Whether it's a crazy race ending, a career milestone, or a moment that transcends the sport of NASCAR, there are moments at the track that will stick out forever. Dover Motor Speedway certainly has a bunch of incredible, memorable moments when it comes to the NASCAR Cup Series.
When you have a one-mile long oval with 24-degree banking in the turns, you get a combination of a sprint and a longer speedway, with straightaway speeds that boggle the mind for a shorter track. It causes some crazy moments, and it drives some competitors nuts — and it's reflected in their behavior both during and after the race.
We decided to take a look at several of those past moments that jumped off the page to us, when we reviewed all the things that have happened since Cup Series racing first started at the Delaware track in the late 1960s.
Here's what we came up with, in order by year it happened (and PS — No, they don't all involve Jimmie Johnson, but he's in here a few times).
1969: Welcome to Dover
On July 6, 1969, the first NASCAR Cup Series race was held at Dover Motor Speedway. Fittingly, Richard Petty captured the checkered flag. He won an eye-popping (insert 2023 rolling eyes here) $4,725 and led 150 of the 300 laps in his 1969 Ford. As far as other notables, Wendell Scott took seventh place, David Pearson was in a crash and finished 23rd.
1984: Richard Petty Milestone
Richard Petty didn't win too many races late in his career, especially after his cousin/crew chief Dale Inman left Petty Enterprises. But, on this late May day in 1984, Richard Petty claimed the checkered flag and tied Bobby Allison for the then all-time wins lead at Dover (seven wins). He also won the first two races at Dover in 1969 and 1970, as well as three of the first four held here. Later in the summer, Petty won the final race of his career — the 200th with President Ronald Reagan on hand in Daytona Beach for the 4th of July.
2001: Post-9/11 Tribute
The 2001 season was a tough one for the Earnhardt family, but Dale Jr. made all NASCAR fans smile and undoubtedly get a little misty that year with the way he handled his father's death in the season-opening race at Daytona, as well as how he handled winning the first race after the September 11 terrorist attacks. When he won the Dover race on September 23, he was handed a giant American flag, and he paraded it around the track in tribute to those who had fallen in the attacks and on behalf of those who responded to the disaster. He was met with a loud ovation — and on that day? The American flag was much, much more important than the checkered flag.
2005: Crazy Finish
In what has turned out to be the narrowest margin of victory ever at Dover Motor Speedway, Jimmie Johnson edged out then Hendrick rookie teammate Kyle Busch to win at Dover by only 0.08 seconds. It was in the NASCAR postseason, too, adding to the drama of the moment. It was good, clean racing and once again showed that Hendrick Motorsports dominates at Dover. It's not the easiest track to dominate on, but they have.
2006: The Qualifying Save
A moment in qualifying QUALIFIES as one of the top moments (say that out loud 10 times in a row)? The answer is yes, Jimmie Johnson. The all-time track wins leader with 11, Johnson lost control of his Lowes Chevy while he was qualifying at Dover, and instead of destroying his primary car on the narrow track, he wheeled it back and forth like somebody who was strong with the force in a way even Luke Skywalker would respect...and he saved the vehicle. Everybody on pit road gave the future NASCAR Hall of Famer an ovation, and Jeff Gordon went wild watching it.
2006: Finally in Victory Lane Again
Around the first decade of the 2000s, the question in the garage came up frequently: what is wrong with Jeff Burton these days? The driver had captured 17 wins between 1997 and 2001, but then went into a stock car racing funk and couldn't buy a win with all the money in the world, it seemed. Finally in September 2006, his luck changed and he nabbed the checkered flag after winning the fall race at Dover.
2017: Jimmie Wins Again
Jimmie Johnson wins his 83rd overall race and his 11th at Dover — the best track during his career, wins wise. Nobody else in NASCAR history has more than seven.
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