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Sunday, February 15, 2009

Daytona 500 is Full of Surprises

Today’s 51st running of the Daytona 500 is sure to be full of thrills and excitement, but it will have a hard time topping the “battle” that occurred 30 years ago.

The hot-tempered drivers of today have nothing on old-time drivers Donnie Allison, Bobby Allison and Cale Yarborough as 30 years ago the trio came to blows on the infield after Yarborough and Donnie Allison crashed on the final lap of the 500 mile race.

With Allison clinging to the lead, the two cars tangled in the final turns and both men soon found their cars off the track and stopped in the infield. They were helpless as Richard Petty held off Darrell Waltrip and A.J. Foyt to claim the sixth of his record seven Daytona 500 titles.

As Petty celebrated, the CBS cameras quickly turned back to Donnie Allison and Yarborough, who had both gotten out of their cars and were jawing in the infield. Donnie’s brother Bobby soon joined the duo and his arrival helped escalate the war of words into an actual physical battle.

Of course the tradition of temper displays by NASCAR drivers is alive and well as recent battles between Carl Edwards and Kevin Harvick as well as Kurt Busch versus Tony Stewart illustrate.

No doubt the racing on the track will be exciting today, but let’s see if tempers off the track come close to reaching those experienced 30 years ago.

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