. Elliott Sadler, a day removed from winning the Camping World Trucks Series debut at Pocono, was involved in an enormous melee behind the crash of Kurt Busch; Sadler was spun out and punched the inside guardrail so savagely it ripped the engine out of his car and threw it several hundred feet (the crash was only caught on camera partially as ESPN cameras were trained on Busch). The race itself began with a 100-lap period under green during which Jimmie Johnson put half the field a lap down, but a caution at Lap 124 set up a wild second half with several bouts of four-abreast racing up front. It marked the first Cup win of 2010 for Ford, and the first since Jamie McMurray won at Talladega for Roush on November 1, 2009 in the 26 car.
  • 2011: Brad Keselowski, after being in a horrible testing crash at Road Atlanta earlier in the week, breaking his left foot and hurting his right foot and back as a result, held off Kyle Busch over the final 19 laps to win his second race of 2011. The race was almost called after 124 laps due to rain, but was restarted. On the final lap Jimmie Johnson and Kurt Busch made contact on the backstretch when Johnson drove into him. The two exchanged heat in an argument on pit road after the race.
  • 2012: Tragedy marred a rain-shortened 400-miler; a heavy thunderstorm ended the race well short of the distance and lightning struck the northern parking lot; one spectator was killed and nearly a dozen others injured. Rain had delayed the start some two hours, and Denny Hamlin fought with pole-sitter Juan Pablo Montoya for the lead. Jimmie Johnson would lead the most laps, but would wreck with Matt Kenseth on Lap 91, giving Jeff Gordon the victory, as well as his sixth victory at Pocono, the most at the track.

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