1996 NASCAR Winston Cup Recap

In 1996, NASCAR became a big enough operation to command a New York City office, and Jeff Gordon had his best season ever on the tracks, winning 10 races. However, he was outmaneuvered for the Winston Cup, which went to fellow Chevrolet driver Terry Labonte instead.

Get the play-by-play on the NASCAR season, and see highlight pictures, with this 1996 NASCAR Winston Cup chronology:

February 18, 1996: Daytona 500

Dale Jarrett passes Dale Earnhardt with 24 laps remaining and scores his second win in the Daytona 500. Jarrett blocks Earnhardt's final-lap moves to post a .12-second victory.

February 25, 1996: Goodwrench 400

Dale Earnhardt swats erstwhile leader Bobby Hamilton out of the way with 50 miles to go and sprints to a controversial win in the Goodwrench 400 at Rockingham.

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Sterling Marlin takes the lead during the 1996 Daytona 500, a NASCAR Winston Cup series event.
Sterling Marlin, trying to become the first man in history to post a three-peat in The Great American Race, forged to the front in his #4 Kodak Chevrolet on the 77th lap of the Feb. 18 Daytona 500. After biding his time through the first 190 miles, Marlin seemed poised to etch his name into the history books. But three laps after he took the lead, his engine soured, ­leaving him with a disappointing 40th-place finish. See more pictures of NASCAR.

April 14, 1996: First Union 400

Terry Labonte ties Richard Petty's streak of 513 consecutive NASCAR Winston Cup starts, capping a perfect weekend by winning the First Union 400 from the pole. Chevrolets finish 1-2-3-4-5 in the race.

April 28, 1996: Winston Select 500

Sterling Marlin holds on for a narrow victory in the Winston Select 500 at Talladega, an event that sends Ricky Craven and Bill Elliott to the hospital. Craven is only bruised, but Elliott suffers a broken leg in a single-car crash.

May 26, 1996: Coca-Cola 600

Dale Jarrett starts deep in the field but runs away for an easy triumph in Charlotte's Coca-Cola 600.

Dale Jarrett takes the lead in the 1996 Mountain Dew Southern 500, a NASCAR Winston Cup series event.
Dale Jarrett guns his #88 Ford into the lead to start the Sept. 1 Mountain Dew Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway. Jarrett had a shot at the Winston Million bonus, having won at Daytona and Charlotte earlier in the season and was in first place when a blown tire sent his car into the wall. He lost a couple of laps in the pits, then returned to the race and finished 14th. Jeff Gordon, who started second, went on to win

June 16, 1996

Jeff Gordon rolls to his fifth win of the season at Pocono. Dale Earnhardt finishes 32nd, but still leads the championship race by 52 points over Terry Labonte.

July 14, 1996: Jiffy Lube 300

Ernie Irvan caps his miraculous comeback from life-threatening injuries by winning the Jiffy Lube 300 at New Hampshire Inter­national Speedway.

July 28, 1996: DieHard 500

Jeff Gordon surges past a thinned-out field to win the shortened DieHard 500 at Talladega for his sixth win of the season. Dale Earnhardt escapes with a broken sternum and a fractured collarbone after a 20-car crash.

Bobby Hamilton and Dale Earnhardt drive in the 1996 Goodwrench 400, a NASCAR Winston Cup series event.
In the late stages of the Feb. 25 Goodwrench 400 at Rockingham, Bobby Hamilton appeared to be in for his first NASCAR Winston Cup victory. Then a caution flag interrupted his bid for a convincing win. On the restart, Hamilton dashed to the front, but as he assumed command, Earnhardt flicked the quarter panel of his Pontiac, sending it out of control and into the wall. Hamilton blew a tire and crashed two laps later as Earnhardt drove to a controversial victory.

August 3, 1996: Brickyard 400

Dale Jarrett passes Ernie Irvan with seven laps to go and wins the Brickyard 400. Rookie Johnny Benson, Jr., leads the most laps but drops back in a pit-stop shuffle and finishes eighth.

August 11, 1996

Geoff Bodine ends a two-year drought by winning on his hometown track in Watkins Glen, N.Y. Dale Earnhardt, driving with painful injuries, wins the pole and finishes sixth.

September 1, 1996

Jeff Gordon scores his third straight victory at Darlington and seventh of the season, thwarting Hut Stricklin's upset bid. Stricklin leads the most laps, but overheating problems knock him off the pace in the final laps.

Sterling Marlin leads during a 1996 NASCAR Winston Cup series race at Talladega.
Sterling Marlin keeps his yellow Kodak Chevrolet Monte Carlo at the head of the line in the waning laps of Talladega's spring 500-miler. Marlin led the final 22 laps and sped to his fifth career NASCAR Winston Cup win. He beat runner-up Dale Jarrett by .22 second.

September 29, 1996: Tyson Holly Farms 400

Jeff Gordon racks up his 10th win of the year in the Tyson Holly Farms 400 at North Wilkes­boro Speedway. It is the final event in the colorful history of the 5/8-mile oval. New owners Bruton Smith and Bob Bahre will move future North Wilkesboro race dates to Texas and New Hampshire, respectively.

