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1986 Miller High Life 400

The 1986 Miller High Life 400 was a NASCAR Winston Cup Series race that was held on February 23, 1986, at Richmond Fairgrounds Raceway (now Richmond Raceway) in Richmond, Virginia.

1986 Miller High Life 400
Race details[1][2]
Race 2 of 29 in the 1986 NASCAR Winston Cup Series season
Layout of Richmond Raceway
Layout of Richmond Raceway
Date February 23, 1986 (1986-February-23)
Official name Miller High Life 400
Location Richmond Fairgrounds Raceway, Richmond, Virginia
Course Permanent racing facility
0.542 mi (0.872 km)
Distance 400 laps, 300.0 mi (480.9 km)
Weather Cold with temperatures of 48 °F (9 °C); wind speeds of 10.1 miles per hour (16.3 km/h)
Average speed 71.708 miles per hour (115.403 km/h)
Attendance 25,000[3]
Pole position
Driver Hendrick Motorsports
Most laps led
Driver Dale Earnhardt Richard Childress Racing
Laps 299
No. 7 Kyle Petty Wood Brothers Racing
Television in the United States
Network CBS
Announcers Ken Squier
Benny Parsons

Almost the entire grid was born in the United States of America; Canadian Trevor Boys was the only foreigner. Individual winnings for this event ranged from the winner's share of $37,880 ($86,581 when adjusted for inflation) to the last-place share of $2,515 ($5,748 when adjusted for inflation); the total prize purse stood at $225,435 ($515,270 when adjusted for inflation).


In 1953, Richmond International Raceway began hosting the Grand National Series with Lee Petty winning that first race in Richmond.[4] The original track was paved in 1968.[5] In 1988, the track was re-designed into its present D-shaped configuration

The name for the raceway complex was "Strawberry Hill" until the Virginia State Fairgrounds site was bought out in 1999 and renamed the "Richmond International Raceway".

Race reportEdit

31 of 35 entered drivers qualified for this race. The drivers who failed to qualify were: Johnathan Lee Edwards, Alan Kulwicki, and Ronnie Thomas. Eddie Bierschwale would be the first car out of the race.[3] Kyle Petty would defeat Joe Ruttman in his 1986 Ford Thunderbird, finishing under caution in front of twenty-five thousand fans. Dale Earnhardt dominated the middle section of the race by leading for 128 laps, but crashed with Darrell Waltrip in the closing laps after a controversial fender-banging duel.[3]

It was Petty's first Cup victory; it would be his only one on a short track.[6]

External video
  The classic Earnhardt/Waltrip battle at the 1986 Miller High Life 400.

After the race, Earnhardt had to pay a $3,000 fine ($6,857 when adjusted for inflation) plus a $10,000 security bond for the late-race incident involving himself and Darrell Waltrip. Earnhardt suffered a sore neck and blurred vision as a result of this incident.[7] Geoffrey Bodine would lead the championship standings after this race with 332 points with Darrell Waltrip only two points behind him.[6]

Notable crew chiefs in the race were Darrell Bryant, Kirk Shelmerdine, Robin Pemberton, Jeff Hammond, Tim Brewer, Bud Moore, Larry McReynolds, Dale Inman, Junie Donlavey among many others.[8]

Qualifying resultsEdit

Grid[3] No. Driver Manufacturer Owner
1 5 Geoffrey Bodine Chevrolet Rick Hendrick
2 44 Terry Labonte Oldsmobile Billy Hagan
3 11 Darrell Waltrip Chevrolet Junior Johnson
4 8 Bobby Hillin, Jr. Buick Stavola Brothers
5 98 Ron Bouchard Pontiac Mike Curb
6 27 Rusty Wallace Pontiac Raymond Beadle
7 75 Lake Speed Pontiac RahMoc Enterprises
8 15 Ricky Rudd Ford Bud Moore
9 9 Bill Elliott Ford Harry Melling
10 3 Dale Earnhardt Chevrolet Richard Childress


Section reference:[3]

