1992 Atlanta 300 (partially found footage of NASCAR Busch Grand National Series race; 1992)

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Jeff Gordon celebrating his first ever NASCAR win.

Status: Partially Found

The 1992 Atlanta 300 (also known as the 1992 Atlanta Motor Speedway 300) was the fourth race of the 1992 NASCAR Busch Grand National Series. Occurring on 14th March at the Atlanta Motor Speedway, the race marked NASCAR history as Jeff Gordon won his first ever NASCAR event, using a Ford to edge out Buick's Harry Gant.

Background[edit | edit source]

The 1992 Atlanta 300 was the inaugural running of this event, with the race typically lasting just under 300 miles.[1] The only 1992 NASCAR Busch Grand National Series race to occur at Atlanta Motor Speedway,[2] the race has ties to the modern Nalley Cars 250, having dropped the Atlanta title from 1993, and being reduced to 250 miles from 2015 onwards.[3][4]

Prior to the race, qualifying commenced with Jeff Gordon winning the pole position with a speed of 173.821 mph.[1] Directly behind him was Oldsmobile's Tracy Leslie, with Mark Martin lining up third out of 43 competitors in a Ford.[1] This race was also one of the few Busch Grand National Series events that Rick Hendrick of Hendrick Motorsports was in attendance for, albeit en route for a sponsor meeting.[5][6] At the time, Hendrick Motorsports had garnered a reputation for attracting future Hall of Famers like Geoff Bodine and Darrell Waltrip, but although it had achieved 32 victories from 1984 to 1992, had been unable to challenge for a Winston Cup Series title.[5] Meanwhile, it was reported that then-Atlanta Falcons coach Jerry Glanville had attempted to enter the race, but his entry was rejected by NASCAR officials.[7] According to NASCAR's Vice President of Competition Les Richter, lack of experience was the reason, stating "The reason Jerry Glanville can't race at Atlanta is that he hasn't driven in a race. Until he races at a small-sized track where he can see his ability and how he handles himself, we can't allow him to drive at Atlanta."[7]

The Race[edit | edit source]

With the starting order decided, the 1992 Atlanta 300 commenced on 14th March.[1] Gordon maintained his lead from the start, dominating the first 67 laps before dropping it to Martin.[1] On lap 4, a 12-car crash instigated by Oldsmobile's Tom Peck resulted in Chevrolet's Ernie Irvan being involved, with the resulting crashes causing him to suffer a cracked collarbone and a bruised jaw.[8] Meanwhile, Martin quickly lost the lead to Harry Gant, who in turn would drop it to Chevrolet's Dale Earnhardt on lap 75.[1] Martin quickly regained the lead on lap 80 though, defending it for 24 consecutive laps before ultimately losing it back to Gant.[1] For the middle part of the race, it was a generally open competition for the lead, with Earnhardt also remaining in contention until a head gasket failure after 118 laps eliminated him from the running.[1]

By lap 140, Dale Jarrett was in the first position in a Chevrolet, defending it for 22 laps.[1] Near the end of Jarrett's time as the leader, Hendrick stopped to watch what was occurring on the track.[6][5] He witnesses the vehicle driven by Gordon charging by, with him stating "I get on the other side of the track, right at the fence and this car comes by and goes into the corner and smoke is rolling off the tires. I stopped and said, 'this guy is going to crash, watch this'".[6][5] But instead of crashing, Gordon maintained his composure despite generally racing "slideways" and achieved the final lead change on lap 162.[6][8][5][1] From there, Gordon primarily defended the lead against Gant and four others, eventually crossing the line by a margin of 3.57 seconds to claim victory and $30,170 in prize money.[8][6][1][5] Gant finished second, while Chevrolet's Hut Stricklin took third after narrowly losing a side-by-side battle with Gant.[8][1] Post-race, Gordon expressed how emotional he was to win, stating "On that last lap, man, I lost it. "I just choked up really bad the whole lap. This is the biggest dream come true for me ever and I'm thrilled to death."[8]

This would prove to be Gordon's first win in a NASCAR-sanctioned event, as well as what contributed greatly towards his future success in the Cup Series.[8][5][6] After witnessing Gordon's victory, Hendrick was convinced that the 20-year-old was suitable for his team, signing him in the Summer that same year.[5][6] Gordon would later compete in the final races of the 1992 Winston Cup Series.[5] From there, Gordon would achieve a grand total of 93 wins and four Cup Series titles, all with Hendrick Motorsports.[5] The team itself thrived even following Gordon's departure.[5] Between 1993 to 2015, it had won 208 wins and 12 Cup Series championships.[5]

Availability[edit | edit source]

Despite the historical significance of the event, this NASCAR race went untelevised.[9][10] It was known to be recorded, with ABC holding the rights to the Spring Atlanta event in the Winston Cup Series.[10][9] However, the recording was made only to be a backup should the Cup Series race be cancelled and filler was required to meet broadcast demands.[10] As the Spring Atlanta race in question, the 1992 Motorcraft Quality Parts 500, occurred without any issues, the ABC broadcast of the 1992 Atlanta 300 did not air.[11][10][9] Responding to a query regarding whether the event could be uploaded to YouTube, SMIFF TV, a prominent collector of NASCAR broadcasts, stated that the recording is unlikely to resurface even within the underground race trading market.[9] Nevertheless, some highlights would be uploaded to YouTube by Dave W.

Gallery[edit | edit source]

Videos[edit | edit source]

Highlights of the race.
NBR detailing the missing race broadcast (4:10-4:52).

Images[edit | edit source]

See Also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]