Allison nears bonus, but wants title, too


TALLADEGA, Ala. -- Davey Allison held off Bill Elliott, Dale Earnhardt, Sterling Marlin and Ernie Irvan in a furious Winston 500 finish yesterday at Talladega Superspeedway to race two-thirds of the way to a $1 million bonus.

Allison, adding the second of the NASCAR Winston Cup Series season's Big Four events to his Daytona 500 victory, can collect by taking either the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway on May 24 or the Southern 500 at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway on Sept. 6.

"Our goal not only is the Winston Million, but that other $1 million that's available, too," Allison said, referring to the prize for winning the circuit's driving championship. "We want this Robert Yates Racing team sitting at the head table at that awards dinner in New York in December."

The triumph padded Allison's lead toward the title to 67 points over Elliott.

Elliott moved from fourth to second in the standings as Harry Gant and Terry Labonte, second and third entering the race, finished far back.

Allison flashed to the checkered flag two car-lengths ahead of fellow Ford driver Elliott, the runner-up, in delighting a partisan home-state crowd of 142,500, many of whom swarmed over the 2.66-mile tri-oval track. Earnhardt was edged by Elliott, and it was equally close between Marlin's Ford and Irvan's Chevrolet.

Earnhardt and Irvan hooked up in an aerodynamic draft on the last of the race's 188 laps and swung to the outside going down the backstretch in a bid to make a slingshot pass of Allison and Elliott. However, the charge wasn't strong enough, and Allison pushed Ford's victory streak to 13, including nine wins this year.

"It was a good show for the fans," said Elliott, who has contributed four wins to Ford's streak, compared to Allison's five. "I was caught in one of those situations at the end. I knew Dale wasn't going to go with me to try and draft around Davey, and Sterling couldn't quite get up there close enough to help me. If he had, I believe one of us would have won the race."

Elliott and Marlin are nominal teammates, driving cars owned by Junior Johnson.

"I'd like to see the photo-finish picture. I thought I had Bill by a little bit," Earnhardt said. "Ernie tried to help me, but we couldn't mount enough of a run."

Said Irvan, who started from the pole: "I made the wrong decision on the gear ratio and fell as far back as 23rd, then was able to work back up there. Mine and Dale's pit crews had talked, and we agreed to work together. I knew Dale would go where the Fords didn't. We just didn't get the shot at them we needed."

Marlin, speaking of the event's fifth yellow flag on Lap 177 for a frightening near-flip on the backstretch by Jimmy Spencer, who was unhurt, said: "I'd rather not have seen the last caution flag. I was just riding at that time, waiting to make the move. The caution enabled the rest of the cars to catch up, and then Ernie sort of started messing with me. I had to race the ones behind me as much as those in front of me."

Nineteen drivers finished all 500 miles, including all-time NASCAR victory leader Richard Petty, who finished 15th. It's the first time Petty has finished on the lead lap since August, on the road course at Watkins Glen, N.Y.

"I'm happy there were no major incidents like last year," said Allison, referring to a 22-car pileup last May that left Kyle Petty badly injured. "Trace it to the guys learning from that and using their heads."

The victory, Allison's third this year, was the 16th of his career.

Allison clinched a bonus $100,000 for taking two of the Big Four races. Asked to appraise his chances in two more shots for the Winston Million, a prize won only by Elliott in 1985, Allison smiled.

"Let's just say I'm leaving my favorite track to go to my second favorite track -- Charlotte."

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