Atlanta Journal 500 – Atlanta International Raceway – 11/3/1985

NASCAR Winston Cup race number 27 of 28

Sunday, November 3, 1985 at Atlanta International Raceway, Hampton, GA
328 laps on a 1.522 mile paved track (499.2 miles)

Time of race: 3:34:34
Average Speed: 139.597 mph
Pole Speed: 167.94 mph
Cautions: 6 for 39 laps
Margin of Victory: 4.25 sec
Attendance: 56,000
Lead changes: 12


Bill Elliott and the rest of the Coors – Melling Ford Thunderbird team arrived at their home track of Atlanta International Speedway hoping to rebound. Since “Million Dollar Bill” won at Darlington they had struggled at the short tracks including a DNF at Rockingham with a broken transmission. Elliott placed a close 2nd at Charlotte behind winner Cale Yarborough. Elliott placed 4th at Rockingham although Darrell Waltrip gained some points by winning. Elliott and the Coors – Melling Ford team had to put their “A” game on to make a run at the 1985 Winston Points Championship even though they had won 10 superspeedway wins so far in the first 26 races of the season. Harry Gant qualified on the pole position, Geoff Bodine in 2nd with Elliott in 3rd. Elliott had always run well at Atlanta International Speedway considering it his home track close to his home in Dawsonville, GA. “Awesome Bill from Dawsonville” needed a win as well as earning the bonus points for leading the most laps in the Atlanta race.

Elliott was in contention throughout the race except for an early pit stop where the team had left a lug nut loose. Elliott had to return to the pits to repair the problem. Elliott returned to the track in 11th place, the last car on the lead lap. Elliott steadily worked his way back into contention for the race lead with the usual contenders for the win, Yarborough, Gant, Bodine and Earnhardt. The race saw 12 lead changes between Elliott, Gant, Yarborough and Waltrip. Elliott took the lead for the last time on lap 282 leading the last 47 laps to take the checkered flag 4.25 seconds ahead of 2nd place Cale Yarborough. Darrell Waltrip and Dale Earnhardt finished 3rd and 4th in that order with only 4 cars left on the lead lap. There were 6 cautions for 39 laps during the race with an average race speed of 139.597 by Elliott. Elliott led 175 of the 328 scheduled laps of the race gaining 185 championship points. Team owner Harry Melling collected $57,650 dollars for the win. With Waltrip finishing 3rd, the points battle tightened up going into the last race at Riverside, CA, with Waltrip having a 20 point lead over Elliott. The Atlanta win put Elliott’s total wins for the 1985 season to 11 races, all on superspeedways which the team had dominated on the entire year. The win at Atlanta was Elliott’s 15th Winston Cup win in his career to that point.

Atlanta was always good to Elliott. In his 62 races at the speedway Elliott had 5 wins, 13 top 5’s, and 19 top 10’s. Bill collected 5 poles, while leading 1,017 laps of his total 17,429 laps at the track in competition. Elliott has earned a total of $2,338,048 dollars at Atlanta so far in his career. Elliott had a 15.8 average starting position with an 18.6 average finishing position while driving an impressive 26,636 miles on his home track.

(Article by Dale Brown)

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