There is often a lot more to winning than what is seen … there’s sometimes more to the story than what the race report shows or what is written in the record books. The 1993 Daytona 500 is one of those races.
The race was one of the most famous Daytona 500’s ever run.
The 1993 Daytona 500 isn’t only remembered for its intense on-track action that pitted two drivers — one a veteran champion not known for backing down from contact and the other a somewhat unproven driver looking for his second NASCAR premier series win — battling side-by-side over the last several laps.
When those who were there or those who watched it live on television recall the race, they’re temporarily transported back in time, often back to the very spot where they stood motionless, mouths open watching as five-time champion Dale Earnhardt and Dale Jarrett raced toward the finish line.
What they’re likely to recall next is one of the most impassioned calls in NASCAR history (perhaps, in all of sports).
With less than a lap to go, Ned Jarrett, calling the race from the CBS broadcast booth, left no doubt who he was pulling for.
“Come on Dale! Go baby, go! Alright, come on! I know he’s got it to the floorboard; he can’t do anymore. Come on, pick up the inside. Don’t let him get on the inside of you coming around this turn. Here he comes Earnhardt. It’s the Dale and Dale show as they come off Turn 4. You know who I’m pulling for; it’s Dale Jarrett. Bring her up inside, don’t let him get down there. He’s going to make it! Dale Jarrett’s going to win the Daytona 500!”
As the waning laps wound down, most people probably expected Dale Earnhardt to finally win the one remaining crown jewel his stellar NASCAR resume lacked. On the final lap, Earnhardt, driving his popular black No. 3 GM Goodwrench Chevrolet, not only had to contend with Jarrett for the lead but as many as three other drivers who all had a shot at victory.
It was all for naught, as Earnhardt had to settle for second. His one Daytona 500 victory still five years away.
Of the five drivers with a realistic shot at winning as the field rounded Turns 3 and 4 of the final lap, Jarrett, wheeling the predominantly green-and-black No. 18 Interstate Batteries Chevrolet, was probably the driver that surprised most. At the beginning of the race, it would have been hard to find an expert or NASCAR pundit who would’ve tabbed Jarrett as the eventual winner of the 1993 Daytona 500.
Jarrett’s second trip to Victory Lane in NASCAR’s premier series wasn’t the only thing significant about the win; it was also the first victory for Joe Gibbs Racing. The 1993 season was only the team’s second year in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.
Earnhardt dominated most of the race, leading 107 of the event’s 200 laps. In comparison, Jarrett only paced the field for eight circuits around the 2.5-mile superspeedway. However, the number of laps led don’t matter as long as you lead the last one — the one that counts.
Jarrett’s win in the season-opening Daytona 500 was his only victory that season. No one knew what the future held for Jarrett, but after 24 seasons in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, it’s safe to say it turned out just fine … great even.
He went on the win 32 races in the NASCAR’s premier series, topped off with the 1999 championship. Then, in 2014, he joined his father in the NASCAR Hall of Fame. His father, Ned, was inducted in 2011.
This Labor Day weekend at Darlington Raceway, Kyle Busch, the current driver of the No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing, will commemorate Jarrett’s emotional win that catapulted both driver and team to the forefront of the growing sport. The paint scheme Jarrett ran in February 1993 will be replicated on Busch’s car for the 2016 Bojangles’ Southern 500.
It’s not often that the stars align this perfectly where the paint scheme, number and sponsor on a historic car, like Jarrett’s 1993 Daytona 500-winning car, can be replicated almost identically on a car today, like the car Busch will drive in the Labor Day weekend race.
Neither Jarrett or Busch are strangers to Darlington Raceway’s Victory Lane. Jarrett celebrated there three times, while Busch has been there once.
It wouldn’t surprise anyone to see Busch power the No. 18 Interstate Batteries Darlington Toyota Camry to Victory Lane on September 4. And what’s more, Jarrett might be able to talk about it during NBC’s post-race show.