Bill Elliott charged from ninth place and roared to an easy victory in Sunday’s Miller 400 at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, Mich., before a crowd estimated at 70,000.
The win was the seventh of the season on the NASCAR circuit for Elliott, a 29-year-old native of Dawsonville, Ga., who averaged 144.724 m.p.h. in his Ford Thunderbird to earn $48,600.
“Michigan is my favorite track,” said Elliott, who also won the race last year. “I have a lot of friends in Brooklyn and we still stay with people in Brooklyn when we come here. It feels just like being at home.”
Elliott, the NASCAR points leader, started on the pole, but dropped back to ninth near the 180-mile mark. He then worked his way back to the front and took the lead with 50 laps to go, overwhelming runner-up Darrell Waltrip by 13.51 seconds.
The final margin of victory was impressive and was due in part to two gambles that paid off. Elliott declined a tire change with 50 miles remaining while Waltrip took on right-side tires. Elliott spent 6.2 seconds in the pits while Waltrip took 13.5 seconds.
Elliott then disdained a chance to fill his gas tank, taking on just 11 gallons of gas with 26 laps remaining.
“It was close, awfully close (to empty),” he said. His pit crew later figured Elliott had a half-gallon left in the tank.
Elliott led for 66 of the 200 laps. Waltrip, in a Chevy, was one of only four drivers on the same lap with the leader.
Waltrip, who led 73 laps of the race, collected $32,100 for his second-place finish. He moved past Bobby Allison into second place on the all-time earnings list, with a career total of $5,622,139. Richard Petty, who finished 30th, is the all-time earnings leader with $5,734,098.
Cale Yarborough was third, Tim Richmond fourth and Dale Earnhardt fifth.
Mario Andretti passed defending champion Al Unser Jr. about 20 miles from the finish and pulled away to win the Portland 200, his third Indy Car victory in four races this year.
Andretti, who started in the No. 4 position, finished 24.8 seconds ahead of Unser, earning about $50,000. Both were driving Cosworth-powered Lola T-900s. Two-time world driving champion Emerson Fittipaldi was third in a March 85C.
It was the 45th career Indy Car victory for Andretti, whose worst finish this year was a second place in the Indianapolis 500. The triumph also came 30 years to the day from the time Andretti arrived in New York City from Italy as a 15-year-old immigrant.
Indy 500 winner Danny Sullivan held the pole but left the race with a suspension problem after just six laps of the 104-lap race. Unser, who started beside Sullivan in the No. 2 spot, had the lead for four laps before Bobby Rahal passed him and took the lead for 22 laps. However, Rahal left the race after 53 laps with an oil problem.
Rahal’s problems allowed Unser to retake the lead. Andretti was 14.5 seconds behind Unser when the two made their last pit stops.
But Andretti’s pit crew was able to record an 18-second pit stop and he trailed by just 4.3 seconds when he returned for the 75th lap.
Moments later, he took advantage of the short straightaway on the winding 1.915-mile course to pull ahead for good on the 85th lap.
Ferrari made a comeback in Formula One racing by finishing one-two in the Canadian Grand Prix at Montreal.
With the 1.957-second victory by Italian driver Michele Alboreto over teammate Stefan Johansson of Sweden, Ferrari now poses a major threat to the British Lotus and McLaren teams for Formula One domination.
“It was a very easy race,” said Alboreto who won his first race of the year after finishing second at Brazil, Portugal and Monaco. “We waited for this for a year and our finish definitely shows Ferrari is a power.”
The last time Ferrari finished one-two was at Imola, Italy, in 1981. One of those drivers was the late Gilles Villeneuve of Canada, for whom the Montreal track is named.
Alboreto was clocked at an average of 108.48 m.p.h. for the 190-mile race. Alain Prost was third in a McLaren while the Williams of Finnish driver Keke Rosberg finished fourth, ahead of Elio de Angelis’ Lotus.
Klaus Ludwig of West Germany, whose Joest Porsche 956 team led for the final 17 hours, won his second consecutive Le Mans 24-hour endurance race at Le Mans, France.
Ludwig teamed with John Winter of West Germany and Paolo Barilla of Italy to shake off early challenges from another Porsche 956 team led by Formula One driver Jonathan Palmer and the 1983 champion Porsche 962 team led by American Al Holbert. They coasted to the victory with a total distance of 8,090 miles.
The Lloyd team of Palmer and British compatriots James Weaver and Richard Lloyd was second, three laps behind the leader, while a Porsche works team of Briton Derek Bell and West German Hans Stuck was third, seven laps of the 22-mile circuit behind Ludwig.