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1981 Mason-Dixon 500

The 1981 Mason-Dixon 500 was a NASCAR Winston Cup Series racing event that took place on May 17, 1981, at Dover Downs International Speedway (now Dover International Speedway) in Dover, Delaware.

1981 Mason-Dixon 500
Race details[1][2]
Race 12 of 31 in the 1981 NASCAR Winston Cup Series season
Layout of Dover International Speedway
Layout of Dover International Speedway
Date May 17, 1981 (1981-May-17)
Official name Mason-Dixon 500
Location Dover Downs International Speedway, Dover, Delaware.
Course Permanent racing facility
1.000 mi (1.609 km)
Distance 500 laps, 500.0 mi (804.6 km)
Weather Temperatures reaching of 69.1 °F (20.6 °C); wind speeds of 8 miles per hour (13 km/h)
Average speed 116.595 miles per hour (187.641 km/h)
Attendance 40,000[3]
Pole position
Driver Kennie Childers
Time 26.007
Most laps led
Driver Neil Bonnett Wood Brothers Racing
Laps 404
Winner
No. 90 Jody Ridley Donlavey Racing
Television in the United States
Network Mizlou
Announcers Mike Joy

During the preceding season, NASCAR had completely stopped tracking the year model of all the vehicles and most teams did not take stock cars to the track under their own power anymore. Only manual transmission vehicles were allowed to participate in this race; a policy that NASCAR has retained to the present day.

BackgroundEdit

Dover Downs International Speedway, now called Dover International Speedway, is one of five short tracks to hold NASCAR races; the others are Bristol Motor Speedway, Richmond International Raceway, Martinsville Speedway, and Phoenix International Raceway.[4] The NASCAR race makes use of the track's standard configuration, a four-turn short track oval that is 1 mile (1.6 km) long.[5] The track's turns are banked at twenty-four degrees, and both the front stretch (the location of the finish line) and the backstretch are banked at nine degrees.[5]

Race reportEdit

Five hundred laps took place on a paved track spanning a distance of 1.000 mile or 1.609 kilometres per lap.[3][2] It took four hours and seventeen minutes for Jody Ridley to defeat Bobby Allison by 22 seconds in front of 40,000 live spectators. This race was the only win for a car numbered 90 in the NASCAR Cup Series.[3][6] However, this victory was controversial because Allison's team blamed a scoring error for his loss (even though Allison himself did not actually protest the win).[7]

The winner would win $22,560 in prize money ($62,172 when adjusted for inflation) while the last place winner would take home only $5,980 ($16,480 when adjusted for inflation).[6][8] Two cautions slowed the race for 24 laps and the average racing speed was 116.925 miles per hour (188.173 km/h).[3] David Pearson would acquire the pole position with a speed of 138.425 miles per hour (222.773 km/h).[3] Darrell Waltrip got his Mountain Dew #11 Buick in trouble early when he lost it off Turn 4 and set off a multi-car crash. The Junior Johnson team managed to make repairs and get him back out there, with the high attrition rate they salvaged a 12th place finish and maintained their third place position in the points.[3]

David Pearson returns to the tour for the first time the Halpern team shut down after the owner's untimely death to take the wheel of Kennie Childers' #12 Kencoal Mining Oldsmobile. The new effort paired two legends of the sport with the Silver Fox driving and Jake Elder acting as crew chief with the pair winning the pole for this race. Unfortunately, engine issues started to arise as the weekend progressed so while Pearson led early in the time one a blown engine eventually sent him to the sidelines just after the 1/10th mark. The partnership of Pearson and the Childers team ended up being just a one-off effort.[3]

Richard Petty was another contender who fell by the wayside in this one.[3] He was running fourth in this race when a rear end failure sent the #43 STP Buick to the sidelines done for a 19th-place finish.[3] Elmo comes out of retirement in a one-off for Lake Speed.[3] Neil Bonnett was ahead by two laps over the entire field when he failed to finish the race after leading 404 laps; quite possibly the most number of laps led in NASCAR history while getting a DNF.[3] In today's NASCAR, it is impossible for someone to finish 20 laps down but in 10th place.[3]

All 32 drivers on the racing grid were American-born males.[3] Benny Parsons would acquire a last-place finish on the first lap due to a crash with Dave Marcis.[3][2] The lowest finishing driver to finish the race was Cecil Gordon; who was 42 laps behind the lead lap.[3][2] The tenth-place driver would finish 20 laps down from the lead lap drivers. In today's NASCAR, he would have finished more towards the middle of the pack. There was a "communications meltdown" on lap 480 which put the race in jeopardy. Ridley's win was considered controversial because Allison claimed to have "won the race"; according to NASCAR team owner Harry Ranier.

