NASCAR's Controversial Call Gives Ricky Rudd Win to Davey Allison: A Look Back
Very seldom do we see wins taken away in NASCAR .
In a NASCAR -sanctioned race, there have only been three instances where this has occurred.
Most recently, it was in the Toyota All-Star Showdown race with Joey Logano spinning Peyton Sellers and rolling into Victory Lane, only to have it taken away.
The other one happened in 2008, when Regan Smith controversially went "below" the yellow line to pass Tony Stewart at Talladega .
But one that may easily be forgotten was the one here in Sonoma , California, in 1991. It was the Banquet Frozen Foods 300K at what was known at the time as Sears Point Raceway.
Ricky Rudd started on the pole in his infamous No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Tide ride, and Rusty Wallace dominated most of the race in the No. 2 Pontiac.
But with four laps to go, veteran road racer Tommy Kendall (who was subbing for an injured Kyle Petty) , in Felix Sabates' No. 42 Mello Yello Pontiac, and Mark Martin, in his No. 6 Folger's Ford, were battling for the win.
With three laps to go, Martin and Kendall made contact, spinning Mark's car around and ruining his bid for victory.
Kendall's car blew a left front tire from the contact, and Davey Allison and Ricky Rudd got around him with two-and-a-half laps to go.
With two laps to go, Allison had about a five-car-lengths lead and seemed to be in command.
On the broadcast, Benny Parsons and Bob Jenkins mentioned that if Rudd won this race having started from the pole, he would get Unical bonus money, worth $45,600.
This money gave Rudd even more reason to get around Allison and win the race.
With two laps to go, on turn seven, Allison ran into some lap traffic in the company of veteran Dave Marcis . Rudd gained and was right on Davey's back bumper.
But like we had seen so many times before, Allison's car had a lot of horse power getting off the corner and left Rudd eating his dust.
Going into the final corner, before the white flag, Allison went by Marcis on the outside.
Rudd went on the inside of Marcis and got to Davey's back bumper. There were two cars battling for the same piece of real estate.
Rudd had the inside lane, and Davey tried to get in front of Rudd.
But with one lap to go, Rudd kept his foot in the gas and spun Allison's No. 28 Ford around. However, Allison spun his car around and remained in second place.
Rudd just needed to go around the course and get his win. All seemed well, as Rudd waved to his pit crew on the front stretch.
Then the controversy happened. Instead of the checkered flag coming out, the black flag came out for Rudd.
The Tide crew was infuriated as the checkered waved over Allison's No. 28 Ford.
It was a move that we've since seen many times at the track. The hairpin turn—Rudd just touched the 28 car.
That was a very, very controversial call by NASCAR , one that, if the incident happened today, would NOT have been made. To this day, 19 years later, fans are still wondering why the call was even made.
Still, Allison rolled into Victory Lane, and NASCAR didn't reverse the call. But the really odd thing was that Rudd was credited with second place.
Usually, when someone is given the black flag, their car is no longer scored, and they are not credited with any more laps. By this rule, Rudd would have been 18th, the first car one lap down.
Instead, he was officially credited with second place.
As the ESPN broadcast concluded, Rudd was in 18th place, and Rusty Wallace finished second.
But officially, Rudd finished second, which is just another really bad call by NASCAR ; if you're going to do it, do it correctly.
Well, there's no sense crying over spilled milk—it was 19 years ago—but it's pretty interesting how sometimes things go your way, and other times they don't. We've seen that move many times from one other particular driver with no penalty.
Hopefully, now NASCAR won't make that call, and will let the drivers figure it out for themselves, if anyone wants to pull that move again.
HAVE AT IT, BOYS!
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