By David Morgan, Associate Editor
Throughout the years, the “Dale and Dale Show” between Dale Earnhardt and Dale Jarrett had several episodes, but the first one back in 1993 may have been the best as the two future NASCAR Hall of Famers battled it out in the season opening Daytona 500.
Earnhardt was still looking for his first win in the Great American Race, while Jarrett was entering his second season with upstart Joe Gibbs Racing as the team was still searching for their first win.
By the time the checkered flag waved, it would be Jarrett and JGR taking home the victory, with Jarrett’s father Ned providing the call to the finish from the CBS broadcast booth.
Kyle Petty and Jarrett led the field to the green, but it was Earnhardt taking his place at the front of the pack in short order and leading the way for much of the day.
As the laps wound down, Earnhardt remained at the top of the leaderboard, but with 30 laps to go a vicious wreck on the backstretch involving Rusty Wallace reset everything and bunched the leaders back up for the final run to the finish.
The crash started when Michael Waltrip and Derrike Cope got together coming off of Turn 2 and Wallace happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time, when he got tagged in the right rear quarter panel, turning him sideways and eventually airborne.
Wallace flipped nearly a dozen times, tumbling through the backstretch grass before his demolished Ford came to a rest right side up and required safety workers to have to cut the roof off the car to extricate him. Fortunately, Wallace would be okay, walking to the ambulance under his own power.
Back up front, the race was heading for a thrilling conclusion, with Earnhardt still in the lead, followed by Gordon, Jarrett, and Geoff Bodine.
Jarrett made his move with two laps to go, getting around Gordon for the runner-up spot and setting his sights on dethroning Earnhardt from the lead. Heading into Turn 3 on the penultimate lap, Earnhardt washed up the track and Jarrett found his opening, pulling alongside the seven-time champion as they made it back to the frontstretch and took the white flag.
Nearly touching through the tri-oval, Jarrett and Earnhardt were neck and neck as the white flag flew before Jarrett was able to pull ahead down the backstretch. From there he just had to hold off the Intimidator and the victory was his.
With a Daytona 500 victory just 2.5 miles away, the elder Jarrett coached his son along throughout the final lap, leading to one of the most memorable moments in the race’s history.
“It’s the Dale and Dale Show as we come off of Turn 4,” Ned called from the broadcast booth. “You know who I’m pulling for, it’s Dale Jarrett. Bring her to the inside, Dale. Don’t let him get down there. He’s going to make it! Dale Jarrett is going to win the Daytona 500!”
As Jarrett pulled into Victory Lane, neither he nor his father could wipe the grin off their faces as the younger Jarrett had accomplished a feat his Hall of Fame father never was able to – winning the Daytona 500.
“Exactly like you told me all along, Dad,” Dale said when talking to his father in Victory Lane. “I appreciate it. This is a great day…You came so close, back I believe it was in ’63 when you ran out of fuel, I thought we’d get this one for the whole family.”
Jarrett would go on to win the Daytona 500 twice more in 1996 and 2000 and joined his father in the NASCAR Hall of Fame in 2014.
As for Joe Gibbs Racing, that win in February 1993 was the first of 173 wins and counting for drivers that have piloted cars under the JGR banner over the years. The team has become a true powerhouse in the sport, with their leader Joe Gibbs being inducted into the Hall of Fame earlier this year, making him the first to have a spot in both the NASCAR Hall of Fame and NFL Hall of Fame.
“I just want to thank the Lord for giving me this kind of a second great thrill of my life,” Gibbs said standing in Victory Lane that day. “A Super Bowl and now the Super Bowl of stock car racing. I’m the most thankful guy in the world.”