Petty Enterprises really wasn't in the hunt for victories from 1984 through 1995. The car was rarely competitive, and the team didn't (or couldn't) hire top drivers for it. An inexperienced Kyle drove the family car in 1984. Others including Rick Wilson, Wally Dallenbach Jr., John Andretti, and an aged King really had no shot at returning the 43 to its rightful place in victory lane.
But then in 1996, things suddenly began to look a bit brighter. Nashville, TN's Bobby Hamilton was beginning his second year with the team. Hamilton cut his teeth on Nashville's fairgrounds speedway. He was later hired as a driver by the producers of the movie Days of Thunder and landed rides with Triad Motorsports' Country Time Lemonade and SABCO Racing's Kendall Oil teams.
On October 27, 1996 - the second to last race of the season - the team seized on one of those opportunities in the Dura-Lube 500 at Phoenix International Raceway.
Hamilton qualified mid-pack in the 17th position. But he began to move towards the front as the race progressed and hung around all day. He led a total of 40 of the 312 laps. With the laps winding down and the sun beginning to set, Hamilton decided it was time to go. He went to the point, led the final 30 laps, and returned the 43 to victory lane for the first time in 13 years. His win was exceptionally popular for everyone - fans, other teams, the King of course, the media, etc. Behind him, Texas Terry finished an incredible third. He finished 5th in the season-closer at Atlanta and won his second championship over Gordon and Jarrett.
Some time later, Richard and Kyle restored the winning Pontiac and presented it to Hamilton. Bobby displayed the car in the lobby of his Bobby Hamilton Racing offices where I was fortunate enough to see it a few years ago.
Motor Racing Network has made their full radio broadcast of the race available on-line. You can find it along with many other MRN classic races at their website or iTunes or by listening/downloading below.