Hillin is chosen to spell ailing Davey Allison after lead lap in Talladega 500

July 22, 1992|By Tom Higgins | Tom Higgins,Charlotte Observer

Bobby Hillin was chosen as relief driver for injured Davey Allison in the DieHard 500 Sunday at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway.

Hillin will take over the Robert Yates Racing team's Ford after Allison starts the NASCAR Winston Cup Series race to earn points toward the $1 million championship. Allison had led the standings all season until his 11-flip crash Sunday in the Miller 500 at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway enabled Bill Elliott to assume the lead by nine points.

The accident left Allison with a broken right collarbone, forearm and wrist.

Doctors at Lehigh Valley Hospital in Allentown, Pa., where Allison had plates and pins put in the arm, are fashioning a cast for the driver to ease his effort to run at least one required practice lap Saturday and another in the 500 Sunday.

Team owner Yates let the 25 members of his Charlotte-based operation help decide who should substitute for Allison.

"We decided on Bobby Hillin 'cause he has a lot of laps within the current rules and spoiler setting, he's used to spotter input and the current group of guys he'll be racing against," Yates said.

Crew chief Larry McReynolds said Hillin and Allison being about the same height also played a part in the decision, as drivers must fit specially designed seats. He also noted that when Hillin filled in for injured Kyle Petty last season "he brought the car home in one piece, and because of the points situation we need to make it to the checkered flag."

Hillin, 28, was free to take the relief role since his Chevrolet owned by Irishman Martin Birrane isn't entered at Talladega. He has a solid record at the track, where he became NASCAR's youngest Winston Cup Series winner in taking the summer 500-miler in 1986.

Yates Racing spokesman Brian VanDercook said it is unclear when Allison will be released from the Allentown hospital. He said it might not be until Saturday morning, in which case Allison would fly directly from Allentown to Talladega.

*

On Sunday Darrell Waltrip won the Miller 500 because of a call credited crew chief Jeff Hammond with making in the pits at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway.

Yesterday, Waltrip lost Hammond in a stunning NASCAR Winston Cup Series development.

Hammond, 35, who had been associated with Waltrip for 11 years, during which the driver won 43 of his 82 races and two of three Winston Cup championships, resigned to join the operation of team owner Felix Sabates.

Hammond will become manager of a new Winston Cup team that Charlotte businessman Sabates is forming for driver Kenny Wallace, who is running the Grand National tour in a Sabates-owned car. Steve Bird will continue as Wallace's crew chief when the team moves up a division in 1993.

"Felix offered a situation I've been wanting for the years to come," said Hammond, who resigned at DarWal, Inc., Tuesday after having a farewell lunch with the team. "I have nothing but admiration and respect for Darrell and the team he has built as an owner. I'd have stayed 'til the end of the season if he'd asked."

Sabates said he phoned Waltrip at his home in Tennessee to ask permission to talk to Hammond.

"I'm up front with my business dealings," said Sabates. "Darrell was a real gentleman about it. . . Jeff is going to take a few days off, then get working on special projects for '93."

Waltrip couldn't be reached, but Sam Conway, general manager of the Harrisburg-based DarWal team, said Jake Elder would become crew chief on an interim basis, starting with Sunday's DieHard 500 at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway.

After snapping a 30-race nonwinning streak with the victory at Pocono, Waltrip said Hammond made the decision to pit a second time to top off the fuel tank during a caution period on the 159th of 200 laps. That proved pivotal as Waltrip had enough gasoline to finish and rivals did not.

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