Steve Wallace at Daytona 500: A Look at The Top Families In Daytona History

Sandra MacWattersCorrespondent IFebruary 1, 2011

Steve Wallace at Daytona 500: A Look at The Top Families In Daytona History

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    Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images

    The Daytona 500, known as "The Great American Race" is bookmarked in NASCAR history each and every time it is run not only for the prestige it brings the winning driver, but for all the ancillary stories that accompany the race considered the Super Bowl of the sport.

    Many of the stories that carry significant importance revolve around multiple generations of a family and their relationship to the Daytona 500.

    For some it is about victory, tragedy, controversy, first time attempts in the great race and a plethora of stories that play out during the Daytona 500. 

    The potential for drama lurks on each and every lap.  The importance of this race to the drivers involved is amplified over that of any other race on the circuit.

    This year one more family member will join a list that includes his father and uncles who have raced in the Daytona 500, though none have been fortunate enough to capture a win. 

    Steve Wallace, son of 1989 Winston Cup (Sprint Cup) Champion, Rusty Wallace, will debut in the NASCAR Sprint Cup series on the new surface of Daytona International Speedway.

    There have been fathers and sons and brothers who have hoisted the Harley J. Earl Trophy in Victory Lane at Daytona.

    Emotional stories have unfolded from the announcer's booth with a family member calling the race when their son or brother crossed the finish line first.

    The Daytona 500 is all about prestige and history.  Let's take a look at some of the great stories that revolve around some of NASCAR's most prominent families.

Steve Wallace

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    Rusty Wallace Racing will field the No. 77 5-Hour Energy Toyota Camry when Steve Wallace debuts in the Daytona 500.

    For the first time in history a family has had four competitors race in "The Great American Race."  Steve's father, Rusty Wallace is the 1989 Winston Cup (Sprint Cup) Champion, but he has been unable to capture a win at Daytona.

    Steve's uncles, Mike Wallace and Kenny Wallace have competed in the prestigious race.  The Wallace family has been represented in 27 of the last 30 Daytona 500s.

    In a quote from Fox Sports, Wallace said, "As far as the race, my goals are simple:  to stay out of trouble, earn all the respect I can from the other guys and make sure the 5-Hour Energy Toyota is there at the end of the race.  The way restrictor plate racing goes, if we can do that, there's no telling what can happen."

Lee Petty

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    photo credit: flickr from yahoo/google

    Lee Petty, the patriarch of the Petty family, won the first Daytona 500 in 1959.  The race ended in controversy with Johnny Beauchamp in Victory Lane and a angry Petty protesting the win.

    It took Bill France three days to review photos before he finally declared Lee Petty the winner of the inaugural race on the high banks.

    His son, Richard Petty, drove a 1957 Oldsmobile convertible and finished 57th out of 59 starters due to a blown engine after only eight laps in that race.

Richard Petty

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    Seven-time Winston Cup (Sprint Cup) Champion, Richard Petty, has won the Daytona 500 seven times in 1964,1966, 1971, 1973, 1974, 1979 and 1981.

    Petty snapped a 45-race drought with his sixth win in the first televised Daytona 500.  Having amassed 200 Cup wins, Petty's final win came at Daytona in July during the Firecracker 400.

    He was the second of three Petty family members to race at Daytona.  Petty was inducted in the first class at the NASCAR Hall of Fame last year.

Kyle Petty

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    Kyle Petty, the pony-tailed son of "King" Richard Petty is the third member of the family to have run in the Daytona 500.

    Though this petty ran 829 Cup races during a 30 year period, he only had eight wins and never won the Daytona 500.

    The racing gene carried by his grandfather, Lee Petty and his father was not as dominant in this Petty, but he was part of a small group who actually had three family members participate in the Daytona 500.

Ned Jarrett

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    Ned Jarrett was the 1961 and 1965 Grand National (Sprint Cup) Champion.  He raced in the Daytona 500, but never won.  His specialty was the shorter tracks where he garnered 50 wins in 13 years.

    His son, Dale Jarrett, raced at Daytona many times and won the 500 three times.  It was an emotional father calling the race from the announcer's booth.

