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Ken Schrader's team bought the No. 67 entry (normally driven by Buddy Arrington) in order to get Schrader into the race.
This was the last race on the half-mile Richmond Fairgrounds Raceway. After the race, workers immediately began to convert the track into a more modern-looking, 3/4-mile oval.
A scoring error failed to show that Neil Bonnett was one lap down after making a green flag pit stop. A post-race protest filed by Ricky Rudd's car owner Kenny Bernstein did not resolve the NASCAR scoring error and Bonnett's win stood even though a review of the race tape showed that Rudd should have won.
Last career top 5 finish for Richard Petty.
Goodyear NASCAR 500
The Goodyear NASCAR 500 was a non-points exhibition race held on February 28 at the Calder Park Thunderdome in Melbourne, Australia - the first NASCAR-style high-banked paved oval built outside of North America. It was also the first NASCAR sanctioned race outside of North America. Neil Bonnett won the pole.
The race had 32 starters - 24 Americans, 7 Australians and 1 New Zealander. Of the locals only Allan Grice had previously driven a NASCAR race having competed in the 1987 World 600. The 'visiting' American drivers were a mix of those from the Winston Cup and Winston West Series.
The Thunderdome, a 1.119 mi (1.801 km) track with 24° banking in the turns, was actually modelled on a scaled down version of the Charlotte Motor Speedway and was opened in 1987.
As the race was run in Australia where the metric system is used, the '500' was actually 500 kilometers (310 miles), or around the same distance as a Busch Series race.
Bonnett's pole speed was 139.734 mp/h. The race's average speed over the 280 laps was 101.67 mp/h. 52 laps were run under caution.
During the race, A. J. Foyt had a series of incidents and penalties. He intentionally wrecked Alan Kulwicki, spun out on pit road out of anger, and drove through several pit stalls doing pass-through penalties, nearly hurting many pit crew members. For his actions, Foyt was issued a six-month ban from NASCAR (which was later reduced to two months following an appeal).
Tim Richmond was eligible to run The Winston, but he chose not to participate due to an ongoing legal dispute with NASCAR after he was suspended for testing positive for banned substances earlier during the season.
Prior to the race, Goodyear withdrew their tires after practice when it was discovered that their compound was too soft for the track; as a result, all drivers except Dave Marcis switched to Hoosiers over safety concerns. Goodyear offered Daytona-spec tires for those who wanted them.
In addition to Ricky Rudd having to be relieved from his injuries at the Winston a week earlier, other drivers injured during the race included Harry Gant, who suffered a broken leg during a crash; Buddy Baker, who suffered a hard crash on lap 243 that resulted in a blood clot in his brain; Neil Bonnett, who suffered cracked ribs in a crash and Rick Wilson, who led 107 laps before crashing due to tire failure, with Wilson suffering a broken shoulder blade as a result. The injuries weren't limited to drivers, as Bud Moore Engineering owner Bud Moore suffered a broken leg when his driver, Brett Bodine, ran over him during a pit stop.
Dale Earnhardt was issued a five-lap penalty after spinning out Geoff Bodine early in the race. He would finish 13th, 6 laps down to the leader.
This race made sure no driver would win 3 out of 4 Crown Jewel races meaning no driver would win the Winston Million in 1988. However the $100,000 bonus to a driver winning 2 out of 4 Crown Jewel races was still alive for the Southern 500 later in the season.
This was the first Pepsi Firecracker 400 run with restrictor plates since 1973, and was notable for a very close finish. Bill Elliott charged from 38th starting position, and nearly fell a lap down at one point. On the final lap, Elliott battled with Rick Wilson out of the final turn, with Elliott taking the win by 18 inches. The second place would be Wilson's best career finish.
This race marked the final start at Daytona for Cale Yarborough. He was involved in a crash on the second lap, dropped out and finished 41st.
This was Harry Gant's first race back from injury.
Goodyear was disallowed from using their tires in this race after a pre-race inspection found that the tires had too wide of a tread. This marked the first time since the 1956 Southern 500 that Goodyear did not supply tires for a NASCAR race.
During practice on Friday, Rusty Wallace wrecked and barrel-rolled down the frontstretch, knocking him unconscious. ESPNpit reporterDr. Jerry Punch happened to be the first person on the scene and actually revived Wallace. Wallace would recover, and started the race Saturday night, but eventually turned the car over to relief driver Larry Pearson.
Rick Mast made his Cup Series debut driving car 88 in place of the injured Buddy Baker. He would finish 28th completing 207 of 500 laps due to crashing the car.
Since the season's final Crown Jewel race was not won by any of the other three drivers that won the three previous Crown Jewel races earlier in the season, no one was eligible to win the $100,000 bonus from Winston.
This was Alan Kulwicki's first career Winston Cup Series win. After taking the checkered flag, Kulwicki turned the car clockwise around and completed what he eventually referred to as a "Polish victory lap." Kulwicki, himself a Polish American, wanted to be able to wave to the fans directly from his driver's side window.
In the final race he completed (the final race he ran, the Atlanta Journal 500, would see him crash out on lap 140), Benny Parsons finished 8th; one spot ahead of younger brother Phil.
Dale Earnhardt, 3rd in the points coming into this race, still had a mathematical chance to win a third consecutive Winston Cup championship (though it required a large points gain and trouble to befall Bill Elliott and Rusty Wallace). However, Earnhardt was involved in a crash early with Joe Ruttman and lost a lap. Earnhardt would salvage an 11th place finish but the crash and both Elliott and Wallace finishing in the Top 5 ended Earnhardt's hopes of a Winston Cup three-peat.
Ricky Rudd had a dominating run until his Quaker State-sponsored #26Buick began overheating late in the race and ultimately the engine blew before Rudd could pit to allow his crew to top off the radiator.
In addition to winning from the pole, Wallace also led the most laps in the race. But Bill Elliott, needing only to finish 18th or better to secure the Winston Cup championship, won the title with an 11th place finish.
Benny Parsons, in his 525th and final NASCAR start, crashed out on lap 140, finishing 34th.
This was the final career start in the Winston Cup Series for Cale Yarborough and his final top ten finish.
Out of 42 starters, only 20 finished.
Out of the 22 cars that fell out of the race, 16 of them were engine related.
Ken Bouchard defeated Ernie Irvan by 59 points to win the Rookie of the Year title in 1988, driving for Bob Whitcomb. Bouchard raced only eight more times in the Cup series over his career, while Irvan won fifteen races over the next twelve years (his first victory was in 1990). The only other contenders were USAC driver Brad Noffsinger and Jimmy Horton, both of whom ran part-time schedules that season.