1991 Daytona 500

The 1991 Daytona 500, the 33rd running of the event, was held on February 17, 1991 at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Florida as the first race of the 1991 NASCAR Winston Cup season. Davey Allison won the pole. In the first Gatorade 125 on Thursday, Richard Petty edged Hut Stricklin for second place, placing Petty third on the grid.

1991 Daytona 500
Race details
Race 1 of 29 in the 1991 NASCAR Winston Cup Series season
Track map of Daytona International Speedway showing mainly the speedway.
Track map of Daytona International Speedway showing mainly the speedway.
Date February 17, 1991 (1991-02-17)
Official name Daytona 500 by STP
Location Daytona International Speedway, Daytona Beach, Florida
Course Permanent racing facility
2.5 mi (4.02336 km)
Distance 200 laps, 500 mi (804.672 km)
Weather Temperatures reaching as high as 63 °F (17 °C); wind speeds approaching 13 miles per hour (21 km/h)[1]
Average speed 148.148 miles per hour (238.421 km/h)
Pole position
Driver Robert Yates Racing
Qualifying race winners
Duel 1 Winner Davey Allison Robert Yates Racing
Duel 2 Winner Dale Earnhardt Richard Childress Racing
Most laps led
Driver Kyle Petty SABCO Racing
Laps 51
No. 4 Ernie Irvan Morgan-McClure Motorsports
Television in the United States
Network CBS
Announcers Ken Squier, David Hobbs and Ned Jarrett
Nielsen Ratings 7.6/20
(10.9 million viewers)

A notable absentee was 1972 Daytona 500 winner A. J. Foyt. Foyt was badly injured in the Texaco-Havoline 200 IndyCar race at Road America in the fall of 1990. He suffered severe injuries to his feet and legs, and spent several months out of a racecar before returning to action at Indianapolis in May 1991. Foyt missed his first Daytona 500 since 1965. The race also marked Rod Osterlund’s final race as an owner.

Pit rulesEdit

This race began a series of changes to pit road procedure after the death of a Melling Racing rear tire changer in a pit road accident at Atlanta the previous November.

  • Changing tires under caution was banned, under any circumstances. Any tire changed under caution (even if it was flat) resulted in a one-lap penalty.
  • The signboard man was banned from standing in the pit lane. Instead, teams would utilize signboards on a long pole (i.e. the "lollipop") held by a crew member behind the wall.
  • Each car was given a sticker based on their starting position. The sticker was placed on the steering wheel for easy reference. The pit stall selection was staggered to prevent drivers in neighboring stalls from pitting at the same time:
    • Cars starting in odd-numbered positions were given a blue sticker with a white 1 on it; their pit stalls were selected from the odd-numbered stalls.
    • Cars starting in even-numbered positions were given orange stickers with a white 2 on it; their pit stalls were selected from the even-numbered stalls.
  • After a restart from a caution, the pits would be closed. On the second green lap, a blue flag was waved at the entrance of pit road, allowing only the cars with the blue stickers (odd) to pit for tires. On the next time around, an orange flag would be waved, allowing the cars with orange stickers (even) to pit for tires.
  • A new pit road speed limit was implemented at all times. During cautions, a second pace car was added, which would lead the cars entering the pits, and set the speed down the pit lane.
  • Penalties were severe: a 1-lap penalty for changing tires during a caution or pitting with the wrong group (blue/orange). A 15-second penalty for overshooting the pit stall, or for crew members jumping over the wall too soon.

The new pit procedures changed the complexity of the race. Teams considered it too time-consuming to change four tires since it had to be done under green (at the time, a four-tire pit stop would take roughly 20–25 seconds). For an example of how the rules adversely affected the racing, Kyle Petty ran the entire 500 miles on the same left side tires. Bill Elliott suffered a flat tire early on, and was forced to limp around the track at a reduced pace for two laps before he was allowed to pit, effectively eliminating him from the competition.

By April, the rules were changed. At Bristol, the blue/orange procedure was used only for cautions – blue sticker cars pitting on the first lap under caution, orange sticker cars pitting on the second lap. On the restarts, blue sticker cars started on the inside and orange sticker cars on the outside. Lapped cars went to the rear. The blue/orange rule was eliminated during green flag stops. By the next week at North Wilkesboro, the blue/orange rule was scrapped. In its place, lead lap cars only were allowed to pit on the first caution, while lapped cars on the second lap.

After a few weeks, the rules were relaxed further and eventually reverted nearly back to original regulations. The pit road speed limit and use of the "lollipop" style signboard were the only significant changes made permanent. No longer was a second pace car used to pace the speed in the pits. Drivers would be required to gauge their own speed (by checking their RPMs) and officials enforced the infractions with a system similar to VASCAR. The rule closing pit road when the caution comes out also remained in place, as well as only permitting lead lap cars to pit on the first caution lap (lapped cars on the second).


