Hillin wins a scorcher at Talladega

Sunday, July 27, 1986 – Bobby Hillin Jr. survived the soaring temperatures and held off a red-hot Tim Richmond to score his only NASCAR premier series win with a victory in the Talladega 500 at Alabama International Motor Speedway. The win came in Hillin’s 78th start in the series and snapped a two-race win streak enjoyed by Richmond.

Hillin became the series’ youngest winner with the victory, at 22 years, 1 month and 22 days.

Hillin competed for a dozen years after his Talladega win, eventually ending his career with 334 starts, eight top-five and 43 top-10 finishes.

It was the second career victory for team owners Billy and Mickey Stavola, who fielded the No. 8 Buick for Hillin as well as the No. 22 Buick for Bobby Allison.

Davey Allison made his only career start for team owner Junior Johnson, filling in for an injured Neil Bonnett in Johnson’s No. 12 Chevrolet. Allison finished seventh. After making infrequent starts for Hoss Ellington and the Sadler Brothers, the start was the final time Allison would compete in a Chevrolet.

Bonnett had suffered rib and shoulder injuries the previous weekend during a crash at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway.

Ricky Rudd finished third in the No. 15 Bud Moore Ford, with an assist from Rusty Wallace. Rudd exited the car due to illness and turned the driving over to Wallace, who had fallen from the race earlier due to engine issues in his Blue Max Racing Pontiac.

The race featured a then-record 26 drivers leading one or more laps. There were 48 lead changes.

Hillin was the 12th different winner of the season, tying the NASCAR record set in 1983 and matched in ’84.

Thirty-nine of the 40 cars in the lineup qualified at more than 200 mph.

Richmond takes Pocono thriller

Sunday, July 20, 1986 – Tim Richmond, accustomed to winning by somewhat more comfortable margins, came out on top in a last-lap drag race with Ricky Rudd to the finish line to win the Summer 500 at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway. Richmond, driving the No. 25 Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports, passed teammate Geoff Bodine for the lead to start the last lap, but the race out of Turn 3 saw Rudd come charging to the inside of the two frontrunners. Richmond’s margin of victory over Rudd was 0.05 second.

The victory was the third in four races for Richmond, who became the third driver in five seasons to sweep both races at the 2.5-mile track.

The race was cut from 200 to 150 laps due to poor visibility resulting from fog in the area. The start of the race had been delayed approximately 90 minutes because of weather issues.

Richmond won despite sustaining heavy damage to his vehicle during a wreck; he lost nearly two laps while repairs were being made.

Neil Bonnett, driver of the No. 12 Chevrolet fielded by Junior Johnson, was transported to a local hospital after his involvement in a five-car incident on lap 126. He was treated for a broken collarbone and rib.

Rudd penalized, Allison wins

Sunday, June 9, 1991 – Davey Allison collects the victory, his second of the season, after officials penalize Ricky Rudd for rough driving on the penultimate lap of the Banquet Frozen Foods 300 NASCAR premier series race at Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway. Rudd was black flagged for contact in Turn 11 and assessed a five-second penalty, leaving him second in the final rundown.

While Allison went straight to victory lane, despite crossing the finish line four seconds behind Rudd, it took officials two hours to officially declare the Robert Yates Racing driver the winner.

Allison led two of the race’s 74 laps; it was his 10th premier series victory and his first on the 2.52-mile California road course.

Officials described the contact from Rudd’s Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet as “unnecessary and avoidable,” despite the fact that several similar incidents had occurred throughout the race but did not result in penalties.

Rudd, to no one’s surprise, wasn’t pleased with the ruling, comparing the actions to those of the “World Wrestling Federation” and saying it was “the best example of how NASCAR makes their own rules. NASCAR needs a Ford in victory lane.” Chevrolet, Pontiac and Oldsmobile had won 10 of the first 11 races of the season – Allison’s win in the Coca-Cola 600 two weeks earlier had been Ford’s first of the year.

Chad Little, upset about contact from Ernie Irvan during the race, traded blows with the Morgan-McClure Motorsports driver in the garage afterward. The pair were eventually separated by officials.

Former Trans-Am champion Tommy Kendall nearly pulled off the upset while driving for an injured Kyle Petty. Kendall led laps 60-71 before contact with Mark Martin left him with a flat tire and no shot at the win. Petty had suffered a broken leg the previous month when he was involved in a multi-car crash at Talladega Superspeedway.

There were rumors of a sponsor pullout by Proctor & Gamble companies Tide and Folger’s coffee in part due to the Sonoma incidents. Tide was Rudd’s sponsor at the time while Folger’s backed Martin. The coffee brand did exit the sport at the end of the season, however Tide remained as a primary sponsor for more than a decade.

A hard crash in Turn 2 with 10 laps remaining ended the race for Richard Petty and sent the winner of 200 premier series races to a local hospital for further examination.

Rusty Wallace, Irvan and Ken Schrader finished behind Allison and Rudd.

Stewart wins on record-setting night/day

Sunday, May 5, 2002 – It was a race that featured several notable items so perhaps it makes sense that it took two days to complete the Pontiac Excitement 400 at Richmond International Raceway. Rain, which delayed the previous day’s scheduled start of the race by two hours, eventually returned after less than 70 laps had been completed and forced officials to postpone the completion of the event until the following day.

Tony Stewart won the race, for the second consecutive year, but had to come from the rear of the field to score the victory after a pre-race engine change negated his third-place qualifying run. Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Bobby Labonte, eighth in qualifying, also went to the back for a similar issue. And when Johnny Benson suffered a broken rib in Friday night’s Hardee’s 250 Busch race, Joe Nemechek took over the ride, and a third Pontiac was sent to the rear before the Cup race ever got under way.

It was Stewart’s third win at Richmond, site of his first career victory in the series in 1999.

By starting the event, Ricky Rudd tied Terry Labonte for most consecutive starts in the Cup series at 655.

A new sealer put down on the track led to less than ideal racing conditions and as a result, there were a track record 103 laps run under caution and the 14 caution flags tied the track record.

The race was the final Cup start for local favorite Rick Mast in the Junie Donlavey-owned No. 90 Ford. Mast, diagnosed with chronic and acute carbon monoxide poisoning, announced his retirement from competition in January, 2003.