A TUMS’ “FIGHTS BACK FAST”MOMENT
(For each of the 36 races during the 2011 Sprint Cup season, TUMS will provide a brief historical recap of a moment when a team fought back to overcome an obstacle, one that can easily be described as a TUMS “Fights Back Fast” Moment. This week, the focus is on Dover International Speedway).
JODY RIDLEY SURPRISES NASCAR FIELD WITH 1981 WIN AT DOVER
The date was May 17, 1981. Rookie driver Jody Ridley surprised the Sprint Cup (then Winston Cup) regulars at Dover International Speedway when he put his Junie Donlavey-owned No. 90 Ford in victory lane. He conserved the last set of tires on his Ford and inherited the lead for the final 19 laps after the engine in Cale Yarborough’s Chevrolet let go and sent him to the garage. He ran strong in the top-10 throughout the race in NASCAR’s highest division of racing and was determined to stay there.
NOTE: TUMS is the sponsor of the TUMS Fast Relief 500, the seventh race in the Chase for the Sprint Cup, at Martinsville Speedway on October 30.
Neil Bonnett dominated the race and led 403 of the race’s 500 laps in the Wood Brothers Ford but like Yarborough, his engine couldn’t stand the long distance and hot temperature.
Ridley, a popular winner on the Georgia short tracks, went on to win Rookie of the Year honors that season. The victory was Donlavey’s first and only win as a team owner since joining the NASCAR circuit in 1950. Donlavey remained a team owner until 2002.
“This has got to be the biggest thrill for Junie than it is for me,” Ridley said in victory lane. “He’s been at this for 30 years. I’m a rookie in the Grand Nationals and I just can’t believe it. This is the biggest thrill of my life.”