#TBT: Dale Earnhardt’s ‘Pass in the Grass’ still haunts Bill Elliott

Almost 30 years later, the anger still is fresh in Bill Elliott’s mind.

He and Dale Earnhardt, the top two drivers in the Cup standings, were running 1-2 in the 1987 All-Star race, and Elliott sensed victory when Earnhardt got sideways and ran into the grass coming out of Turn 4 with eight laps to go. But the No. 3 car quickly corrected and raced back onto the track, never losing the lead and powering to the finish for the win.

It’s known as "The Pass in the Grass", and FOXSports.com ranked it the top moment in NASCAR All-Star history.

And it still haunts Elliott.

"That was probably the maddest I’ve ever been, but you just have to deal with it and go on,’’ Elliott told NASCAR.com.

Elliott, who led 121 of the 135 laps that day, had to pit for a flat tire in the last laps and finished 14th.

Both drivers still were steaming after the checkered flag and were called to the NASCAR hauler for a meeting with Bill France Jr.

"We all sat and had a meeting with me, him, Earnhardt and (team owner Richard) Childress," Elliott said. "I was still pissed. I’ll never forget. I hadn’t been so mad in … I can’t remember when.

"You have to remember, I worked on my race cars. My philosophy was to outrun someone fair and square rather than crash them up. It was just a turning point for me and Earnhardt. He had kinda been going at it with me here and there, but that was the end."

Dale Earnhardt Jr. has fond memories of the race.

"Those last 10 laps with Dad doing everything he could to hold off a faster Bill Elliott were exciting,’’ Earnhardt Jr. told NASCAR.com. "It was a pretty basic format, but they had a lot of great cars, a lot of great drivers, and a lot of great racing going on.

"They only ran it for $200,000 back then, but that seemed like a lot of money at the time. It was really, really exciting. The cars moved around a lot — the way the cars raced really made the show."

Catch this year’s All-Star races at Charlotte Motor Speedway on FS1, starting Friday night with the Sprint Showdown (7:31 p.m. ET) and then Saturday night’s NASCAR Sprint All-Star (9:16 p.m. ET).