It was 1981 when the Gabriel 400 at Michigan International Speedway saw a total of 47 lead changes, ending with Bobby Allison winning -- but there's much more to the story. On Lap 196 out of 200, Allison jumped from seventh to first, stealing the lead from Darrell Waltrip. But this isn't where the race's craziness ended, it's where it began. Behind Allison on Lap 197, a six-car pileup occurred in Turns 1-2, involving Waltrip, Dale Earnhardt, Buddy Baker, Mike Potter, Cale Yarborough and Lake Speed. Waltrip had led a total of 54 laps, the race's longest leader. Earnhardt had led a total of 37 laps. Since the wreck occurred with just three laps remaining and green-flag-checkered finishes didn't exist in 1981, the event ended under caution, deeming Allison the winner. The Hall of Famer would go on to win at Michigan one more time in his Sprint Cup Series career in 1982, ending with a total of four wins at the 2-mile track. The 1982 victory was a thriller in which Allison outdueled Richard Petty to the stripe.
RELATED: Chicagoland results " Gordon ties 'Ironman' record JOLIET, Ill. -- Jeff Gordon tied one mark but the title he was really after slipped away like a worn set of Goodyear tires. On a final restart. With the race on the line. "It's the best I've run all year long," Gordon said, trying to find the silver lining in the dark cloud of a 14th-place finish Sunday at Chicagoland Speedway . It was the opening race of the Chase for the Sprint Cup , the first of 10 stops that will determine this year's champion. It's the last Chase for Gordon, who will step aside at year's end. He's 44 and nearly all of that time has been spent behind the wheel of a race car. He equaled former driver Ricky Rudd's record for consecutive starts, at 788, when he fired up the engine on his No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet Sunday. PHOTOS: Gordon through the years He led laps in the myAFibRisk.com 400 -- 41 by day's end. But a decision to stay out under caution, wagering four used tires and track position might be enough to take him back to victory lane for a 93rd time, failed to materialize. Second alongside Kurt Busch ( Stewart-Haas Racing ) on the Lap 263 restart, Gordon was unable to hold his line as the field raced across the start/finish line and off into Turn 1 on the 1.5-mile track. His Chevrolet pushed up the track, higher and higher, losing momentum and losing positions. Nothing else could be done but to gather it back in and hold off those he could during the final five-lap dash. Busch and Denny Hamlin also chose not to pit prior to the final restart. Hamlin shot underneath Gordon and raced past Busch to take the lead in Turns 1 and 2 and there was no catching the Joe Gibbs Racing driver after that. "I was just trying to hold pace with Kurt; I knew I had Denny behind me on older tires as well," Gordon said later. "I was somewhat encouraged for that. (Denny) got a good run on me. I blocked him. He's pushing me and we're on the apron. I felt like I did a good job, I just came up off the apron a little too early. "He was just able to motor right on by me on the inside. Once I got three wide, we were done. It was over at that point." The result left Gordon 12th in points with two races remaining – next week's stop at New Hampshire Motor Speedway and Dover International Speedway the following week – in the opening Challenger Round of the Chase. Only the top 12, including any Chase driver with a win, advance. Three of those trailing Gordon have yet to win this season. The fourth, defending series champion Kevin Harvick , has two wins and more runnerup finishes (10) than anyone since Bobby Allison in 1972. It was the most laps led in a race by Gordon since the spring race earlier this year at Talladega Superspeedway and his first time at the front in his last four starts. "One thing you have to understand is we haven't been running the way we've been running from a lack of effort," Gordon said. "And we didn't run the way we did today without putting a lot of hard work into bringing better race cars to the race track. "I'm extremely encouraged by that. ... Everybody's been working together to make improvements because we know we've been behind. Today was extremely encouraging."
Bobby Allison reflects on his racing career and the family that helped him get through it.
