Dover: The Home of NASCAR's Most Touching Story
It was June 4,1995. Former championship winning crew chief Barry Dodson was sitting on top of his pit box on a gloomy Sunday morning, sitting by himself, and thinking about what crazy things went on in his life before this.
Dodson's life and career had its ups and downs. In 1989, he had won a championship with driver Rusty Wallace for Blue Max Racing.
It was a solid feeling for Dodson, who watched his best friend Randy Owens die in 1975 in a water tank explosion. Dodson watched his best friend fly 100 feet in the air and there was nothing he could do about it.
Dodson said it was a long ride home to tell Owens's kids and family what happened. From then on, he raised Owens's two boys and adopted them. They would go on to live happy, healthy lives.
If that wasn't enough, it was an accident in 1994 that would haunt the crew chief for the rest of his life. That's when his 17-year-old son, Trey, and his 16-year-old daughter, Tia, were killed in an alcohol-related car accident.
Dodson was stunned. Trey was a promising young left handed pitcher at his high school and was going to get drafted by the majors the following year. His daughter Tia was an excellent cheerleader. Both were killed in the prime of their lives by a senseless act.
Dodson was a mess. Not only that, but his career was coming to a screaming halt. He was the crew chief for Kyle Petty's No. 42 Coors Light Pontiac for Sabco Racing, and the No. 42 was struggling.
Coming into Dover, six of Pett's last seven finishes were 28th or worse, making Dodson think he was going to lose his job. Petty was starting 37th for the Miller Genuine Draft 500, and he was a long shot to win.
So here was Dodson, sitting on the pit box, confused as confused could be when all of a sudden the clouds opened up. Dodson, being the religious man he is, began to pray.
"Trey, Tia. I know it's asking a lot but can you just make have a nice solid run, I would really appreciate it."
Then, like in a movie, the clouds closed.
Dodson wasn't sure what to make of his prayer, but it all started to make sense as the day would continue to unfold. A lap-one accident that caused 20 cars to wreck on Dover's newly paved concrete would slingshot Petty towards the front.
It was on lap 232 that Kyle Petty would take the lead from Dale Earnhardt and never look back. Petty led 271 of the 500 laps at Dover that afternoon, dominating the event and making Dodson's prayer come true.
Dodson has said he has never prayed to his children again, knowing that they are with him forever.
Dodson is now the crew chief for Gabi DiCarlo's ARCA/Remax Series team, but it was a day at Dover Downs that would mark NASCAR's most touching story. It will be remembered in the heart of race fans, forever.
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