When you think of Jeff Gordon and Rusty Wallace, the thrilling 1997 Food City 500 finish is quite possibly the first thought that comes to mind.
Bristol Motor Speedway served as the site for a few intense battles between the two NASCAR Hall of Fame drivers, who had finished first and second there twice before. Gordon edged out Wallace in the 1995 spring race, while it was Wallace who took victory over Gordon at the night race in 1996. But it was this particular race in 1997 that doused all the fuel on the proverbial fire.
After starting on the pole, Wallace appeared to have victory easily in hand with a dialed-in No. 2 Penske Racing Ford, but a late-race charge by Gordon turned the tide. Wallace had led 155 laps before Gordon took the lead for the second time in the race on Lap 355 of the 500-lap event at the .533-mile concrete oval.
But Wallace didn’t let Gordon get very far, taking the lead back from Gordon on Lap 415 after the No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet led 60 circuits. Wallace would go on to pace the next 85 laps for a total of 240, but it was the final one that gave him trouble.
Once both drivers took the white flag, Gordon’s fate appeared to be sealed with about a four car-length deficit behind Wallace. That was until Wallace caught a gaggle of lapped cars in Turn 2, allowing Gordon to run right up to the back bumper of the “Blue Deuce” coming down the backstretch.
At that moment, it was now or never for Gordon. Both drivers sailed into Turn 3 where Gordon made his infamous move, laying the chrome horn on Wallace just enough to push the No. 2 up the race track in Turn 4.
Gordon flew under the checkered flag for his 22nd career NASCAR Cup Series victory, while Wallace was able to salvage a second-place result by fending off Gordon’s teammate Terry Labonte.
Check out Jeff Gordon’s Bristol Motor Speedway victory after knocking Rusty Wallace out of the way coming to the checkered flag with this Classic Race Replay of the 1997 Food City 500.