1985 Winston 500

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1985 Winston 500
Race details[1]
Race 9 of 28 in the 1985 NASCAR Winston Cup Series season
Bill Elliott (in victory circle) after winning the 1985 Winston 500
Bill Elliott (in victory circle) after winning the 1985 Winston 500
Date May 5, 1985 (1985-May-05)
Official name Winston 500
Location Alabama International Motor Speedway (Talladega, Alabama)
Course Permanent racing facility
2.660 mi (4.280 km)
Distance 188 laps, 500.1 mi (804.8 km)
Weather Warm with temperatures approaching 81 °F (27 °C); average wind speeds of 4.1 miles per hour (6.6 km/h)
Average speed 186.288 miles per hour (299.801 km/h)
Pole position
Driver Melling Racing
Most laps led
Driver Cale Yarborough Ranier-Lundy Racing
Laps 97
No. 9 Bill Elliott Melling Racing
Television in the United States
Network NBC
Announcers Paul Page
Gary Gerould
Johnny Rutherford

The 1985 Winston 500 was a NASCAR Winston Cup Series racing event that took place on May 5, 1985, at Alabama International Motor Speedway in Talladega, Alabama.

Prior to this event, two-time Winston Cup champion Darrell Waltrip complained to NASCAR about how Bill Elliott was ruining the parity of the sport and he needed to be slowed down.[2] As a result, NASCAR raised the height of the Ford vehicles by half an inch.[2] The roof of the GM race cars was lowered by the same amount in order to improve their speed performance.[2]


There were 39 drivers who qualified for this race; the pole position winner was Bill Elliott who qualified at the break-neck speed of 209.398 miles per hour (336.993 km/h) in a Ford Thunderbird.[2][3][4] He would go on to beat Kyle Petty by nearly two seconds while racing at speeds up to 186.288 miles per hour (299.801 km/h) during the race;[3][4] even though the record would broken again at the 1997 Winston 500 by Mark Martin. A broken oil fitting, however, would knock Elliott two laps out of the lead laps before he managed his comeback. Elliott would return to the track and begin consistently running laps near 205 mph. He would make up the two laps lost due to the broken oil fitting without the aide of a yellow flag or the draft.[5] At the end of the year, Elliott would go on to become the first Winston Million winner.[6]

More than 100,000 live spectators would see more than two and a half hours of racing with two cautions periods (lasting for only eight laps).[3] This relatively clean race would see 28 different lead changes.[3][4] Canadian driver Trevor Boys would finish in last place due to a problem with the engine on lap 6 of this 188-lap race.[3][4] Bosco Lowe and Dick Skillen would exit NASCAR after this race while Geoff Bodine would lose the championship points lead to Terry Labonte.[4] The cars being used for NASCAR Winston Cup Series racing back then were closer to the production models and no common templates were used.

Bill Elliott, despite leading the NASCAR Winston Cup Series with 11 hard-earned wins on superspeedways, would end up losing the championship that year to Darrell Waltrip.[7]


Top ten finishers[edit]

Pos[3] Grid No. Driver Manufacturer Laps
1 1 9 Bill Elliott Ford 188
2 4 7 Kyle Petty Ford 188
3 2 28 Cale Yarborough Ford 188
4 17 22 Bobby Allison Buick 187
5 15 15 Ricky Rudd Ford 187
6 32 88 Buddy Baker Oldsmobile 185
7 3 44 Terry Labonte Chevrolet 185
8 18 71 Dave Marcis Chevrolet 185
9 7 8 Bobby Hillin, Jr. Chevrolet 184
10 20 75 Lake Speed Pontiac 183

Standings after the race[edit]

Pos Driver Points[3]
1 Terry Labonte 1355
2 Geoffrey Bodine 1343
3 Bill Elliott 1312
4 Neil Bonnett 1279
5 Ricky Rudd 1228


  1. ^ 1985 Winston 500 weather conditions at The Old Farmers' Almanac
  2. ^ a b c d Elliott Was Awesome At Talladega In 1985 at GeorgiaRacingHistory.com
  3. ^ a b c d e f g 1985 Winston 500 at Racing Reference
  4. ^ a b c d e 1985 Winston 500 at Race Database
  5. ^ 1985 NASCAR Winston Cup Recap at Auto.Howstuffworks.com
  6. ^ "Bill Elliott". The Crittenden Automotive Library. Retrieved May 8, 2007. 
  7. ^ Elliott wins 1985 Winston 500 at Talladega; races closer to becoming "Million Dollar Bill" at Ford.com
Preceded by
1985 Sovran Bank 500
NASCAR Winston Cup Series Season
Succeeded by
1985 Budweiser 500
Preceded by
Winston 500 races
Succeeded by