DAYTONA BEACH, FLA., JULY 4 -- Bobby Allison overcame an early brush that knocked him off the pace, charged into the lead with two laps left and beat Buddy Baker in a crashing finish to the Firecracker 400 today at Daytona International Speedway.
As Allison's Buick crossed the finish line 1.5 seconds ahead of Baker's Oldsmobile, Ken Schrader and Harry Gant -- both of whom were running with the leaders -- crashed.
Schrader, who took the lead from Dave Marcis only three laps from the end of the 400-mile, 160-lap race, felt himself losing control in turn four on the last lap after both Allison and Baker passed.
Schrader's car got tapped in the rear by Marcis'. Schrader then went low on the fourth-turn banking, got sideways, started up the banking, did a complete barrel roll, slammed into Gant and knocked both of them into the wall. Both cars slid to a stop just past the finish line. Neither driver was injured.
Meanwhile, Allison, 49, came up with his third Firecracker 400 victory and the 83rd triumph of his NASCAR career.
It was the first victory for Allison since he became the oldest man to win a Winston Cup race at 48 last May in the Winston 500 at Talladega, Ala. Today he got $57,375.
Allison averaged 161.056 mph in the race slowed by four caution flags, including one with just 10 laps remaining that allowed Allison to regain a lap he lost midway through the race. He fell behind when Sterling Marlin skidded coming off pit road, hitting Cale Yarborough, who tagged Allison, doing body damage to the Buick that cost Allison a long stop.
Allison, who had not finished better than sixth in 14 previous starts this season, had to play catch-up the rest of the day.
He was the last of 12 leaders, who traded the lead 24 times, in the first race since NASCAR mandated smaller carburetors for the July races here and at Talladega. Green fcog laps today were about 10 mph slower than the 200-plus mph laps in the Daytona 500 in February.
Marcis, who was trying to win his first race since February 1982, was leading Rick Wilson by more than 3 seconds when Wilson lost control in the fourth turn and hit the wall, bringing out the final yellow flag.
The leaders stayed on the track, but Allison, who was just ahead of Marcis when the caution flag came out, was the only driver who chose to pit for a four-tire change during the slowdown. He was running 11th when the green flag came back out on lap 156.
As Marcis battled with Schrader at the front of the pack, Allison came charging through the field.
Cleveland Grand Prix:
Roberto Guerrero of Colombia eclipsed his own track record with a lap of 136.287 mph and held off a charging Bobby Rahal to capture the pole position.
French Grand Prix:
Britain's Nigel Mansell held on to the top qualifying spot after the second timed practice in Le Castellet, France.