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.

Wallace shuts down Riverside with victory

Sunday, June 12, 1988 – Rusty Wallace will forever be the last driver to win a NASCAR Cup Series race at Riverside International Raceway as he outran Terry Labonte, Ricky Rudd and Dale Earnhardt in a four-lap shootout to capture the Budweiser 400, the final NASCAR race to be held at the 2.62-mile road course. The track, which hosted its first NASCAR premier series race in 1958, was closed and a shopping mall was eventually built on the site.

It was the fifth career win for Wallace, driver of the Raymond Beadle-owned Blue Max Racing Pontiac, and the first of six he would score in ’88. It was also his third road course win and second in a row at Riverside.

A NASCAR error nearly cost Wallace the victory – when the caution flag appeared for a spin by Ken Schrader with eight laps remaining, the pace car mistakenly picked up the leaders before they had a chance to race back to the start/finish line (allowed at that time). Wallace and Rudd slowed; Earnhardt and Phil Parsons shot by both drivers and the pace car and rushed back to the line. Officials realized the error and corrected it by placing Earnhardt and Parsons behind Wallace and Rudd before the final restart with four laps remaining.

There was a 25-minute red flag period after driver Ruben Garcia crashed through a guard rail, chain fence and cement wall, finally coming to rest just short of a seating area for spectators. Neither Garcia nor any fans were injured in the incident.

NASCAR team owner Rick Hendrick qualified 13th and finished 15th. Hendrick pitted during the race’s second caution and turned the driving duties over to road-course specialist Elliot Forbes-Robinson. It was Hendrick’s second, and final, Cup start.

Officials announced a crowd of more than 75,000 for the final race at the southern California road course.

While Wallace holds the mark as the final NASCAR race winner, Rudd holds the qualifying record, having set the mark of 118.484 mph during qualifying for the final race.

Morgan Shepherd filled in for Harry Gant in the Mach 1 Racing Chevrolet owned by movie director and stuntman Hal Needham. Gant was recovering from a broken leg sustained in a crash during the Coca-Cola 600.

Clock strikes midnight for Wallace

Sunday, April 18, 2004 – Former series champion Rusty Wallace snapped a 105-race winless streak with a victory in the Advance Auto Parts 500 at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway. Wallace, driving for team owner Roger Penske, led the final 45 laps. It was career win No. 55 for the St. Louis native.

The win was the final victory in NASCAR’s premier series for Wallace. He posted eight top-five finishes the following year, including a runner-up at Pocono, before retiring at the end of the ’05 season.

The victory was the only win for Wallace in a Dodge. Previous wins had come in Pontiac and Ford entries.

The race took nearly 5 hours to complete due to a piece of concrete coming up from the track in Turn 3. The piece struck the No. 24 of Jeff Gordon while the field was under caution and resulted in a delay of more than one hour while repairs to the racing surface were completed.

Marlin tops Wallace for legends win at BMS

Saturday, March 21, 2009 – Tennessee’s own Sterling Marlin came out on top in a 35-lap legends race dubbed Scott’s Saturday Night Special at Bristol Motor Speedway. A native of Columbia, Tenn., Marlin bested Rusty Wallace in a race that featured 12 NASCAR “legends” competing in Late Model entries on the high-banked half-mile.

Marlin was still competing in NASCAR’s premier series, although not on a full-time basis.

In addition to Marlin and Wallace, others taking part in the event were: Junior Johnson, Cale Yarborough, Harry Gant, Terry Labonte, Phil Parsons, Jimmy Spencer, Jack Ingram David Green, Larry Pearson and local standout L.D. Ottinger from nearby Newport, Tenn.

Two-time premier series champ and five-time BMS winner David Pearson was the grand marshal.

A memorable debut for Wallace

Sunday, March 16, 1980 – In his first NASCAR premier series start, Rusty Wallace scores a surprising runner-up finish to Dale Earnhardt in the Atlanta 500. The St. Louis native, piloting the No. 16 Chevrolet for team owner Roger Penske, had qualified seventh in the 41-car field.

The 1-2 finish was the first of 16 for Earnhardt and Wallace; Wallace finished second to Earnhardt seven times during their careers while Earnhardt was runner-up to Wallace on nine occasions.

Wallace made one more start for Penske in 1980 before the team owner pulled out of NASCAR and did not return for nearly a decade. The Atlanta win was the second career victory for Earnhardt.