1985 Winston Western 500
|Race 28 of 28 in the 1985 NASCAR Winston Cup Series season|
Layout of Riverside International Raceway (1969-1988 version)
|Date||November 17, 1985|
|Official name||Winston Western 500|
|Location||Riverside International Raceway, Riverside, California|
Permanent racing facility|
2.700 mi (4.345 km)
|Distance||119 laps, 311.8 mi (501.7 km)|
|Weather||Chilly with temperatures of 66 °F (19 °C); wind speeds of 12 miles per hour (19 km/h)|
|Average speed||105.065 mph (169.086 km/h)|
|Most laps led|
|Driver||Terry Labonte||Hagan Enterprises|
|No. 15||Ricky Rudd||Bud Moore Engineering|
|Television in the United States|
Ken Squier |
With the deletion of the two Nashville races the 1985 Winston Cup season was the first since 1974 with less than 30 races.
With one race remaining in the championship, Bill Elliott, who won 11 races, trailed Darrell Waltrip by 20 points (between 4-7 positions depending on the order of finish -- the equivalent of 4-7 points under the 2011 scoring system). Qualifying was held on Friday and Terry Labonte scored the pole with a time of 1:20.658.
The 500-kilometer race, lasting 119 laps, would have the championship battle come down to the first six laps of the race. The gearshift lever on Elliott's car broke on the sixth lap, necessitating repairs that lasted thirty minutes, or roughly 22 laps of the race. It would prove costly. Waltrip finished seventh and locked down the championship on Lap 99. On the day his teammate wins the title Neil Bonnett ends 1985 on the podium as he leads a few laps and brings Junior Johnson's red #12 Budweiser Chevrolet home in third. The 1985 season would be one of career highs for Bonnett as he finished fourth in points on the strength of 11 top-5s and 18 top-10s. This would be the last season where Neil ran every race as he proved a little injury prone in the years that followed. This was a combination race with the Winston West series. They had themselves a pretty interesting points battle, with four drivers (Jim Robinson, Hershel McGriff, Glen Steurer, and Ruben Garcia) eligible for the title. Robinson would clinch the title over McGriff with his 12th place finish.
Pit strategy effectively determined the race. On the penultimate pit stop, Labonte's Billy Hagan pit crew changed two tires, while Ricky Rudd's Bud Moore Engineering Ford team changed four tires. On the final round of pit stops, the opposite took place, allowing Rudd to defeat Labonte by almost half a second in front of 40000 live audience members at the last possible moment. Ruben Garcia, later to gain fame from knocking out a wall in a crash during the last race at Riverside in 1988, scores his career-best finish of 14th place.
Three cautions were given for 11 laps; allowing for 14 changes in the first-place position. Bobby Allison came into this race seeking to avoid going winless for the season for the first time since 1977. He qualified well but his chaotic season ended with a 17th-place performance, two laps down. This was the final race for Rusty Wallace competing for Cliff Stewart and Cliff Stewart Racing. To say that Rusty had a rough year in 1985 would have been a misunderstanding, although it began really good with four top tens in the first six races but four for the rest of the year after the spring race at Darlington.
The short track program cars that Elliott drove in 1985 were certainly a huge part of the problem. Consistency is what makes a champion, and Elliott failed to provide a consistent performance throughout the 1985 NASCAR Winston Cup Series season. He had no business winning the title, and he didn't.
Blair Aiken, Clark Dwyer, and John Soares, Jr would retire after the end of the race while Scott Autrey and Bud Hickey would make their only Winston Cup Series appearance at this event. Notable crew chiefs for this race included Junie Donlavey, Robin Pemberton, Joey Arrington, Jake Elder, Travis Carter, Bud Moore, Tim Brewer, Jeff Hammond, Harry Hyde, Kirk Shelmerdine and Darrell Bryant.
