1994 NASCAR Winston Cup Recap

1994 was the young driver Jeff Gordon's first year on the NASCAR Winston Cup circuit, and Dale Earnhardt and Rusty Wallace held their usual season-long battle for the 1994 NASCAR Winston Cup championship. Earnhardt ended the season far, far ahead in the points battle -- even though Wallace won twice as many races.

Recall the highlights of the season with the pictures and 1994 NASCAR Winston Cup chronology that follows:

February 11, 1994

Veteran driver Neil Bonnett loses his life in a practice crash at Daytona International Speedway in preparation for the upcoming Daytona 500. Bonnett's Chevrolet breaks loose in the fourth turn and slaps the wall nearly head-on.

February 20, 1994: Daytona 500

Sterling Marlin holds Ernie Irvan at bay in the final laps to record his first career NASCAR Winston Cup victory in the Daytona 500. Marlin's first triumph comes in his 279th start, the longest it has ever taken a driver to post his first win.

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Driver Sterling Marlin wins the 1994 Daytona 500, a NASCAR Winston Cup series event.
Sterling Marlin outruns Ernie Irvan by two car lengths to win the Feb. 20 Daytona 500. Ironically, Irvan won the 1991 Daytona 500 in the #4 Morgan-McClure/Kodak Chevrolet and enjoyed a successful three-year run with the Virginia-based team. This victory was Marlin's first -- and his 279th career start in 18 years of NASCAR Winston Cup competition. See more pictures of NASCAR.

February 27, 1994: Goodwrench 500

In Rusty Wallace's second start in a Ford, he rides to victory in the Goodwrench 500 at Rockingham. Wallace and the Roger Penske team switched from Pontiacs to Fords during the off-season.

March 27, 1994: TranSouth 400

Dale Earnhardt enjoys a resounding victory in Darlington's TranSouth 400. The 7.4-second triumph over runner-up Mark Martin is Earnhardt's ninth career win on the venerable Darlington track, one shy of David Pearson's all-time mark of 10 wins on the 1.366-mile oval.

Driver Geoff Bodine cruises ahead to win the 1994 Tyson Holly Farms 400, a NASCAR Winston Cup series event.
Geoff Bodine's #7 Ford runs inches ahead of #43 John Andretti and #4 Sterling Marlin in the Oct. 2 Tyson Holly Farms 400 at North Wilkesboro Speedway. Despite starting in 18th position, Bodine moved through the field and dominated the event, leading 335 of 400 laps. He finished a lap in front of Terry Labonte. It marked the last time a driver lapped the field in a NASCAR Cup Series event.

May 1, 1994

Dale Earnhardt gallops past Jimmy Spencer with five laps to go and racks up his seventh career win at Talladega Superspeedway. Earnhardt's Chevrolet finishes .06 second ahead of runner-up Ernie Irvan, who currently holds the championship points lead.

May 29, 1994: Coca-Cola 600

Youthful Jeff Gordon hustles past Ricky Rudd with nine laps to go and goes on to win the Coca-Cola 600. It is the first career NASCAR Winston Cup win for the 22-year-old.

Pit crews gather to congratulate driver Sterling Marlin on his 1994 Daytona 500 win -- a NASCAR Winston Cup event.
Rival pit crews stand at the edge of pit road to congratulate Sterling Marlin after his first career NASCAR Winston Cup win in the 1994 Daytona 500. Marlin took the lead 21 laps from the finish and kept runner-up Ernie Irvan at bay for the final 50 miles. It was the final win for the Chevrolet Lumina model in NASCAR's biggest annual event. The popular Monte Carlo would return in '95.

June 12, 1994

Rusty Wallace charges past Dale Earnhardt on the final lap and holds on to win at Pocono. A late caution flag sets up the final one-lap dash.

July 2, 1994: Pepsi 400

Jimmy Spencer nabs Ernie Irvan a few feet short of the finish line and prevails in a photo finish, scoring the first NASCAR Winston Cup win of his career in the Pepsi 400 at Daytona. Spencer leads only the final lap and beats Irvan by .08 second.

July 10, 1994: Slick 50 300

Ricky Rudd, in his first season as owner/driver, runs down Dale Earnhardt and scores a close win in the Slick 50 300 at New Hampshire International Speedway. It is Rudd's 15th career victory, marking the 12th consecutive season he has won at least one race.

Bobby Hamilton, Dale Earnhardt, Ernie Irvan, and Ward Burton in NASCAR's 1994 Food City 500.
Bobby Hamilton, Dale Earnhardt, Ernie Irvan, and Ward Burton speed down the frontstretch at Bristol International Raceway during the April 10 Food City 500. Earnhardt came from the 24th starting position to outdistance the 37-car field. He led the final 183 laps for his first short-track victory since October 1991.

August 6, 1994: Brickyard 400

Sophomore Jeff Gordon leads the final five laps and holds off Brett Bodine to win the inaugural Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. More than 340,000 trackside spectators watch Gordon claim his second career victory.