NASCAR Hall of Fame: Bobby Allison
Justin Allison , 21, 'has the most talent of any Allison'
RELATED: Full results from Bristol " Updated standings BRISTOL, Tenn. -- Kevin Harvick became the first driver since 1972 to post double-digit runner-up finishes during the course of a season Saturday night, trailing race winner Joey Logano across the finish line in the Irwin Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway. The defending NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion had to overcome two pit road penalties to put himself in contention for the win, but was unable to reel in the Team Penske driver in the closing laps of the 500-lap event. The Stewart-Haas Racing driver took the disappointment of another near-win in stride. He's had worse finishes that weren't "near as cool as finishing second," he said. "I'm not frustrated at all because I've been on the other side of this fence, and you'd give everything in the world to finish second every week because it's not easy. This is a hard sport, and to go to all these different types of race tracks and see the success that the team has, I couldn't be prouder … because I know that at any moment you can rattle off two or three wins in a row at any type of race track, so it's fun." No driver had posted 10 or more runner-up finishes in a single season since Bobby Allison managed the feat in '72. Harvick became just the eighth driver to do so, joining Allison , David Pearson, Richard Petty, Ned Jarrett, Dick Rathmann, Joe Weatherly and Buck Baker. Pearson holds the overall mark, registering 18 second-place results in 1969. Harvick failed to lead a lap at BMS, but not for lack of trying. Starting seventh, the Sprint Cup Series champion had driven up to fourth by Lap 126 when Kyle Larson brought out the second caution of the night. But a violation for crewmen coming over the wall too soon dropped the No. 4 Chevrolet back to 22nd on the ensuing restart. He had raced his way back inside the top 10 by the halfway point of the race, and was in the top five at Lap 350. But another penalty, this one for speeding on pit road, dropped him back outside the top 10. With less than 70 laps remaining, Harvick was third on a final restart, taking second from Logano's teammate, Brad Keselowski , when the race resumed. "He (Logano) was just one step ahead of me in traffic," Harvick said of his attempts to track down Logano. "I couldn't get my car to rotate across the center like I needed it to, and every time I tried to force it, it would snap the back out." Logano called it "a very exciting last 20, 30 laps for sure." "I really thought we were going to be able to pull away because I thought we were really good in the long run, and then we didn't pull away," Logano said. "And I was like, ‘uh-oh.'" After the race, Rodney Childers, crew chief for Harvick, said he still didn't understand how his driver could get hit with a speeding penalty when driver Denny Hamlin wasn't cited for excessive speed. "He (Hamlin) was pushing us around the corner," Childers said. "(Kevin) said his speed went up like 300 RPM when he was pushing him. He was like, ‘Oh God, this is going to be close.' And we were speeding." Otherwise, Childers said, it was another good night for the defending champions. "The team overcame a lot of adversity this weekend, which is a plus getting ready for the Chase," he said. "We had a clutch problem this morning and had to change the master cylinder, the clutch … all kinds of stuff. Then to go through what we went through in the race and fight back. "The biggest thing is just Kevin drove his butt off to get back up there and everybody did a good job overcoming it." Runner-up finishes in a season Number Driver Year 18 David Pearson 1969 15 Bobby Allison 1970 14 Richard Petty 1964 13 Ned Jarrett 1965 12 Bobby Allison 1972 12 David Pearson 1968 12 Joe Weatherly 1962 12 Dick Rathmann 1953 10 Kevin Harvick 2015 10 Buck Baker 1958