  • Start: Geoffrey Bodine was leading the racing grid as the green flag was waved
  • Lap 2: Eddie Bierschwale wrecked his vehicle's engine to become the last-place finisher
  • Lap 10: Caution due to a 4-car accident on turn 2; caution ended on lap 13
  • Lap 15: Caution due to Lake Speed's accident on turn 1; caution ended on lap 17
  • Lap 17: Ricky Rudd and Phil Parsons managed to wreck their vehicle around the same time
  • Lap 18: Caution due to a multi-car accident on turn 3; caution ended on lap 35
  • Lap 29: Harry Gant managed to overheat his vehicle
  • Lap 59: Caution due to Kirk Bryant's accident on the front stretch; caution ended on lap 64
  • Lap 60: Dave Marcis took over the lead from Geoffrey Bodine
  • Lap 72: Jimmy Means took over the lead from Dave Marcis
  • Lap 75: Dale Earnhardt took over the lead from Jimmy Means
  • Lap 88: Kirk Bryant had a terminal crash
  • Lap 153: Caution due to a 2-car accident on turn 2; caution ended on lap 158
  • Lap 202: Caution due to Ken Schrader's accident on turn 4; caution ended on lap 209
  • Lap 203: Rusty Wallace took over the lead from Dale Earnhardt
  • Lap 204: Dale Earnhardt took over the lead from Rusty Wallace
  • Lap 272: Greg Sacks managed to spin his vehicle on the track; leading to a caution that ended on lap 277
  • Lap 273: Kyle Petty took over the lead from Dale Earnhardt
  • Lap 274: Dale Earnhardt took over the lead from Kyle Petty
  • Lap 279: Trevor Boys had a terminal crash
  • Lap 313: Problems with the vehicle's head gasket caused Michael Waltrip's day at the track to end prematurely
  • Lap 321: Caution due to a 2-car accident on turn 2; caution ended on lap 330
  • Lap 322: Darrell Waltrip took over the lead from Dale Earnhardt
  • Lap 323: Joe Ruttman took over the lead from Darrell Waltrip
  • Lap 344: Dale Earnhardt took over the lead from Joe Ruttman
  • Lap 397: Geoffrey Bodine had a terminal crash
  • Lap 398: Kyle Petty took over the lead from Dale Earnhardt; a 6-car accident occurred which forced the race to end under a caution flag
  • Finish: Kyle Petty was officially declared the winner of the event

Finishing orderEdit

Section reference:[3]

  1. Kyle Petty (No. 7)
  2. Joe Ruttman (No. 26)
  3. Dale Earnhardt† (No. 3)
  4. Bobby Allison (No. 22)
  5. Darrell Waltrip* (No. 11)
  6. Bobby Hillin, Jr. (No. 8)
  7. Neil Bonnett† (No. 12)
  8. Geoffrey Bodine* (No. 5)
  9. Dave Marcis (No. 71)
  10. Rusty Wallace (No. 25)
  11. Jimmy Means (No. 52)
  12. Davey Allison† (No. 95)
  13. Doug Heveron (No. 64)
  14. Buddy Arrington (No. 67)
  15. Terry Labonte (No. 44)
  16. J.D. McDuffie† (No. 70)
  17. Lake Speed (No. 75)
  18. Ron Bouchard† (No. 98)
  19. Greg Sacks (No. 10)
  20. Richard Petty (No. 43)
  21. Bill Elliott (No. 9)
  22. Tim Richmond† (No. 25)
  23. Ken Schrader (No. 90)
  24. Tommy Ellis (No. 18)
  25. Michael Waltrip* (No. 23)
  26. Trevor Boys* (No. 6)
  27. Kirk Bryant* (No. 2)
  28. Harry Gant* (No. 33)
  29. Phil Parsons* (No. 17)
  30. Ricky Rudd* (No. 15)
  31. Eddie Bierschwale* (No. 48)

* Driver failed to finish race
† signifies that the driver is known to be deceased

Standings after the raceEdit

Pos Driver Points[3] Differential
1   Geoffrey Bodine 332 0
2   Darrell Waltrip 330 -2
3   Bobby Hillin, Jr. 315 -17
4   Dale Earnhardt 301 -31
5   Kyle Petty 295 -37
6   Terry Labonte 293 -39
7   Rusty Wallace 281 -51
8   Ron Bouchard 259 -73
9   Joe Ruttman 254 -78
10   Lake Speed 246 -86


  1. ^ Weather information for the 1986 Miller High Life 400 at The Old Farmers' Almanac
  2. ^ 1986 Miller High Life 400 racing information at Fantasy Racing Cheat Sheet
  3. ^ a b c d e f g 1986 Miller High Life 400 racing information at Racing Reference
  4. ^ "Richmond International Raceway has hosted the NASCAR Winston Cup Series since 1953. Lee Petty won the first race that year. "
  5. ^ "The original track was paved in 1968."
  6. ^ a b Results of the 1986 Miller High Life 400 at Race Database
  7. ^ Enduring Performance: 1986 Miller High Life 400 at
  8. ^ 1986 Miller High Life 400 crew chiefs at Racing Reference
Preceded by
1986 Daytona 500
NASCAR Winston Cup Series Season
Succeeded by
1986 Goodwrench 500