Wallace wins Budweiser 500

June 06, 1994|By Sandra McKee | Sandra McKee,Sun Staff Writer

DOVER, Del. -- To survive, to make it to the finish line yesterday was just about all a driver could ask for in the Budweiser 500 Winston Cup stock car race.

So to win was an added delight for Rusty Wallace, who is chasing Ernie Irvan and Dale Earnhardt for the Winston Cup championship.

Wallace beat Irvan to the finish line in the accident-marred race by .34 of a second, while averaging 102.529 mph.

Earnhardt finished 28th after a long day. He worked his way up to third, lost a lap because of bad tires, but made it up to get back in the top five, only to crash into the wall when a tire blew on lap 288. Earnhardt wound up running way off the pace to the finish.

The surface of the one-mile oval at Dover Downs International Speedway was in terrible condition after the hard winter.

The track broke up badly in the freezing temperatures, and attempts to apply sealer failed miserably, because it hadn't hardened properly before the Winston Cup crowd arrived Friday.

Practice and qualifying runs caused holes to develop in the first and second turns, and crews were out on the track Saturday night patching holes with quick-drying concrete.

As 11 cars went to the garage after wrecking and countless others continued on after repairing serious damage, Ken Schrader probably spoke for the majority.

"As slick as this place is, we shouldn't even be racing here, with the sealer like this," said Schrader, who finished third. "We just tried to keep our nose clean."

The only driver who appeared totally unbothered was Wallace -- though things aren't always as they appear.

"When that last caution came out with 10 laps to go, I couldn't believe it," said Wallace. "And then, here we were running under caution, and my engine conks out on the backstretch. I couldn't keep it running. I coasted, got it started and was running between 9,000 and 10,000 RPM and that should have blown the engine all to bits.

"And I thought, 'Man, I'm not going to win this thing.' As they put out the green flag, I was coming through the turn standing on the throttle and when I dropped it into second gear, it was like I was launched."

Wallace burst to a five-car-length lead and held on.

Irvan and Wallace had the best cars all day, and worked in tandem so as not to wear their cars out.

"I radioed in and sent a message to him to let's just take it easy and trade the lead back and forth, restful like, until the last 100 miles or so, and that's what we did," said Wallace.

Irvan did not voice great disappointment at the final outcome.

"Me and Rusty raced the race track all day," said Irvan. "He just got a little better at the end and I was being careful. A lot of stuff happened all around me all day, and I had to keep the Big Picture in mind."

The Big Picture is the championship, and right now, Irvan holds a 163-point lead. Earnhardt is second, and Wallace, with his third victory of the season, is third, 166 points out of second.

"I think I can win this championship," said Wallace. "I've been further behind before and things are going well. All the races I had bad luck at last season, I've come through with good luck this year. I had a DNF here and today I won."

1. (6) Rusty Wallace, Ford, 500, $70,605, 102.529. 2. (1) Ernie Irvan, Ford, 500, $54,830. 3. (20) Ken Schrader, Chevrolet, 500, $35,605. 4. (32) Mark Martin, Ford, 500, $29,765. 5. (23) Jeff Gordon, Chevrolet, 500, $33,570. 6. (16) Darrell Waltrip, Chevrolet, 499, $22,365. 7. (34) Michael Waltrip, Pontiac, 499, $20,515. 8. (30) Sterling Marlin, Chevrolet, 498, $22,415. 9. (38) Hut Stricklin, Ford, 498, $17,165. 10. (27) Wally Dallenbach Jr., Pontiac, 497, $16,865.

11. (31) Kyle Petty, Pontiac, 497, $21,615. 12. (40) Lake Speed, Ford, 497, $20,115. 13. (41) Mike Wallace, Ford, 496, $14,015. 14. (3) Joe Nemechek, Chevrolet, 496, $13,115. 15. (39) Loy Allen, Ford, 495, $9,665. 16. (12) Todd Bodine, Ford, 494 $12,065. 17. (10) Jimmy Hensley, Ford, 493, $8,965. 18. (29) Dave Marcis, Chevrolet, 490, $11,650. 19. (18) Ricky Rudd, Ford, 489, $11,465. 20. (4) Bobby Labonte, Pontiac, 482, $15,965, accident.

21. (35) Chuck Bown, Ford, 482, $15,165. 22. (33) John Andretti, Chevrolet, 482, $12,615. 23. (24) Derrike Cope, Ford, 481, $10,965. 24. (36) Greg Sacks, Ford, 476, $10,815. 25. (9) Morgan Shepherd, 444, $19,465, accident. 26. (22) Terry Labonte, Chevrolet, 438, $18,415. 27. (15) Steve Grissom, Chevrolet, 428, $10,565. 28. (14) Dale Earnhardt, Chevrolet, 425, $22,065. 29. (13) Dale Jarrett, Chevrolet, 424, $19,665. 30. (17) Rick Mast, Ford, 402, $14,315, handling.

31. (5) Bill Elliott, Ford, 397, $14,165, engine. 32. (21) Brett Bodine, Ford, 376, $14,605. 33. (26) Jeff Burton, Ford, 365, $13,555. 34. (8) Bobby Hamilton, Pontiac, 359, $12,005, accident. 35. (7) Ted Musgrave, Ford, 358, $11,805, accident. 36. (25) Billy Standridge, Ford, 339, $7,780. 37. (11) Ward Burton, Chevrolet, 218, $7,80, accident. 38. (19) Dick Trickle, Chevrolet, 171, $7,780, accident. 39. (28) Jimmy Spencer, Ford, 95, $7,780, accident. 40. (42) Brad Teague, Ford, 84, $7,780, broken axle. 41. (2) Geoff Bodine, Ford, 68, $12,180, accident. 42. (37) Harry Gant, 14, $12,280, accident.

Time of race: 4 hours, 52 minutes, 36 seconds. Margin of victory: .34 seconds. Caution flags: 12 for 99 laps. Lead changes: 22 among 8 drivers. Series points leaders: Irvan 1,979; Earnhardt 1,816; R. Wallace 1,650; Schrader 1,605; Martin 1,601; Rudd 1,476; Speed 1,473; Shepherd 1,462; M. Waltrip 1,448; Marlin 1,434.

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