August 21, 1994: Champion Spark Plug 400

Geoff Bodine starts on the pole and dominates the Champion Spark Plug 400 at Michigan Inter­national Speedway. Ernie Irvan is critically hurt in a practice crash the day before the race.

September 4, 1994: Mountain Dew Southern 500

Bill Elliott ends a 52-race winless skid with a victory in Darlington's Mountain Dew Southern 500. Elliott overcomes heating problems to score his 40th career victory.

Dale Earnhardt leads in the 1994 Slick 50 300, a NASCAR Winston Cup series event.
Dale Earnhardt runs a length ahead of rookie Jeff Burton in the early stages of the Slick 50 300. Burton signed up with Bill and Mickey Stavola's Ford team in 1994, and the freshman driver performed remarkably. He recorded a pair of top-five finishes and won the Raybestos Rookie of the Year award despite formidable competition from brother Ward Burton, Joe Nemechek, and Steve Grissom.

September 25, 1994

Rusty Wallace scores a one-car-length victory over Dale Earn­hardt at Martinsville. Despite eight wins to Earnhardt's three, Wallace trails by 222 points and is effectively out of the championship hunt.

October 23, 1994

With a narrow victory over Rick Mast in the 500-miler at Rockingham, Dale Earnhardt locks up a record-tying seventh NASCAR Winston Cup championship.

Learn more about Earnhardt's victory and the 1994 NASCAR Winston Cup season's final standings on the next page.

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Entering the Aug. 21, 1994, NASCAR race at Michigan, Ernie Irvan and Dale Earnhardt were locked in a tight battle for supremacy in the 1994 NASCAR Winston Cup championship standings. However, Irvan ­suffered near-fatal injuries in a practice crash before the GM Goodwrench Dealers 400, leaving Earnhardt uncontested for the title.

1994 NASCAR Winston Cup Champion Dale Earnhardt
1994 NASCAR Winston Cup Champion Dale Earnhardt

Earnhardt finished 444 points ahead of runner-up Mark Martin to record his record-tying seventh NASCAR cham­pionship. Irvan led the standings after 12 of the first 18 races and appeared to be up to the challenge until his unfortunate crash took him out of the chase.

Earnhardt won four races during the campaign while Martin won twice. Rusty Wallace was again the season's top winner with eight wins, but he ­finished a distant third in the points. At one point in the season, Wallace won three of five races and never finished below seventh, yet he lost points to Earnhardt during the streak.

See more of the final standings from NASCAR's 1994 Winston Cup season in the chart below.

1994 NASCAR Winston Cup Standings

1 Dale Earnhardt
4,694 4 $3,300,733
2 Mark Martin
4,250 2 1,628,906
3 Rusty Wallace
4,207 8 1,914,072
4 Ken Schrader
4,060 0 1,171,062
5 Ricky Rudd
4,050 1 1,044,441
6 Morgan Shepherd
4,029 0 1,089,038
7 Terry Labonte
3,876 3 1,125,921
8 Jeff Gordon
3,776 2 1,779,523
9 Darrell Waltrip
3,688 0 835,680
10 Bill Elliott
3,617 1 936,779
11 Lake Speed
3,565 0 832,463
12 Michael Waltrip
3,512 0 706,426
13 Ted Musgrave
3,477 0 656,187
14 Sterling Marlin
3,443 1 1,127,683
15 Kyle Petty
3,339 0 806,332
16 Dale Jarrett
3,298 1 881,754
17 Geoff Bodine
3,297 3 1,276,126
18 Rick Mast
3,238 0 722,361
19 Brett Bodine
3,159 0 791,444
20 Todd Bodine
3,048 0 494,316
21 Bobby Labonte
3,038 0 550,305
22 Ernie Irvan
3026 3 1,311,522
23 Bobby Hamilton
2,749 0 514,520
24 Jeff Burton
2,726 0 594,700
25 Harry Gant
2,720 0 556,020
26 Hut Stricklin
2,711 0 333,495
27 Joe Nemechek
2,673 0 386,315
28 Steve Grissom
2,660 0 300,915
29 Jimmy Spencer
2,613 2 479,235
30 Derrike Cope
2,612 0 398,436
31 Greg Sacks
2,593 0 411,728
32 John Andretti
2,299 0 391,920
33 Mike Wallace
2,191 0 265,115
34 Dick Trickle
2,019 0 244,806
35 Ward Burton
1,971 0 302,950
36 Dave Marcis
1,910 0 261,650
37 Jeremy Mayfield
1,673 0 226,265
38 Wally Dallenbach, Jr.
1,493 0 241,492
39 Loy Allen, Jr.
1,468 0 216,751
40 Kenny Wallace
1,413 0 235,005
41 Jimmy Hensley
1,394 0 203,520
42 Chuck Bown
1,211 0 225,260
43 Rich Bickle
849 0 115,575
44 Bobby Hillin, Jr.
749 0 125,340
45 Brad Teague
548 0 59,990
46 Jeff Purvis
484 0 78,755
47 Billy Standridge
404 0 56,405
48 Randy LaJoie
312 0 30,565
49 Rick Carelli
283 0 31,975
50 Phil Parsons
243 0 21,415

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