Daytona 500 – Daytona Beach, FL – 2/15/1987

NASCAR Winston Cup race number 1 of 29

Sunday, February 15, 1987 at Daytona International Speedway, Daytona Beach, FL
200 laps on a 2.500 mile paved track (500.0 miles)

Time of race: 2:50:12
Average Speed: 176.263 mph
Pole Speed: 210.364 mph
Cautions: 4 for 15 laps
Margin of Victory: .6 sec.
Attendance: 145,000
Lead changes: 27


Since the 1985 Daytona 500 when Bill Elliott and his Coors – Melling Ford Thunderbird team came to Daytona Beach in February, it wasn’t a question of if Elliott would be on the pole, the question was how fast would he run to beat the standing track record. It was no different in the 1987 Daytona 500. Elliott qualified on the pole shattering his own track record set in the 1985 Daytona 500 of 205.114 mph with a new track record of 210.364 mph. Davey Allison qualified 2nd for the Daytona 500 with a speed of 209.084 mph. It’s was Elliott’s 3rd pole in a row in the Daytona 500.

Elliott said, “’I’m just glad it’s over. It got squirrelly in the third and fourth turns. No way I was going to take a second lap. Enough’s enough. It was one of those deals where the foot is telling your brain, this is crazy.” Actually, Elliott had predicted racing speeds would not exceed 210 mph. But a cool day allowed for the cars to run hard on a clean track. ”It was a perfect day,” Elliott said. ”I really didn’t think it would get this cool.”

Elliott’s record still stands today as the fastest qualifying time in the history of Daytona International Speedway in a stock car. This record will probably never be broken in a NASCAR stock car race because of the “Restrictor Plates” mandated after his record setting pole speed of 212.809 at Talladega later on in the 1987 Winston 500. During the Talladega race Bobby Allison had a horrific crash in the tri-oval. Allison’s car became airborne flipping violently into the catch fence and nearly going into the spectator stands. Pieces of metal as well as tires and wheels flying off the car injured several race fans. After the accident NASCAR decided it was time to slow the cars down at 2.5 mile long and above size tracks by installing restrictor plates.

Needless to say at these speeds the races were very exciting. Geoff Bodine was trying to play the fuel mileage card while leading when his car ran out of fuel with 2 ½ laps to run in the race. Elliott won the 1987 Daytona 500 leading 104 of 200 scheduled laps run for his 2nd Daytona 500 win in his career. Benny Parsons finished 2nd. Richard Petty, Buddy Baker and Dale Earnhardt finished out the top 5 places.

Elliott and his Coors – Melling Racing Team dominated Daytona and Talladega between 1985 and the spring of 1987 before the restrictor plates were implemented. In that time span, Elliott won 9 out of 10 poles between Daytona and Talladega in his Ford Thunderbird. Elliott also won two 2 Daytona 500 races, and 2 Daytona Firecracker 400 races in 1988 & 1991. Elliott won the Winston 500 at Talladega in 1985 as well.

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.

(Article by Dale Brown)

Comments are closed.