On This Date: 1997 DieHard 500 at Talladega

October 12, 2019

Seth and Sutton Sharp


1- Terry Labonte No. 5 Kellogg’s Corn Flakes Chevrolet
2- Bobby Labonte No 18. Interstate Batteries Pontiac
3- John Andretti No. 98 RCA Ford
4- Ken Schrader No. 33 Skoal Bandit Chevrolet
5- Ernie Irvan No. 28 Texaco/Havoline Ford

– The race marked the first time the second Talladega race took place in October. The race most recently was held at the end of July.
– Ernie Irvan drove a Texaco/Havoline 10th Anniversary scheme in the race. The scheme was reminiscent of the one Davey Allison drove to his first career victory, which came at Talladega. Team-owner Robert Yates announced that he planned on donating all souvenir sales dealing with the car to the children of the late Davey and Clifford Allison.

-Irvan sat on the pole and finished fifth. It was the final top-five of his Winston Cup career.
– Five drivers failed to qualify for the race: Ward Burton, Hut Stricklin, Gary Bradberry, Jeff Green and Ed Berrier.

-A 20 car accident on lap 140/188 brought out the caution. Jeff Gordon cut a tire, triggering the melee, which ended the day for many contenders.

– Terry Labonte’s win capped off a strong season at Daytona and Talladega for the No. 5 team. He finished second in the season opening Daytona 500, sixth at Talladega in the Spring and second at the Pepsi 400, capped off by his win at Talladega.

– Hendrick Motorsports Lead Engine Builder Randy Dorton served as the crew-chief for Labonte in the race for the second consecutive race. The No. 5 team and championship crew-chief Gary DeHart had recently parted ways.

– Chevrolet won 11 of the 32 races in 1997. (Jeff Gordon 10. Terry Labonte 1.)

– The race marked the third time that the Labonte brothers had finished first and second in a Winston Cup race and the first time that Terry finished first. Bobby’s first and third career wins came at Charlotte and Michigan in 1995, where Terry finished second both times. Bobby also won the 1996 season-finale at Atlanta, where Terry clinched his second career Winston Cup championship.

– John Andretti also had a strong restrictor plate season. He picked up his worst finish over the four races in the Daytona 500. He arrived at Talladega, sat on the pole and finished fourth. He carried this momentum to Daytona, where he started third, led 113 of the 160 laps and picked up his first career Winston Cup victory. As noted above, Andretti started second and finished third at Talladega in October.

– Up and coming website Jayski.com was a sponsor on the No. 47 Ford of Billy Standridge. He was the fastest second round qualifier but only lasted 51 laps after oil cooler issues.

– Felix Sabates had a tough day, as all three of his cars finished 31st or worst. Joe Nemechek (No. 42 BellSouth) was 31st, Greg Sacks (No. 40 Coors Light) was 39th and Wally Dallenbach Jr (No. 46 First Union) was 41st.

– Talladega also proved to be a tough day for many of the top-championship contenders. Points leader Jeff Gordon finished 35th, second place Mark Martin was 30th, third place Dale Jarrett was 21st and fifth place Dale Earnhardt was 29th. Jeff Burton, who entered the race fourth in points, finished 14th.

– 18 cars finished on the lead-lap. 13 of those drivers combined to have zero wins over the previous calendar year.

– The 32 lead changes were tied for the most since the 1995 Miller Genuine Draft 500 at Pocono, which had 37 lead changes.

-The top-five finishers qualified for the first Winston No Bull 5 race at Daytona, an updated version of The Winston Million program for NASCAR’s 50th Anniversary season in 1998. If any of those drivers won the Daytona 500, they would win $1 million. If any of the top-five drivers from the Daytona 500 went on to win the Coca-Cola 600, they would win $1 million. The other Winston No Bull 5 races included the Brickyard 400, Mountain Dew Southern 500 and the DieHard 500.

Updated: October 12, 2019 — 11:46 am

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