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10 Memorable NASCAR Moments at Pocono

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10. Only in the ARCA Series...

It isn’t NASCAR — it’s ARCA — and these are old Cup cars anyway, so close enough. Ever see a stockcar Ollie a wall like Tony Hawk on a skateboard? Buster Graham might want to go X-Games if the racecar thing doesn’t work out, that is, if he can reliably and repeatedly execute this move, as seen in last August’s Pennsylvania 125.

by Vito Pugliese

9. Kyle Petty ... Born Entertainer

Before he became a color commentator, Kyle Petty was one of the top contenders in NASCAR in the early 1990s (arguably the best era in the series’ history). He won the 1993 Champion Spark Plug 500 over Davey Allison, with an “AK” embroidered on his uniform in memory of Alan Kulwicki, who perished in an air plane crash in April of that year. Petty video taped his 1,700-mile journey from Charlotte, up the Eastern Seaboard, and had the camera in his car during the race – even capturing a fan who ran across the track on lap 106. Petty and Allison narrowly missed the man who dove over the wall once he realized there were cars bearing down on him at over 160 mph. 

by Vito Pugliese

8. Elliott Walks Away from a Nasty One

Ever wonder why Kurt Busch had so much animosity towards Jimmie (“Five-Time Chump”) Johnson at Richmond last year? Find out here, as Johnson triggers a massive double-impact (sans Jean-Claude Van Dame) with Busch’s Miller Lite Dodge and Elliott Sadler — in what may be the most devastating impact in NASCAR history. It isn’t often that you go from 190 mph to dead stop in three feet and live to tell about it – or eject your Roush Yates powerplant, depositing it onto the Long Pond straight. Sadler’s impact into the earthen embankment is the highest G-reading measured since NASCAR began installing black box data recorders in the cars.

by Vito Pugliese

7. As Does Gordon

A testament to improved car construction, safety devices, and perhaps most importantly, the SAFER barrier, saved Jeff Gordon’s life in this severe impact at the June 2006 event. Gordon experienced brake failure going into Turn 1 at over 190 mph. He was able to scrub off some speed (but not much) by angling the car into the grass. Had he hit the wall without the current protections in place, things may have ended much worse for Gordon, who is ranked third on NASCAR’s all-time wins list.

by Vito Pugliese

6. The Tunnel Turn Claims Allison

Bobby Allison’s career and nearly life-ending crash on the opening lap in the June race was the first of many sad chapters in the life and times of the 84-race winner. Allison suffered brain damage, a bruised heart and a broken leg in this incident. A cut tire sent him head on into the wall and was then T-boned by driver Jocko Maggiacomo. It would take more than two years for Allison to get back on his feet – literally. He would continue further trials and tribulations, including a divorce from wife Judy and the death of his sons Clifford and Davey. Clifford lost his life on August 13, 1992, in an ARCA crash and Davey at Talladega on July 13, 1993, while landing his helicopter.  The story does have a happy ending of sorts: Bobby and Judy remarried in July 2000, reuniting and reconciling following the death of Adam Petty.

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by Vito Pugliese

5. The Youngster vs. The Vet

Many bemoan the absence of rivalries in NASCAR today. However, this video might serve as a fitting reason that may not be such a bad idea. Darrell Waltrip and Davey Allison had a lot of back and forth in the 1991 and ’92 seasons, with Davey coming out on the short end of the stick, first suffering broken ribs at Bristol, and this ridiculous wreck at Pocono in June 1992. Larry McReynolds, Davey’s crew chief, remembers hearing the radio traffic of drivers passing the scene, catching Mark Martin saying, “They better just go get a body bag for Davey …” Waltrip went on to win the race that day, and this wreck essentially cost Allison the 1992 championship. A bit reminiscent of the retaliatory strike by Carl Edwards on Brad Keselowski in Atlanta in 2010, Keselowski is often heard to say, “Man up and drive the damn racecar.” And Allison did just that a week later, with two black eyes (literally … like Beetlejuice) and a shattered wrist. The Robert Yates team had to velcro it to the shifter, as he gutted out a third-place finish, essentially driving one handed.

by Vito Pugliese

4. Junior Rushes to Teammates' Aid

Steve Park’s 2002 return to Cup competition following an incident at a Busch Series race at Darlington in September 2001 did not go so well for his 16th start of the season. On the opening lap, Park was blocked by Rusty Wallace, which turned him across the track and into the path of DEI teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr. Park’s Pennzoil Chevrolet began a series of tumbles and flips after going head-on into the backstretch guardrail. Earnhardt sprinting to his stricken comrade’s crumpled car is one of the most indelible images in Pocono’s history. For a team and organization that had been through so much the previous year and a half, it was a welcome site to see Park exiting the car and walking arm in arm with Junior to the ambulance. 

by Vito Pugliese

3. Dale Earnhardt: One Tough Customer

Perhaps one of the reasons “The Intimidator” also received the nickname “Iron Head” – this lap 134 crash with Tim Richmond at the 4:35 mark. Earnhardt ended up with a broken knee in the crash, and was helped across the track by Richmond. Pocono seems to be the track where if you wreck, the other guy feels sorry for you and helps out. Lots of great things in this video: Richard Petty with a massive lead, Earnhardt driving a Ford and mustachioed Mark Martin in his rookie season, with foppish hair getting a relief driver after the shifter boot melted and started sucking 800-degree exhaust heat into the cockpit. Marin later would have to relieve relief driver Ronnie Thomas. Bobby Allison would go on to win both events at Pocono last year, ironic considering it would also end up being his final race just six years later.

by Vito Pugliese

2. Mayfield Rattle’s the Intimidator’s Cage

Before he started testing positive for meth and getting caught with $100,000 in stolen property in his now-foreclosed upon home, Jeremy Mayfield was a pretty fair racecar driver. Clearly second in the pecking order at Penske, Mayfield was one of the Ford contingent’s up-and-coming drivers in the late 1990s and early 2000s before he defected to Dodge. This rain delayed race, run on a Monday afternoon, was a bit of a snoozer, with Dale Earnhardt poised to notch his second win of the season – that is until Mayfield decided to “rattle his cage.” While some Earnhardt fans cried foul, it was actually pretty clean and quite representative of what is considered fair in NASCAR these days. Perhaps more memorable than the win, was The Intimidator Mayfield know he was “No. 1” during the cool down lap.

by Vito Pugliese

1. The Late, Great Tim Richmond

August 13, 2012, will mark 23 years since Tim Richmond passed away, yet he lives on in the hearts and minds of fans who were around long before “Five Time,” “Green-White-Checkers,” “Lucky Dogs,” and even restrictor plates. As quickly as he burst onto the scene, Richmond was gone, a victim of his own rambunctious lifestyle, the ignorance and excess of the 1980s – and NASCAR. The first driver who failed a NASCAR sanctioned drug test for what was legitimate medication, Richmond was suffering the effects of HIV and AIDS, which would eventually claim his life in 1989. He was hospitalized from December 1986 through January 1987, missing the first half of the ’87 season. After winning seven races in ’86, the following year should have been the one when Richmond contended for a title. Instead, he was in a fight for his life. Making his season debut — looking drawn, gaunt and with a persistent cough — Richmond held on for the final 47 laps, hounded by Dale Earnhardt, Bill Elliott and Kyle Petty, despite a damaged transmission which was highlighted (as much of his life was) in the film Days of Thunder. Richmond also would win the following week at Riverside, the last of his career. He made one final start at Michigan the week after, coming home fourth.

by Vito Pugliese