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Monday, June 27, 2016

Al Unser Jr. #46 Valvoline Synthetic Chevrolet

    Welcome back Racing Champions fans~ I've been wanting to do this post for quite some time, and finally got some free time today to get it done~ I'm gonna be jumping back to the 1993 Daytona 500 so we can re-live Al Unser Jr's time in the #46 Valvoline Synthetic Chevrolet, which he drove for Rick Hendrick for a grand total of, 1 race~ :P

    The story begins in the winter of 1992, when Al Unser Jr. gets a call from Rick Hendrick, inviting Al, and his current sponsor Valvoline to come race the Daytona 500 for him~ For years, several NASCAR drivers, including Dale Earnhardt, and Kyle Petty, had begged Unser to make the jump over to NASCAR.. and this deal with Hendrick had everyone wondering if it was gonna be a permanent switch~

    Coming into Speedweeks, Unser was having trouble finding speed.. and was at the bottom of the speed charts constantly~ He crashed during his 125 race, and barely squeaked into the field on his qualifying time, starting 40th in the 41 car field~ (Before 1995, 10 cars got in on time.. Unser was the final car to get in on time, so if this would have been 1995, he wouldn't have made the race.. as they changed the rule to only 8 get in on their speed)~

                                                   Al Unser Jr.'s actual Daytona 500 car~
Racing Champions Blog Synthetic Die-Cast Valvoline Ken Schrader

    As I said earlier, Unser crashed his main car during his 125 qualifying race~ They didn't bring a back up car for him.. so he was given Ken Schrader's Busch Clash car~ Just making the field was a major accomplishment, as 13 drivers failed to do so.. including my personal favorite driver, Brad Teague~

    Despite his horrid starting position, Unser actually showed some speed in the race, and was moving right through the field~ The field was bunched up after a caution on lap 149, and got the re-start on lap 155~ Dale Earnhardt kinda made a bone head move by diving by Unser to take the spot away coming out of the turn.. Unser thought he had cleared Earnhardt by the time they were out of the turn, but he just clipped the front of Earnhardt's car, sending him flying into the grass, before coming back up onto the track~

    Bobby Hillin was also involved in the crash, and came back up onto the track, collecting Kyle Petty~ Kyle had been promised an extra 1 million dollars by car owner Felix Sabates, if he won the race.. so Kyle was pretty fumed~ He later called Hillin "The little blind boy"~ After the crash, Unser's day was done, resulting in a 36th place finish~

                                                      Unser's main car before the crash~
Al Unser Racing Champions 1/64 Valvoline Daytona 500 1993 Blog

    Though that was the end of Unser's NASCAR career, it was much more than that~ This was the first Daytona 500 for Jeff Gordon, as well as the last for Alan Kulwicki, and Davey Allison~ It was also the first time the #43 hadn't been on the track in eons.. with Richard retiring, and Rick Wilson driving the newly numbered 44 STP car~ It was also the last Daytona 500 for Jimmy Means Racing, who had Jimmy Hensley driving for them~ And let's not forget, Rusty Wallace's violent crash.. I thought he was dead for sure~ Everyone that saw it did~ I was so happy he made it out alive~

    For many people, the ending of the 1993 Daytona 500 was amazing~ For me, I wanted to puke~ I couldn't stand Dale Jarrett, basically because no matter where he was in the field, Ned had to bring it up 50 times during the race.. "I can see Dale Jarrett is there running in the 32nd position.. he must be having some issues today, Chris Economaki"~ That bothered me so much~ I was hoping that Earnhardt was gonna win it that day.. and instead, it was boring ol' Dale Jarrett~ lol~

                                            Al Unser Jr. #46 Valvoline Synthetic Chevrolet~
Al Unser Jr. #46 Valvoline Racing Champions 1/64 1993 Daytona 500 Chevy Blog NASCAR
                                                             Click pics to enlarge~
Al Unser Jr. #46 Valvoline Racing Champions 1/64 1993 Daytona 500 Chevy Blog NASCAR

    Well, this is my very first little custom job I've ever done~ I still haven't printed off the card.. I just Photoshopped it in back there for now, but I think it's a pretty nice job~ There really isn't that many pictures of Al with this car.. I think I used every one of them from Google for the blog today, minus the ones with copyright stuff on them, like Getty Images~

    The car is pretty much spot on from his 125 car, with the exception of the Pyroil logo in place of the Napa one~ I wish they would have made his Daytona 500 Ken Schrader Busch Clash car, but I'm not aware of one being made~ All in all, I love this little car~ I'll be glad when I get the card printed, so I can display it like this, and I'm pleased with the job I did on it~ I give it an A- on the Racing Champions quality scale, with the minus being for the NAPA logo being replaced~

    I can't say I'm personally a fan of Unser's private life.. but I can say it's none of my business.. really~ Unser made a lot of bad decisions that took away from his full driving ability~ He was chocked full of talent, yet couldn't get past his addictions.. cutting short a career that could have been much more than what it ended up being~  Below is a clip of the wreck, along with some random NASCAR clips from Daytona~ Thanks for stopping by the blog again~ Please share this blog post with anyone you think would enjoy it, and until next time.. y'all stay safe out there~ ;)

                                       Al's 1993 Daytona 500 crash~ (about 6 minutes in)~

                                                Unser in the 1995 Daytona IROC race~

Both 1993 Gatorade 125 races~

                                           Rusty Wallace's violent 1993 Daytona 500 crash~

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