    He unabashedly cheered for his son to snatch a win from Dale Earnhardt in the 1993 race.  Jarrett later was embarrassed by his loss of objectivity and attempted to apologize to the Intimidator.  Earnhardt smiled at him and said, "I'm a father, too."

    Though "Gentleman Ned" didn't win at Daytona, his calling of the race with his son taking the checkered flag is just one of the many stories about family that are intertwined in the history of the Daytona 500.

    Ned Jarrett will be inducted into the second class at the NASCAR Hall of Fame this year.

Dale Jarrett

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    photo credit: allposters.com google images

    Dale Jarrett is the son of racing legend Ned Jarrett.  The younger Jarrett won the Daytona 500 in 1993, 1996 and 2000.  He was the Winston Cup (Sprint Cup) Champion in 1999.

    Jarrett has 32 career wins in the Cup series of NASCAR.  His 1993 win at Daytona is commonly referred to as the "Dale and Dale Show."

    The well-repected driver retired from points racing in 2008 after a race at Bristol Motor Speedway.  He addressed his fellow competitors saying, "Enjoy this. We all have our time in this and mine has been fantastic. To me, it has been and honor and a privilege to be able to race in this series and say I raced with and against and sometimes beat the best in the world. Thanks for allowing me to do that. Enjoy it. It's a great sport and you guys make it what it is."

Bobby Allison

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    Bobby Allison was born in Miami, but he and his brother Donnie went to Alabama to race for bigger purses.  He became known as the leader of the "Alabama Gang."

    Allison won the Daytona 500 three times, 1978, 1982, and 1988.  He was the 1983 Winston Cup (Sprint Cup) Champion.

    He is part that unique group who had three family members race in the Daytona 500 along with his brother, Donnie Allison and late son, Davey Allison.  In 1988 Allison finished one-two at Daytona with Davey crossing the finish line behind him.

    The soft-spoken NASCAR champ had another son, Clifford Allison, who was killed in a racing accident.  Davey was killed in a helicopter accident at Talladega.  Both sons died within a year of each other.

    Allison has 84 Cup wins and will be inducted into the second class at the NASCAR Hall of Fame this year.

Donnie Allison

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    photo credit: thatsracin.com/google

    You can't talk about the Daytona 500 without the fight that broke out after the final lap when Donnie Allison blocked Cale Yarborough as he attempted a slingshot pass.

    Allison, seen on left in the picture, started throwing punches at a very angry Yarborough.  Bobby Allison joined in the fight that made headlines and a great storyline for the first live broadcast of a NASCAR race in 1979.

    Donnie Allison never ran a full-time Cup schedule, but did have 10 wins in the top series of NASCAR.

Davey Allison

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    photo credit: sportscardforum.com/google

    Davey Allison, the son of NASCAR legend Bobby Allison, won the 1992 Daytona 500.  His career as a driver in the Cup series only lasted nine years, but he amassed 19 wins.

    1992 was a good year for him statistically. He had a good shot at the title until a crash took him out of contention at the Hooters 500 in Atlanta.  The year also saw him badly injured several times at different races.

    Upon his return to Michigan, where he dominated earlier in the year, his brother Clifford Allison was killed while practicing with his Busch (Nationwide) car.

    Allison was a very talented driver, gone to soon, when on July 12, 1993 he died at the hospital from injuries suffered the previous day when he attempted to land his helicopter at Talladega Superspeedway.

The Bodine Brothers

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    The Bodine brothers consisted of Geoff Bodine, Todd Bodine and Brett Bodine who came from Modified country in New York to run in NASCAR.

    Geoff was the most successful of the three in the top series of NASCAR.  He won the 1986 Daytona 500 and his record shows 18 career wins.

    All three brothers have raced at Daytona in Cup and other series of NASCAR.  Brett struggled with his career, but Todd has found success in NASCAR's Camping World Truck Series.  He also has 15 wins in the NASCAR Nationwide Series.

Wood Brothers

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    Glen Wood and Leonard Wood were not known for their prowess behind the wheel of a stock car, but they were one of the most recognized Cup team owners in NASCAR.

    Though the win record for this team is extensive with some of the sports best drivers, they have only four wins at the Daytona 500, 1963 with Tiny Lund, 1968 with Cale Yarborough, 1972 with A.J. Foyt and 1976 with David Pearson.

