|Race 16 of 30 in the 1984 NASCAR Winston Cup Series season|
Track map of Daytona International Speedway showing mainly the speedway.
|Date||July 4, 1984|
|Official name||Firecracker 400|
|Location||Daytona Speedway. Daytona Beach, Florida|
Permanent racing facility|
2.500 mi (4.000 km)
|Distance||160 laps, 400 mi (643 km)|
|Weather||Very hot with temperatures approaching 87.1 °F (30.6 °C) with 0.47 inches (12 mm) of rain reported within 24 hours of the race; wind speeds up to 11.1 miles per hour (17.9 km/h)|
|Average speed||171.204 miles per hour (275.526 km/h)|
|Most laps led|
|Driver||Cale Yarborough||Ranier-Lundy Racing|
|No. 43||Richard Petty||Curb Racing|
|Television in the United States|
Jim Lampley |
The 1984 Firecracker 400 was a NASCAR Winston Cup Series (now Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series) racing event that took place on July 4, 1984, at Daytona International Speedway (Daytona Beach, Florida.
Richard Petty, driving the #43 Pontiac for Curb Racing, won the race. The victory gave Petty his 200th win in NASCAR Winston Cup Series competition, extending his longstanding record. It was also his final race victory before his 1992 retirement. The race was also notable for U.S. President Ronald Reagan's attendance.
The "Start your engine" command was given by President Ronald Reagan from the phone on Air Force One, which later landed at Daytona Beach International Airport. President Reagan then was escorted to one of the main press boxes at the speedway where he was met by a number of reporters, one of them being Ned Jarrett, who offered him to do some play-by-play commentary on MRN.
There were three cautions for fifteen laps and the race ended under caution. Dean Roper would make his final NASCAR Winston Cup Series start in this event. Dale Earnhardt would take over the championship lead from Darrell Waltrip at the end of the race.
A live audience of 80,000 people attended the race. Only manual transmission vehicles were allowed to participate in this race; a policy that NASCAR has retained to the present day.
Notable entrants in the race included Geoff Bodine, Ricky Rudd, David Pearson, Dale Jarrett (his first start on a superspeedway), Rusty Wallace, Kyle Petty, Buddy Baker, Sterling Marlin, Tim Richmond, and Darrell Waltrip.
ABC Sports carried the race on American television on a tape-delayed basis on ABC's Wide World of Sports. Jim Lampley provided the lap-by-lap call with Sam Posey as analyst with Larry Nuber covering the action in the pits.
Radio coverage was provided by MRN with Eli Gold, Ned Jarrett, and Barney Hall in the booth with Mike Joy reporting from the track. After President Reagan's arrival at the track, he joined the MRN crew in the booth for a brief period.
On lap 158 of 160, Petty and Cale Yarborough, driving the #28 Chevrolet for Ranier-Lundy Racing, were battling for the lead. While this was going on, Doug Heveron wrecked the #01 Chevrolet in turn one. The race was placed under caution, and as per NASCAR's rules at the time the caution period did not begin until the leaders reached the start/finish line. Petty and Yarborough continued their battle through turns three and four, with the first driver to make it back to the line also taking home the race victory as the positions would be held once they crossed and there would not have been enough time to clear the track and resume the race. Petty managed to beat Yarborough by a nose, taking the win. Yarborough did not finish second, however, as he pulled off track too early and was passed by Harry Gant in the #33 Oldsmobile.
After completing the final lap, Petty got out of his car and began heading up toward the suite level of the track where the President had been watching the race to greet him.
A fight between Pearson and Richmond broke out in the garage after the race. Pearson managed to punch Richmond below the left eye before crew members of both teams and NASCAR officials broke the fight. While it was unclear what triggered the fight, it was reported that Pearson's car leaked oil on the track after blowing a head gasket and Richmond made an obscene gesture at him.
At 3:00 p.m., President Reagan joined Petty and other drivers for a Kentucky Fried Chicken and Pepsi picnic. During the picnic, country singer Tammy Wynette stood arm-in-arm with the President on stage while singing "Stand by Your Man".
Rumors later circulated that Petty's engine in the race was illegal, a controversy revived during Speedweeks 1995 when Autoweek magazine published a story alleging certain levels of favoritism by NASCAR officials over the years. The engine was built by DiGard Racing as part of a lease deal with Curb Motorsports, and on race morning there had been a dispute between the two teams over lateness of payments; Richard Petty himself offered to cover whatever payments had been missed. Though rumors about the legality of the engine had circulated, especially in the ensuing year's Firecracker 400 when another DiGard engine was claimed to be oversized, though the claims were later denied by NASCAR, the consensus of evidence is that the engine was legal. In both cases, future NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee Robert Yates (Class of 2018) was the engine builder for DiGard.
Also, because of the 1971 Myers Brothers 250, there is a dispute whether this is Petty's 200th or 201st win. The 1971 race at Bowman Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem, North Carolina was a combination race with Grand American and Grand National cars, Petty had finished second in a Grand National car to a Grand American car (Bobby Allison, driving a Mustang) that won the race; under current NASCAR rules for combination races, and in motorsport for races involving multiple divisions of cars racing at the same time, both division winners would be credited a win for their division. No win was credited in the Grand National division, and if guidelines for combination races were used then, Petty would be credited with a win.