Brazil's Ayrton Senna held off a late charge from Frenchman Jean Alesi to win his third Monaco Grand Prix with a record-breaking performance yesterday in Monte Carlo.

Senna, driving a McLaren-Honda, finished 1.087 seconds ahead of Alesi's Tyrrell-Ford after building a margin of 26 seconds through 60 of the first 78 laps. Austrian Gerhard Berger, Senna's teammate, was third.

Senna, who started from the pole, averaged a record 85.83 mph for the race, which covered 161.3 miles. He was timed in 1 hour 52 minutes 46.982 seconds.

It was Senna's third victory at Monte Carlo in four years. Last year he led from the start. Yesterday, he started too quickly.

"I was too aggressive early," Senna said. "Then I had problems with the engine. I slowed down to minimize the risk."

On the 59th lap, Senna posted a time of 1:24.468, bettering the record of 1:25.501 set by France's Alain Prost last year.

Belgium's Thierry Boutsen was fourth, with Italy's Alex Caffi fifth and Frenchman Eric Bernard sixth.

Senna leads the world championship standings with 22 points. Berger is second with 16.

Two of Senna's rivals were involved in a first-lap crash that caused the race to be restarted.

Both cars blocked the track and forced the race to be restarted 30 minutes later. No one was injured and both drivers jogged back to the pits to get into their back-up cars.

NASCAR: Rusty Wallace, breaking out of a season-long slump, beat Bill Elliott to the finish line by less than a second to win the Coca-Cola 600 stock car race at Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, N.C.

Wallace, the defending Winston Cup points champion, won his first race since September, when he captured the Miller 400 at Richmond.

"I wanted to win but I didn't think I would dominate like I did," said Wallace, who drove a 1987 Pontiac nicknamed "Whitney" and led for 306 of the 400 laps. It was his first victory in 17 races. The margin was so close only because the field was bunched up due to a caution period just before the end of the race.

With five laps to go in stock car racing's longest race, the engine in Rick Wilson's Oldsmobile blew and dropped oil onto the track.

Wallace, who was about two car-lengths ahead of Elliott's Ford, nearly crashed into the wall between the third and fourth turns.

After the 11th and final caution period, Wallace outran Elliott to the checkered flag by .17 seconds. Elliott tried to take the inside line into the final turn but Wallace cut him off to claim the $151,000 winner's purse.

Wallace, who started in ninth position, averaged 137.650 mph for the grueling 600-mile race, which took nearly 4 1/2 hours to complete.