Like this year, July 4 fell on a Wednesday in 1984, but back then NASCAR always ran its July Daytona race on America's birthday as the Firecracker 400. On this day 28 years ago, it got a an extra-special celebration as Richard Petty won the 200th – and as it turned out, last – victory of his NASCAR career on a day that included a visit to the track by President Ronald Reagan – the first time a sitting president of the United States had attended a NASCAR race.
Petty, driving at the time for Mike Curb engaged Cale Yarborough in a two-way duel for the lead on the 158th and final lap, with Yarborough drafting and taking an early lead before Petty managed to cross the start/finish line only a fender-length ahead. (This is no longer possible because of the 2003 rule change freezing the field immediately upon caution. Furthermore, the green-white-checkered rule was created for if the yellow flag waves with two laps remaining, but not with one lap remaining.)
President Ronald Reagan was in attendance, the first sitting president to attend a NASCAR race, and he celebrated the milestone – which, ironically, earned The King $43,000 – with Petty and his family in victory lane. The No. 43 Pontiac that Petty used to win the race now belongs to the Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C.