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McReynolds remembers Allison with fondness

February 25, 2011, Sporting News Wire Service, NASCAR.com

Larry McReynolds said he and Davey Allison were more than driver/crew chief, they were best friends.

AVONDALE, Ariz. -- Duo won 10 races in two years before a helicopter crash ended Allison's life

Want to hear a shocker?

Davey Allison was born 50 years ago Friday, on Feb. 25, 1961.

"The thing that Davey and I always had going for us as a package is that we were best friends. We spent more time together away from the race track than we did at the race track. We had our sons baptized together."

--LARRY MCREYNOLDS

TNT analyst Larry McReynolds says he thinks of Allison almost every day, though Allison died after a helicopter crash at Talladega in 1993, nearly 18 years ago. In 1991, McReynolds had taken over as crew chief for Allison's No. 28 Robert Yates Racing Ford. The combination clicked almost immediately. McReynolds and Allison became fast friends.

"We had a chemistry, and it was there from the very beginning," McReynolds said Friday at Phoenix International Raceway. "I remember when we went to Darlington for a test -- I couldn't wait to get to a pay phone and call my wife and tell her, 'This is the most awesome thing that's ever happened to me.' It was just there from the minute I stuck my head in that window.

"The thing that Davey and I always had going for us as a package is that we were best friends. We spent more time together away from the race track than we did at the race track. We had our sons baptized together."

McReynolds and Allison won five races together in 1991, plus the All-Star Race. They matched that performance in 1992.

"Davey was one of those guys -- and I think a lot had to do with his upbringing -- that you really couldn't find a weakness in him," McReynolds said. "He was, obviously, a hell of a race car driver. No one had handed him anything. Bobby Allison [his father] made that boy work and work hard for everything he got. He understood everything about the race car. Quite honestly, he made my job pretty darn easy. Not only did he know what that car was doing, but he had a pretty good idea what he wanted done to it.

"I think back to the race we won here [at Phoenix] in '91. He'd been telling me for a day and a half what he wanted to do to it, and I kept wanting to go in a different direction. With about 10 minutes to go [in final practice], we did what he wanted, and we just absolutely wore them out on Sunday."

Allison's tenacity and his respect for race fans made a last impression on his crew chief.

"We had wrecked at Bristol in the spring of '92, and he broke three or four ribs. The next week at Wilkesboro, he was hurting so bad that we got Jimmy Hensley to practice and qualify the car. Davey only ran about 10 practice laps. Davey got in that car on Sunday, and the car was awfully good, and poor old Jimmy Hensley stood there in that pit all day long in the uniform [in case Allison would need a relief driver]. Finally, 100 laps into the race, I said, 'Jimmy, you're welcome to stay, but he ain't getting out of that race car.'

"He went on to win the race, and he was hurting so bad after that race that most of the photos and interviews that were done were with him sitting on the ground beside the car. Yet, when we were all done with Victory Lane, and we had our car in the garage tearing it down, I looked out on pit road and saw a pickup truck sitting out there.

"Davey was sitting up in the back of that truck, and there must have been a hundred race fans around that truck, and he signed autographs until everybody was gone -- well after most drivers had gotten home and had dinner."

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