Best Daytona 500s: 1988

Best Daytona 500s By the Decades: Allisons' 1-2 Finish in 1988 Tops The '80s (This is the fourth installment in a six-part series on the best Daytona 500s, divided by decades. Today, as the choice for the 1980s, the 1988 race is featured. Next...

Best Daytona 500s By the Decades: Allisons' 1-2 Finish in 1988 Tops The '80s

(This is the fourth installment in a six-part series on the best Daytona 500s, divided by decades. Today, as the choice for the 1980s, the 1988 race is featured. Next up in the series: The best Daytona 500 of the 1990s.)

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Feb. 10, 2008) -- The 1988 Daytona 500 was special. Everyone knew that immediately, upon the race's completion. What no one knew, was how the race's legend and luster would grow over time, because of unfortunate circumstances down the road.

Bobby Allison and Davey Allison finished 1-2 that day. Father and son, racing to the stripe, separated by 24 years and two car lengths. A past NASCAR champion and, surely it seemed, a future one.

The 1988 Daytona 500 was Bobby Allison's final NASCAR victory. Several months later a serious accident at Pocono Raceway ended his career. Five years later, a helicopter accident ended Davey Allison's life.

The Allisons' 1-2 finish isn't merely remembered by race fans. It is cherished, which makes the '88 race the choice here, for the best Daytona 500 of the 1980s.

But no one could have in.29e greatest Daytona 500 ever? Hard to say. So hard, in fact, that this year's "Best of the Daytona 500" series isn't even going to try.

Instead, this second-annual "Best Of" series will tab five Daytona 500s, one per decade beginning with the 1960s. Those races were selected based on a combination of criteria such as race action, historical significance and how the race finished. Debate is welcomed -- and encouraged.

Of course, the by-the-decade approach leaves the sole race in the 1950s to stand on its own -- which in this case is most appropriate. After all, many still consider the 1959 inaugural running of the Daytona 500 the best one ever. The race of '59 is the perfect "set-up" for this series.

Much of that has to do with the photo-finish, a result too close to call initially and one that wasn't officially determined until three days after the checkered flag flew.

Rundown: The 1988 Daytona 500

The Favorites in '88: Ken Schrader, Bobby Allison, Bill Elliott, Darrell Waltrip.

The Intangible: The race was the first in which cars had to use carburetor restrictor plates, a safety initiative resulting from a 1987 accident at Talladega involving, coincidentally, Bobby Allison.

The Winner's Stats: Bobby Allison started third after winning one of the 125-mile qualifying races for the 500. He led 70 of the 200 laps and averaged 137.531 mph.

The Rundown: Bobby Allison came in as a two-time 500 champion, having won in 1978 and '82. He also perhaps should've won in '81, but was thwarted when he ran out of gas late in the race while leading. ... Richard Petty was involved in perhaps the most violent-looking accident in Daytona 500 history on Lap 106, as his STP Pontiac tumbled out of control coming out of Turn 4, flipping five times before being struck broadside. Spectators feared the worst, whereupon "The King" climbed out of the wreckage, waved to the crowd and walked to the waiting ambulance. His injuries were minor. ... After a long caution period following Petty's accident, a titanic up-front battle developed involving Waltrip, the Allisons, Harry Gant and Phil Parsons. Attrition time: Gant crashed and Waltrip's engine balked. Bobby Allison took the lead on Lap 183, helped with an aerodynamic push from his son. The Allisons brought it home from there.

Bobby Allison's Take: "What a thrill seeing Davey in my rear-view mirror, knowing we were going to sweep it."

Davey Allison's Take: "I used to dream about a one-two finish with my dad. I just hoped it would be the other way around."

The Follow-Up: The misfortunes that befell the Allison family -- including the 1992 death of Davey's brother Clifford in a practice session at Michigan -- are the obvious footnotes to their glorious day at the 1988 Daytona 500. But they sometimes overshadow the fact that between 1988 and his 1993 death, Davey Allison became, arguably, NASCAR's brightest star. He went on to win the Daytona 500 himself in 1992. ... Bobby Allison's recovery from his injuries sustained at Pocono was long and arduous but recover he did, and he has become a beloved figure to NASCAR fans.

-credit: nascar

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Bill Elliott , Ken Schrader , Richard Petty , Phil Parsons , Bobby Allison , Harry Gant , Davey Allison