When newer fans hear people lament about the old days when there weren’t restrictor plates at Talladega and Daytona, this is what we’re talking about – the 1984 Talladega 500. Dale Earnhardt and Buddy Baker battling for a win, notchback Monte Carlo SS and Ford Thunderbirds, and Ken Squier calling the action with one of his famous lines “Earnhardt winds it up, fires it in there” as he makes his move to take the win.
Wide open racing at speeds well over 205 mph in the draft on the backstretch, cars dancing around, and some of the best in-car camera work in motorsports. Somehow we’ve regressed in the latter — CBS used to nail it with three cameras around the track, and a bunch of remote in-car work positioned to show you what the driver was seeing, not to maximize sponsor sticker exposure. This race is also memorable for being the first win together for Dale Earnhardt and Richard Childress. Talladega would also be the final win for the duo in 2000. –Vito Pugliese
Can’t have this list without the 2009 Aaron’s 499. Some fairly unknown kid named Brad Keselowski wins his first race after making contact with Carl Edwards, leading to one of the most violent wrecks in recent years. The wreck was terrifying and a few people in the grandstands were injured from it, but the great part of it was that Edwards was able to get out of the car unscratched and do his best Ricky Bobby impression across the finish line. –Michael Massie
I know it’s been done over and over again, but Dale Earnhardt’s last victory in 2000 is worth watching again. I mean, he was 18th with four laps to go and came up the middle to the front. The bonus? Half the field didn’t get taken out in a crash prior to the finish. They wrecked coming across the line, sure, but that was it. Hands down the best plate race I’ve seen, ever. –Amy Henderson
Mine is an episode of the show 100k Cams from ’15. I wish they would do more of these. –Zach Catanzareti
I have a couple. First, in 2003 Dale Earnhardt Jr. won even after being in a crash and the crew having to repair the car. That just doesn’t happen at plate tracks and speaks to the strength of those DEI machines.
The second is Brian Vickers becoming the most hated man in Alabama in 2006. He did it by wrecking Earnhardt and Jimmie Johnson simultaneously on the last lap of the fall race with the title on the line. –Frank Velat
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