Daytona 500 – Daytona Beach, FL – 2/17/1985

NASCAR Winston Cup race number 1 of 28

Sunday, February 17, 1985 at Daytona International Speedway, Daytona Beach, FL
200 laps on a 2.500 mile paved track (500.0 miles)

Time of race: 2:54:09
Average Speed: 172.265 mph
Pole Speed: 205.114 mph
Cautions: 5 for 18 laps
Margin of Victory: 0.94 sec
Attendance: 140,000
Lead changes: 22


Bill Elliott qualified 1st in his #9 Coors – Harry Melling Ford Thunderbird at a speed of 205.114 mph shattering the current record set by Cale Yarborough in the 1984 Daytona 500 of 201.848 mph. Yarborough qualified 2nd in the Harry Renier Hardee’s Ford. Elliott dominated the race leading 136 of the 200 laps at a blistering pace of 172.265 mph with only 18 caution laps during the race. The lead was traded between eight other drivers in the race before Elliott took the final lead from Neil Bonnett on lap 195 to win the 500 mile race by nearly a second in front of the 2nd place car of Lake Speed. Team Owner Harry Melling collected $185,500 for the dominating victory while Bill gained 185 Winston Cup Points.

During the mid 1980’s Bill Elliott and the Melling Team was constantly setting speed records at Daytona & Talledega, the “Super Speedways”. Between the sleek aerodynamic Ford Thunderbirds and Ernie Elliott horse power engines made the team unstoppable. Elliott also had wins in the 500 in 1985 and 1987, and the Firecracker 400 in 1988 and 1991. Elliott finished 53 of the 60 races he ran at Daytona International Speedway, NASCAR’s most prestigious 2 ½ mile racetrack. Elliott led 616 laps of the 9913 total laps he ran at Daytona, while collecting $5,056,244 in winnings during his career to this point at the famed speedway. Bill drove an astounding 24,782.5 total miles at Daytona with an average start of 17.2, and an average finish of 16.0. After Elliott’s record qualifying speed of 210.364 set for the 1987 Daytona 500 Pole, restrictor plates were added before the next races at Daytona International Speedway and Talledega Speedway and the era of restrictor plate racing at Super Speedways began.

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