Hillin's bad brakes lead to bad blood with PettyAfter...

February 15, 1993|By Sandra McKee | Sandra McKee,Staff Writer

DAYTONA BEACH, FLA. — Hillin's bad brakes lead to bad blood with Petty

After crash, drivers argue in infield

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- It looked like the old days, except when Cale Yarborough and Donnie Allison decided to duke it out on national television, they had the good grace to do it on the backstretch.

Yesterday, front-running Daytona 500 contenders Kyle Petty and Bobby Hillin Jr. didn't swing a fist, but they went chest-to-chest on the infield grass in front of the main grandstand and CBS' cameras.

Petty's car, which had started on the pole, and Hillin's, which RTC had proved itself a challenger, were taken out of contention yesterday when they collided on Lap 157.

"I asked Hillin why he didn't keep his foot on the brakes," said Petty, who had climbed out of his car's window and onto the roof to scream at Hillin. "I didn't understand what he said. I told him to shut up, and he kept talking. All I said was, 'Shut up.' That's all I've got to say."

Hillin had tried to dodge Al Unser Jr.'s spinning car, got hit and slid through the infield grass and back up onto the track, where he was hit by Petty, who nearly had stopped on the track trying to avoid the accident.

Petty finished 31st, and Hillin was 35th.

"Kyle thought I should have had my foot on the brake and that that would have kept me from coming back on the track," said Hillin. "I had my foot flat to the floor on the brake, but I didn't have any brakes. I know he's mad, and I'm mad, too."

One of the reasons Petty may have been so upset after his car collided with Hillin's is that car owner Felix Sabates had promised him a $1 million bonus if he had won.

Richard Petty, purely a car owner now, saw his car badly mangled before Rick Wilson brought it home for a 34th-place finish.

"I'm not a race car driver anymore," said Petty. "I told Robbie [Loomis, crew chief] after they crashed a couple of times, 'Robbie, you're looking at the smartest man in the pits, because I'm not out there.' It was no big deal. I was really relaxed, even after we got in trouble. You just do the best you can."

First out

Jimmy Hensley, filling in for Jimmy Means, who was injured in a crash during practice last week, blew an engine and hit the first-turn wall on Lap 12 and finished in last place yesterday. Hensley had crashed the NAPA Ford during the 125-mile qualifiers, making this the third crash of the week for the battered Ford.

Also-rans

Defending Winston Cup champion Alan Kulwicki dropped a cylinder shortly after the halfway point, limiting him to a 26th-place finish. . . . Unser wound up 36th.

Rookies hot

The hottest rookie -- and one of the hottest drivers overall -- yesterday was Jeff Gordon. He was riding second behind Earnhardt on Lap 197 when Dale Jarrett started shaking up the outcome.

"I knew Dale Jarrett was wanting to go, but I was going to wait until there were two laps," said Gordon, who finished fifth. "When he went, that messed up my plans. When he pulled even with the No. 3 car, I had to make a decision -- and I didn't make the right one. But it was heck of day. I'm ecstatic."

Gordon's challengers in the Rookie of the Year race, Bobby Labonte and Kenny Wallace, finished 20th and 23rd, respectively.

Still a 43

On the trunk lid of Kyle Petty's Mello Yello Pontiac is written: "Thanks, Dad. #43."

"No one can remember the last time this race was run without a No. 43 in it," said Kyle Petty, referring to the car number his father, Richard Petty, made synonymous with the sport over the past 33 years. "I decided that somehow the tradition should continue."

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