1988 Atlanta Journal 500

The 1988 Atlanta Journal 500 was a NASCAR Winston Cup Series racing event that took place on November 20, 1988, at Atlanta International Raceway (located in the Atlanta suburb of Hampton, Georgia).

1988 Atlanta Journal 500
Race details[1]
Race 29 of 29 in the 1988 NASCAR Winston Cup Series season
Layout of Atlanta International Speedway, used until 1996
Layout of Atlanta International Speedway, used until 1996
Date November 20, 1988 (1988-November-20)
Official name Atlanta Journal 500
Location Atlanta International Raceway, Hampton, Georgia
Course Permanent racing facility
1.522 mi (2.449 km)
Distance 328 laps, 499.2 mi (803.3 km)
Weather Mild with temperatures of 75 °F (24 °C); wind speeds of 20 miles per hour (32 km/h)
Average speed 130.211 miles per hour (209.554 km/h)
Attendance 72,000[2]
Pole position
Driver Blue Max Racing
Most laps led
Driver Rusty Wallace Blue Max Racing
Laps 166
No. 27 Rusty Wallace Blue Max Racing
Television in the United States
Network ESPN
Announcers Bob Jenkins
Ned Jarrett
Gary Nelson

The most dominant drivers in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series during the 1980s were Bill Elliott, Darrell Waltrip, Terry Labonte, Bobby Allison, and Dale Earnhardt. This was really the last race that Richard Petty was even the least bit competitive.


Atlanta International Raceway (now Atlanta Motor Speedway) is one of ten current intermediate track to hold NASCAR races; the others are Charlotte Motor Speedway, Chicagoland Speedway, Darlington Raceway, Homestead Miami Speedway, Kansas Speedway, Kentucky Speedway, Las Vegas Motor Speedway, New Hampshire Motor Speedway, and Texas Motor Speedway.[3] However, at the time, only Charlotte and Darlington were built.

The layout at Atlanta International Speedway at the time was a four-turn traditional oval track that is 1.54 miles (2.48 km) long.[4] The track's turns are banked at twenty-four degrees, while the front stretch, the location of the finish line, and the back stretch are banked at five.[4]

Race reportEdit

One of the drivers who failed to qualify for this race was Bobby Coyle; who attempted to qualify in his #50 Pontiac machine but failed to reach the proper speed to make the race.[5]

Bill Elliott would earn his only NASCAR Winston Cup championship here despite not finishing in the top ten.[6] However, Elliott consistently placed in the other races of the 1988 season with six wins, 15 finishes in the top five, and 10 finishes in the top ten.[7]

The race took three hours and fifty-two minutes; resulting in a 4¼ second win by Rusty Wallace over Davey Allison. There was an unusually high attrition rate during this race; with 13 engine failures and only 20 of the 42 starters running at the finish. It would be contributed to the fact that the speedway was repaved since the previous race in the spring.[2] Rusty Wallace was mad that Bill Elliott was running really conservative since he only had to finish 18th to clinch the title.[2] Rusty did everything that he could do, led the most laps, and basically rode all around the track coasting his way into consistent finishes.[2] Elliott could've been more conservative than he was, over half the field blew motors or wrecked.[2]

Mike Alexander would finish third in this event; his best NASCAR Winston Cup Series performance.[2] Neil Bonnett finishes 13th in his final outing in the Rahmoc #75 Valvoline Pontiac.[2]

Seventy-two thousand fans would see an average speed of 129.024 miles per hour (207.644 km/h) while Wallace qualified for the pole position with a speed of 179.499 miles per hour (288.876 km/h)[2] - the equivalent of 30.525 seconds.[8] Tommy Ellis would finish last after encountering a transmission problem on lap 2 out of 328.[2] Nine cautions slowed the race for 55 laps.[2] Cale Yarborough's last event went out with a respectable 10th as he would return as an owner of the Phillips #66.[2]

NASCAR champion Benny Parsons and Brad Noffsinger would also compete in their final Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race here. Parsons would finish in 34th place while Noffsinger would finish in 26th place.[2] This was the last race for Piedmont Airlines as a NASCAR Cup series sponsor, ending the company's partnership with the sport that began in 1981 and picked up momentum during a two-year stay at Richard Childress's team before joining Billy Hagen's team in 1984 for an extended run that began with Terry Laborite taking their car to a championship.[2] The Piedmont brand was in the process of being phased out at the time as USAir had bought the company was rebranding the regional airline as part of its USAir Express operations. Sterling Marlin brought the white-and-blue #44 Oldsmobile home with a top-15 run in its last race before the famous eighties entry was grounded for good.[2] Hoss Ellington, Mike Curb, and Harry Ranier would end their respective careers as NASCAR owners after this race. The drivers would earn $387,785 in total race winnings ($838,310 when adjusted for inflation).[2]