RELATED: Darlington's throwback paint schemes In keeping with NASCAR's throwback-themed Bojangles' Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway on Sunday, here's a nod to Kevin Harvick and his No. 4 Budweiser Chevy team's historic run this season. You have to go back to the days of lava lamps, bell-bottoms and the AMC Gremlin to find the last time a NASCAR Cup driver ( Bobby Allison , 1972) has reeled off double-digit runner-up finishes as Harvick now has. The reigning Sprint Cup Series champ's two wins -- back-to-back trophies at Las Vegas and Phoenix -- punched his title defense ticket into the 2015 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup . But it's his 10 second-place efforts and career-high 17 top-fives that keep him a favorite for his second Cup championship. It's the kind of superior consistency that creates confidence, maintains momentum and ultimately makes the team more likely to deliver in the clutch. There's two ways this many near-misses can be viewed -- either as encouraging "almosts" or discouraging "not-enoughs" -- but Harvick and his crew chief Rodney Childers are glass-half-full kind of guys. "It's a really fine balance and getting yourself frustrated over the success we're having would be really, really silly,'' Harvick offered with a smile as he waited out a rain delay during a test at Homestead-Miami Speedway last week. "I'm proud of what we've done and what we've accomplished. "We're all really confident with the way the year has gone. I think if you look at on a piece of paper it's definitely the best year I've ever had from a career standpoint. "I've been around this deal long enough to know those 10 second-place finishes could have swung to wins just as easily and they could have swung to 25th-place finishes just as easily. I'm really proud of the things we've done and feel like we're a better team than we were last year and having better results up to this point." The second-place finishes have contributed to a series-best 7.5 average finish through the first 24 races -- better than three-time winner Joey Logano (9.0 average finish) and four-time winners Jimmie Johnson (12.0) and Kyle Busch (12.5). So while Harvick may not have been visiting Victory Lane as often as those others, no one's been in close proximity more often -- heartening news for his Stewart-Haas Racing team and worrisome for everyone else. "The whole point of coming here (to SHR) was to have a chance of winning races week in and week out and we've done that; you can't force winning, when things are going your way they are and when they aren't, they're not,'' Harvick said. "It's a lot of fun to be a part of it and see the intensity and enthusiasm this team brings week in and week out because it's such a calm confidence around here. "The way we've run I think we could win the championship with everything we've done so far. I don't think we need to do anything any different because the cars are running great and we know what we're up against when the Chase starts and the grind of what that is. And I think we'll do that better than we did last year. "The best for us is in front of us." Runner-up finishes in a season Number Driver Year 18 David Pearson 1969 15 Bobby Allison 1970 14 Richard Petty 1964 13 Ned Jarrett 1965 12 Bobby Allison 1972 12 David Pearson 1968 12 Joe Weatherly 1962 12 Dick Rathmann 1953 10 Kevin Harvick 2015 10 Buck Baker 1958
RELATED: See all the paint schemes for Darlington Darlington Raceway will host the Bojangles' Southern 500 this weekend. Numerous teams are participating in the throwback theme at the South Carolina track and paying homage to some of NASCAR's most famous cars -- and drivers. Here's how some of the cars looked originally, with footage of the vehicles driving around Darlington. Brad Keselowski Brad Keselowski 's scheme is paying homage to Bobby Allison's car in the 1983 Southern 500. " Watch old footage of Allison's car in action Austin Dillon Austin Dillon is keeping it in the family and honoring grandfather Richard Childress. The paint scheme of the No. 3 Chevrolet is a tribute to Childress' car during the 1979 Southern 500. " Watch old footage of Childress' car in action Denny Hamlin Denny Hamlin 's No. 11 JGR Toyota mirrors the car of NASCAR Hall of Famer Cale Yarborough's look from 1973. " Watch old footage of Yarborough's car in action Ricky Stenhouse Jr . Ricky Stenhouse Jr . is honoring three-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion and NASCAR Hall of Famer David Pearson and paying tribute to his car from the 1968 Southern 500. " Watch old footage of Pearson's car in action Chase Elliott The No. 25 of Chase Elliott is one of the many cars getting a vintage makeover. Elliott's Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet resembles the paint scheme of his father Bill Elliott 's car from 1974. " Watch old footage Elliott's car in action Kyle Larson Kyle Larson 's No. 42 Chevrolet is going to replicate Kyle Petty's Mello Yello look. " Watch old footage of Petty's car in action Clint Bowyer As Clint Bowyer looks for a strong performance at Darlington in hopes to maintain his spot on the Chase Grid, his car will be