FORD PERFORMANCE HISTORY: SPRINT UNLIMITED
The Sprint Unlimited has been run in one form or another since 1979 and will continue on Saturday night at Daytona International Speedway. All of the Ford drivers competing in the event – Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano, Aric Almirola, Greg Biffle and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. – are looking for their first win in the event. Here’s a look back at some Ford highlights:
ELLIOTT CLAIMS FORD’S FIRST CLASH VICTORY AT DAYTONA
Bill Elliott became the first Ford driver to win a non-points event in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series on Feb. 8, 1987 in what was then known as the Busch Clash. The format that year was a single 20-lap run (50 miles) with no pit stop required. Elliott, who started on the pole in his No. 9 Coors Thunderbird after a blind draw, fell back to sixth on the start after Terry Labonte and Ricky Rudd were involved in an accident on the first lap. On the ensuing restart, Elliott steadily reeled in leader Darrell Waltrip and passed him on lap eight. Elliott led the final 13 laps and won with an average speed of 197.802 mph, a record that still stands for the event. A week later, Elliott won his second Daytona 500.
TAURUS WINS DEBUT AS RUSTY WALLACE WINS INAUGURAL BUD SHOOTOUT
Taurus made NASCAR history as the first four-door sedan and it wasted no time in opening eyes as Rusty Wallace drove it to victory in its debut race – the 1998 Bud Shootout. The win was Wallace’s first at Daytona International Speedway and it came with a little help from his younger brother, Kenny, who pushed him across the finish line on the final lap. Bill Elliott and Jimmy Spencer finished third and fourth, respectively, to give Ford a sweep of the top four positions.
DJ HOLDS OFF JR FOR SHOOTOUT TRIUMPH
Dale Jarrett won his third Budweiser Shootout on Feb. 7, 2004 in his No. 88 UPS Taurus, which represents the last time Ford has won the event. The race was broken up into two segments – an initial 20-lap run followed by a 50-lapper to the finish – and marked the beginning of Nextel as series sponsor. Jarrett and Kevin Harvick were side-by-side at the white flag, but Dale Earnhardt Jr. gave Jarrett the push he needed to complete the pass on the outside going through turn one. Even though Ryan Newman and Jamie McMurray got into an accident on the backstretch, the race finished under green with Jarrett holding off Earnhardt Jr. for the win.
SEVEN BY FIVE
Ford has won the Sprint Unlimited seven times by five different drivers. The best stretch for Ford in the event undoubtedly came during a three-year winning streak in which Rusty Wallace, Mark Martin and Dale Jarrett all reached victory lane from 1998-2000. Jarrett owns three of Ford’s seven victories (1996, 2000, 2004) in the event and on two of those occasions (1996 and 2000) he went on to win the Daytona 500. As noted above, Bill Elliott was Ford’s first winner in the event while Geoffrey Bodine was next in 1992.
FORD’S SPRINT UNLIMITED WINNERS
1987 – Bill Elliott
1992 – Geoffrey Bodine
1996 – Dale Jarrett
1998 – Rusty Wallace
1999 – Mark Martin
2000 – Dale Jarrett
2004 – Dale Jarrett