Long Pond, PA – Red-hot Bill Elliott, taking advantage of a series of late cautions flags charged in the lead 11 laps form the end and held off Harry Gant to win the Van Scoy 500 Grand National stock car race Sunday.
Elliott driving a Ford Thunderbird crossed the finish line at Pocono International Raceway just .2 seconds ahead of Gant’s Chevrolet Monte Carlo SS. Darrell Waltrip was third and Geoff Bodine fourth, both in Monte Carlos.
It was the sixth victory of the season for Elliott, all of them on supers-speedways, tracks one mile or more in length.
The 29-year old driver from Dawsonville, GA, now has won at least one race on each of the eight super-speedways that the Grand National circuit races on, as well as winning eight of his last 13 tries on longer ovals.
The winner averaged 138.974 mph, just a little shy of the track record of 142.540 set by Waltrip in July of 1978. That average was brought down in the last 25 laps of the 200-lap event by a flurry of four cautions flags after the race went 175 laps under green.
For Gant it was his fourth straight second place finish and 24th of his Grand National career.
Bodine, who led most of the way, appeared to have things well in hand until the first of the caution flags brought out by a blown engine in Steve Gray’s car.
Bodine, Elliott, Gant and Waltrip – the only drivers running on the lead lap – all made pit stops at that point. They all took on gas and changed right side tires and came out of the pits in the same order.
The green flag flew on lap 181, but before the cars could complete the trip around the 2.5 mile tri-oval, a tail pipe fell from Tim Richmond’s car and brought out the second yellow.
This time, Bodine stayed on the track while the other three contenders pitted for left side tires. When the green flag came out again on lap 185, Gant charged by Bodine to take the lead.
Again before the leaders got back to the finish line, the yellow flag was out, this time caused by a melee in which Kyle Petty, Lennie Pond, and Bobby Hillen Jr. all spun heading into the second turn. None of them hit anything and all were able to continue around to the pits.
Meanwhile Bodine pitted for left side tires, while the other three stayed on the track. He stayed fourth the rest of the way. Elliott passed Gant on lap 190 and led the last 11 laps for the win.
(Courtesy of Associated Press and Citizen Times)