rocking a pretty awesome paint scheme honoring the late Buddy Baker. Bowyer's Toyota is similar to Baker's No. 15 Ford from the 1974 Southern 500. " Watch old footage of Baker's car in action More videos • Ward Burton's iconic No. 22 car comes back to life this weekend at Darlington as his son, Jeb, will be sporting an almost identical paint scheme. " Watch the old footage of Ward Burton's car in action • Two-time Darlington winner, Sterling Marlin, is being honored at "The Lady in Black" by Landon Cassill . Cassill's No. 40 Chevrolet will mirror Marlin's paint scheme on his own No. 40. " Watch the old footage of Sterling Marlin's with a Coors Light paint scheme he me • Dale Earnhardt Jr . is contributing to the throwback weekend by paying homage to Cale Yarborough's No. 15 car. " Watch the old footage of Yarborough's car in action • The No. 43 of Aric Almirola Almirola's is in honor of Richard Petty's 1972 Plymouth Roadrunner, the first time The King's car featured sponsor STP with the Petty Blue and Day-Glo Red on the quarter panels. " Watch old footage of Petty's iconic car • Kasey Kahne 's No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet is paying respect to one of the NASCAR greats, Geoff Bodine. " See the clip of Bodine's car in action • The throwback inspiration for the paint of Trevor Bayne 's No. 6 Ford comes from Mark Martin 's own No.6. Martin is a two-time Darlington winner. " Watch Martin's memorable Ford in action • Sam Hornish Jr . is, too, honoring Mark Martin in his No. 9 Winn Dixie Ford. " Watch more footage of Martin's car in action • The No. 41 Chevrolet of Kurt Busch has a familiar paint scheme as it is a replica of Jack Sprague's No. 60. " Watch the No. 60 in action
RELATED: Darlington throwback paint schemes Darlington's throwback theme for Sunday's Bojangles' Southern 500 already is a hit with racers and fans alike, bringing out the creativity in the industry with special paint schemes and providing opportunities to honor great racers who have gone before. But what if along with those throwback paint schemes, like Dale Earnhardt Jr .'s Valvoline No. 88 nod to Cale Yarborough and Clint Bowyer 's No. 15 salute to recently passed Buddy Baker, we could actually bring back the NASCAR legends themselves for this one race. Who would you pick? Hall of Fame crew chief Dale Inman could fill the whole 43-car field with legendary race car drivers. He won seven premier series championships with Richard Petty and an eighth with Terry Labonte , competing against some of the most storied personalities in the sport. "Damn, I've seen 'em all. I don't know …" Inman said of trying to choose just one driver to place in a throwback ride. "Earnhardt Sr. was good there you know." Bowyer, too, wished Earnhardt Sr. could join the field at the 2015 Southern 500. "Obviously for me it would be Earnhardt for me because we lost him, you know. That's first and foremost. Anyone you ever lost is who you'd want to bring back." But Bowyer said bringing back the man with the most wins (47) and most poles (47) at Darlington, David Pearson, would be the ultimate measuring stick for today's Sprint Cup drivers. "Pearson … man, what a character and just a genuine badass and an aggressive and successful racer. Anytime you have someone who's successful in the sport you make a living in, you want to be able to see what he had, what he's made of and see how you stack up." Eddie Wood, co-owner of Wood Brothers Racing , fondly remembers those days with Pearson driving the No. 21 Purolator Mercury. Pearson drove for the Woods Brothers from 1972-79 and won seven times at "The Lady in Black" during that span with two runner-up finishes. "That was his place," Wood said of Pearson's dominance at the South Carolina track. "The hotter the better for David. He liked it HOT, so we'd have to run in the daytime for him." RELATED: Drivers, officials, fans pumped for throwback weekend Inman attributed some of Pearson's success at the track also called "Too Tough To Tame" to his ability to take care of his equipment. This was extra difficult, as Inman recalled, because the track promoter sometimes would put bear's grease on the track between Saturday's practice and Monday's race. Blue laws prevented NASCAR from running on Sundays in South Carolina then. "Pearson just had a knack for taking care of the car. He always had a good car too," Inman said. "At least most of the time. For Darlington we put bars under the fenders. You knew you were gonna hit the wall, so we just put bars in and just bolted them to the right side. But