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The 1987 Winston 500 was a NASCAR Winston Cup Series racing event that took place on May 3, 1987, at Alabama International Motor Speedway in Talladega, Alabama. The race was a turning point in the balance between stock car speed and safety in NASCAR.

1987 Winston 500
Race details[1]
Race 9 of 29 in the 1987 NASCAR Winston Cup Series
Layout of Talladega Superspeedway
Layout of Talladega Superspeedway
Date May 3, 1987 (1987-05-03)
Official name Winston 500
Location Alabama International Motor Speedway, Talladega, Alabama
Course 2.660 mi (4.280 km)
Distance 178 laps, 473.5 mi (762.0 km)
Scheduled Distance 188 laps, 500.1 mi (804.8 km)
Weather Warm with temperatures of 84.9 °F (29.4 °C); wind speeds of 9.9 miles per hour (15.9 km/h)
Average speed 154.228 mph (248.206 km/h)
Attendance 135,000[2]
Pole position
Driver Melling Racing
Time 44.998 seconds
Most laps led
Driver Davey Allison Ranier-Lundy Racing
Laps 101
Winner
No. 28 Davey Allison Ranier-Lundy Racing
Television in the United States
Network ESPN
Announcers Bob Jenkins
Larry Nuber

Davey Allison was the winner of the race, cut ten laps short due to darkness. It was Allison's first win in his career.

Allison's victory was overshadowed by a lap 22 crash in which the car of his father, Bobby Allison went airborne near the track's start/finish line, ripping down almost 100 feet of protective catch fence. Two large steel cables backing the fence managed to deflect Allison's car and prevent it from spearing unabated into the spectator grandstands.[3] If this had happened, the accident had the potential to be a disaster on the scale of the 1955 Le Mans disaster.[3]

Unrestricted high-speed races at Talladega Superspeedway ended after the 1987 Winston 500 because of the lap 22 crash. While the summer race (Talladega 500) would be run with a smaller carburetor, restrictor plates would end up being compulsory by the end of the year.

BackgroundEdit

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 Monster Energy 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]

Race reportEdit

QualifyingEdit

Bill Elliott won the pole for this race at a qualifying speed of 212.809 mph[3][2] (a lap time of 44.998 seconds) this speed created headlines across the country. Elliott had a picture taken of himself with his car and a sign proclaiming it "World's Fastest Race Car".[3]

For comparison, this qualifying speed was rivaling contemporary Indy Car racing; the 1987 Indianapolis 500 saw a top qualifying speed of 215.390 mph logged by Mario Andretti a few days later.[5]

Concerns were already being raised about these speeds. Chevrolet team drivers were reporting that rear tires of the Monte Carlo SS cars were lifting off the track entering turn 3.[3]

Grid No. Driver Manufacturer Speed[6] Owner
1 9 Bill Elliott Ford 212.809 Harry Melling
2 22 Bobby Allison Buick 211.797 Stavola Brothers
3 28 Davey Allison Ford 210.610 Harry Ranier
4 17 Darrell Waltrip Chevrolet 210.471 Rick Hendrick
5 3 Dale Earnhardt Chevrolet 210.360 Richard Childress
6 21 Kyle Petty Ford 210.346 Wood Brothers
7 44 Sterling Marlin Oldsmobile 210.194 Billy Hagan
8 11 Terry Labonte Chevrolet 210.101 Junior Johnson
9 55 Phil Parsons Oldsmobile 209.963 Leo Jackson / Richard Jackson
10 83 Lake Speed Oldsmobile 209.963 Lake Speed

RaceEdit

The Winston 500 was scheduled for 188 laps. 178 laps were run.

A major wreck occurred on lap 22, when Bobby Allison suffered a blown engine. Debris from the malfunctioning engine cut a tire, causing the car to turn backwards, go airborne, and shear off about 100 feet of the catch fence in front of the start/finish line. Speeds for this event were upwards of 210 miles per hour or 340 kilometres per hour, a major factor in the severity of Allison's crash. Five spectators would be injured as a result of Allison's crash; two of them had to be treated in the hospital while three were treated in the infield medical center and released.[7] Allison's crash did not cause any fatalities, although one spectator lost an eye as a result of flying debris.[3]

The race was red flagged, and remained stopped for two hours, twenty-six minutes while crews repaired the damaged catch fence.[8] Talladega does not have track lighting, so this delay, as well as other caution periods, caused the race to be cut short at 178 laps due to the dark conditions that occurred after 6:45 PM in the Central Time Zone.[9] There were 41 American-born drivers on the starting grid. More than one hundred thousand people would see Davey Allison defeat Terry Labonte by more than three-quarters of a second. Average speed of the race was 154.228 miles per hour (248.206 km/h) lasting three hours and four minutes, excluding the red flag period.[2]

