Earnhardt Ignores The Black Flag (1983)

February 12, 2020

Seth and Sutton Sharp

The anticipation for the start of the fifth annual Busch Clash (1983) had to wait, as rain washed the race from Sunday to Monday.

When the green flag finally dropped on Monday, it looked like it was going to be a two car shootout for the win. Pole-sitter Bill Elliott and Dale Earnhardt, who started third, quickly hooked up and checked out on the rest of the 16 car field.

A scary incident involving Bobby Allison brought the caution out on lap four. Allison’s car slid towards the entrance of pit-road, before striking a wall and flying through the air.

The caution stacked the field back up but Elliott and Earnhardt stayed first and second after the restart. On the seventh lap, white smoke starting pouring from the back of Earnhardt’s car. He lost second to Darrell Waltrip, but he followed Waltrip past Elliott to regain the position.

Earnhardt continued to battle for the lead, with smoke trailing from his car, when NASCAR black flagged him with five laps remaining. Earnhardt stayed out on the track, ignoring the black flag and continued to battle for the victory.

On the final lap, Terry Labonte got loose while racing Waltrip and Neil Bonnett for the win and spun, collecting Earnhardt and Buddy Baker. Earnhardt, who was battling for third at the time, finished 12th and was credited with completing only 18 laps.

After the race, David Hobbs caught up with Earnhardt and asked him about disobeying the black flag. Hobbs asked if Earnhardt saw the black flag through all the smoke.  “I wasn’t looking for it. I was looking for the checkers.”, said Earnhardt with a grin.

Bud Moore, Earnhardt’s car-owner, had the same idea. “All we were trying to do was win the $50,000.” Moore said. “We couldn’t win it in pit row.”

NASCAR was unhappy with Earnhardt, handing down a $10,000 fine on Tuesday for ignoring the black flag. It was the largest fine in NASCAR history. NASCAR also said that they would refund $5,000 of the fine, $1,000 per race, as long as he behaved and followed the rules.

Updated: February 13, 2020 — 1:25 am

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