Top 10 finishersEdit

Pos[2] Grid No. Driver Manufacturer Laps Winnings Laps led Points Time/Status
1 1 27 Rusty Wallace Pontiac 328 $87,575 166 185 3:52:09
2 23 28 Davey Allison Ford 328 $35,625 26 175 +4.25 seconds
3 4 12 Mike Alexander Buick 328 $23,610 20 170 Lead lap under green flag
4 5 26 Ricky Rudd Buick 328 $14,725 1 165 Lead lap under green flag
5 13 17 Darrell Waltrip Chevrolet 328 $16,525 14 160 Lead lap under green flag
6 7 25 Ken Schrader Chevrolet 328 $12,350 1 155 Lead lap under green flag
7 28 30 Michael Waltrip Pontiac 327 $14,950 0 146 +1 lap
8 9 11 Terry Labonte Chevrolet 327 $12,025 0 142 +1 lap
9 38 8 Bobby Hillin, Jr. Buick 327 $8,650 0 138 +1 lap
10 26 29 Cale Yarborough Oldsmobile 327 $7,800 0 134 +1 lap


Section reference: [2]

  • Start of race: Rusty Wallace started out the race with the pole position.
  • Lap 7: Caution due to Dale Jarrett's accident, ended on lap 12.
  • Lap 26: Mandatory competition caution handed out by NASCAR officials, ended on lap 29.
  • Lap 55: Caution due to debris, ended on lap 59.
  • Lap 86: Caution due to Richard Petty's accident, ended on lap 92.
  • Lap 108: Caution due to oil on the track, ended on lap 111.
  • Lap 140: Caution due to Benny Parsons' accident, ended on lap 146.
  • Lap 170: Caution due to oil on the track, ended on lap 174.
  • Lap 209: Caution due to Harry Gant's accident, green flag racing resumed on lap 216.
  • Lap 252: Caution due to Alan Kulwicki's accident, ended on lap 260.
  • Lap 267: Kyle Petty managed to blow his engine.
  • Lap 272: Larry Pearson managed to blow his engine.
  • Lap 276: Mark Martin managed to blow his engine.
  • Finish: Rusty Wallace was officially declared the winner of the event.

Standings after the raceEdit

Pos Driver Points[2] Differential
1   Bill Elliott 4448 0
2   Rusty Wallace 4464 -24
3   Dale Earnhardt 4256 -232
4   Terry Labonte 4007 -481
5   Ken Schrader 3858 -630
6   Geoffrey Bodine 3799 -689
7   Darrell Waltrip 3764 -724
8   Davey Allison 3631 -857
9   Phil Parsons 3630 -858
10   Sterling Marlin 3621 -867


  1. ^ "1988 Atlanta Journal 500 weather information". The Old Farmers' Almanac. Retrieved 2012-09-10.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r "1988 Atlanta Journal 500 racing results". Racing Reference. Retrieved 2011-03-08.
  3. ^ "NASCAR Race Tracks". NASCAR. Archived from the original on September 12, 2010. Retrieved September 2, 2011.
  4. ^ a b "NASCAR Tracks—The Atlanta Motor Speedway". Atlanta Motor Speedway. Archived from the original on 2011-07-21. Retrieved September 2, 2011.
  5. ^ "Dingman Brothers Team To Race - Driver Still A Mystery". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved 2012-11-25.
  6. ^ "Bill Elliott's Championship Ride (1988 NASCAR Cup Series season)". Hard Core Race Fans. Archived from the original on 2011-07-24. Retrieved 2011-03-08.
  7. ^ "Bill Elliott's 1988 NASCAR Winston Cup Series season summary". Driver Averages. Archived from the original on 2011-10-05. Retrieved 2011-03-08.
  8. ^ "Rusty Wallace's Qualifying Time (in seconds)". Ultimate Racing History. Retrieved 2011-03-08.
Preceded by
1988 Checker 500
NASCAR Winston Cup Series Season
Succeeded by
1989 Daytona 500