Donnie Allison zipped around Darrell Waltrip a mile from the finish to win the $90,000 Permatex 300-mile race for late-model sportsman class stock cars at Daytona International Speedway today. The two veterans, driving Chevrolets, left the rest of the 40-car field far behind as they fought almost every mile of the distance at a record pace.
The winning speed of 154.39 miles per hour smashed the 148.18 miles per hour mark set 10 years ago by Jim Paschal. Caution flags were shown for only 50 miles. Allison from Hueytown, Ala., brother of driving star Bobby, won $16,325.
He is the fastest qualifier for today's Daytona 500-miler, the $400,000 race for Grand National stock cars. The sportsman machines are older, less modified versions of these cars. Starting nexto to Allison will be three-time Indianapolis 500 winner A. J. Foyt, with 40 more cars in the field. Five-time Daytona winner Richard Petty is starting third, beside last year's Grand National champion Cale Yarborough.
An unusual pairing in row 13 is Salt Walther and Jim Hurtubise, both Indianapolis 500 drivers, and both victims of serious burns in racing crashes. Janet Guthrie will become the first woman to start the Daytona race, having qualified in 40th position.
In today's race, Waltrip, of Franklin, Tenn., was followed in third by the fastest qualifier, Sam Sommers of Savannah, Ga., in a Chevrolet. Last year's winner, Joe Millikah, Randleman, N.C., in a Dodge was fourth and, two laps behin, Ray Hendrick, Richmond, in a Chevrolet was fifth. Twenty-five of the 40 starters finished the 19th Permatex renewal.
Allison started in 17th place but moved into second by 50 miles as Sommers, then Waltrip and Millikan held the lead. Four caution flags during the early laps kept the field well bunched and allowed Allison to improve his position steadily without using up his engine.
He and Waltrip began their duel at 100 miles, running only lengths apart. Both made pit stops without losing their positions. They had opened up a 25-second margin over the third-place car setting up a two-car dash for the finish.
With 50 miles to go, Waltrip pitted for nine seconds to take on gas. Allison had a 28-second lead when he came in for gas with 25 miles to go. He lost this margin as Waltrip flashed past as he edged back on the track, briefly blocked by slower cars.
ALlison quickly made up ground and trailed by three lengths when the Chevrolets of Hendrick and Jack Ingram, Asheville, N.C., collided entering the homestretch with 15 miles to go.
"I just opened it wide and got through," said Allison as he and Waltrip settled behind the pace car under a caution flag. Hendrick was able to restart.