Rusty Wallace is changing the meaning of drive in his quest to win NASCAR’s Winston Cup championship.
Overall leader Bill Elliott has suddenly found himself in a tight battle with Wallace with 2 races left.
Wallace narrowed the points differential to 79 Sunday after getting his third straight victory, winning the AC-Delco 500 at the North Carolina Motor Speedway in Rockingham, N.C.
He earned $52,150 for Sunday’s victory, making him the eighth driver in NASCAR history to win more than $1-million in a season. Wallace has $1,003,910.
“I don’t know if I can catch Bill, but I’m doing everything I can do,” Wallace said.
Still, it may not be enough. Elliott, who has amassed 4,198 points, needs to finish only eighth or better in the season’s final 2 races to win his first title.
Dale Earnhardt’s hopes for a third consecutive title all but ended as he lost 10 points to Elliott, and trails by 198 points.
Although Wallace’s Pontiac finished about half a lap ahead of runner-up Ricky Rudd, it was not an easy victory for the Charlotte-based team.
Wallace came from 3 laps down in the 492-lap race to claim his first victory on the 1.017-mile track and his fifth victory of the season.
Wallace lost a lap on Lap 60 when he had to make an unscheduled pit stop for tires. He dropped 2 more laps on Lap 127 when he again had to stop for tires. This time, as he started to leave his pit, lugs were loose and he had to back up to his pit from an adjoining pit to have them tightened.
But the problems were early enough in the race for Wallace to overcome the adversity. By taking advantage of 11 caution flags for 76 laps, Wallace was able to regain the lead. He also received a break when Elliott lost a lap because of an unscheduled pit stop for tires on Lap 335.
“The crew did an excellent job getting me in and out of the pits,” Wallace said. “They were lightning fast.”
Third behind Rudd’s Buick was Terry Labonte in a Chevrolet. Elliott was fourth in a Ford, a lap back. Earnhardt took fifth in a Chevrolet, also a lap down.
Eddie Hill of Wichita Falls, Tex., posted his second consecutive and fourth victory of the season in Top Fuel competition in the NHRA/Winston Drag Racing Series at the $605,250 Castrol GTX Fallnationals at Phoenix.
Hill defeated Frank Hawley, covering the quarter-mile distance in 5.077 seconds at 276.41 m.p.h. Hawley, of Gainesville, Fla., finished at 5.196 and 279.58.
Bob Glidden, of Whiteland, Ind., recorded his fourth consecutive and seventh victory of the season in Pro Stock competition, defeating Warren Johnson, of Duluth, Ga.
Glidden had a 7.452 at 186.48 to defeat Johnson at 7.477 and 186.33. It was Glidden’s 67th career win.
Mike Dunn, of Ontario, swept to his second straight Funny Car victory with a run of 5.528 at 264.86 to defeat Tom Hoover, 5.584 and 252.80.
The final event of the 16-race NHRA/Winston Drag Racing Series season, the 24th annual Winston Finals, starts Thursday at Fairplex Park in Pomona. Final eliminations are Sunday.
Ricky Ryan won Finland’s first-ever stadium motocross, held in an indoor soccer arena in Lahti.
Ryan, who had to abandon Saturday’s final race won by Broc Glover of El Cajon, led from start to finish. Glover had trouble Sunday and finished eighth.