The startEdit

Davey Allison led the first lap from Dale Earnhardt, who took the lead entering Turn 1. On the backstretch, Earnhardt obliterated a seagull. This adversely affected his car's water temperature, raising it at one point to 240 °F or 116 °C. It forced Earnhardt's team to make emergency repairs under one of the many early cautions in the race.

Early yellowsEdit

Sprint car champion Sammy Swindell spun on the backstretch to bring out the first yellow flag. Five laps after the restart, Rick Wilson and Greg Sacks collided in Turn 1, ending Sacks' day. Just after the restart, Bill Elliott cut a tire, but had to wait for the proper lap for a pit stop. On lap 31, Jimmy Spencer's engine blew, filling the car with smoke. A fire also erupted just after Spencer climbed out to catch his breath. Meanwhile, turn 4 was coated with oil, gathering Jeff Purvis, Jimmy Means, Phil Barkdoll, and again Sammy Swindell. Barkdoll would soon spin again in Turn 4, blowing out his windshield in the spin and nearly flipping. The windshield slid across the track and into Ken Schrader's bumper and air dam, puncturing the radiator and causing a lengthy repair that eliminated the three-time Daytona 500 polesitter from contention. 1990 Winston Cup runner-up Mark Martin moved through the field quickly in the early going, but was also eliminated from contention as the center section of the car's rear gearing sheared completely off of the driveshaft, causing him to spend many laps behind the wall.

Long green flag runEdit

On Lap 75, Geoff Bodine, Eddie Bierschwale and Phil Barkdoll ran three-wide coming out of turn 4. Bierschwale slid up the track and into Bodine's left-rear quarter panel, sending Bodine into a spin and into Jim Sauter, who was slowing to enter the pits. The caution flag came out and all four cars continued in the race. However, Bodine spent several laps in the pits because the rim of his left-rear wheel had been so badly warped in the collision that the crew could not remove the lug nuts to change the now flat left-rear tire. This incident effectively eliminated Bodine from contention and he later retired with an oil leak.

This would be the last caution flag for over 100 laps, and the new pit rules confused the running order during the long green flag run. The lead changed hands many times, as Dale Earnhardt, Joe Ruttman, Davey Allison, Sterling Marlin, Rick Mast, Kyle Petty, Ernie Irvan, and Darrell Waltrip had all pitted on varying laps.

Late-race dramaEdit

With 16 laps to go, Richard Petty and off-road racer Robby Gordon tangled on the backstretch. Polesitter and leader Davey Allison pitted with the leaders, allowing Rusty Wallace to take the lead. He was quickly shuffled off of the lead on the restart, and was touched by Kyle Petty in Turn 4, which broke the car loose and sent him into a spin. Rick Mast narrowly avoided Wallace, but Darrell Waltrip, unsighted, collided with Wallace's left rear quarter panel, before Wallace slammed into the inside retaining wall, eliminating both cars. Seconds later, Derrike Cope lost control entering the tri-oval while trying to avoid Waltrip's damaged car. Cope spun across the infield and back across the track almost at the start/finish line and into the path of Hut Stricklin. With nowhere to go, Stricklin slammed nearly head-on into the rear of Cope's car, sending him bouncing off Harry Gant's car and down the straightaway with no brakes and virtually no steering. At the final restart on lap 193, the order was Earnhardt, Irvan, Petty, Ruttman, Marlin, Mast, and Allison, the only cars remaining on the lead lap. Leader Dale Earnhardt was passed by Ernie Irvan a lap after the green flag returned, and Davey Allison made up four positions in one lap to run third. Irvan began to pull away while Earnhardt spent several laps battling Davey Allison for 2nd. With 2 laps to go, Earnhardt got loose while running side by side under Allison exiting turn 2. The two cars tapped each other, pushing Allison into the outside wall briefly before the car spun into the infield towards Lake Lloyd, slamming into the earthen embankment as Allison had done early in the 1989 race. Earnhardt spun down the backstretch and into the path of Kyle Petty, who slammed into Earnhardt's right front fender, launching the car into the air briefly before it landed back on its wheels. Ernie Irvan coasted to the checkers to become the first Californian since Marvin Panch in 1961 to win the Daytona 500.


