Like the 1986 season, Dale Earnhardt was at center stage during the 1987 NASCAR Winston Cup campaign. Many of Earnhardt's adversaries claimed his aggressive driving style led to unnecessary incidents -- and there was plenty of damaged sheet metal along the way. The season-long controversy came to a head during The Winston, NASCAR's all-star race, on May 17, 1987. Earnhardt, Bill Elliott, and Geoff Bodine bumped, scraped, and blocked each other to the end in one of the most memorable finishes in stock car racing history.
Earnhardt, Elliott, and Bodine were all fined and placed on probation after the fracas. The Winston of 1987 is still regarded as one of the most energized and spectacular thrill shows in NASCAR Cup Series history, though cooler heads prevailed for the remainder of the year. The article below traces the rest of the year's highlights and gives the final standings -- and of course, there are plenty of pictures along the way.
January 8, 1987
Tim Richmond announces he will miss the first part of the 1987 NASCAR Winston Cup season with an illness he says is "double pneumonia." Team owner Rick Hendrick announces Benny Parsons will replace Richmond until he can return.
Davey Allison pokes his unsponsored #28 Ford under #35 Benny Parsons in the Feb. 12 Twin 125-miler at Daytona. Allison, a rookie, hooked up with team owner Harry Ranier in 1987, and promptly earned a front-row starting position for the Daytona 500. Parsons was in his first assignment with the Hendrick Motorsports team, replacing the AIDS stricken Tim Richmond. Parsons won the Twin 125 as Allison finished sixth. See more
pictures of NASCAR.
Geoff Bodine runs out of fuel with three laps to go, allowing Bill Elliott to score his second win in the Daytona 500. Benny Parsons finishes second in his first assignment since replacing Tim Richmond.
March 8, 1987: Miller High Life 400
Dale Earnhardt crashes in practice, but drives a repaired Chevrolet to his 22nd career victory in the Miller High Life 400 at Richmond Fairgrounds Raceway.
Morgan Shepherd wheels his creased #26 Buick around Martinsville Speedway during the April 26 Sovran Bank 500. Shepherd won the pole in Kenny Bernstein's Buick and led the opening 34 laps, but he got mixed up in one of the 11 incidents that brought out the caution flag. Shepherd finished 17th after his engine expired in the late stages.
Dale Earnhardt bangs Sterling Marlin out of the lead near the midway point and speeds to victory in the Valleydale 500 at Bristol. Richard Petty finishes a close second.
May 3, 1987: Winston 500
Bill Elliott wins the pole for the Winston 500 at Talladega with a record run of 212.809 mph. Rookie Davey Allison wins the race in his 14th career NASCAR Winston Cup start. The event is marred by a scary crash when Bobby Allison blows a tire and sails into the catch fence. The race is halted for three hours while the fence is repaired.
Dale Earnhardt's #3 Chevrolet leads #35 Benny Parsons and #88 Buddy Baker in the Daytona 500. All three drivers enjoyed strong performances in The Great American Race. Parsons finished second, while Baker was fourth and Earnhardt fifth. Baker was in his third year of driving his own car, which he co-owned with Danny Schiff. "I never knew how much it costs to run a team until I had to pay the bills Monday after the race," said Baker.
Kyle Petty survives a day of heavy attrition and captures Charlotte's Coca-Cola 600 for his first superspeedway win. Driving the Wood Brothers Ford, Petty gives the Stuart, Va., team its 70th superspeedway win.
June 14, 1987: Miller High Life 500
Tim Richmond makes his first start of the season and wins the Miller High Life 500 at Pocono. The seriously ill Richmond finishes just in front of runner-up Bill Elliott.
July 4, 1987: Pepsi Firecracker 400
Bobby Allison blasts out of the middle of the pack, roars past Ken Schrader with two laps to go, and wins the Pepsi Firecracker 400 at Daytona. Allison is running 13th with five laps to go, but makes up the deficit and drives to an impressive triumph.
Davey Allison celebrates his first career NASCAR Winston Cup victory in Talladega's victory lane. Allison drove past Dale Earnhardt with 10 laps remaining in the May 3 Winston 500 and led the rest of the way. The race was the final event at Talladega without carburetor restrictor plates. Bobby Allison's frightening 21st-lap crash, in which he nearly sailed into the grandstands, prompted NASCAR to slow the cars down for future races at Talladega and Daytona.
Bill Elliott passes Dale Earnhardt with three laps remaining and wins the Champion Spark Plug 400 at Michigan International Speedway. Tim Richmond, driving in his final NASCAR Winston Cup event, finishes 29th.
September 27, 1987: Goody's 500
Darrell Waltrip barges through Dale Earnhardt and Terry Labonte on the final lap to score his first win with Hendrick Motorsports in the wild Goody's 500 at Martinsville Speedway. Labonte and Earnhardt spin in the third turn as Waltrip shoots the gap to score the win.
Team owner Richard Childress drives a Chevrolet with the black Goodwrench colors prior to the start of the Oct. 25 AC Delco 500 at Rockingham's North Carolina Motor Speedway. After a successful seven-year relationship with Wrangler Jeans, Childress and driver Dale Earnhardt announced that GM Goodwrench would begin sponsoring the #3 Chevy in 1988.
Bill Elliott wins the AC Delco 500 at Rockingham as Dale Earnhardt clinches his third NASCAR Winston Cup championship. Earnhardt finishes second and has a 515-point lead in the championship standings with two races left in the season.
November 22, 1987
Bill Elliott leads 162 of the 328 laps at Atlanta and easily wins the season finale. Newly crowned NASCAR champion Dale Earnhardt finishes second.
Continue to the next page for the final standings of the 1987 NASCAR Winston Cup season.
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1987 NASCAR Winston Cup StandingsDale Earnhardt blasted out of the starting blocks by winning six of the first eight races in the 1987 NASCAR Winston Cup season and coasted to his third championship. By September, Earnhardt had built up a hefty 608-point lead.
1987 NASCAR Winston Cup Champion Dale Earnhardt
On the strength of 11 victories in his 29 starts, Earnhardt finished 489 points in front of runner-up Bill Elliott, who won six races. Earnhardt finished out of the top five in only eight races. The outcome of the championship was never in doubt past April.
Elliott led the points standings after the first two races, but Earnhardt charged into the lead with a victory at Richmond on March 8. By the sixth race of the year, Earnhardt held a lead of more than 100 points. He clinched the championship after the 27th race of the season at Rockingham.
Besides Earnhardt and Elliott, no other driver won more than two races.
For the full standings for the 1987 NASCAR Winston Cup season, see the chart below.
1987 NASCAR Winston Cup Standings
||Bobby Hillin, Jr.||3,027||0
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