Memorable moments at Bristol
By Staff Report | Monday, April 11, 2022
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Bristol Motor Speedway has been home to many memorable moments in NASCAR. We take a look back at some of the sport's top moments at the .533-mile track ahead of its second foray as a dirt track on Sunday (7 p.m., FOX, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).
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July 30, 1961: Jack Smith won the first NASCAR Cup Series (then-NASCAR Grand National) race at Bristol Motor Speedway (then-Bristol International Speedway), though Johnny Allen was in the driver's seat when the car passed the start-finish line. Smith drove the first 290 laps then had to have Allen take over as his relief driver.
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April 1, 1979: NASCAR Hall of Famer Dale Earnhardt earned his first premier series win at Bristol Motor Speedway at 27 years old.
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April 8, 1990: It came down to the final 10 laps of the Valleydale Meats 500 as NASCAR veterans Davey Allison, Mark Martin, Sterling Marlin and Ricky Rudd ran 1-2-3-4 in a straight line, separated by just inches. Rudd got too aggressive heading into Turn 1, which sent Marlin into the outside wall. Allison and Martin then charged to the start-finish line as Martin went low and careened back up the track, colliding with Allison just as the two hit the line. NASCAR declared Allison the winner after reviewing photo and video evidence.
ISC Images and Archives via Getty Images
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Aug. 29, 1992: Darrell Waltrip (seen here with Davey Allison in 1992) won for the 12th and final time in NASCAR Cup Series competition at Bristol Motor Speedway. Waltrip's 12 wins at the .533-mile track are the most among all competitors in the top series.
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April 13, 1997: Rusty Wallace had led 240 laps, hopeful to close in on another win at the .533-miler. That was until Jeff Gordon closed in on his fellow NASCAR Cup Series champion. Gordon made several attempts to pass Wallace and eventually did so by bumping him on the final lap, sending the No. 2 Ford into traffic. Wallace later called the incident a "love tap."
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Aug. 28, 1999: Dale Earnhardt was in the lead on old tires and Terry Labonte was running fifth with a fresh set when Labonte charged his No. 5 to the lead, getting low past "The Intimidator" as the white flag waved. Earnhardt then got bumper-to-bumper with Labonte, spinning him into the field -- which collected several others in a wreck -- and the No. 3 found Victory Lane. Earnhardt was remembered for uttering some of the most famous words spoken in NASCAR: "I didn't mean to turn him around, I meant to rattle his cage."
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March 26, 2006: Short tracks have a tendency to spark short tempers, and the 2006 Food City 500 was no different. Battling for position, Jeff Gordon nudged Matt Kenseth out of the way late to better his chances of securing the win. Kenseth returned the favor, ultimately spinning Gordon out. The four-time champion tracked down Kenseth on pit road after the checkered flag and delivered a hard, two-handed shove.
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March 21, 2010: On the path to his fifth NASCAR Cup Series championship, Hendrick Motorsports driver Jimmie Johnson earned his 50th career premier win at Bristol Motor Speedway, celebrating the landmark victory with his No. 48 team.
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Aug. 21, 2010: Kyle Busch busted out the broom in Victory Lane, becoming the first driver in NASCAR history to win all three national series in the same weekend. This event produced both history and harsh words, as Brad Keselowski grabbed the microphone during driver introductions and yelled, "Kyle Busch is an (expletive)!" to the delight of the crowd. Busch then went out and won the race, earning the first tripleheader sweep.
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Aug. 25, 2012: Tony Stewart and Matt Kenseth battled for the lead in 2012, racing wheel-to-wheel and eventually getting sideways and sliding into the wall. But that wasn't where the dramatics ended, it's where they began. Stewart took his No. 14 down pit road and waited for Kenseth to drive past so he could launch his helmet toward the No. 17, hitting Kenseth's Ford on the nose. Stewart later said, "I'm going to run over him every chance I get for the rest of the year."
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March 17, 2013: Planting the seed for what would later turn into a larger confrontation, Denny Hamlin and Joey Logano got into it after Hamlin made contact with the No. 22 Ford's bumper, sending Logano spinning. Hamlin later said (echoing Earnhardt's famous quote), "I meant to run into him, didn't mean to spin him out." After the race, Logano greeted Hamlin by sticking his head in the No. 11 Toyota and lunging after Hamlin before crew members pulled the Team Penske driver away. The dust didn't settle there between the former teammates, as one week later, the two drivers were involved in a final-lap wreck at Auto Club Speedway, resulting in Hamlin injuring his back.
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Aug. 19, 2017: Kyle Busch completed the weekend sweep at Bristol Motor Speedway for the second time, holding off Erik Jones to win the NASCAR Cup Series race. Busch is the only driver to have accomplished the weekend sweep -- and after this day he set that bar even higher.
Brian Lawdermilk | Getty Images
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Aug. 17, 2019: Denny Hamlin chased down Matt DiBenedetto with 12 laps to go to win the Bristol Night Race. To date, it's the closest DiBenedetto has come to Victory Lane, and he shared a nice moment with Hamlin after the race.
Patrick Smith | Getty Images
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July 15, 2020: Chase Elliott won the All-Star Race held at Bristol Motor Speedway in 2020 -- the first time the track hosted the All-Star event. The cars for this race featured underglow lighting and the numbers pushed back a bit on the side panel.
Bristol Motor Speedway
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March 29, 2021: Bristol Motor Speedway transformed into a dirt track for its spring race weekend with the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and NASCAR Cup Series slipping and sliding around the half-mile track. The Cup race marked the first dirt race in the top series since 1970. Joey Logano took the checkered flag in his No. 22 Team Penske Ford.
Jared C. Tilton | Getty Images
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Sept. 18, 2021: Battling for the lead with 35 laps to go, Chase Elliott and Kevin Harvick made contact that cut Elliott's left-front tire and took him out of contention. Elliott later complicated Harvick's efforts and helped teammate Kyle Larson score the win, leading to a memorable and fiery pit-road confrontation between two series champions on pit road.