obby Allison, still bruised and aching from crashes in last week's Daytona 500, shadowed the lead for nearly 70 laps, took command on the 330th and held on with nearly worn-out tires for a half-second victory over Dale Earnhardt in the Richmond 400 today at the Virginia State Fairgrounds.
For about 35 miles of the 216.8-mile stock car race, Allison repeatedly threatened Earnhardt's lead, jockeying his Monte Carlo SS to the inside of the first turn but losing ground to the higher-positioned Earnhardt and the momentum that carried him into the backstretch.
But after lapping Richard Petty, who made his 900th career start today, Allison made his move early in front of the grandstand and moved outside on that first turn to pass Earnhardt, who said his tires were "just too slick."
"I saw where he was running, changed my lane and that gave me enough distance," said Allison after his first NASCAR victory since the Atlanta Journal 500 last November. Today's was his 74th career victory, and his sixth over this track.
A wobbly Allison said after the race he was "sore since the second wreck in the Daytona really bruised me all up," but, he added, "You don't hardly notice it when you're driving."
Just before taking the lead, Allison was told by radio by his chief mechanic, Gary Nelson, that he would need gas in about 70 laps, when his tires would be wearing low and a change might be necessary, he related. It was then he decided to "sacrifice a little bit of gas mileage for just some plain ol' brute horsepower," said Allison, who earned $23,725 for the victory.
With 15 laps to go, and with Harry Gant nearly a lap behind in second after Earnhardt went to the pits for a tire change, Allison slipped into the pit area for about four gallons of gasoline, refusing a tire change and risking a blowout. He made it out of the pit area about a quarter-mile ahead of Earnhardt, who had taken second place, setting up the final showdown.
"We knew we just needed a little gas and knew our tires were worn," said the 45-year-old Allison, adding that a stone may have caused one of the tires to lose air during the victory lap. He said the tire would have blown in about three laps.
Earnhardt, 30, the 1979 Winston Cup rookie of the year and winner of one race in 1982, was happy to collect the $16,575 second-place money, but, he said, "I wish I had a couple more laps. I could have caught him. It's hell catching him and not being able to race with him," because of stops for tire changes.
The crowd of 23,500 roared as Earnhardt gained more than a lap on Allison in the last 60 laps, closing within three car lengths at the finish.
Neil Bonnett was third, earning $9,975, after Gant's car ran out of gas on the final lap. Gant coasted in, fifth.
The race over the .542-mile oval was completed, after 14 lead changes, five dropouts, and five caution flags, in 2:43.27 for an average speed of 79.583 mph. Holbert Wins in Rain in Miami
MIAMI, Feb. 27 (AP)--Al Holbert won the rain-shortened Budweiser Grand Prix of Miami today.
Only 10,000 showed up to watch as Holbert, a former Camel GT series champion, took the lead on the first lap over the twisting 1.85-mile course through downtown, lost the top spot briefly to Danny Ongais and regained it when Ongais crashed on the ninth lap of the scheduled 170 laps.
The rain fell heavily while the leaders were on their 15th trip around the narrow, 12-turn circuit. Officials put out a caution flag after 16 laps and ended the race after the 27th lap.
The actual green-flag racing lasted only 29.60 miles.