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11 Most Epic NASCAR Moments at Richmond

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11. Biffle swings for Sauter’s face

Richmond has been the sight of some great racing memories over the year, either when it was a throwback bullring in the 1980s, or the model for all short tracks to follow going forward. Let’s take a look back and remember some of Richmond’s “rockingest” moments.

11. Greg Biffle swings for the fences - and Jay Sauter’s face

If the whole race car gig and dog calendar thing doesn’t pan out, Greg Biffle might want to ring up Dana White at the UFC for a shot at the middleweight belt. Check out the Superman punch he delivers to Jay Sauter following his admittedly deliberate wreck of Biffle in 2001. What, a double-axe handle didn’t want any of that? Lucky for Sauter, Biffle didn’t go Macho Man and climb the fence to drop the elbow.

—by Vito Pugliese

10. Gant wins first RIR night race

10.Harry Gant wins first RIR night race 

These days, Mark Martin is regarded as the resident badass old man on the Cup circuit. While Martin tosses iron around during the week, Harry Gant had his own Rocky IV type of regiment: roofing. Running bundles up a ladder in the North Carolina summer humidity was how Handsome Harry, at 51 years of age, rolled to his second win during a record-tying four in a row streak in 1991 – part of a five-win season. It was the first night race at the recently reconfigured .75-mile track. Gant, in the legendary No. 33 Skoal Bandit, won by four car lengths over the late Davey Allison.

View video here.

9. Stewart notches first career Cup win

9. Tony Stewart notches first career Cup win

Hard to believe, but Tony Stewart’s first career NASCAR win wasn’t in the Busch Series, but rather in his 25th Cup start at the 1999 September night race in Richmond. It was a drubbing to say the least, as Stewart led 333 of 400 laps after starting second. Check out all the room in that firesuit – even though you’re not supposed to wear white after Labor Day, you can’t fault Smoke for flaunting that svelte physique. 

8. Earnhardt don’t need no stinkin’ tearoff

8. Dale Earnhardt don’t need no stinkin’ tearoff

The 1986 Miller Genuine Draft 400 at Richmond, in its Fairgrounds configuration, may be one of the greatest NASCAR races ever ran. There is so much that happened that day that it’s hard to believe it was all contained on a .542-mile track that looked better suited to host a street stock race. It also makes the case for why NASCAR needs more short tracks and less 1.5-milers. One reason this race is memorable is this iconic image that helped cement the legend of Dale Earnhardt as a working man’s hero, going Jake Elwood and cleaning the windshield of his own car. Who needs a tear off?

6. Get some security, Kyle

6. Get some security, Kyle

There were two big free agent moves that took place in 2008: Dale Earnhardt Jr. left Dale Earnhardt, Inc. to join Hendrick Motorsports, while Kyle Busch moved to Joe Gibbs Racing from HMS. These two worlds – which could not be more opposed – collided at Richmond in April 2008 with three laps to go. After the race Dale Jr. remarked “Whether or not it was fair, he’s gonna need security … from all of us.”

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Click here for post-race interviews.

5. Junior returns the favor

5. Junior returns the favor

After having gone nearly the entire season without winning in 2008, Dale Earnhardt Jr. won at Michigan in August after being spun by Kyle Busch at the first Richmond race. The final race before the Chase was run during the day after being rained out and Earnhardt exacted a bit of revenge on Busch following their dust up earlier in the year. Might as well get it out of the way before the playoffs start, right?

4. Harvick come to snuff The Rooster

4. Harvick come to snuff The Rooster

Going into the final laps of the 2003 Chevy Rock and Roll 400, Ricky Rudd was trying to get the win for the Wood Brothers, attempting to get past the driver he had moved out of the way to win just two years earlier — Kevin Harvick. Rudd got into the corner a little hot and spun Harvick into the wall. What followed was a post-race altercation (action starts around 2:25 mark) on pit road that actually made the front page of Drudge Report the next day – even in the middle of the Iraq war. Not sure who I’d be more afraid of: Rudd or Pat Tryson, who looked like he was ready to take on the entire 29 team. Also, best (and only?) use of the term “yap-yap mouth” in an interview.

Click here for post-race interviews.

3. Wallace Spins Gordon

3. Rusty Wallace Spins Jeff Gordon

In 1997, Rusty Wallace got moved out of the way on the final turn of the last lap at his favorite track, Bristol. Going into the final laps at Richmond one year later, Rusty got a nudge again and apparently wasn’t going to let himself be put in the same position. The crowd seems to love this.

2. Final race before the first Chase

2. Final race before the first Chase

The inaugural Chase for the Nextel Cup was almost 10 years ago. Hard to believe it’s been that long, and hard to believe there was so much drama and frantic racing that took place over those 400 laps. Jeremy Mayfield (in much happier times) stepped up and delivered a clutch performance when it mattered, needing to win to squeak into the final 10th spot after Jamie McMurray blew up with 25 to go. This may be one of the greatest races — and most overlooked — races in NASCAR’s modern era.

1.Intimidator, Jaws & the Fresh Prince of Randleman

1. The Intimidator, Jaws and the Fresh Prince of Randleman

Back before he was the best NASCAR analyst on television, Kyle Petty was a country music singer trapped in a race car driver’s body. In 1986, the driver came out and won his first race at Richmond. Granted, it was preceded by one of NASCAR’s most memorable moments of the 1980s, when Dale Earnhardt and Darrell Waltrip took their rivalry to a whole new level. But hey, all that matters is who gets to hold the trophy at the end, right? This is short track at its best … right until Dale rattles his cage. Well, hooks his cage head-on into the guardrail. 

—by Vito Pugliese