The 1984 NASCAR Winston Cup season got off to a quick start with Cale Yarborough's win at the Daytona 500. But an even higher point came at the July 4 Firecracker 400. With President Reagan in attendance, Richard Petty won his magical 200th NASCAR Winston Cup race. The finish awed the president. It was the second and final victory of the 1984 season for the King of NASCAR -- and it turned out to be the final win of his career. At season's close, Terry Labonte parlayed consistency to win the championship on the strength of just two wins, but 17 top-five finishes. Petty finished a distant 10th in the final standings.
You can learn about these events and more in the following article, from season highlights to the year's final standings, all packed with plenty of photos.
February 19, 1984: Daytona 500
Cale Yarborough wins his fourth Daytona 500. Yarborough passes Darrell Waltrip on the final lap and outruns Dale Earnhardt off the final turn to preserve the victory.
Dale Earnhardt took the Wrangler sponsorship to the Richard Childress operation for the 1984 NASCAR Winston Cup Grand National campaign. Earnhardt drove briefly for Childress in the latter part of the 1981 season, then departed for a two-year stint with Bud Moore's Ford team. Earnhardt started the 1984 season smoothly with a runner-up finish in the Daytona 500. See more pictures of NASCAR.
Ricky Rudd posts a heart-warming victory in the 400-lapper at Richmond Fairgrounds Raceway. Rudd was battered and bruised after a crash in Daytona's Busch Clash invitational race two weeks earlier. Rudd's Bud Moore Ford finishes 3.2 seconds ahead of runner-up Darrell Waltrip.
March 18, 1984: Coca-Cola 500
Benny Parsons outruns Dale Earnhardt and Cale Yarborough in a spirited late-race duel to win the Coca-Cola 500 at Atlanta International Raceway. It is Parsons' 21st NASCAR Winston Cup Grand National win.
Number 28 Cale Yarborough runs just ahead of #43 Richard Petty and #12 Neil Bonnett in the May 6 Winston 500 at the Alabama International Motor Speedway. The 188-lap contest around Talladega's massive 2.66-mile tri-oval featured the most official lead changes in the history of NASCAR Winston Cup racing. Thirteen drivers swapped the lead 75 times in the race, with Yarborough pulling off the last lead change when he passed Harry Gant on the final lap for the win.
Darrell Waltrip cruises to victory in the Valleydale 500 at Bristol, giving team owner Junior Johnson his eighth straight victory at the steeply banked 1/2-mile track. Terry Labonte finishes second.
April 29, 1984: Sovran Bank 500
Geoff Bodine runs away from Ron Bouchard in the final laps and scores his first career NASCAR Winston Cup Grand National win in Martinsville's Sovran Bank 500. The triumph also gives team owner Rick Hendrick his first NASCAR win in the team's eighth career start.
May 6, 1984: Winston 500
Cale Yarborough passes Harry Gant on the final lap to win the Winston 500 at Talladega. Yarborough's Chevrolet nips Gant at the finish line in the most competitive race in NASCAR history. Thirteen drivers swap the lead a record 75 times in the 188-lap race.
Terry Labonte drove Billy Hagan's #44 Piedmont Airlines Chevrolet to the 1984 NASCAR Winston Cup Grand National championship. Labonte won a short-track event at Bristol and prevailed on Riverside's road course along the way to the title. Labonte was the first NASCAR champion to win the title without a victory on a superspeedway since 1973.
Neil Bonnett finishes first, but Darrell Waltrip is declared the winner of the controversial Nashville 420. Waltrip leads as the caution flag comes out with two laps to go. Although the field is given the yellow flag, Bonnett continues to race and passes Waltrip. NASCAR reverses the decision the following day.
May 20, 1984: Budweiser 500
Richard Petty drives his Mike Curb-owned Pontiac to victory in the Budweiser 500 at Dover for his 199th career NASCAR Winston Cup Grand National triumph. Petty outruns Tim Richmond by four seconds.
June 10, 1984
Bill Elliott dashes past Terry Labonte with eight laps remaining and hustles to victory in the 400-miler at Michigan International Speedway. It is Elliott's first win on a superspeedway.
Ricky Rudd pushes his #15 Ford past #3 Dale Earnhardt in the Feb. 26 Miller High Life 400 at Richmond Fairgrounds Raceway. Rudd took the lead with 20 laps remaining and scampered to victory. The Chesapeake, Va., driver was banged up in a spill in Daytona's Busch Clash two weeks earlier. With his swollen eyes taped open so he could see, Rudd finished a credible eighth in the Daytona 500, then won a week later at Richmond.
With President Ronald Reagan in attendance on the nation's birthday, Richard Petty wheels his Pontiac to victory in the Pepsi Firecracker 400 at Daytona. It is Petty's 200th NASCAR Winston Cup Grand National victory, a milestone that will likely live in NASCAR's record books forever.
July 29, 1984: Talladega 500
Dale Earnhardt keeps his Chevrolet ahead of a snarling 10-car pack to win the frantic Talladega 500. Earnhardt passes Terry Labonte on the final lap, which is the 68th lead change of the race.
August 25, 1984: Busch 500
Terry Labonte battles back from two crashes and wins the Busch 500 at Bristol International Raceway. Dale Earnhardt taps Labonte into a spin in the early stages, and Labonte survives a scrape with Neil Bonnett with 50 laps to go. Labonte also takes the championship points lead.
Pole-sitter Cale Yarborough jumps out to an early lead at the start of the Feb. 19 Daytona 500. Yarborough was in the hunt all day, playing a game of patience until the final lap. Perched on the rear bumper of Darrell Waltrip for 38 laps, Yarborough applied the spurs to his #28 Chevrolet and motored past his rival in the final mile. It was the sixth time Yarborough won a NASCAR Winston Cup Grand National race with a last-lap pass.
Bill Elliott passes Harry Gant on the final lap to win the American 500 at Rockingham in a photo finish. Gant and Elliott swap the lead three times in the final three laps.
November 11, 1984: Atlanta Journal 500
Dale Earnhardt edges Bill Elliott in the Atlanta Journal 500 at Atlanta International Raceway. Rookie driver Terry Schoonover, in his second career NASCAR Winston Cup Grand National race, is fatally injured in a single-car crash on the 129th lap.
November 18, 1984
Geoff Bodine takes the lead in the final four laps and wins the season finale at Riverside International Raceway. Terry Labonte finishes third and wins the 1984 NASCAR Winston Cup Grand National championship by a 65-point margin over Harry Gant.
Continue to the next page to see the final standings of the 1984 NASCAR Winston Cup championship.
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1984 NASCAR Winston Cup StandingsTerry Labonte overtook Dale Earnhardt with 10 races to go and held off a late charge by Harry Gant to win the 1984 NASCAR Winston Cup Grand National championship. Labonte moved into the lead with a victory at Bristol in August.
1984 NASCAR Winston Cup Champion Terry Labonte
Gant, who trailed by 131 points in mid August, pulled to within 42 points of Labonte in the season's closing weeks. Labonte ran third in the season finale on the Riverside, Calif., road course to seal his first title by 65 points over Gant.
Labonte won two races, one short track event and one on a road course. He became the first driver since 1973 to win the NASCAR Winston Cup Grand National championship without posting a superspeedway victory.
Bill Elliott won three races and finished third, 131 points behind Labonte. Dale Earnhardt placed fourth with two wins, and Darrell Waltrip, who won a season high seven races, rounded out the top five.
For the full standings for the 1984 NASCAR Winston Cup season, see the chart below.
1984 NASCAR Winston Cup Standings
||Bobby Hillin, Jr.
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