As the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series gears up for their race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway this weekend, we’ll take a look back as we do each week at a race from New Hampshire’s past in this week’s edition of “Throwback Thursday Theater.” This week, we’ll go in depth on the very first race at the track – the 1993 Slick 50 300.
The track first opened in 1990, with the Busch Series becoming the first NASCAR national series to compete at the track. After the success of the Busch Series events, the Cup Series was the next to join in at the track in July of 1993 with the inaugural Slick 50 300.
As the race began in front of a sold-out crowd, Mark Martin led the field from the green, but it did not take long for the first caution of the day to fly on lap three. Jeff Burton, making his first Cup Series start, got loose in Turn 1 and spun, taking Ken Schrader and Ernie Irvan with him. Once the field went back to green, Martin took off with the lead once again, but the yellow came back out just five laps later involving Schrader, Michael Waltrip, Phil Parsons, and Jerry O’Neil. All but Waltrip would be done for the day at that point.
After the two quick cautions to start the race, the field settled into a groove for the next 72 laps with Martin and Sterling Marlin leading the lion’s share of the laps, along with Davey Allison, Jeff Gordon, and Dale Jarrett all taking turns up front as green flag pit stops were underway just prior to Burton getting into the wall for the second time of the day, which ended his race following this accident.
Allison would keep the lead on the ensuing restart, but after a bump from the lapped car of Dale Earnhardt, Allison slid up the track, allowing Marlin to scoot by for the lead as Allison fell back to seventh from the lead.
Marlin would hold onto the lead for the next 71 laps which encompassed mostly green flag laps and the fourth caution of the day for Dick Trickle spinning into the Turn 2 wall on lap 124.
As Allison caught Marlin for the lead with Rusty Wallace, who had started the day in 33rd, in tow, the fifth caution of the day would fly on lap 164 for debris on the backstretch, bringing all of the leaders down pit road. Allison’s crew was able to get him out in front once again on that round of pit stops, but the ensuing restart would be déjà vu for the No. 28 team.
Wallace would get by Allison on the restart and would set sail with the lead, leading the next 76 laps before another round of green flag stops began. During that round of stops, Jeff Gordon would take over the lead for a lap before Allison took his car back to the lead at lap 245.
For the next 26 laps, Allison would pace the field, but when a rear axle cap came off of a car and brought out the final caution, the final round of pit stops would see Wallace’s crew get his No. 2 car off pit road first with a quicker stop than Allison. That was all it took, as Wallace was able to check out with the lead over the final 27 laps to score his fifth win of the season.
Martin would get by Allison for second, dropping Allison to third at the finish. The remainder of the lead lap cars would be Dale Jarrett, Ricky Rudd, Sterling Marlin, and Jeff Gordon finishing fourth through seventh.
“The car was perfect today, I’m telling you. Motor ran great, the tires were great, you know, just everything was great. I really boneheaded it in qualifying, had the fastest car here in practice, I overdrove it and got up in the loose stuff and started 33rd. Let me tell you something, there was a little pressure on myself to perform for these guys that worked real hard. I’m just happy that Emerson (Fittipaldi) and (Paul) Tracy did good today, another Penske team, and we were able to do this for them today. Great comeback, we weren’t ever down, just taking a little nap, I think,” Wallace said in victory lane.
Though he had victory slip away from him on the last round of pit stops, Allison was still all smiles after the race and his third place finish.
“Our car was a little bit loose and we put a half of a round of bite in and that really set the car up for the end of the race. We didn’t need that last caution, but luck plays an important role in this game and today was Rusty’s lucky day. We’ve got to congratulate them, because they ran a strong race to come from the back of the pack like they did to win it. We had a good race, had a lot of fun out there racing today. Our Texaco-Havoline race team did a great job and it was fun to lead a race for a change and especially fun to finish on the lead lap. I’ve had some orders from home, I talked to Krista last night on the phone and she told me that if I don’t tell her ‘Hey’ next time I’m on TV, I’m going to be in trouble when I get back. So, hey Krista, and Robbie, and Liz,” Allison said.
Unfortunately, this race would be the last of Allison’s career as he would crash his helicopter while landing at Talladega Superspeedway the next day to watch Neil Bonnett test for his return to racing and would succumb to his injuries the day after the crash, leaving the sport mourning the loss of one of the superstars of his generation and wondering what might have been had he lived.