QualifyingEdit

Grid No. Driver Manufacturer Speed[9] Qualifying time[9] Owner
1 12 David Pearson Oldsmobile 138.425 26.007 Kennie Childers
2 5 Morgan Shepherd Pontiac 138.249 26.040 Cliff Stewart
3 21 Neil Bonnett Ford 137.826 26.120 Wood Brothers
4 88 Ricky Rudd Buick 136.773 26.321 DiGard
5 11 Darrell Waltrip Buick 136.333 26.406 Junior Johnson
6 27 Cale Yarborough Buick 136.276 26.417 M.C. Anderson
7 44 Terry Labonte Buick 136.081 26.455 Billy Hagan
8 28 Bobby Allison Buick 136.075 26.456 Harry Ranier
9 43 Richard Petty Buick 135.998 26.471 Petty Enterprises
10 33 Harry Gant Chevrolet 135.725 26.524 Hal Needham

Finishing orderEdit

Section reference:[3]

  1. Jody Ridley (No. 90)
  2. Bobby Allison (No. 28)
  3. Dale Earnhardt† (No. 2)
  4. D.K. Ulrich (No. 99)
  5. Ricky Rudd (No. 88)
  6. Morgan Shepherd (No. 5)
  7. Buddy Arrington (No. 67)
  8. Terry Labonte (No. 44)
  9. Jimmy Means (No. 52)
  10. Cale Yarborough* (No. 27)
  11. Donnie Allison (No. 77)
  12. Darrell Waltrip (No. 11)
  13. Neil Bonnett*† (No. 21)
  14. Tommy Gale† (No. 40)
  15. Cecil Gordon† (No. 24)
  16. Harry Gant* (No. 33)
  17. Richard Childress* (No. 3)
  18. James Hylton*† (No. 48)
  19. Richard Petty* (No. 43)
  20. Kyle Petty* (No. 42)
  21. Mike Alexander* (No. 37)
  22. Joe Fields* (No. 64)
  23. J.D. McDuffie*† (No. 70)
  24. Ronnie Thomas* (No. 25)
  25. David Pearson*† (No. 12)
  26. Junior Miller* (No. 79)
  27. Ron Bouchard*† (No. 47)
  28. Lowell Cowell* (No. 17)
  29. Elmo Langley*† (No. 66)
  30. Bob Riley* (No. 94)
  31. Dave Marcis* (No. 71)
  32. Benny Parsons*† (No. 15)

* Driver failed to finish race
† signifies that the driver is known to be deceased

TimelineEdit

Section reference:[3]

  • Start of race: David Pearson had the pole position to start things off
  • Lap 2: Caution called due to an accident involving Benny Parsons and four other drivers, ended on lap 13
  • Lap 18: Caution due to an accident involving Dale Earnhardt and four other drivers, ended on lap 29
  • Lap 42: Neil Bonnett took over the lead from David Pearson
  • Lap 57: David Pearson's engine just couldn't stand up to the pressures of high-speed racing
  • Lap 58: Cale Yarborough took over the lead from Neil Bonnett
  • Lap 59: Neil Bonnett took over the lead from Cale Yarborough
  • Lap 84: Cale Yarborough took over the lead from Neil Bonnett
  • Lap 85: Neil Bonnett took over the lead from Cale Yarborough
  • Lap 100: Cale Yarborough took over the lead from Neil Bonnett
  • Lap 104: Richard Petty took over the lead from Cale Yarborough
  • Lap 107: Neil Bonnett took over the lead from Richard Petty
  • Lap 161: J.D. McDuffie's engine just couldn't stand up to the pressures of high-speed racing
  • Lap 191: Cale Yarborough took over the lead from Neil Bennett
  • Lap 196: Neil Bonnett took over the lead from Cale Yarborough
  • Lap 297: Mike Alexander's engine just couldn't stand up to the pressures of high-speed racing
  • Lap 342: Kyle Petty's engine just couldn't stand up to the pressures of high-speed racing
  • Lap 412: Richard Childress' engine just couldn't stand up to the pressures of high-speed racing
  • Lap 448: Harry Gant's engine just couldn't stand up to the pressures of high-speed racing
  • Lap 459: Neil Bonnett's engine just couldn't stand up to the pressures of high-speed racing
  • Lap 460: Cale Yarborough took over the lead from Neil Bennett
  • Lap 480: Cale Yarborough's engine just couldn't stand up to the pressures of high-speed racing
  • Lap 481: Jody Ridley took over the lead from Cale Yarborough
  • Finish: Jody Ridley was officially declared the winner of the event

Standings after the raceEdit

Pos Driver Points[3] Differential
1   Bobby Allison 1900 0
2   Ricky Rudd 1733 -168
3   Darrell Waltrip 1694 -207
4   Harry Gant 1576 -325
5   Jody Ridley 1559 -342
6   Dale Earnhardt 1554 -347
7   Terry Labonte 1530 -371
8   Richard Petty 1455 -446
9   Benny Parsons 1402 -499
10   Buddy Arrington 1373 -528

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Weather information for the 1981 Mason-Dixon 500 at The Old Farmers' Almanac
  2. ^ a b c d 1981 Mason-Dixon 500 information at Database Racing
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r 1981 Mason-Dixon 500 information at Racing Reference
  4. ^ "NASCAR Race Tracks". NASCAR. Turner Sports Interactive, Inc. Archived from the original on 12 September 2010. Retrieved 23 September 2010.
  5. ^ a b "NASCAR Tracks—The Dover International Speedway". Dover International Speedway. Archived from the original on 21 September 2010. Retrieved 23 September 2010.
  6. ^ a b 1981 Mason-Dixon 500 Archived 2011-10-05 at the Wayback Machine information at Driver Averages
  7. ^ 1981 Mason-Dixon 500 Archived 2012-03-23 at the Wayback Machine information at Wilson's Race Report
  8. ^ 1981 Mason-Dixon 500 information at NASCAR.com
  9. ^ a b Qualifying information for the 1981 Mason-Dixon 500 at Racing Reference
Preceded by
1981 Melling Tool 420
NASCAR Winston Cup Series Season
1981
Succeeded by
1981 World 600