By the 1982 NASCAR Winston Cup season, the importance of team sponsorship had become paramount. Costs were rising sharply, and teams had to perform well to secure and keep sponsorship. Winning races was a prerequisite, and crews often challenged the savvy of the NASCAR technical inspectors in their efforts to gain a "competitive edge." The tradition was as old as stock car racing itself, and was considered part of the game.
The article below follows the highs and lows of the 1982 NASCAR Winston Cup campaign, including the season's memorable moments and the final standings for the year -- along with plenty of photos.
February 14, 1982: Daytona 500
Joe Millikan loses the grip on his #50 Pontiac in front of #71 Dave Marcis during the Feb. 21 Richmond 400 at the Richmond Fairgrounds Raceway. Both drivers continued in the race with Marcis scoring a popular upset triumph. Marcis was running sixth when Joe Ruttman's spin brought out a caution flag. With rain close to the track, Marcis was the only driver on the lead lap to skip a pit stop. He was in front when rain halted the race after 250 of the scheduled 400 laps. See more pictures of NASCAR.
Dave Marcis stays on the track as rain begins to fall at Richmond Fairgrounds Raceway and is the surprise winner when NASCAR officials call the race after 250 of the 400 laps have been run. Marcis is the only driver on the lead lap not to pit during the rain shower.
April 4, 1982: Rebel 500
Dale Earnhardt ends an 18-month famine with a victory in the Rebel 500 at Darlington Raceway. It is Earnhardt's first career win in a Ford. Cale Yarborough finishes second.
Harry Melling, a Michigan industrialist, bought the #9 Ford from the Elliott family at the beginning of the 1982 NASCAR Winston Cup Grand National season. The homespun Elliott operation had performed admirably with a shortage of sponsorship, but was facing a shutdown if operating funds couldn't be located. Melling rescued the team and gave Bill Elliott an opportunity to display his talents. Elliott ran a strong third in the April Rebel 500 (shown).
Harry Gant, a bridesmaid for his entire career, finally hits the jackpot by winning the Virginia National Band 500 at Martinsville. Gant finishes a lap in front of runner-up Butch Lindley to score his first win in his 107th start.
May 2, 1982: Winston 500
Darrell Waltrip passes Benny Parsons on the final lap and wins the Winston 500 at Talladega. Parsons starts on the pole with a record 200.176 mph qualifying lap, the first time in history a lap of 200 mph is surpassed in official qualifications.
Number 90 Jody Ridley and #28 Benny Parsons, both sponsored by coal-mining magnate J.D. Stacy, battled #15 Dale Earnhardt and #88 Bobby Allison in the May 2 Winston 500 at Talladega. Stacy sponsored up to seven cars in 1982, including his own team. Parsons pushed the Ranier Racing #28 past 200 mph in qualifying, making him the first to officially eclipse the 200-mph barrier in time trials for a NASCAR Winston Cup race. Parsons won the pole at 200.176, but finished third.
Neil Bonnett races around Bill Elliott with 13 laps remaining and scores a narrow victory in Charlotte Motor Speedway's World 600. It is Bonnett's 11th career NASCAR Winston Cup Grand National win.
June 13, 1982
Tim Richmond drives a Buick to his first career NASCAR Winston Cup Grand National victory in the 400-kilometer event at Riverside International Raceway.
July 25, 1982: Mountain Dew 500
Bobby Allison outduels Darrell Waltrip in the final laps of the Mountain Dew 500 at Pocono for his fifth win of the season. Dale Earnhardt survives a tumble on the 136th lap after tangling with Tim Richmond.
The two-mile Michigan International Raceway once produced some of the most spine-tingling excitement ever seen in NASCAR big-league racing. Before radial tires and aerodynamic enhancements, cars could race five-wide on the track. Pictured in this June 20 battle during the Gabriel 400 are #98 Morgan Shepherd, #27 Cale Yarborough, #2 Tim Richmond, #15 Dale Earnhardt, #33 Harry Gant, #88 Bobby Allison, #11 Darrell Waltrip, #21 Neil Bonnett, and #28 Buddy Baker.
Darrell Waltrip becomes the first driver to win the Talladega 500 twice. Entering the race, 13 different drivers had won the 13 previous runnings of the midsummer classic at the world's fastest speedway.
September 6, 1982: Southern 500
Cale Yarborough edges Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt to score his record-setting fifth triumph in Darlington's Southern 500. Yarborough has driven four different makes of cars in his Southern 500 wins: Mercury, Chevrolet, Oldsmobile, and Buick.
October 10, 1982: National 500
Harry Gant gallops past Bill Elliott with five laps to go and racks up his first superspeedway victory in Charlotte's National 500. Bobby Allison's engine failure with 10 laps remaining sets up a late-race dash. Gant finishes 2.93 seconds ahead of Elliott when the checkered flag falls.
Near midseason, Kyle Petty joined forces with team owner Hoss Ellington. The Petty Enterprises team was having a rough year in 1982. The team was also short on cars for its two-car lineup. Ellington was financially strapped. Kyle got the ride in the Ellington Chevy and brought some funding from STP. Petty finished 14th in the Sept. 6 Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway (shown). By October, Kyle was back in a Petty Enterprises Pontiac, having resigned from the Ellington team.
Darrell Waltrip wins the Old Dominion 500 at Martinsville and takes the championship points lead. Bobby Allison suffers an engine failure for the second straight race and trails Waltrip by 37 points in the chase for the NASCAR Winston Cup Grand National title.
November 21, 1982
Tim Richmond outruns Ricky Rudd in the final laps to win the season finale at Riverside. Darrell Waltrip finishes third and captures his second straight NASCAR Winston Cup championship by 72 points over Bobby Allison.
Continue to the next page to see the final standings for the 1982 NASCAR Winston Cup season.
For more information on all things NASCAR, see:
- NASCAR Home Page
- NASCAR Season Recaps
- NASCAR Tracks
- NASCAR Results
- NASCAR Drivers
- How NASCAR Race Cars Work
- How the Daytona 500 Works