MRN Flashack: 1988 Valleydale Meats 500
By: MRN Staff on March 12, 2014 | 4:33 P.M. EST
In April 1988, Bill Elliott finally added a short-track race to his win list – claiming victory in Bristol, Tenn. (Photo: ISC Archives)
Through the first 12 years of his career, Bill Elliott became known as a master of NASCAR superspeedways, posting 22 victories on ovals one mile in length or greater.
On April 10, 1988, "Awesome Bill" finally added a short track to his win list – charging past Geoff Bodine three laps from the finish and keeping his No. 9 Melling Ford in front the rest of the way in the Valleydale Meats 500 at Bristol International Raceway.
After starting 13th in the 32-car field, Elliott didn’t take his first lead until there were less than 125 laps left in the race. From that point on, he was able to hold challengers Bodine and Mark Martin at bay … until just 10 laps remained.
As Elliott and Bodine drove into Turn 3 on the high-banked half-mile, Bodine clipped the rear bumper of Elliott’s car, sending him into a 360-degree spin. He kept it off the wall and away from contact with other cars, but was forced to pit for fresh tires. Bodine remained on the track with the lead.
When Elliott returned to the track and the green flag waved, he quickly caught and passed Bodine – as did Martin, who finished second with Bodine holding on for third place. They were the only drivers who completed all 500 laps. Future NASCAR Hall of Famers Rusty Wallace and Bobby Allison finished fourth and fifth, respectively.
Harry Gant led a race-high 121 laps but finished only 18th. Pole sitter Rick Wilson was 25th. The race included just 11 lead changes among eight drivers, with 12 cautions for 70 laps.
Elliott would win five more races that season, all on superspeedways, to claim the Cup Series championship by just 24 points over Wallace.
This week, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series returns to "Thunder Valley," known today as Bristol Motor Speedway, for Sunday’s running of the Food City 500.
Visit MRN.com on Thursday at 12:30 p.m. (ET) to hear the complete broadcast of the 1988 Valleydale Meats 500 from Bristol, anchored by Barney Hall and Eli Gold. Motor Racing Network – “The Voice of NASCAR” – features a classic race each week on “Throwback Thursday” only at MRN.com.