There were 18 lead changes; Bill Elliott and Davey Allison each led 30 laps. Chet Fillip was the last-place finisher due to a faulty engine on the third lap. Ford and Chevrolet vehicles made up the majority of the participating manufacturers.[2] Ron Bouchard made his final start in NASCAR Cup Series competition in this race while Ed Pimm made his first stock car racing start. Davey Allison would score his first victory in this race.[10]

Finishing orderEdit

Section reference:[2]

  1. Davey Allison (No. 28)
  2. Terry Labonte (No. 11)
  3. Kyle Petty (No. 21)
  4. Dale Earnhardt (No. 3)
  5. Bobby Hillin, Jr. (No. 8)
  6. Rusty Wallace (No. 27)
  7. Neil Bonnett (No. 75)
  8. Ken Schrader (No. 90)
  9. Lake Speed (No. 83)
  10. Morgan Shepherd (No. 26)
  11. Darrell Waltrip (No. 17)
  12. Benny Parsons (No. 35)
  13. Dave Marcis (No. 71)
  14. Sterling Marlin (No. 44)
  15. Slick Johnson (No. 12)
  16. Richard Petty (No. 43)
  17. Mark Stahl (No. 82)
  18. Eddie Bierschwale (No. 67)
  19. Steve Christman (No. 62)
  20. Rick Wilson* (No. 4)
  21. Ken Ragan* (No. 77)
  22. Bill Elliott* (No. 9)
  23. Connie Saylor* (No. 63)
  24. Rick Knoop* (No. 6)
  25. Michael Waltrip* (No. 30)
  26. Greg Sacks* (No. 50)
  27. Ed Pimm* (No. 98)
  28. Dale Jarrett* (No. 18)
  29. Harry Gant* (No. 33)
  30. Ricky Rudd* (No. 15)
  31. Phil Parsons (No. 55)
  32. Buddy Baker* (No. 88)
  33. Jimmy Means* (No. 52)
  34. Alan Kulwicki* (No. 7)
  35. Phil Barkdoll* (No. 73)
  36. Joe Ruttman* (No. 99)
  37. Cale Yarborough* (No. 29)
  38. Ron Bouchard* (No. 1)
  39. Bobby Allison* (No. 22)
  40. Geoffrey Bodine* (No. 5)
  41. Chet Fillip* (No. 81)

* Driver failed to finish race

Failed to qualifyEdit

Section reference:[2]

  1. Blackie Wangerin (No. 39)
  2. Ronnie Sanders (No. 86)

Standings after the raceEdit

Pos Driver Points[2] Differential
1   Dale Earnhardt 1555 0
2   Bill Elliott 1335 -220
3   Neil Bonnett 1289 -266
4   Terry Labonte 1253 -302
5   Richard Petty 1220 -335
6   Rusty Wallace 1216 -339
7   Kyle Petty 1194 -361
8   Ken Schrader 1175 -380
9   Ricky Rudd 1158 -397
10   Darrell Waltrip 1152 -403

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "1987 Winston 500 weather information". The Old Farmers' Almanac. Retrieved 2012-08-30.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g "1987 Winston 500 racing information". Racing Reference. Retrieved 2012-08-30.
  3. ^ a b c d e f "Hinton: Remembering Talladega '87". ESPN.com. Retrieved 2016-04-16.
  4. ^ "Track Facts". talladegasuperspeedway.com. Talladega Superspeedway. November 1, 2012. Archived from the original on November 1, 2012. Retrieved April 27, 2015.
  5. ^ King, Alanis. "The Days When Even NASCAR Got Too Fast, And How They Changed The Sport". Black Flag. Retrieved 2016-04-16.
  6. ^ "1987 Winston 500 qualifying information". Racing Reference. Retrieved 2017-04-02.
  7. ^ "A Look Back: The 1987 Winston 500". Hardcore Race Fans. Archived from the original on 2014-09-07. Retrieved 2012-11-11.
  8. ^ TheRacingJungle2 (2013-05-02), 1987 Winston 500, retrieved 2016-04-16
  9. ^ "Talladega Memories - 1987 Winston 500". Blogspot (Bench Racing). Retrieved 2014-09-07.
  10. ^ "1987 Winston 500 racing information". Race Database. Retrieved 2012-08-30.
Preceded by
1987 Sovran Bank 500
NASCAR Winston Cup Series Season
1987
Succeeded by
1987 Coca-Cola 600
Preceded by
1986
Winston 500 races
1987
Succeeded by
1988