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1984 Firecracker 400

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

1984 Firecracker 400
Race details
Race 16 of 30 in the 1984 NASCAR Winston Cup Series season
Track map of Daytona International Speedway.
Track map of Daytona International Speedway.
Date July 4, 1984 (1984-July-04)
Official name Firecracker 400
Location Daytona Speedway. Daytona Beach, Florida
Course Permanent racing facility
2.500 mi (4.000 km)
Distance 160 laps, 400 mi (643 km)
Weather Very hot with temperatures of 87.1 °F (30.6 °C) with 0.47 inches (12 mm) of rain reported within 24 hours of the race; wind speeds of 11.1 miles per hour (17.9 km/h)[1]
Average speed 171.204 miles per hour (275.526 km/h)
Attendance 80,000[2]
Pole position
Driver Ranier-Lundy Racing
Most laps led
Driver Cale Yarborough Ranier-Lundy Racing
Laps 79
No. 43 Richard Petty Curb Racing
Television in the United States
Network ABC
Announcers Jim Lampley
Sam Posey

The 1984 Firecracker 400 was a NASCAR Winston Cup Series racing event that took place on July 4, 1984, at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Florida.[2]

Richard Petty, driving the #43 Pontiac for Curb Racing, won the race. The victory gave Petty his 200th win in NASCAR Winston Cup Series competition, extending his longstanding record. It was also his final race victory before his 1992 retirement. The race was also notable for U.S. President Ronald Reagan's attendance.[3] The race was held on a Wednesday. The next NASCAR race held on Wednesday would not happen again until 2020.[4]

Racing summary

The "Start your engines" command was given by President Ronald Reagan from the phone on Air Force One, which later landed at Daytona Beach International Airport. President Reagan then was escorted to one of the main press boxes at the speedway where he was met by a number of reporters, one of them being Ned Jarrett, who offered him to do some play-by-play commentary on MRN.[3]

Of forty-two drivers on the grid, forty-one were born in the United States of America while Canadian Trevor Boys was the event's lone non-American entrant.[2]

There were three cautions for fifteen laps and the race ended under caution.[2] Dean Roper would make his final NASCAR Winston Cup Series start in this event. Dale Earnhardt would take over the championship lead from Darrell Waltrip at the end of the race.[5]

An audience of 80,000 people attended the race.[2]

Richard Petty indisputably had the best car in that race until his camshaft broke (which also happened to the DiGard car driven by Bobby Allison, which also had a Robert Yates engine in it). In that race, Petty drove from 34th into the lead in just 50 laps without hardly any help from the caution flag, and by lap 60, Richard was breaking away from the field when the caution flew for Bobby Hillin's blown engine. And then after a series of pit stops dropped him back, Richard passed Cale handily, which virtually no other car on the track at that point in the race could do, and was leading when his camshaft broke on the 93rd lap.[2] Cale could have passed Richard any time he wanted to, but he wanted to stay in second and draft by on the final lap, just as he had done to win the previous two Daytona 500 races.[2]

Notable entrants in the race included Geoff Bodine, Ricky Rudd, David Pearson, Dale Jarrett (his first start on a superspeedway), Rusty Wallace, Kyle Petty, Buddy Baker, Sterling Marlin, Tim Richmond, and Darrell Waltrip.

Media coverage

ABC Sports carried the race on American television on a tape-delayed basis on ABC's Wide World of Sports. Jim Lampley provided the lap-by-lap call with Sam Posey as the analyst with Larry Nuber covering the action in the pits.

Radio coverage was provided by MRN with Eli Gold, Ned Jarrett, and Barney Hall in the booth with Mike Joy reporting from the track. After President Reagan's arrival at the track, he joined the MRN crew in the booth for a brief period.

The finish

On lap 158 of 160, Petty and Cale Yarborough, driving the #28 Chevrolet for Ranier-Lundy Racing, were battling for the lead. While this was going on, Doug Heveron wrecked the #01 Chevrolet in turn one. The race was placed under caution, and as per NASCAR's rules at the time the caution period did not begin until the leaders reached the start/finish line. Petty and Yarborough continued their battle through turns three and four, with the first driver to make it back to the line also taking home the race victory as the positions would be held once they crossed and there would not have been enough time to clear the track and resume the race. Petty managed to beat Yarborough by a nose, taking the win.

Yarborough did not finish second, however, as he pulled off track too early and was passed by Harry Gant in the #33 Chevrolet. Yarborough admitted after the race “my brain blew up.”

After completing the final lap, Petty got out of his car and began heading up toward the suite level of the track where the President had been watching the race to greet him.

