Gant breezes to Southern 500 victory AUTO RACING DARLINGTON, S.C.

September 02, 1991

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA TC — DARLINGTON, S.C. -- Harry Gant took advantage of pole-sitter Davey Allison's self-inflicted woes to win the Southern 500 yesterday, extending his mark as the oldest driver to capture a NASCAR Winston Cup race.

Gant, 51, driving an Oldsmobile, took the lead on lap 298 of the 367-lap race after a caution and coasted to an 11.05-second victory over Ernie Irvan's Chevrolet.

Ken Schrader finished third in a Chevrolet and was the only other driver in the lead lap.

Gant earned $179,450 for his 13th career victory. The winnings include a $100,000 bonus that goes to any driver who wins two of the circuit's four major races.

Gant won the Winston 500 earlier this year, a victory that also broke his mark set in 1990 as the oldest driver to win a Winston Cup race.

Gant averaged 133.508 mph in winning his fourth race at Darlington Raceway.

Dale Earnhardt was running second behind Gant with 20 laps left when his Chevrolet broke an axle, ending any chance he had of becoming the first driver to win three straight Southern 500s.

Allison, who wound up 12th, led 151 laps, including 88 of the first 133. Gant led for 152 laps, including the final 70 after Allison ran into problems.

Allison was holding onto a lead he had inherited on lap 237 after a caution when disaster struck on lap 297. Allison bumped Michael Waltrip in the rear, sending Waltrip spinning in turn two.

Allison and the second-place Gant slipped high past Waltrip, who was not on the lead lap. Both Allison and Gant headed to the pits as a caution came out.

Gant was in and out quickly, but Allison wasn't. His crew had to open the hood on his Ford to secure a motor mount and the air cleaner. Then Allison was slapped with a 15-second penalty for eight men over the pit wall -- one more than allowed.

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Michael Andretti made several daring passes to overcome an earlier stall in the pits and win.

Andretti's fifth victory of the season, equaling his career best, cut Bobby Rahal's lead in the CART PPG Cup championship race to 157-154 with four of 17 races remaining.

Al Unser Jr., the defending series and race champion, was third and remained third in the standings, 14 points behind Rahal.

Rahal, who started next to Andretti on the outside of the front row, shot into the lead when the green flag waved, but Andretti made a strong pass at the chicane halfway through the first lap to regain the top spot.

There was rain in the forecast, but the day dawned sunny and cool and remained that way, helping bring out a crowd estimated at more than 70,000.

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