Bill Elliott captured his second win in three races on July 23 when he beat Rusty Wallace in an intense duel in the AC Delco 500.
Elliott, driver of the Coors Ford, earned his fourth career win at Pocono (Pa.) International Raceway and thus tied Tim Richmond as the speedway’s all-time winningest driver. But he probably didn’t think too much about that as he ardently avoided a serious charge from Wallace, driver of the Kodiak Pontiac, over the race’s last 28 laps. At the checkered flag, Elliott won by 2.21 seconds.
It began on lap 172 of the 200-lap race when Elliott pitted for right-side tires and then set sail for Wallace, the leader, who has taken right-side tires on lap 168.
At the start, Elliott was fifth, three seconds behind Wallace, who was more concerned with a hard-charging Geoff Bodine.
Elliott moved up the field and took over third place on lap 187 just as Bodine spun in the triangular track’s second turn. Elliott was thus elevated into second place and he began to close. By lap 194, he was pressing Wallace hard. It was clear Wallace was battling severe tire wear as his Pontiac began to run loose.
On lap 195, Elliott pulled up on Wallace’s rear end in the first turn and then pulled alongside in the second turn. When the two made the run into the third turn, Elliott pulled ahead to stay.
Wallace dominated the race by leading six times for 68 laps, including the 100th lap which awarded him a $10,000 bonus from Gillette, But he admitted there was little he could do to hold off Elliott at the end.
Elliott’s consistency paid off for him. He noted that his Ford didn’t break stride all day.
“Rusty’s car gave up today and mine stayed with me for 500 miles,” he said.
Mark Martin finished third in the Stroh’s Light Ford while Darrell Waltrip finished fourth in the Tide Chevrolet. Harry Gant took fifth in the Skoal Bandit Oldsmobile.
Dale Earnhardt made an unscheduled stop in his GM Goodwrench Chevrolet on lap 178 to replace a flat left-rear tire and that cost him several positions. He finished ninth as saw his Winston Cup points lead over Wallace dwindle to 87 points.
Elliott’s victory marked another step in his season “comeback,” heralded by his victory at Michigan.
“It has just taken us time to figure out our new Ford because of my injury (a broken left wrist) at Daytona,” he said. “It was only until we got to Charlotte in May that I finally felt we were making progress instead of just making laps.”
-Winston Cup Illustrated (February 1990)