Open main menu

1989 Autoworks 500

The 1989 Autoworks 500 was a NASCAR Winston Cup Series racing event that took place on November 5, 1989, at Phoenix International Raceway in Avondale, Arizona.

1989 Autoworks 500
Race details[1][2]
Race 28 of 29 in the 1989 NASCAR Winston Cup Series season
The view from outside the 4th turn at Phoenix International Raceway in 1989
The view from outside the 4th turn at Phoenix International Raceway in 1989
Date November 5, 1989 (1989-November-05)
Official name Autoworks 500
Location Phoenix International Raceway, Avondale, Arizona
Course Permanent racing facility
1.000 mi (1.609 km)
Distance 312 laps, 312 mi (502 km)
Weather Hot with temperatures reaching of 90 °F (32 °C); wind speeds of 8 miles per hour (13 km/h)
Average speed 105.683 miles per hour (170.080 km/h)
Pole position
Driver Hendrick Motorsports
Most laps led
Driver Alan Kulwicki Alan Kulwicki Racing
Laps 96
No. 9 Bill Elliott Melling Racing
Television in the United States
Network ESPN
Announcers Bob Jenkins
Ned Jarrett
Benny Parsons

A scenic backdrop of mountains and cactuses along with the warm temperatures of the Sonoran Desert helped to provide a pleasant venue for a late-season NASCAR Cup Series event; combining the man-made elements of NASCAR with the elements naturally found in the rural parts of the Southwestern United States.

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.

Race reportEdit

Five of the most dominant drivers of the 1989 NASCAR Winston Cup Series season were Dale Earnhardt (average finish 10th place), Rusty Wallace (average finish 10th place), Mark Martin (average finish 11th place), Darrell Waltrip (average finish 12th place) and Bill Elliott (average finish of 13th place).

Pocono is not unique for animals on the track, as the first caution here is for a dog on lap 48.[2]

Bill Elliott defeated Terry Labonte by six car lengths in front of 63,000 spectators.[2] Three hundred and twelve laps were run on a paved oval spanning 1 mile or 1.6 kilometres in two hours and fifty-seven minutes.[2][3] Ken Schrader would qualify for the pole position with a speed of 124.645 miles per hour (200.597 km/h) while the average speed at the actual race was 105.683 miles per hour (170.080 km/h).[2][3] Five cautions were handed out by NASCAR officials for 24 laps.[2][3] Forty-three drivers competed in this race; the only foreign competitor was Canadian Roy Smith.[2] Butch Miller would finish the race in last place due to an engine problem on lap 16.[2][3][4]

Richard Petty only finished 42nd once, in this race.[2] He did finish worse on two occasions in races with larger fields (55th at Charlotte in 1960 due to being disqualified and 57th at Daytona in 1959 due to an early engine failure).

An incident occurred during this race that sparked some controversy.[5] Wallace was leading coming up on the lap car of #90 Stan Barrett while driving on lap 254.[5] Barrett’s car came flying at Wallace on turn one, causing it to veer right and slam the leader into the outside wall.[5] Wallace’s car was damaged but still in racing condition.[5] He would lose a lap and the fans would consider this incident to be a controversy.[5] Rusty Wallace fans would eventually calm down a week later when the Missouri native won his first and only championship over Dale Earnhardt.[5] An incident involving Jimmie Johnson and Sam Hornish, Jr. at the 2009 Checker Auto Parts 500 would invoke nostalgic memories of the Wallace-Barrett incident.

Alan Kulwicki, one of the last great independent drivers in NASCAR history, led the most laps in the race. Bobby Hamilton would make his Winston Cup debut in this race and was performing astoundingly, taking the lead from Geoff Bodine on lap 209. Five laps after he took the lead going into turn 3. However, the engine let go, spraying oil and parts all over the track, ending his day. He was heading toward winning in his debut, but a faulty engine ruined it.[6] Hamilton qualified in fifth place using a "movie car" from the 1990 American motion picture Days of Thunder,[2][4] which was sponsored by Exxon[2][3] and driven by the fictional driver Rowdy Burns (Michael Rooker). Just 19 years before this race, Hamilton had quit school in the eighth grade in order to embark on a glorious career in the NASCAR Cup Series.


Grid No. Driver Manufacturer Owner
1 25 Ken Schrader Chevrolet Rick Hendrick
2 11 Terry Labonte Ford Junior Johnson
3 7 Alan Kulwicki Ford Alan Kulwicki
4 10 Derrike Cope Pontiac Bob Whitcomb
5 51 Bobby Hamilton Chevrolet Rick Hendrick
6 6 Mark Martin Ford Jack Roush
7 3 Dale Earnhardt Chevrolet Richard Childress
8 5 Geoffrey Bodine Chevrolet Rick Hendrick
9 27 Rusty Wallace Pontiac Raymond Beadle
10 84 Dick Trickle Buick Stavola Brothers

Failed to qualify: Tommy Ellis (#18), Danny Lawson (#41), Bob Howard (#89), Keith Van Houten (#35), Mark Walbridge (#07), Jack Sellers (#44), Robert Sprague (#19), Butch Gilliland (#24), St. James Davis (#22), Bob Walker (#80), Rick McCray (#08), John Krebs (#99), Duke Hoenshell (#38), Hershel McGriff (#04), Rick Scribner (#50)[7]

Finishing orderEdit

Standings after the raceEdit

Pos Driver Points[2] Differential
1   Rusty Wallace 4058 0
2   Mark Martin 3985 -73
3   Dale Earnhardt 3979 -79
4   Darrell Waltrip 3811 -247
5   Bill Elliott 3692 -366
6   Ken Schrader 3621 -437
7   Terry Labonte 3521 -537
8   Harry Gant 3498 -560
9   Ricky Rudd 3482 -576
10   Geoffrey Bodine 3430 -628


  1. ^ Weather information for the 1989 Autoworks 500 at The Old Farmers' Almanac
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m 1989 Autoworks 500 information at Racing Reference
  3. ^ a b c d e 1989 Autoworks 500 at Fantasy Racing Cheat Sheet
  4. ^ a b 1989 Autoworks 500 Archived 2011-10-05 at the Wayback Machine information at Driver Averages
  5. ^ a b c d e f 1989 Autoworks 500 controversy at Speedway Media
  6. ^ 1989 Autoworks 500 racing information at Race-Database
  7. ^ Qualifying information for the 1989 Autoworks 500 at Racing Reference
Preceded by
1989 AC Delco 500
NASCAR Winston Cup Series Season
Succeeded by
1989 Atlanta Journal 500