October 6, 1996

Terry Labonte moves to within one point of NASCAR Winston Cup standings leader Jeff Gordon with a win at Charlotte. Gordon has won 10 races to Labonte's two, but the points race is the closest in NASCAR history.

Terry Labonte and Bobby Hamilton drive in the 1996 Miller Genuine Draft 500, a NASCAR Winston Cup series event.
Number 5 Terry Labonte and #43 Bobby Hamilton battle side-by-side on Dover Downs' "Monster Mile" during the June 2 Miller Genuine Draft 500. Labonte finished second to teammate Jeff Gordon and maintained second place in the NASCAR Winston Cup standings. Labonte trailed Dale Earnhardt by 136 points at the time, but the tough Texan began a summer charge that would put him atop the standings by July.

October 27, 1996: Dura Lube 500

Bobby Hamilton drives the Petty Enterprises Pontiac to victory in the Dura Lube 500 at Phoenix International Raceway. It is the first NASCAR Winston Cup victory for Petty Enterprises since 1983.

November 10, 1996

Bobby Labonte holds off Dale Jarrett in a spirited duel to win the season finale at Atlanta, as his brother Terry finishes fifth and wraps up his second NASCAR Winston Cup championship. The elder Labonte finishes 37 points ahead of Jeff Gordon to nail down the title.

There were battles for points and battles for victories on the track throughout the 1996 NASCAR season. See how the final standings stacked up on the next page.

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Hendrick Motorsports teammates Terry Labonte and Jeff Gordon battled for the 1996 NASCAR Winston Cup championship, and Labonte ­parlayed consistency to win his second title.

1996 NASCAR Winston Cup Champion Terry Labonte
1996 NASCAR Winston Cup Champion Terry Labonte

Labonte took the lead in the standings with a third-place finish at Rockingham in late October. Top-five finishes in the final two events were enough to capture the title by 37 points over Gordon.

Gordon won 10 races, while Labonte won twice. Both Chevrolet drivers had 21 top-five finishes and 24 top-10 efforts. Gordon led 2,314 laps as Labonte led 973 laps. Gordon seemed to have a better year, but Labonte was able to come out on top of the points race thanks to fewer DNFs.

Four-time winner Dale Jarrett placed third in the NASCAR Winston Cup standings and two-time winner Dale Earnhardt finished fourth. See how the rest of the field lined up in the 1996 NASCAR Winston Cup standings that follow.

1996 NASCAR Winston Cup Standings

1 Terry Labonte
4,657 2 $4,030,648
2 Jeff Gordon
4,620 10 3,428,485
3 Dale Jarrett
4,568 4 2,985,418
4 Dale Earnhardt
4,327 2 2,285,926
5 Mark Martin
4,278 0 1,887,396
6 Ricky Rudd
3,845 1 1,503,025
7 Rusty Wallace
3,717 5 1,665,315
8 Sterling Marlin
3,682 2 1,588,425
9 Bobby Hamilton
3,639 1 1,151,235
10 Ernie Irvan
3,632 2 1,683,313
11 Bobby Labonte
3,590 1 1,475,196
12 Ken Schrader
3,540 0 1,089,603
13 Jeff Burton
3,538 0 884,303
14 Michael Waltrip
3,535 0 1,182,811
15 Jimmy Spencer
3,476 0 1,090,876
16 Ted Musgrave
3,466 0 961,512
17 Geoff Bodine
3,218 1 1,031,762
18 Rick Mast
3,190 0 924,559
19 Morgan Shepherd
3,133 0 719,059
20 Ricky Craven
3,078 0 941,959
21 Johnny Benson
3,004 0 947,080
22 Hut Stricklin
2,854 0 631,055
23 Lake Speed
2,834 0 817,175
24 Brett Bodine
2,814 0 767,716
25 Wally Dallenbach, Jr.
2,786 0 837,001
26 Jeremy Mayfield
2,721 0 592,853
27 Kyle Petty
2,696 0 689,041
28 Kenny Wallace
2,694 0 457,665
29 Darrell Waltrip
2,657 0 740,185
30 Bill Elliott
2,627 0 716,506
31 John Andretti
2,621 0 688,511
32 Robert Pressley
2,485 0 690,465
33 Ward Burton
2,411 0 873,619
34 Joe Nemechek
2,391 0 666,247
35 Derrike Cope
2,374 0 675,781
36 Dick Trickle
2,131 0 404,927
37 Bobby Hillin, Jr.
2,128 0 395,224
38 Dave Marcis
2,047 0 435,177
39 Steve Grissom
1,188 0 314,983
40 Todd Bodine
991 0 198,525
41 Mike Wallace
799 0 169,082
42 Greg Sacks
710 0 207,755
43 Elton Sawyer
705 0 129,618
44 Chad Little
627 0 164,752
45 Loy Allen, Jr.
603 0 130,667
46 Gary Bradberry
591 0 155,785
47 Mike Skinner
529 0 65,850
48 Jeff Purvis
328 0 91,127
49 Jeff Green
247 0 46,875
50 Randy MacDonald
228 0 33,910

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