the guard rail wasn't smooth like it is now. And they'll wear the sides out this time with the low downforce package." Aside from the drivers who racked up at the track, including Richard Petty and Buck Baker, Inman said Parnelli Jones' performance at Darlington had lasting impact on the racing there. "Parnelli Jones came out here in maybe 1956 or 57 was the first one to really use the high bank to what it is now. I remember him just sliding up to the fence. He didn't finish, of course." Jones crashed at Darlington in both 1956 and 1957. He finished 50th in a field of 70 cars in 1956 in the No. 1 Torrance Motors Ford and 34th in the No. 11 Ford owned by Oscar Maples in 1957. In 1958, Jones did finish the Southern 500 running, coming in 18th in a field of 48 cars during his last race there. The list of great performances at Darlington is nothing short of epic. Just the list of winners sends any racing fan on a long ride down memory lane: Curtis Turner, Fireball Roberts, Fred Lorenzen, Bobby Allison , Fonty Flock, Neil Bonnett, Benny Parsons, Harry Gant. How would they stack up against Jeff Gordon , the active driver with the most wins at Darlington (seven)? "Herb Thomas and Buck Baker were both really good," Inman added to the list. "But Herb had it as good as anyone in those old Hudson Hornets that Marshall Teague built, and I think he won in a Chevrolet, too." Now that would be an entirely different kind of throwback idea. Run at Darlington again in restored Chevrolets, Fords, Hornets, Plymouths, Pontiacs and Dodges.
McReynolds remembers driver on anniversary of his passing RELATED: High 5: Remembering Davey Allison As New Hampshire Motor Speedway celebrates its 25th anniversary, FOX NASCAR analyst Larry McReynolds, a guest on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio, remembered another Magic Mile milestone: the first premier series race at the track, which was the last event for Davey Allison before a helicopter accident claimed his life. After falling 63 points shy of the 1992 NASCAR championship, Allison's No. 28 Robert Yates Racing Ford got off to a slow start, according to McReynolds, who served as its crew chief. "I think we kind of got lazy between the '92 and the '93 season because we ran so well in 1992," McReynolds said. "We didn't work to make ourselves better, and we were struggling when '93 started." The Slick 50 300 at a new New England venue offered an opportunity for the team to turn the corner, and it gave the team reason to be optimistic for the inaugural premier series race. "We finally built a brand new car and went to Loudon, and we were leading that race with 30 laps to go and we had a car that was good on the long run," McReynolds said. "A caution comes out for debris with 30 laps to go. We were in a bit of a box. We had to pit so we pitted, and we ended up finishing third to Rusty Wallace and Mark Martin ." It was the team's first top-five finish in a month and sixth in the first 16 races of the season. An upbeat Allison did something on the way home that surprised his crew chief and fellow Alabama native as the No. 28 team headed to Charlotte and then on to Allison's home in Hueytown, Alabama. "Davey did something that night that I had never seen him do," McReynolds said. "He always flew his own plane. I think it's how he kind of took out his anxiety of the day, but he told his pilot and his dad, Bobby , 'You guys fly the airplane. I'm going to sit in the back with the guys.' "…we sat back there and he was so excited and happy because I think like he felt like we finally had hit on something that we had been missing most of 1993. He told me when we landed in Charlotte, 'You won't be able to get in touch with me tomorrow. I think I'm going to fly up to Talladega to watch David Bonnett, Neil Bonnett's son, test a car.' "I said, 'No problem. I'll call you on Tuesday.' "Well, unfortunately, I never got to make that call because the next day was when he was killed in a helicopter crash at Talladega." Later that season, Ernie Irvan took over the No. 28 ride, driving the car through the first 20 races of the 1994 season before a crash at Michigan International Speedway sidelined him for for more than a year. When Irvan returned to the No. 28 car in 1996, McReynolds was his crew chief, and that July, Irvan and McReynolds went to Victory Lane at Loudon, New Hampshire, for an emotional celebration in honor of the driver's comeback and to commemorate the three-year anniversary of Allison's passing. FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule