After troubling '92, Allison is ready to get back on winning track

June 06, 1993|By Sandra McKee | Sandra McKee,Staff Writer

DOVER, DELAWARE — DOVER, Del. -- The scar is about a half-inch wide. It runs from Davey Allison's wrist up the inside of his right arm and stops, just before reaching the bend at his elbow.

"I'm no doctor, but I think you can condition yourself both physically and mentally," he said. "I think you can condition yourself to drive conservatively. I think that's what I've done over the last six or 10 months, while I've been recovering from this."

He stretches his arm in front of him, giving a clear view of the soft pink scar that is the remnant of his most serious crash last season. It came in the July race at Pocono, and ultimately cost him the Winston Cup championship.

"I think it's time to go back to being aggressive," Allison said this week. "I think we've been trying to race hard, but our attitude might have been a little different because there was a long period when we couldn't race hard because of my arm and my collarbone. Now I'm physically better, so I think it's time to go back to our aggressive style and start winning some races."

He'd like to turn his words into action today, in the 25th annual Budweiser 500 Winston Cup stock car race at Dover Downs International Speedway. He will start in the first row, two spots away from pole sitter Ernie Irvan.

Allison is in sixth place in the Winston Cup points race. He is three points behind Kyle Petty, who is fifth and only 22 points behind Dale Jarrett, who is in third. But the gap to front-runner Dale Earnhardt is 230 points.

"It sounds like a lot," said Allison. "But last year, at this point, Alan Kulwicki was farther behind us than that and he won the title."

And last year, Allison was in the midst of an emotionally and physically draining season. His brother was killed in a racing accident, his grandfather died and Allison was involved in four major accidents, including the barrel roll at Pocono that dislocated his collarbone and injured his arm and wrist.

"I wouldn't want to have that same season again," he said. "Not that I've enjoyed this one a whole lot. We haven't had a lot to get excited about. But having had last year, it is proving a big plus. We know what a bad season is. If we hadn't had it, we might think this was a bad season, when in fact it's not."

He has one victory, at Richmond, and four top-five finishes. But he has not had a top-five finish since April 25 at Martinsville. Last week at Charlotte, he ran as high as third in the Coca Cola 600, but finished 30th when his engine sputtered.

Through the years, Dover has proven a bench mark for a number of drivers. One of them, Allison's father, Bobby, started a drive to his only championship in 1983, with a win here.

But generally, Winston Cup drivers do not enjoy Dover. They do not like the high banks, the heat, the neck strain or the wear and tear on their cars.

Davey Allison, however, is a lot like his father. His last top-five finish of last season came on this one-mile oval in September. And now he is looking at Dover as the perfect spot to resurrect this season.

"I think we're coming to Dover at the perfect time for us," said

Allison, who finished fourth in the Peak 500 last fall. "If we could duplicate our finish here from last year, it could turn everything around and give us a lot of momentum."

When Allison was a rookie, he became the only Winston Cup driver in history to win two races in a rookie season. He won that second race right here.

"I like this track," he said. "I've got a lot of fond memories of winning here and of watching Dad win here. I know from the television point of view that this would be a better race if it was 350 miles, but from my personal point of view it's perfect.

"It's a test of equipment and physical endurance and I like that part of it -- especially when it's hot. The hotter the better because then it becomes an advantage for me."

Allison said he is in constant training for Dover.

And how can a driver train for Dover?

"I never use air conditioning," he said. "Not in my car, or my airplane or even in my house. The only part of the house that has the air conditioner on is in the kids' rooms. Even the vents in my office are closed off."

He hasn't been pressing himself over the past 10 months. He hasn't been sticking the nose of his Havoline Ford in narrow spaces.

"Part of it has been self-preservation, as I've continued to recover from the roughing up I took last season," he said. "But part of it, in the latter part of last season, was that we were racing for points and the important thing was to make sure you finish the race."

But in the end, at Atlanta, in the last race of the season with the championship on the line, Irvan knocked him out of the race and out of the running.

Now he understands.

"I've got to go out and win," he said. "If we do that, the points will come."

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