Pos Grid Car Driver Team Make Laps Laps led Status
1 2 4 Ernie Irvan Morgan-McClure Motorsports Chevrolet 200 29 Running
2 12 22 Sterling Marlin Junior Johnson & Associates Ford 200 7 Running
3 14 75 Joe Ruttman RahMoc Enterprises Oldsmobile 200 11 Running
4 7 1 Rick Mast Precision Products Racing Oldsmobile 200 14 Running
5 4 3 Dale Earnhardt Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet 200 46 Running
6 17 21 Dale Jarrett Wood Brothers Racing Ford 199 0 Flagged
7 36 27 Bobby Hillin, Jr. Moroso Racing Oldsmobile 199 0 Flagged
8 27 7 Alan Kulwicki AK Racing Ford 199 0 Flagged
9 9 5 Ricky Rudd Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 199 0 Flagged
10 20 68 Bobby Hamilton (R) TriStar Motorsports Oldsmobile 199 0 Flagged\
11 28 66 Dick Trickle Cale Yarborough Motorsports Pontiac 199 0 Flagged
12 40 23 Eddie Bierschwale B&B Racing Oldsmobile 199 0 Flagged
13 31 94 Terry Labonte Hagan Racing Oldsmobile 198 0 Flagged
14 30 19 Chad Little Little Racing Ford 198 0 Flagged
15 1 28 Davey Allison Robert Yates Racing Ford 197 26 Contact BS
16 6 42 Kyle Petty SABCO Racing Pontiac 197 51 Contact BS
17 38 24 Mickey Gibbs Team III Racing Pontiac 197 0 Flagged
18 35 90 Robby Gordon (R) Donlavey Racing Ford 196 0 Flagged
19 3 43 Richard Petty (W) Petty Enterprises Pontiac 195 0 Flagged
20 29 73 Phil Barkdoll Barkdoll Racing Oldsmobile 194 0 Flagged
21 18 6 Mark Martin Roush Racing Ford 193 0 Flagged
22 41 26 Brett Bodine King Racing Buick 193 0 Flagged
23 21 89 Jim Sauter Mueller Brothers Racing Pontiac 192 0 Flagged
24 10 17 Darrell Waltrip (W) DarWal Inc. Chevrolet 190 13 Contact TO
25 11 33 Harry Gant Leo Jackson Motosports Oldsmobile 190 0 Contact TO
26 33 10 Derrike Cope (W) Whitcomb Racing Chevrolet 189 0 Contact TO
27 8 2 Rusty Wallace Penske Racing South Pontiac 188 3 Contact TO
28 15 9 Bill Elliott (W) Melling Racing Ford 188 0 Flagged
29 5 12 Hut Stricklin Bobby Allison Motorsports Buick 185 0 Contact TO
30 37 55 Ted Musgrave (R) U.S. Racing Pontiac 180 0 Flagged
31 24 25 Ken Schrader Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 176 0 Flagged
32 19 11 Geoff Bodine (W) Junior Johnson & Associates Ford 150 0 Oil leak
33 26 8 Rick Wilson Stavola Brothers Racing Buick 137 0 Flagged
34 34 15 Morgan Shepherd Bud Moore Engineering Ford 70 0 Piston
35 42 71 Dave Marcis Marcis Auto Racing Chevrolet 40 0 Valve
36 22 51 Jeff Purvis (R) Phoenix Racing Oldsmobile 37 0 Overheating
37 16 88 Buddy Baker (W) Osterlund Enterprises Pontiac 35 0 Engine
38 13 30 Michael Waltrip Bahari Racing Pontiac 35 0 Piston
39 39 52 Jimmy Means Means Racing Pontiac 29 0 Contact TO
40 23 98 Jimmy Spencer Travis Carter Enterprises Chevrolet 29 0 Fire
41 32 20 Sammy Swindell (R) Moroso Racing Oldsmobile 28 0 Contact BS
42 25 18 Greg Sacks Sacks Motorsports Chevrolet 20 0 Contact T2
Failed to Qualify
47 Rich Bickle Close Racing Oldsmobile
95 Rick Jeffrey Sadler Brothers Racing Chevrolet
13 Brian Ross (R) Mansion Motorsports Buick
34 Gary Balough AAG Racing Chevrolet
80 Jimmy Horton S&H Racing Ford
70 J. D. McDuffie McDuffie Racing Pontiac
65 Dave Mader III (R) Folsom Racing Chevrolet
96 Phil Parsons Italian Connection Chevrolet
69 Dorsey Schroeder (R) LC Racing Ford
35 Bill Venturini (R) Venturini Racing Chevrolet
45 Philip Duffie (R) Fulcher Motorsports Oldsmobile
97 Chuck Bown Tex Racing Oldsmobile
0 Delma Cowart H. L. Waters Racing Ford
99 Brad Teague Ball Motorsports Chevrolet
82 Mark Stahl Stahl Racing Ford
39 Blackie Wangerin Wangerin Racing Ford


  1. ^ "Weather of the 1991 Daytona 500". The Old Farmers' Almanac. Archived from the original on 2013-07-02. Retrieved 2013-06-25.
  2. ^ "1991 Daytona 500". Racing-Reference.info. 1991-02-17. Retrieved 2013-12-23.