Remember When: 1995 Miller Genuine Draft 500
By Seth Sharp – At the conclusion of the 1994 Winston Cup season, Dover Downs International Speedway underwent a complete facelift.
The 1995 Miller Genuine Draft 500 would be the first Cup race on the new concrete racing surface. Nobody knew what to expect that Sunday, after watching the caution flag fly five different times for accidents during the Busch Series race the previous day. When @JeffGordonWeb and @WardBurtonWBWF led the field to the green flag, it didn’t take long for the fans to see that they were in for a wild race.
Burton quickly jumped out to an early lead on Gordon and led the first lap. As the field rolled through Turn 3 for the second time, chaos ensued behind the leaders. @John_Andretti, who started fourth, got loose and lost momentum in the middle of the turn. @RickyCravenESPN had nowhere to go and took the air away from Andretti, which triggered a 19 car accident.
After the contact between Andretti and Craven, @RustyWallace got into the back of @MarkMartin scattering cars all of over the track. As Wallace made his way through the accident without any damage, the rest of the field was not as lucky. Seven mangled cars including Martin, Terry Labonte, Ricky Rudd and @DaleJarrett came to a rest against the pit wall near the start-finish line. Andretti was carried from his No. 37 K-Mart/Little Caesars Ford and placed on a stretcher after sustaining a leg injury from the hard hit to the outside wall. The crash ruined the day for many contenders, which opened up the door for other drivers to take the opportunity to shine.
After finding success for Felix Sabates in 1992 and ’93, finishing in the top-five in points, @KylePetty struggled in 1994 ending up 15th at the end of the season. Change was immanent as crew chief Jim Long and sponsor Mello Yellow parted ways with Petty and Sabates after the ‘94 season. Coors Light and former championship crew chief Barry Dodson came aboard for the ‘95 season, which didn’t start as well as they would have wanted. Following the 11th race of the season at Charlotte, Petty arrived at Dover a disappointing 26th in the Winston Cup point standings. Qualifying was also a struggle for him that weekend as he started 37th after second round qualifying.
With a handful of cars already in the garage, the caution came out two more times during the first 50 laps of the race. Slowly but surely, Petty made his way through the field avoiding trouble. By lap 132 he took the lead from points leader Dale Earnhardt. He led five more times in the first 450 laps, as he showed he was the car to beat.
After the leaders made their final pit stops, Earnhardt and Hut Stricklin traded the lead before Petty went to the front with 42 laps to go and Coca-Cola 600 winner @Bobby_Labonte moved into second place with under 30 laps to go. Labonte was vying to become the first driver since Billy Wade in 1964 to pick up his first two career wins in consecutive weeks.
Labonte kept the nose of his No. 18 Interstate Batteries Chevrolet on the bumper of Petty’s car for the majority of the final 25 laps as third place driver Ted Musgrave quickly made his way to the leaders. Musgrave, who was putting up the fastest laps on the track, tried to pass Labonte, which gave Petty the chance to drive away. With less five laps to go, the two caught back up to Petty making it a three-car race to the finish.
On the final lap, Labonte made a move on the outside of Petty exiting Turn 2 as the two drivers were side-by-side down the backstretch with Musgrave right on their bumpers. They continued racing that way until entering Turn 3 where Petty pulled away on his way to his eighth career victory. Musgrave pulled alongside Labonte coming out of Turn 4 as the two ran door-to-door as Labonte finished second in a photo finish.
Upon arriving in victory lane, Petty was administered oxygen inside of his car before climbing out and giving his post race interview to TNN while sitting on the ground.
It was his first victory since June of ‘93 at Pocono. He ended up leading 271 of the 500 laps while setting the record for starting the farthest back in the field to win a race at Dover. It was Barry Dodson’s 19th career victory and his first since 1990 at Sears
Point with Wallace.
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