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1986:

Number Two for the No. 3

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Title No. 2 for Earnhardt

Second-generation driver Dale Earnhardt wheeled the No. 3 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet to victory five times during the 1986 season en route to his second NASCAR Cup Series championship.

Earnhardt made his NASCAR Cup series debut during the 1975 Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway, but he did not become a series regular until 1979 when he was named rookie of the year. Driving for car owner Rod Osterlund, Earnhardt then shocked the racing world the following year when he won five races and captured the series championship. But midway through the 1981 season, Earnhardt suddenly found himself without a ride after Osterlund sold his race team.

Owner/driver Richard Childress elected to step out of the cockpit with 11 races remaining on the 1981 schedule. The decision opened the door for Earnhardt to finish the season and begin rebuilding his career. From there, Earnhardt joined team owner Bud Moore for two seasons in 1982 and 1983 before returning to Childress’ No. 3 Chevrolet the following year. Entering the 1986 season, Earnhardt had earned six victories and 36 top-10 finishes since returning to RCR and was among the favorites to claim the series title.

Capitalizing on a new sloped rear window design that improved the aerodynamics of the Chevrolet Monte Carlo, Earnhardt won at Darlington, North Wilkesboro, Charlotte, Rockingham and Atlanta. With 16 top-five finishes and 23 top-10 results in 29 races, Earnhardt’s numbers proved good enough to claim his second title by 288 points over Darrell Waltrip, who was chasing his fourth championship in Junior Johnson’s No. 11 Chevrolet.

Earnhardt, who grew up in Kannapolis, North Carolina, went on to claim additional championships with RCR in 1987, 1990, 1991, 1993 and 1994.

1986

PRESIDENT: Ronald Reagan

NO. 1 AT THE BOX OFFICE: Top Gun

NO. 1 SONG: “That’s What Friends Are For” By Dionne & Friends

POP CULTURE: “The Oprah Winfrey Show” Debuts

GALLON OF GAS: 86 Cents

BEST DRIVER

TIM RICHMOND, driving the No. 25 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet, recorded seven victories, 13 top-five finishes, 17 top-10 results and eight poles in 29 starts during 1986. His biggest victory came in the prestigious Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway. He also scored race wins that year at Pocono, Daytona, Richmond, Watkins Glen and twice on the road course in Riverside, California. The driver from Ashland, Ohio, ended up sharing Driver of the Year honors with Dale Earnhardt.

BEST RACE

ON FEB. 23, 1986, AT Virginia’s Richmond Raceway, Kyle Petty, driving the No. 7 Wood Brothers Racing Ford, scored his first career victory when race leaders Dale Earnhardt and Darrell Waltrip crashed on the last lap while battling for the win. As Waltrip attempted to pass to the inside down the backstretch, the two cars made contact, sending both hard into the outside guardrail. Petty avoided the carnage to emerge as a surprise winner.

TOP CARS

TIM RICHMOND’S Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet recorded seven wins, 13 top-five finishes, 17 top-10 results and eight poles in 29 starts. Dale Earnhardt’s Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet posted five victories, 16 top-five finishes, 23 top-10 results and one pole position.

SEASON RECAP

DATE | LOCATION | WINNER

Feb. 16 | Daytona International Speedway | Geoff Bodine

Feb. 23 | Richmond Raceway | Kyle Petty

March 2 | Rockingham Speedway | Terry Labonte

March 16 | Atlanta Motor Speedway | Morgan Shepherd

April 6 | Bristol Motor Speedway | Rusty Wallace

April 13 | Darlington Raceway | Dale Earnhardt

April 20 | North Wilkesboro Speedway | Dale Earnhardt

April 27 | Martinsville Speedway | Ricky Rudd

May 4 | Talladega Superspeedway | Bobby Allison

May 18 | Dover International Speedway | Geoff Bodine

May 25 | Charlotte Motor Speedway | Dale Earnhardt

June 1 | Riverside Raceway | Darrell Waltrip

June 8 | Pocono Raceway | Tim Richmond

June 15 | Michigan International Speedway | Bill Elliott

July 4 | Daytona International Speedway | Tim Richmond

July 20 | Pocono Raceway | Tim Richmond

July 27 | Talladega Superspeedway | Bobby Hillin Jr.

Aug. 10 | Watkins Glen International | Tim Richmond

Aug. 17 | Michigan International Speedway | Bill Elliott

Aug. 23 | Bristol Motor Speedway | Darrell Waltrip

Aug. 31 | Darlington Raceway | Tim Richmond

Sept. 7 | Richmond Raceway | Tim Richmond

Sept. 14 | Dover International Speedway | Ricky Rudd

Sept. 21 | Martinsville Speedway | Rusty Wallace

Sept. 28 | North Wilkesboro Speedway | Darrell Waltrip

Oct. 5 | Charlotte Motor Speedway | Dale Earnhardt

Oct. 19 | Rockingham Speedway | Neil Bonnett

Nov. 2 | Atlanta Motor Speedway | Dale Earnhardt

Nov. 16 | Riverside Raceway | Tim Richmond

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Noah Teich

Noah Teich

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