1988 Southern 500
|Race 21 of 29 in the 1988 NASCAR Winston Cup Series season|
Layout of Darlington Raceway
|Date||September 4, 1988|
|Official name||Southern 500|
|Location||Darlington Raceway, Darlington, South Carolina|
Permanent racing facility|
1.366 mi (2.198 km)
|Distance||367 laps, 501.3 mi (806.7 km)|
|Weather||Hot with temperatures reaching up to 88 °F (31 °C); wind speeds up to 13 miles per hour (21 km/h)|
|Average speed||128.297 miles per hour (206.474 km/h)|
|Most laps led|
|Driver||Bill Elliott||Melling Racing|
|No. 9||Bill Elliott||Melling Racing|
|Television in the United States|
Bob Jenkins |
All the wives of the participating NASCAR drivers received a special racing pass that allowed them to access all aspects of racing life except for the pits where the drivers' crew did their actual work.
Darlington Raceway, nicknamed by many NASCAR fans and drivers as "The Lady in Black" or "The Track Too Tough to Tame" and advertised as a "NASCAR Tradition", is a race track built for NASCAR racing located near Darlington, South Carolina. It is of a unique, somewhat egg-shaped design, an oval with the ends of very different configurations, a condition which supposedly arose from the proximity of one end of the track to a minnow pond the owner refused to relocate. This situation makes it very challenging for the crews to set up their cars' handling in a way that will be effective at both ends.
The track is a four-turn 1.366 miles (2.198 km) oval. The track's first two turns are banked at twenty-five degrees, while the final two turns are banked two degrees lower at twenty-three degrees. The front stretch (the location of the finish line) and the back stretch is banked at six degrees. Darlington Raceway can seat up to 60,000 people.
Lasting almost four hours, this final "traditional" Southern 500 racing event would feature Bill Elliott (employed at that time by Mr. Harry Melling of Melling Racing) defeating Rusty Wallace (employed by Raymond Beadle Blue Max Racing racing team during this era) by 0.24 seconds; the average speed of the race was 128.297 miles per hour (206.474 km/h). Four drivers would fail to qualify for this race; which had ten cautions for a whopping 49 laps. 74000 people would attend the race to see 367 laps of racing action; last-place finisher Harry Gant would only finish 50 of them due to engine difficulties. Twenty-four different changes would be made for the first-place position of the race. The pole winner was also the winner of the race; qualifying with speeds up to 160.827 miles per hour (258.826 km/h). Both Richard Petty and his son Kyle would compete in this race. Notable drivers at the race also included Darrell Waltrip, Terry Labonte, and Alan Kulwicki.
Two different drivers would be involved in accidents; Derrike Cope on lap 203 and Ken Ragan on lap 308. A stock car carrying the Ford manufacturer won the race while Chevrolet was the official manufacturer of the last-place finisher. The total purse of the race was $431,345 ($913,786.3 when adjusted for inflation); with the winner taking $75,800 of the purse ($160,579.12 when adjusted for inflation).
From the following year to the end of the autumn Southern 500 races in 2004, a sponsor's name would be added to the overall race name; reducing the traditionalism surrounding the early "Southern 500" races.
- Start: Bill Elliott was ahead of the other drivers as the green flag was waved
- Lap 41: NASCAR officials gave out a competition caution, caution ended on lap 44
- Lap 50: Harry Gant had to leave the race because his vehicle's engine stopped working properly
- Lap 54: Caution due to Morgan Shepherd's engine failure, caution ended on lap 60
- Lap 82: Rick Wilson's vehicle had engine problems and had to leave the race
- Lap 113: Jimmy Horton had to leave the race due to engine failure
- Lap 130: Caution due to Brett Bodine causing terminal damage to his vehicle, caution ended on lap 132
- Lap 135: Randy Baker had to leave the race due to a problematic engine
- Lap 167: Caution due to Rick Mast causing terminal damage to his vehicle on turn 1, caution ended on lap 170
- Lap 206: Caution due to Derrike Cope causing terminal damage to his vehicle on turn 4, caution ended on lap 208
- Lap 236: Caution due to Richard Petty causing terminal damage to his vehicle on turn 2, caution ended on lap 239
- Lap 239: Dale Jarrett had to the leave the race due to engine difficulties
- Lap 257: Caution due to Ken Bouchard spinning out on the front stretch, caution ended on lap 260
- Lap 302: Caution due to H.B. Bailey spinning out on turn 4, caution ended on lap 305
- Lap 312: Caution due to debris in the backstretch, caution ended on lap 314
- Lap 317: Bobby Hillin, Jr. had to leave the race due to oil pressure problems
- Lap 328: Caution due to Ken Ragan causing terminal damage to his vehicle on turn 4, caution ended on lap 330
- Finish: Bill Elliott was officially declared the winner of the event
- Weather information for the 1988 Southern 500 at The Old Farmers' Almanac
- 1988 Southern 500 racing information at Racing Reference
- "Darlington Raceway". CBS Sports. Retrieved 2013-05-07.
- 1988 Southern 500 Archived 2012-04-29 at the Wayback Machine racing information at Driver Averages
- 1988 Southern 500 at Fantasy Racing Cheat Sheet
1988 Busch 500
| NASCAR Winston Cup Series Season
1988 Miller High Life 400
| Southern 500 races