Bobby Allison pulled away in a 10-lap sprint to the finish to win the Atlanta Journal 500 Grand National stock car race yesterday in Hampton, Ga., and set up one last battle with Darrell Waltrip for the season championship.
Allison led seven times for 107 laps in the 328-lap event. He beat Harry Gant past the checkered flag at Atlanta International Raceway by a bare .66 of a second, with Waltrip just behind in third place.
That moved 45-year-old Allison, looking for his first Winston Cup title, within 22 points of Waltrip, the defending season champion, with only the Nov. 21 season closer at Riverside, Calif., remaining.
The final charge was set up when Richard Petty, after overcoming several problems to get back into contention, lost control and hit the wall in the fourth turn just 15 laps from the end as he battled Neil Bonnett for third place.
The consequent 10th and final caution period of the day gave Allison and Waltrip, running one-two, respectively, an opportunity to dart into the pits for new tires and fuel.
The green flag came out on lap 319 and Waltrip immediately tried to get around the front-running Allison on the low side. Allison's Chevrolet Monte Carlo held off Waltrip's Buick Regal and pulled out to a lead of several car lengths.
Bonnett, the defending race champion, passed Waltrip but blew the engine in his Ford Thunderbird four laps from the end. Gant, in another Buick, went by the struggling Waltrip the next time around the 1.522-mile banked oval and held him off the rest of the way.
Tim Richmond finished a distant fourth and Joe Ruttman fifth, a lap behind the leaders.
Allison averaged 130.885 mph and earned $45,500 first-place money.