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The 1985 Winston 500 was a NASCAR Winston Cup Series racing event that took place on May 5, 1985, at Alabama International Motor Speedway in Talladega, Alabama.

1985 Winston 500
Race details[1]
Race 9 of 28 in the 1985 NASCAR Winston Cup Series season
Bill Elliott (in victory circle) after winning the 1985 Winston 500
Bill Elliott (in victory circle) after winning the 1985 Winston 500
Date May 5, 1985 (1985-May-05)
Official name Winston 500
Location Alabama International Motor Speedway, Talladega, Alabama
Course Permanent racing facility
2.660 mi (4.280 km)
Distance 188 laps, 500.1 mi (804.8 km)
Weather Very hot with temperatures of 81 °F (27 °C); wind speeds of 4.1 miles per hour (6.6 km/h)
Average speed 186.288 miles per hour (299.801 km/h)
Attendance 122,000[2]
Pole position
Driver Melling Racing
Most laps led
Driver Cale Yarborough Ranier-Lundy Racing
Laps 97
No. 9 Bill Elliott Melling Racing
Television in the United States
Network NBC
Announcers Paul Page
Gary Gerould
Johnny Rutherford

Prior to this event, two-time Winston Cup champion Darrell Waltrip complained to NASCAR about how Bill Elliott was ruining the parity of the sport and he needed to be slowed down.[3] As a result, NASCAR raised the height of the Ford vehicles by half an inch.[3] The roof of the GM race cars was lowered by the same amount in order to improve their speed performance.[3]


Talladega Superspeedway, originally known as Alabama International Motor Superspeedway (AIMS), is a motorsports complex located north of Talladega, Alabama. It is located on the former Anniston Air Force Base in the small city of Lincoln. The track is a Tri-oval and was constructed by International Speedway Corporation, a business controlled by the France Family, in the 1960s. Talladega is most known for its steep banking and the unique location of the start/finish line - located just past the exit to pit road. The track currently hosts the NASCAR series such as the Sprint Cup Series, Xfinity Series, and the Camping World Truck Series. Talladega Superspeedway is the longest NASCAR oval with a length of 2.66 miles (4.28 km), and the track at its peak had a seating capacity of 175,000 spectators.[4]

Bill Elliott dominated the early part of the 1985 season, including winning the Daytona 500, the first race of the Winston Million promotion. The Winston 500 was the second.

Race reportEdit

There were 39 drivers who qualified for this race; the pole position winner was Bill Elliott who qualified at a then-track record speed of 209.398 miles per hour (336.993 km/h) in a Ford Thunderbird.[3][2][5] He would go on to beat Kyle Petty by nearly two seconds at a then-record average speed of 186.288 miles per hour (299.801 km/h) for the race;[2][5] even though the record would broken at the 1997 Winston 500 by Mark Martin. Early in the race, a broken oil fitting would put Elliott nearly two laps out of the lead before he managed his comeback. Elliott would return to the track and begin consistently running laps near 205 mph. He would make up the two laps lost due to the broken oil fitting without the aide of a yellow flag or the draft.[6] At the end of the year, Elliott would go on to become the first Winston Million winner.[7]

More than 100,000 live spectators would see more than two and a half hours of racing with two cautions periods (lasting for only eight laps).[2] This relatively clean race would see 28 different lead changes.[2][5] Canadian driver Trevor Boys would finish in last place due to a problem with the engine on lap 6.[2][5] Bosco Lowe and Dick Skillen would exit NASCAR after this race while Geoff Bodine would lose the championship points lead to Terry Labonte.[5] The cars being used for NASCAR Winston Cup Series racing back then were closer to the production models and no common templates were used.

The Ford Thunderbirds place 1-2-3 with Kyle Petty beating Cale Yarborough in a photo finish for second place behind Elliott. The Ford trio were the only drivers to finish on the lead lap.[2][5]

Bill Elliott, despite leading the NASCAR Winston Cup Series with 11 wins on superspeedways, would end up losing the championship that year to Darrell Waltrip.[8]

Failed to qualifyEdit

Name Number Car manufacturer
Eldon Dotson 96 Chevrolet
Delma Cowart 0 Chevrolet
Slick Johnson 05 Ford
Blackie Wangerin 39 Ford
Craig Spetman 08 Chevrolet
Rick Newsom 20 Chevrolet

Top ten finishersEdit

Pos[2] Grid No. Driver Manufacturer Laps Laps led Points Time/Status
1 1 9 Bill Elliott Ford 188 60 180 2:41:04
2 4 7 Kyle Petty Ford 188 9 175 +1.72 seconds
3 2 28 Cale Yarborough Ford 188 97 175 Lead lap under green flag
4 17 22 Bobby Allison Buick 187 3 165 +1 lap
5 15 15 Ricky Rudd Ford 187 0 155 +1 lap
6 32 88 Buddy Baker Oldsmobile 185 0 150 +3 laps
7 3 44 Terry Labonte Chevrolet 185 2 151 +3 laps
8 18 71 Dave Marcis Chevrolet 185 0 142 +3 laps
9 7 8 Bobby Hillin, Jr. Chevrolet 184 0 138 +4 laps
10 20 75 Lake Speed Pontiac 183 0 134 +5 laps

Standings after the raceEdit

Pos Driver Points[2] Differential
1   Terry Labonte 1355 0
2   Geoffrey Bodine 1343 -12
3   Bill Elliott 1312 -43
4   Neil Bonnett 1279 -76
5   Ricky Rudd 1228 -127
6   Lake Speed 1215 -140
7   Darrell Waltrip 1208 -147
8   Kyle Petty 1197 -158
9   Bobby Allison 1187 -168
10   Dale Earnhardt 1150 -205


  1. ^ 1985 Winston 500 weather conditions at The Old Farmers' Almanac
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i 1985 Winston 500 at Racing Reference
  3. ^ a b c d Elliott Was Awesome At Talladega In 1985 at
  4. ^ "Track Facts". Talladega Superspeedway. November 1, 2012. Archived from the original on November 1, 2012. Retrieved April 27, 2015.
  5. ^ a b c d e f 1985 Winston 500 at Race Database
  6. ^ 1985 NASCAR Winston Cup Recap at
  7. ^ "Bill Elliott". The Crittenden Automotive Library. Retrieved May 8, 2007.
  8. ^ Elliott wins 1985 Winston 500 at Talladega; races closer to becoming "Million Dollar Bill" Archived 2001-06-20 at the Wayback Machine at
Preceded by
1985 Sovran Bank 500
NASCAR Winston Cup Series Season
Succeeded by
1985 Budweiser 500
Preceded by
Winston 500 races
Succeeded by