Big Moments At Daytona
In 1988, Allison was in second place, behind his father, in the Daytona 500. He treasured the moment more than his victory on the same track four years later. "Since I was a kid, I've dreamed about battling to the wire, finishing 1-2 with my dad," Davey Allison said. "The only difference was, I wanted him to finish second." Bobby Allison pulled away at the finish line, his Buick beating Davey's Ford by two lengths. Bobby, 50 at the time, became the oldest driver to win the 500.
"I saw the nose of Davey's car coming up, out of the corner of my eye," Bobby Allison said. "But I felt I had the horsepower to beat him." His son added: "I've worked for this guy all my life. At the finish today, I knew he'd make it awful tough on me."
Davey Allison would finally capture Daytona in 1992. He ran a patient race that day, and avoided a 14-car accident on lap 92 that effectively eliminated Allison's principal competition, Sterling Marlin, Bill Elliott and Ernie Irvan. Ironically, Allison smashed his primary car in a collision with Marlin in practice four days earlier. Racing with a different car, Allison felt he had to run smarter. "In a 200-lap race, there's no need to stick your neck out and take a chance," he said. "A couple of cars were faster than us, but they ended up a bunch of sheet metal in the garage." Allison, fourth at the time of the crash, led the final 102 laps. "I saw it coming," he said. "They ran out of room, I picked which way to go and Morgan (Shepherd) followed me, then all hell broke loose."
Allison's maturity clearly emerged. He admitted that had he been in that position a year earlier, he might not have had the presence of mind to avoid the crash. "When he graduated in 1985 to the Winston Cup tour," Joseph Siano wrote in the New York Times, "he arrived with a reputation as a fast driver, but one who needed to get his competitive fires—and the frustration that came with losing—under better control." Allison once injured his hand punching the transporter that carried his car. Siano cited the arrival of Larry McReynolds as crew chief on Allison's team as a turning point. He then won 11 of his 19 victories, "and more important, he became less headstrong behind the wheel."
The Allisons joined Lee and Richard Petty as father-and-son winners at Daytona.
Allison was also on his way to his first Winston Cup championship in 1992, when, in the last race of the Cup season, in Hampton, Georgia, a crash caused by Irvan eliminated him. Allison had needed only to finish in sixth place to win the Winston Cup standings and was, in fact, sixth when he encountered trouble on lap 253. "Ernie Irvan's Kodak Chevrolet had a tire go down and he lost control directly in front of Rusty Wallace and Allison," the Web site NASCAR.com wrote in its recap of 1992. "Wallace miraculously avoided the spinning Irvan, but Allison was not so lucky. Allison T-boned Irvan, ending his day." Allison settled for third in the standings, behind Alan Kulwicki and Elliott. But he was philosophical about his setback, noting to reporters that his father finished in second place in the Winston Cup standings four times before finally winning in 1983 at age 46.