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Neil Bonnett

Neil Bonnett
Birthdate: July 30, 1946
Died: February 11, 1994
Birthplace: Bessemer, Alabama
Cause of Death: Race car crash
Best Cup Pos: 4th - 1985 (Winston Cup)
Wins: 18
Top Tens: 156
Poles: 20
First Race: 1974 Nashville 420 (Nashville)
First Win: 1977 Capital City 400 (Raceway|Richmond)
Last Win: 1988 Goodwrench 500 (North Carolina)
Last Race: 1993 Hooters 500 (Atlanta)
Awards: Named one of NASCAR's 50 Greatest Drivers (1998)
Years In Cup: 18
Total Cup Races: 362


Neil Bonnett (July 30, 1946 - February 11, 1994) was a strong NASCAR driver who compiled 18 victories and 20 poles over his 18-year career.

Neil Bonnett began his NASCAR career as a protégé of Bobby Allison, working on the team's cars. He later became part of the famous "Alabama Gang" that included himself, Red Farmer and the Allison family: father Bobby, brother Donnie and son Davey. He began driving in NASCAR in 1974 and earned his first victory in 1977 at the Capital City 400 in Richmond, Virginia. He later successfully won back-to-back World 600s (NASCAR's longest race, now the Coca-Cola 600) and back-to-back Busch Clash (now Bud Shootout) victories.

In 1984, Bonnett joined the powerful Junior Johnson team, becoming teammates with Darrell Waltrip, second among active drivers in career wins. In 1985, Bonnett had one of his best seasons, finishing fourth in the points standings while Waltrip went on win the championship.

On September 2, 1990, Neil Bonnett suffered a life-threatening crash during the Southern 500 at Darlington, South Carolina. Left with amnesia and dizziness, Bonnett retired from racing and turned to television, becoming a race commentator for TNN and hosting the TV show Winners for TNN.

However, Bonnett still desired to continue racing. In 1992, he began testing cars for a good friend, Dale Earnhardt and Bonnett eventually ran for Earnhardt's team in the 1993 DieHard 500. Bonnett secured a ride for six races in the 1994 season, but never raced one of them. On February 11, 1994, during the first practice session of the 1994 Daytona 500, he died in a crash.

In 1997, Bonnett was inducted into the National Motorsports Press Association's Hall of Fame and in 2001, he was inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame.

See also: List of famous NASCAR drivers.