Photo: Action Sports Photography, Inc.

Throwback Thursday Theater: Gant Adds Another Win on September Hot Streak

By David Morgan, Associate Editor

September 1991.

The second stop of the month saw the NASCAR Winston Cup Series heading to Richmond Raceway for the Miller Genuine Draft 400, the first night race held on Richmond’s  0.75-mile oval. By the time all was said and done, the legend of “Mr. September” would have another chapter written.

Harry Gant had won the Southern 500 at Darlington the week prior and came to Richmond looking to make it back to back wins for the first time in his career. Ahead of the main event Saturday night, Gant drove to victory in the NASCAR Busch Series race the night before, giving him a bit of a confidence boost heading into the 400 lap Cup Series race.

Driving the same car that he had piloted to the win at Darlington, Gant qualified 13th in his Oldsmobile and when the green flag flew quietly started his march toward the front.

Rusty Wallace and Davey Allison led the majority of the early laps before Alan Kulwicki and Ernie Irvan found themselves at the front of the field, staging a thrilling battle for the lead. On lap 313, that battle took a turn as the two drivers collided and spun.

Gant was right in the mix behind Kulwicki and Irvan when they spun and ducked low to try and avoid them, but found himself tangled up with Morgan Shepherd instead. The collision with Shepherd did little to slow him down as he spun 360 degrees, threw it back into gear and kept going.

While Allison took over the lead as a result, Gant managed to hold onto second-place after his loop in Turn 1.

“I was really lucky,” Gant said of the spin. “Ain’t no way I should have missed that thing. We missed the wreck, but Morgan, he didn’t see them wrecking. He ran into me and spun me around, but the car ended up going the same way and we only lost one position there.”

For the next 68 laps, Allison held steady in the lead, pulling out to a sizeable advantage over Gant’s Oldsmobile, but even that couldn’t keep Gant from trying to capture the weekend sweep and keep his September race winning streak alive.

Lap after lap, Gant continued to reel in Allison’s Ford, with the two running side-by-side for several laps before Gant gained the upper hand and took over the lead for himself with 19 laps to go.

From that point on, it was all “Handsome Harry” as he crossed the line four car-lengths ahead of Allison to take the victory. Wallace finished third, followed by Irvan and Ricky Rudd rounding out the top-five.

“He was just going so fast there and I was running all I had. I had a little more in places, but if I tried to pass him, I couldn’t get by. I was just going to wear my tires out. It looked better for me and him to just follow each other. We were getting a lot of distance on everybody else.

“I looked up there at the scoreboard, we had 20 laps and I said ‘Well, I’m going to try it one more time!’ If I can get by him, I’m going. I got by him and it was all I could do to stay in front. I thought he was going to catch me back.”

Though Gant had questioned bringing his Darlington win car to Richmond, the 51-year old noted with a smile in Victory Lane that his crew made the right call to run the same car two weeks in a row.

“They said ‘Well, it won $100,000. Let’s try it again.’ I thought they were wrong, but they were right.”

Following his triumph at Richmond, Gant would go on to add two more wins at Dover and Martinsville before his four-race winning streak came to an end with a runner-up finish at North Wilkesboro in the final weekend of September.

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David Morgan is the Associate Editor for Motorsports Tribune. A 2008 graduate from the University of Mississippi, David has followed NASCAR since the early 90’s and became hooked at an early age after attending his first race at Talladega Superspeedway in 1993. He has traveled across the country since 2012 to cover some of the most prestigious events both IndyCar and NASCAR have to offer, with an aim to only expand on that in the near future.