DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Davey Allison and his father, Bobby, sat side by side in the post-race interview yesterday. No one could tell who was happier: the son, who had just won the Daytona 500 for the first time, or the father, a three-time winner here.
"It's hard to sit here and say this is the greatest moment in my life, because the greatest moment in my life will always be finishing second to my dad in the 1988 race," Davey Allison said. "But this is my greatest victory."
Davey Allison collected $244,050 when his Havoline Ford beat Morgan Shepherd's Citgo Ford to the finish line by two car lengths in the 34th Daytona 500. The victory is the 14th of Allison's career and came in front of a crowd estimated at 145,000.
The victory put Davey and his father in the history books alongside Bobby Allison's longtime rival, the retiring Richard Petty, and Petty's father, Lee, as the only father-and-son drivers to win this race.
"I've had some good times here," said Bobby Allison. "I won three times, and I remember all but one of them -- and judging by the pictures I've seen, I must have enjoyed that one in 1988, too. But the feeling I have right now is probably better than all of those.
"The best youngster out there won the Daytona 500, and he's my son. What could be better than that?"
The elder Allison, who was injured seriously during a race in Long Pond, Pa., midway through the 1988 season, still has problems with his memory. He does not remember the 1988 Daytona 500 victory that is so cherished by his son, and he said yesterday that the blank spot is sometimes "annoying and sometimes hurts very much."
But, he said, "I didn't feel it hurt today. I'm just so happy he won and that I can go [be with him]."
Davey Allison won yesterday primarily because he was patient. The race had just been given the green flag for a restart on Lap 98 and Allison was running fourth, behind Bill Elliott, Sterling Marlin and Ernie Irvan.
Going into the first turn, Marlin went low to run beside Elliott. Coming out of Turn 2, Irvan decided to make it three abreast, diving below Marlin.
That's the picture Allison saw as he came out of Turn 2 behind them.
"I saw exactly what was going to happen, and I backed off," Allison said. "At that point in a race, not even halfway, is no time to take chances. A couple cars in front of me ended up in the infield because they took part in some unnecessary racing at the wrong place and the wrong time."
Irvan defended his move, which put the three cars in an unstable position and set the stage for a 14-car accident that eliminated most of the pre-race favorites, including Elliott, Marlin, Dale Earnhardt, Mark Martin, Rusty Wallace and Darrell Waltrip.
"I've got to go out there and race hard," said Irvan, who won here last year. "That's what my car owner wants me to do. . . . We had a strong car and we were just trying to keep it up front."
Irvan's car owner, Larry McClure, said: "I hate it for everybody that got involved in the wreck. But Ernie's style is to go to the front, and if that's your style, then that's your style. You can't be timid out there."
Davey Allison certainly wasn't timid, but he disagreed with Irvan and McClure.
"There was absolutely no doubt three wide wasn't going to work," Allison said. "Sometimes common sense is supposed to tell you that. Guys are supposed to know when to run hard and when not to.
"As competitive as these races are, the key to victory is going to be keeping your equipment in one piece for the finish. Hopefully, a few guys learned that lesson today."
When Allison slowed down behind the three front-runners, he was able to see where their cars would spin, before he headed into the mess.
That patience is new to Davey Allison. Shortly before this race, Allison said his crew chief, Larry McReynolds, has helped him develop patience by providing him with a reliable car.
"A year ago, I might have been in that wreck," Allison said. "But not now. I know my car is good and that I don't have to take unnecessary risks. You have no idea the difference that makes."
Shepherd gave it his best shot in the late going but couldn't catch Allison. He said he was grateful to finish second.