    The legendary No. 21 is synonymous with the Wood Brothers.  A tribute car to David Pearson was unveiled during the NASCAR  Sprint media tour which will be raced this season by Trevor Bayne.  Glen Wood's sons currently run the racing operation.

Darrell Waltrip

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    After 17 attempts, Darrell Waltrip won his only Daytona 500 in 1989.  The Kentucky native was the NASCAR Winston Cup (Sprint Cup) Champion in 1981, 1982 and 1985.

    His record shows 84 wins, 390 top-10's and 59 poles during the 809 races he ran in the top series of NASCAR.

    He retired from racing in 2000 and signed as the lead analyst for NASCAR telecasts on Fox.  He began his broadcast career with the 2001 Daytona 500 won by his younger brother, Michael Waltrip.

    His brother's win was overshadowed by the tragic death of Dale Earnhardt on the final lap.  Waltrip is outspoken on many topics regarding NASCAR and he pushed for head and neck restraints after the 2001 Daytona 500.

Michael Waltrip

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    Michael Waltrip, the younger brother of three-time NASCAR Champion Darrell Waltrip, won the Daytona 500 twice.

    Waltrip was hired by Dale Earnhardt to drive the No. 15 NAPA Chevrolet.  His first race was the 2001 Daytona 500 which he won after 462 consecutive Cup races without a win.

    His brother, Darrell, was calling the race and rooting for his brother to take the checkered flag.  He was also aware of an accident involving Dale Earnhardt.

    Waltrip made his victory lap and saw Dale Earnhardt's wrecked car, but he was unaware of just how serious the crash had been.

    He stood in Victory Lane waiting for his boss.  His joy of the victory suddenly turned tragic when he was told the news was not good about Earnhardt.

    The 2001 Daytona 500 was life-changing for Waltrip.  He did win the 2003 Daytona 500 for Dale Earnhardt Inc.

    Currently, Waltrip is a team owner of Michael Waltrip Racing.  He will drive a tribute car honoring Dale Earnhardt in the upcoming Daytona 500.  It is the 10th anniversary of the tragic race when the sport lost the Intimidator.

Dale Earnhardt Jr.

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    Dale Earnhardt Jr. is the third generation Earnhardt to race the Daytona 500.  In 1961 his grandfather, Ralph Earnhardt, filled in for Cotton Owens during the Daytona 500 and finished in fifth position.  His father ran the "Great American Race" for 20 years before winning in 1998.

    Earnhardt Jr. has 18 career wins in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.  He won the 2004 Daytona 500 for Dale Earnhardt Inc.

    Dale Jr. was running second, behind Michael Waltrip, with his father in the black No. 3 behind him trying to hold off a charging pack of cars led by Sterling Marlin on the final lap of the 2001 Daytona 500. 

    In an instant, Earnhardt's car was turned into the wall in an accident that one would expect the driver to walk away from, but the accident proved to be fatal.

    Earnhardt Jr.'s record of wins leans toward superspeedways.  Despite the tragic loss of his father at Daytona, he looks forward to going there to race.

Dale Earnhardt

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    Ralph Dale Earnhardt was a second generation stock car driver who became known as the "Intimidator" and the "Man In Black." 

    He won seven NASCAR Winston Cup (Sprint Cup) Championships in 1980, 1986, 1987, 1990, 1991, 1993 and 1994.  After 20 attempts to win the Daytona 500 and coming so close several times, he finally succeeded in 1998. 

    The highly respected driver was honored when every crew lined up on pit road to congratulate him after the win.

    Earnhardt won many races at Daytona, making the Daytona 500 that much more important. His record for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series shows 76 wins, 428 top-10's and 22 poles over a 27 year period.

    It was the last lap of the 2001 Daytona 500 and his cars were running one-two with Michael Waltrip leading and his son, Dale Earnhardt Jr. running second.

    There was a slight bump from the car to his rear and he spun into the wall.  This was the "Intimidator" and he had walked away from accidents that appeared much worse.  This time, the impact caused a basilar skull fracture that proved fatal.

    The driver of the black No. 3 was inducted in the first class at the NASCAR Hall of Fame in 2010.  The iconic driver was considered a leader in the garage area and he could always get the ear of NASCAR.

    Many believe there is a void in the sport that remains today.