NORTH WILKESBORO, N.C. -- Davey Allison, equipped with a flak jacket and a special seat to relieve pain, outraced Rusty Wallace over the final 50 laps yesterday to win the $551,921 First Union 400.
Allison's victory at North Wilkesboro Speedway also gave Ford cars their seventh straight victory on the NASCAR circuit this season and 11 in a row dating to last year.
The seven victories to start the season is an all-time NASCAR record, passing the old mark of six consecutive wins set by Hudson cars in 1952.
Allison, who let relief driver Jimmy Hensley qualify his car seventh Friday because of rib injuries suffered in a crash last week, took the lead on lap 313, when he beat Wallace out of the pits and did it again after the last of nine caution flags on lap 346.
Both drivers had to weave through traffic from slower cars during the final 15 laps, as they battled for the lead on the 0.625-mile track. Wallace, driving a Pontiac, closed within feet during the turns, while Allison had the faster car in the straightaways.
The final obstacle came with five laps left as both drivers came around the first turn to face a pair of cars running side-by-side. But fellow Ford driver Bill Elliott backed out of the way and let Allison pass, enabling the 31-year-old from Hueytown, Ala., to win his 15th career race by a little more than a car length.
"I didn't know if I was going to make it or not," said Allison, who won this year's Daytona 500 and has six top five finishes in seven races. "I had some leg cramps during that last caution period.
"The race track got real greasy and slippery there at the end," he said.
It was also Allison's first win at the North Wilkesboro Speedway and pushed his points lead to 86 over Harry Gant and 106 over Elliott.
Pole-sitter Alan Kulwicki led for the first 134 laps and for 182 of the first 200, but his Ford was never the same after rain stopped the race on lap 233.