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It was a great moment, one of the best of all time. Everyone was happy for Dale winning the Daytona 500, simply because he had tried for 20 years and had come so close, so many times, only to have something happen to keep him out of victory lane. It was a sight to see, the entire pit road, every crew member from every team, as well as every NASCAR Official line up to congratulate him on his win.
My personal best, was the 1976 Daytona 500. The race long dual between Richard Petty and David Pearson. The finish of that race was UNREAL! They fought the entire race, on the last lap, Pearson drafted past Petty going down the back stretch. As they came out of the 4th turn, Petty attempted to slingshot back around Pearson, but misjudged, clipping Person's front fender and sending both cars spinning and into the front straight wall. They slid down the front straight, headed toward the start-finish line, Petty ahead of Pearson and it appeared that Petty would slide across the line first and win. But both cars stopped short of the line, in the infield grass, Petty, about 300 yards from the start-finish line, with Pearson several yards further back. Petty's car had stalled, He tried to get it started. His crew came running out to try and push him toward the start-finish line. You could clearly see Petty frantically trying to wave them off, because he knew that as soon as one of them touched the car, Petty would be disqualified, as NASCAR rules stated that no car can receive any form of help/assistance on the last lap. Pearson had depressed the clutch of his car and had kept the engine running. He slipped the car back into gear and slowly started to move toward the line. Slowly he eased his car back up onto the racing surface, past the stalled car of Richard Petty. The front end of the car was badly damaged, the front bumper dragged the track, sparks flying. Pearson crossed the start-finish line, moving about 25 mph, and won the Daytona 500. I was sitting in the front stretch grandstands, where Petty and Pearson hit the wall, saw the whole thing close-up. To this day, that was the greatest, most memorial Daytona 500, as well as the greatest race that I have ever seen.