Top 10 finishers

Pos[2] Grid No. Driver Manufacturer Laps Laps led Points Time/Status
1 6 43 Richard Petty Pontiac 160 53 180 2:19:59
2 13 33 Harry Gant Chevrolet 160 4 175 Lead lap under caution
3 1 28 Cale Yarborough Chevrolet 160 79 175 Lead lap under caution
4 10 22 Bobby Allison Buick 160 5 165 Lead lap under caution
5 9 55 Benny Parsons Chevrolet 160 0 155 Lead lap under caution
6 3 9 Bill Elliott Ford 160 0 150 Lead lap under caution
7 4 44 Terry Labonte Chevrolet 159 11 151 +1 lap
8 2 3 Dale Earnhardt Chevrolet 159 5 147 +1 lap
9 19 12 Neil Bonnett Chevrolet 159 0 138 +1 lap
10 18 98 Joe Ruttman Chevrolet 157 0 134 +3 laps


A fight between Pearson and Richmond broke out in the garage after the race. Pearson managed to punch Richmond below the left eye before crew members of both teams and NASCAR officials broke the fight. While it was unclear what triggered the fight, it was reported that Pearson's car leaked oil on the track after blowing a head gasket and Richmond made an obscene gesture at him.[6]

At 3:00 p.m., President Reagan joined Petty and other drivers for a Kentucky Fried Chicken and Pepsi picnic. During the picnic, country singer Tammy Wynette stood arm-in-arm with the President on stage while singing "Stand by Your Man".[7][6]


Rumors later circulated that Petty's engine in the race was illegal, a controversy revived during Speedweeks 1995 when Autoweek magazine published a story alleging certain levels of favoritism by NASCAR officials over the years. The engine was built by DiGard Racing as part of a lease deal with Curb Motorsports, and on race morning there had been a dispute between the two teams over the lateness of payments; Richard Petty himself offered to cover whatever payments had been missed. Though rumors about the legality of the engine had circulated, especially in the ensuing year's Firecracker 400 when another DiGard engine was claimed to be oversized, though the claims were later denied by NASCAR, the consensus of evidence is that the engine was legal. In both cases, future NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee Robert Yates (Class of 2018) was the engine builder for DiGard.[7]

Also, because of the 1971 Myers Brothers 250, there is a dispute whether this is Petty's 200th or 201st win. The 1971 race at Bowman Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem, North Carolina was a combination race with Grand American and Grand National cars, Petty had finished second in a Grand National car to a Grand American car (Bobby Allison, driving a Mustang) that won the race; under current NASCAR rules for combination races, and in motorsport for races involving multiple divisions of cars racing at the same time, both division winners would be credited a win for their division. No win was credited in the Grand National division, and if guidelines for combination races were used then, Petty would be credited with a win.[7]

Conspiracy theories

Rival driver Cale Yarborough's premature retirement to the pit road has prompted conspiracy theorists to allege that organizers fixed the race in order to receive good publicity for the event.[8]

Standings after the race

Pos Driver Points[2] Differential
Dale Earnhardt 2359 0
Darrell Waltrip 2307 -52
Bill Elliott 2304 -55
Terry Labonte 2293 -66
Harry Gant 2229 -130
Bobby Allison 2210 -149
Ricky Rudd 2138 -221
Neil Bonnett 2100 -259
Richard Petty 2076 -283
10 Increase Geoffrey Bodine 2019 -340


  1. ^ "1984 Firecracker 400 weather information". The Old Farmer's Almanac. Retrieved 2012-07-01.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i "1984 Firecracker 400 racing results". Racing Reference. Retrieved 2010-11-20.
  3. ^ a b Perkins, Lauren (July 6, 2013). "The King, The President, and a July 4th in Daytona to Remember". Motor Racing Digest. Retrieved April 21, 2018.
  4. ^ "Primetime: NASCAR set for first Wednesday start since 1984". Retrieved 2020-05-21.
  5. ^ Dale Earnhardt's championship lead at Race Database
  6. ^ a b "Untold Stories of the '84 Firecracker 400". Racing-Reference. July 2, 2015. Retrieved April 21, 2018.
  7. ^ a b c "Throwback Thursday: 1984 Firecracker 400". Auto Racing Daily. Retrieved April 21, 2018.
  8. ^ "The 13 most stunning sports conspiracy theories, ranked". Yahoo Sporting News. 12 May 2016. Archived from the original on 27 September 2017. Retrieved 27 September 2017.

External links

Preceded by
1984 Miller High Life 400
NASCAR Winston Cup Season
Succeeded by
1984 Pepsi 420
Preceded by
1984 Budweiser 500
Richard Petty's Career Wins
Succeeded by
Last win of his career (retired after the end of the 1992 Hooters 500 race)
This page was last edited on 6 March 2021, at 23:06
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