On This Date: 1981 Budweiser NASCAR 400

June 7, 2018

Seth and Sutton Sharp

On this date in 1981, the Budweiser NASCAR 400 was held at Texas World Speedway. It was the eighth and final Winston Cup race at the track.

  • The race came on the heels of a busy newsweek. Rumors spread that Jim Stacy approached Rod Osterlund and offered to buy his race team, driven by Dale Earnhardt. John Rebhan closed his team after Donnie Allison was injured at Charlotte the previous weekend. David Pearson also become a free agent and started looking around for a ride.
  • Texas native Terry Labonte won the pole for the event, putting up a speed of 167.483 MPH. It marked the second time in 1981 (and his career) that he started the race from the pole. It was the first race that “Suitcase Jake” Elder was the crew-chief for Labonte.
  • Benny Parsons picked up his 19th career Winston Cup victory, edging out Dale Earnhardt, Bobby Allison, Richard Petty and Dave Marcis. Parsons and Earnhardt passed each other for the lead 21 times during the race, including swapping the lead back and forth a handful of times over the final 10 laps.
  • Allison’s third place finish added to his lead in the Winston Cup point standings, leaving the track up 272 points on Ricky Rudd.
  • Problems under the hood ended Darrell Waltrip’s day after only 33 laps, relegating him to a 30th place finish. He left the track third in points, 341 behind Allison, but Waltrip used the issues at Texas as a turning point for his season. Over the season’s final 17 races, he won eight times, picked up fifteen top-fives and never finished lower than 10th. This stretch included an incredible 13 race span where he won seven times, finished second five times and picked up one third place finish. It took Waltrip 11 races to erase Allison’s points lead, en-route to eventually winning his first career championship.
  • The race marked the Winston Cup debut of Kirk Shelmerdine. He drove a No. 8 McDonald’s Pontiac for Richard Childress, completed two laps and finished 33rd. His second career start came at Talladega in 1994 and followed that up with a race at Loudon in 2002.
  • It was the 68th and final start of Roger Hamby’s career. After starting 34th, he finished 27th. His best career finish was 10th, which came twice in 1978.
Updated: June 7, 2018 — 11:23 am

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