Auto Racing

July 07, 1991

Pepsi 400 win has extra meaning for Elliott after personal 0) losses

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- After suffering several losses bigge than any stock-car race, Bill Elliott is a winner again.

Elliott's mother and grandmother died a week apart last month, and one of his crew members was killed in an accident last November. He said the series of events made yesterday's victory in the Pepsi 400 one of his sweetest wins.

"With everything that's happened, it's high on the list," he said.

Elliott took his only lead with 12 laps to go and held on for his first victory this year and his first at Daytona International Speedway since July 1988.

"Glad to be back," he said after ending the slump. "A lot of it's been racing luck. When it's your day, it's your day."

Elliott's maternal grandmother died at age 93 on June 17. His mother, 70, died after a lengthy illness on June 24.

"This is for them," he said. "I'd love for them to be here to cheer me on. It would make them real happy."

The No. 9 Ford was pulling away at the finish and beat second-place Geoff Bodine's Ford by .31 of a second. Another Ford, driven by Davey Allison, took third.

"With all the hardships that Bill Elliott's been through, this has got to be a great victory for him today," Allison said. "He drove a super race, and he deserves it."

Ken Schrader was fourth in a Chevy, and Ernie Irvan took fifth in the 41-car race. Winston Cup points leader Dale Earnhardt finished seventh, and pole-sitter Sterling Marlin was eighth.

Irvan, the reigning Daytona 500 champion, led for 85 of the 160 laps but faded near the end. Elliott, who had been in front in just two other races this year, passed Allison on the inside going through turn one to take the lead on the 148th lap.

"When I passed Davey, I almost spun out," Elliott said.

There was no wreck then, but the race was marred by a crash earlier in which that resulted in Darrell Waltrip's Chevrolet tumbling end over end at least six times on the infield. The car's hood, roof and trunk were torn away.

Waltrip hurt his shoulder but was released from a hospital after tests found no serious injuries.

The race drew 105,000 fans, and most of them roared in approval of Elliott's victory. Once the most dominant driver on the Winston Cup circuit, Elliott, 35, won for the first time since September in Dover, Del.

He earned career victory No. 34 and a $75,000 check.

The winning speed, 159.116 mph, was slowed by four caution periods. The final one began on the 119th lap with a wreck that sent Waltrip to the hospital.

The crash occurred with Waltrip, Alan Kulwicki and Joe Ruttman racing three abreast. Waltrip's Chevy, in the middle, came together with Kulwicki's Ford and then veered into Ruttman's Olds.

Waltrip's car went onto the grass, ran over a road used for motorcycle racing and became airborne. Sheet metal and dirt went flying as the mangled car spun to a rest on its side.

1. (10) Bill Elliott, Dawsonville, Ga., Ford, 160, $75,000, 159.116; 2. (4) Geoff Bodine, Chemung, N.Y., Ford, 160, $48,325; 3. (2) Davey Allison, Hueytown, Ala., Ford, 160, $36,950; 4. (22) Ken Schrader, Fenton, Mo., Chevy, 160, $27,450; 5. (11) Ernie Irvan, Modesto, Calif., Olds, 160, $36,525; 6. (7) Michael Waltrip, Owensboro, Ky., Pontiac, 160, $17,300; 7. (12) Dale Earnhardt, Kannapolis, N.C., Chevy, 160, $23,200; 8. (1) Sterling Marlin, Columbia, Tenn., Ford, 160, $17,100; 9. (13) Ricky Rudd, Chesapeake, Va., Chevy, 160, $16,500; 10. (32) Jimmy Spencer, Berwick, Pa., Chevy, 160, $15,800.

11. (26) Mark Martin, Batesville, Ark., Ford, 160, $17,090; 12. (28) Rusty Wallace, St. Louis, Pontiac, 160, $9,600; 13. (19) Buddy Baker, Sherrill's Ford, N.C., Olds, 160, $9,210; 14. (17) Alan Kulwicki, Greenfield, Wis., Ford, 160, $14,070; 15. (25) Bobby Hillin Jr., Charlotte, N.C., Pontiac, 160, $14,480; 16. (15) Hut Stricklin, Calera, Ala., Buick, 160, $10,440; 17. (36) Derrike Cope, Spanaway, Wash., Chevy, 160, $14,825; 18. (31) Dale Jarrett, Hickory, N.C., Ford, 160, $9,810; 19. (9) Rick Mast, Rockbridge Baths, Va., Olds, 160, $9,295; 20. (18) Morgan Shepherd, Conover, N.C., Ford, 159, $13,730.

21. (34) Larry Pearson, Spartanburg, S.C., Chevy, 159, $5,510; 22. (21) Richard Petty, Randleman, N.C., Pontiac, 159, $8,490; 23. (3) Harry Gant, Taylorsville, N.C., Olds, 159, $8,470; 24. (14) Rick Wilson, Bartow, Fla., Buick, 158, $8,050; 25. (39) Dave Marcis, Wausau, Wis., Chevy, 157, $7,930; 26. (38) Jimmy Means, Huntsville, Ala., Pontiac, 157, $4,810; 27. (35) Mickey Gibbs, Glencoe, Ala., Pontiac, 154, $5,440; 28. (5) Bobby Hamilton, Nashville, Tenn., Olds, 153, $6,070; 29. (8) Chad Little, Spokane, Wash., Ford, 150, $4,475; 30. (29) Jeff Purvis, Clarksville, Tenn., Olds, 144, $5,080.

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