Defending champion Darrell Waltrip, the top NASCAR winner this season, took the lead with 125 laps to go yesterday and held on for a two-second victory over pole-sitter Ricky Rudd in the $202,700 Old Dominion 500 in Martinsville, Va.
Waltrip averaged 71.315 mph in his Buick over the .525-mile Martinsville Speedway to capture his 11th victory of the season.
Veteran Richard Petty, who has yet to win on the circuit this season, finished third. Terry Labonte took fourth and Joe Ruttman was fifth.
The victory gives Waltrip the Grand National point lead, ahead of Bobby Allison. Allison, who has had the point lead most of the season, held a 37-point advantage entering the race but fell out before the 400th lap with engine trouble.
"We got the front end knocked out of line and the car jumped around a lot, but the engine just purred all day," said Waltrip, the leading money-winner on the tour who took home a track-record $33,225 for the victory. It was his fifth career triumph at Martinsville.
Waltrip struggled early in the race, but took advantage of six caution flags during the first 200 laps to remain in contention.
Rudd, Geoff Bodine and Allison took turns leading the race during the first 200 laps. Waltrip also led for 61 laps early in the race before falling back in the field.
A 10th and final caution period came when Tim Richmond's Buick stalled on the start-finish straightaway on the 373rd lap. Waltrip took the lead from Rudd on the next lap and maintained the advantage the rest of the way.