|1||44||Terry Labonte||Chevrolet||Billy Hagan|
|2||27||Tim Richmond||Pontiac||Raymond Beadle|
|3||11||Darrell Waltrip||Chevrolet||Junior Johnson|
|4||15||Ricky Rudd||Ford||Bud Moore|
|5||9||Bill Elliott||Ford||Harry Melling|
|6||22||Bobby Allison||Buick||Bobby Allison|
|7||3||Dale Earnhardt||Chevrolet||Richard Childress|
|8||33||Harry Gant||Chevrolet||Hal Needham|
|9||7||Kyle Petty||Ford||Wood Brothers|
|10||47||Ron Bouchard||Buick||Jack Beebe|
|11||5||Geoffrey Bodine||Chevrolet||Rick Hendrick|
|12||75||Lake Speed||Pontiac||RahMoc Enterprises|
|13||12||Neil Bonnett||Chevrolet||Junior Johnson|
|14||98||Jim Bown||Chevrolet||Johnny Kieper|
|15||18||Glen Sturer||Chevrolet||Glen Steurer|
|16||78||Jim Robinson||Oldsmobile||Lois Williams|
|17||04||Hershel McGriff||Pontiac||Gary Smith|
|18||32||Ruben Garcia||Chevrolet||Fred Stoke|
|19||71||Dave Marcis||Chevrolet||Dave Marcis|
|20||8||Bobby Hillin, Jr.||Chevrolet||Stavola Brothers|
Top 20 finishersEdit
|2||44||Terry Labonte||Chevrolet||119||78||+0.45 seconds|
|3||12||Neil Bonnett||Chevrolet||119||3||Lead lap under green flag|
|4||33||Harry Gant||Chevrolet||119||1||Lead lap under green flag|
|5||3||Dale Earnhardt||Chevrolet||119||6||Lead lap under green flag|
|6||5||Geoffrey Bodine||Chevrolet||119||2||Lead lap under green flag|
|7||11||Darrell Waltrip||Chevrolet||119||1||Lead lap under green flag|
|8||43||Richard Petty||Pontiac||119||0||Lead lap under green flag|
|9||75||Lake Speed||Pontiac||118||1||+1 lap|
|10||47||Ron Bouchard||Buick||118||0||+1 lap|
|11||11||Glen Steurer||Chevrolet||118||0||+1 lap|
|12||78||Jim Robinson||Oldsmobile||117||0||+2 laps|
|13||8||Bobby Hillin, Jr.||Chevrolet||117||0||+2 laps|
|14||32||Ruben Garcia||Chevrolet||117||0||+2 laps|
|15||73||Bill Schmitt||Chevrolet||117||0||+2 laps|
|16||98||Jim Bown||Chevrolet||117||0||+2 laps|
|17||22||Bobby Allison||Buick||117||0||+2 laps|
|18||71||Dave Marcis||Chevrolet||117||0||+2 laps|
|19||07||Derrike Cope||Ford||116||0||+3 laps|
|20||52||Jimmy Means||Pontiac||116||0||+3 laps|
Section reference: 
- Start: Terry Labonte was leading the starting grid as the green flag was waved.
- Lap 10: Darrell Waltrip took over the lead from Terry Labonte.
- Lap 11: Terry Labonte took over the lead from Darrell Waltrip.
- Lap 19: First caution of the event, ended on lap 21.
- Lap 21: Ricky Rudd took over the lead from Terry Labonte.
- Lap 22: Dale Earnhardt took over the lead from Ricky Rudd.
- Lap 26: Terry Labonte took over the lead from Dale Earnhardt.
- Lap 41: Second caution of the event, ended on lap 44.
- Lap 42: Lake Speed took over the lead from Terry Labonte.
- Lap 43: Terry Labonte took over the lead from Lake Speed.
- Lap 48: Third caution of the event, ended on lap 50.
- Lap 71: Harry Gant took over the lead from Terry Labonte.
- Lap 72: Neil Bonnett took over the lead from Harry Gant.
- Lap 75: Ricky Rudd took over the lead from Neil Bonnett.
- Lap 77: Geoffrey Bodine took over the lead from Ricky Rudd.
- Lap 79: Dale Earnhardt took over the lead from Geoffrey Bodine.
- Lap 81: Terry Labonte took over the lead from Dale Earnhardt.
- Lap 96: Ricky Rudd took over the lead from Terry Labonte.
- Lap 116: Greg Sacks' vehicle suddenly developed issues with its transmission.
- Finish: Ricky Rudd was officially declared the winner of the race.
Standings after the raceEdit
- Weather information for the 1985 Winston Western 500 at The Old Farmers' Almanac
-  New York Times: Waltrip Wins NASCAR Title from Elliott
- 1985 Winston Western 500 racing information at Racing Reference
- Driver Neil Bonnett 1985 NASCAR Winston Cup Series Results at Racing Reference
- Drivers who retired from NASCAR after this event at Race Database
- 1985 Winston Western 500 crew chiefs at Racing Reference
1985 Atlanta Journal 500
| NASCAR Winston Cup Series Season
1986 Daytona 500