Sunday's Truck Finish Brings Back Memories to Sonoma 1991
It was a very controversial and very entertaining finish to the Chevrolet Silverado 250 at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park in Ontario, Canada. That's when Chase Elliott and Ty Dillon got together sending Dillon into the wall and Elliott to victory lane for the first time in his NASCAR Camping World Truck Series career.
Since then the discussion has been about what had happened. Elliott and Dillon made contact but what had happened has been debated about. Many people were up in arms about how the race ended and felt that Dillon was dumped by Elliott and that Elliott was wrong in what he did. Others felt Elliott had position and Dillon came down.
Dillon wasn't happy with Elliott either. He was very unpleased with what occurred and went up to Elliott after the race and questioned the move. The race teams of both drivers even got into a pit road altercation at the end of the race although it didn't last long. It was a wild scene in Canada and it brought me back to a sunny day in June 1991 in Sonoma California when two drivers had a similar altercation and NASCAR took actions into their own hands.
On that particular day Ricky Rudd and Davey Allison found themselves in a battle in the closing laps of the 1991 Banquet 300. The two drivers inherited the lead after Tommy Kendell and Mark Martin go together with four laps to go. Kendell was leading when he and Martin made contact in corner number seven, sending Martin into a hard spin. Kendell remained in the lead but was chased down by both Allison and Rudd after suffering from a flat tire from the incident.
That set the stage for perhaps one of the most strangest finishes in NASCAR history. Allison and Rudd pulled away from Kendell and it would be those two to determine the finish. Allison lead by over three car lengths originally and had a pretty consistent lead for the next three laps. Rudd, however, wasn't to be denied.
Back in the early 1990's Unocal 76, the company that supplied the fuel for NASCAR, gave a cash bonus for any driver who won from the pole. Rudd was the pole sitter and was due to make an extra $45,600 if he could find his way into victory lane. Add that with the fact that Rudd was second in the point standings a win for Rudd really went a long way.
As the leaders were coming to the white flag, Allison came up on the lap car of Dave Marcis. Marcis tried to get out of the way but still slowed down the #28 Robert Yates Racing Ford just enough so Rudd could catch him. As they headed into corner #11 Rudd reached the back bumper of Allison's car and the two drivers made contact, sending Allison into a spin as Rudd sped off. Rudd had reached the bumper Allison and the only way he could have beaten Allison was to make contact and slide on by and that's exactly what he did.
It looked like Rudd was well on his way to his second victory of the 1991 season and the 13th of his NASCAR Winston Cup Series career. Just as fans were catching their breaths from the incident a NASCAR official walked over the Ricky Rudd pits and began talking to his crew chief Waddell Wilson. Wilson became visibly upset in Rudd's pit while Davey Allison's crew stewed in his pit.
Rudd comes off of turn #11 as the leader of the race and receives the checkered and the black flag as NASCAR has apparently penalized Rudd for the incident with Allison. Allison, meanwhile, holds his hand out the window and takes the checkered flag and is credited with the victory as NASCAR had done something they have never done before. They had taken the win away from a driver who had crossed the finish line first.
Chaos ensued. Rudd's team was going nuts throwing their arms up and wailing not understanding the ruling. Allison's pit was confused but Allison pulled right into victory lane and was declared the winner. Allison had won and Rudd was given a one second penalty and finished in the second position. It was Allison's only win at Sonoma and the tenth of his Winston Cup career.
The last lap contact between Rudd and Allison has been debated for years. Some say Allison gave Rudd a little too much room on the inside and tried to get his nose underneath him and when Allison came down they made contact. Others flat out say that Rudd flat out dumped Davey Allison and he deserved the penalty.
Whatever side of the fence you were on that day in Sonoma, California you can't help but think about the similarities between that afternoon and Sunday's finish in at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park in Canada. You can bet 20 years from now people will still be debating who was right and who was wrong, just like they still do about the finish of the 1991 Banquet 300 at Sonoma.