All-Star Moments: No. 5 – ‘The Tide Slide’

| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Tuesday, May 15 2012

Darrell Waltrip gets sideways and begins to slide after making contact with Rusty Wallace in the 1989 All-Star Race. (Photo courtesy of NASCAR)

It’s NASCAR All-Star Race week. It’s a week that culminates in a race which, despite the fact – or maybe because of the fact – that it pays no points, has produced some of the Sprint Cup Series’ most memorable moments.

Which All-Star Races are the most memorable? This week, RacinToday.com will count down it’s top five, starting with today’s No. 5: 1989 – Waltrip vs. Rusty.

This race will perhaps be best remembered for a post-race quip.

It’s a quip which came from Darrell Waltrip and was directed at Rusty Wallace, the man who ended up winning the race.

“I hope he chokes on the $200,000, that’s all I can tell him,” Waltrip said after the race.

Also known as the “Tide Slide” race,  the 1989 event was classic.

Wallace, in his Kodiac-sponsored Pontiac, grabbed an early lead in the first segment, which was 75 laps, and went on to win it. In the second segment, which was 50 laps, Waltrip snuck under Wallace early and then went on to take the checkered flag.

In the break after the second segment, Wallace predicted the final segment would be “a dog fight”. Make that; correctly predicted.

Waltrip took the lead on the final restart but Wallace stayed with him. With two laps to go, Wallace was on Waltrip’s rear bumper.

In Turn 3, Wallace went low and started to make the pass on Waltrip. But in Turn 4, heck broke loose.

The right front of Wallace’s car made contact with the left rear of Waltrip’s Tide-sponsored Hendrick Motorsports Chevy and its rear end snapped around.

With smoke pouring from all four tires, Waltrip’s car went sliding sideways into the infield grass on the front stretch.

Wallace went on to take the white flag and then, as Waltrip told SPEED, “That scoundrel went on and won the race.”

Wallace shrugged off Waltrip’s criticism when asked if he considered what he did to be dirty racing.

“I consider this The Winston,” he said.

Many at Charlotte Motor Speedway disagreed.

In the grandstands, fans were booing and throwing garbage.

In the infield, members of Waltrip’s crew were waiting for Wallace as his car was wheeled to Victory Lane. They began kicking at the car as it rolled past.

Then, suddenly, it was not just the No. 27 car which was being abused.

“Man, every one went crazy,” Wallace told SPEED. “Half the fans wanted to kill me. The place was upside down. The whole infield was in a fight. I think they started punching each other, nobody knew who was punching who so they all just started punching everybody.

“The next thing you know, they’re all rolling on the ground beating the crap out of each other.”

“Somebody bit my little brother John’s ear almost off,” said Wallace’s crew chief, Barry Dodson.

Over near the No. 17 car, Waltrip said, “”He knocked the hell out of me” on the track.

Waltrip and his team went to NASCAR officials.

“We wanted them to put us back where we were because he spun us out,” Waltrip said.

NASCAR refused and Wallace’s victory stood.

Waltrip says NASCAR made a big mistake by not re-staging.

“If they really wanted it to be a good Winston,” Waltrip said, “they should have put me in second place. That would have been the best Winston they ever had. It might have been the biggest wreck they ever had, I don’t know.”

Two of the best talkers in NASCAR had at it that day.

Wallace had this gem: “This ain’t a place for gentlemen on a Sunday drive. I think a driver in The Winston had better be ready for a paint change. That’s what this race is about.”

And Waltrip had his unforgettable beauty about what he hoped Wallace would do with the big pile of cash he won.

The result of the race had a lasting effect on the two drivers’ images.

Wallace went from being a fan favorite to being considered a heavy.

Waltrip, despised by many because of a big mouth which had earned him the nickname “Jaws” in the garages, became a good guy in the eyes of fans. That same year, in fact, he would be voted most popular driver.

(This year’s All-Star Race will be broadcast live on SPEED beginning at 7 p.m. Eastern)

– Jim Pedley can be reached at jpedley@racintoday.com

| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Tuesday, May 15 2012
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