Friday, July 5, 2019

July 5, 1987 - Budweiser 200

The day after the 1987 Firecracker 400 Cup race at Daytona's superspeedway, the Busch Series regulars and several Cup interlopers raced a few hours north in Jefferson, Georgia.

Georgia International Speedway hosted the Budweiser 200 on July 5, 1987. The track was previously known as JefCo Speedway and would later be known as Gresham Motorsports Park.

Darrell Waltrip promoted the Busch races at the track in the mid 1980s through his company DarWal, Inc. Waltrip won the inaugural Busch Series race at Georgia International in 1986 and entered the first of two 1987 events.

Mark Martin won the pole, and Larry Pearson qualified alongside him. Martin led only one lap after the drop of the green. Third place starter Tommy Houston got by Martin and Pearson to take the lead on lap two. Houston and Brett Bodine combined to lead the next 30 laps.

Pearson then went to the front and began gapping the field. On lap 58, however, a yellow flag resulting from a Patty Moise spin curtailed Pearson's big lead. Cup regular and race promoter Waltrip popped Moise, and Rick Mast got caught in the melee as well.

In the era before full-face helmets became the norm in stock car racing, DW got the worst end of the deal. Race reports suggested he suffered bruises and some facial cuts. Waltrip later told Larry Woody of The Tennessean he did not suffer facial cuts but was extremely sore after taking the hit at full speed.

Pearson re-assumed the lead after the Moise-Waltrip-Mast accident and stayed out front until lap 78. Jack Ingram slowed dramatically to prepare for a pit stop. Brett Bodine checked up to avoid running over Ingram. Not expecting the pace of either car, Pearson nicked Bodine and sent him spinning. Second place running Mike Alexander slipped by Pearson to take the lead as the traffic jam sorted out itself.

A few laps later, Alexander pitted and lost a lap. He made it up, however, as other cars cycled through their pit sequence. Pearson also got his service during this time; however, NASCAR scored him as losing two laps during his stop. Pearson's team argued otherwise, but Pearson was continually placed behind Alexander on remaining restarts.

Alexander was scored as the leader for the second half of the race. When the checkers fell, he claimed his second career Busch Series win. The #84 Action Vans Buick team celebrated in victory lane and then loaded to return home.

Credit: Dick Conway / Second To None by Rick Houston
Unsatisfied with the scoring during his pit stop and the eventual outcome, Pearson's team hollered vehemently that he was on the same lap as Alexander - and ahead of him.

Credit: Conway and Houston
After more than two hours of pouring over scoring records, NASCAR officials determined Pearson indeed lost only one lap during his stop. They ruled he should have been placed ahead of Alexander, reversed their earlier decision, adjusted the lap leaders, and awarded Pearson the win.

Officials phoned Alexander the next day and made him aware of the decision. A request was also made to return the trophy. To this day, however, the visible sign of  "winner's spoils" remain on display in a Franklin, TN trophy room.

Alexander Then Pearson
Source: Spartanburg Herald Journal

No comments:

Post a Comment