By the end of the 1988 NASCAR Winston Cup season, a number of time-honored icons were hanging up their helmets. NASCAR Winston Cup champions Cale Yarborough, David Pearson, Benny Parsons, and Bobby Allison retired -- Allison due to debilitating injuries suffered at Pocono in the 1988 Miller High Life 500. The retirement of these legends made way for a new generation of leaders.
In the following article, we'll trace the exhilarating 1988 Winston Cup campaign, from season highlights to final standings, with plenty of pictures to follow the action.
February 14, 1988: Daytona 500
It is "Allison Wonderland" in the 30th running of the Daytona 500 as Bobby and Davey Allison finish first and second in NASCAR's most prestigious event. Richard Petty survives a wild tumble just past the halfway point. NASCAR's "tire wars" begin as ten teams use Hoosier tires at Daytona.
Richard Petty's spectacular crash on the 106th lap of the Feb. 14 Daytona 500 spewed parts all over the front stretch at Daytona International Speedway. Petty brushed bumpers with Phil Barkdoll, then was hit by A.J. Foyt. Petty's Pontiac went airborne and tumbled for a couple hundred yards before being hit by Brett Bodine. The King was shaken up, but not seriously injured in the incident. See more pictures of NASCAR.
Neil Bonnett comes from the 30th starting spot to win the Goodwrench 500 at Rockingham's North Carolina Motor Speedway for his second win in a row. Bonnett edges Lake Speed by less than a second. The first four finishers are running Hoosier tires.
March 20, 1988: TranSouth 500
Lake Speed speeds to his first NASCAR Winston Cup triumph in Darlington Raceway's TranSouth 500. Speed's Oldsmobile finishes a half-lap in front of runner-up Alan Kulwicki.
April 10, 1988: Valleydale 500
Bill Elliott overcomes a late spinout and rallies past Geoff Bodine to score his first career short-track win in the Valleydale 500 at Bristol. Bodine taps Elliott into a spin with nine laps to go, but Elliott roars back to take the lead with three laps remaining.
Phil Parsons runs inches ahead of Ken Schrader and Darrell Waltrip in the May 1 Winston 500 at Talladega. The #55 Richard Jackson-owned Oldsmobile was the class of the field. Parsons overcame nearly a lap deficit when he ran out of fuel on the 48th lap. Parsons ran down the pack, and led the final 15 laps. The win was the first and only in Parsons' NASCAR Winston Cup career.
Phil Parsons takes the lead with 15 laps remaining and drives to his first career NASCAR Winston Cup victory in Talladega's Winston 500. Driving the #55 Oldsmobile, Parsons finishes a car length in front of Bobby Allison to notch his first win, which comes in his 111th start.
June 12, 1988: Budweiser 400
Rusty Wallace, one of NASCAR's finest road racers, tames the field to win the Budweiser 400 at Riverside International Raceway. The event is the final NASCAR Winston Cup race staged at the venerable Southern California road course.
Bobby Allison began the 1988 NASCAR Winston Cup season with a victory in the storied Daytona 500. In the June 19 Miller High Life 500 at Pocono, Allison nearly lost his life in a grinding crash on the opening lap. Allison's #12 Buick spun side-ways after a tire went flat and Jocko Maggiacomo hit him squarely in the door. Allison was airlifted to LeHigh Valley Hospital in Allentown with critical injuries. He lapsed into a coma for a few weeks, never raced again.
Geoff Bodine scampers to an eight-second victory over Michael Waltrip after Bobby Allison is critically injured in an opening-lap crash in Pocono's Miller High Life 500. Allison's Buick suffers a flat tire and spins in the "tunnel turn," then is hit in the driver's door by Jocko Maggiacomo.
July 31, 1988: Talladega DieHard 500
Ken Schrader comes from fourth place to first in the final lap and bags his first NASCAR Winston Cup win in the Talladega DieHard 500. Schrader prevails in a terrific 10-car scramble to the checkered flag. The race is Buddy Baker's last, as he is forced to retire when a blood clot is discovered in his brain.
Dale Earnhardt pits during the June 26 Miller High Life 400 at Michigan International Speedway. Earnhardt was again a factor in the chase for the NASCAR Winston Cup title, leading the points from March into early June. The Intimidator won three races and finished third in the final points standings. Rusty Wallace, who posted his first career superspeedway victory in the Miller High Life 400, would go on to finish second in the championship hunt.
Dale Earnhardt holds off Bill Elliott to win the Busch 500 at Bristol. Elliott takes a 16-point lead over Rusty Wallace in the championship chase.
October 23, 1988: AC Delco 500
Rusty Wallace rallies from a three-lap deficit caused by a cut tire to win Rockingham's AC Delco 500. Wallace outruns runner-up Ricky Rudd by 13.5 seconds to score his fifth win of the season.
Bobby Allison's #12 Buick crosses the finish line two car lengths ahead of runner-up Davey Allison's #28 Ford at the conclusion of the Daytona 500. The 1-2 finish by father and son was the first in NASCAR history since Lee and Richard Petty ran 1-2 in a race a Heidelberg, Penn., on July 10, 1960. The victory was the 85th of Allison's storied career.
Alan Kulwicki wins at Phoenix International Raceway for his first career NASCAR Winston Cup win. It is the first NASCAR Winston Cup event on the one-mile track.
November 20, 1988
Bill Elliott's 11th-place finish seals his first NASCAR Winston Cup championship as Rusty Wallace wins the season finale at Atlanta. Elliott finishes 24 points ahead of Wallace in the title chase. For Cale Yarborough and Benny Parsons, it is the last race of their careers.
Continue on to the next page to see the full standings for the 1988 NASCAR Winston Cup season.
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1988 NASCAR Winston Cup StandingsBill Elliott overcame challenges by Rusty Wallace and Dale Earnhardt to win the 1988 NASCAR Winston Cup championship. After leading the standings from June until late August, Wallace stumbled in September and was 124 points behind with five races remaining.
1988 NASCAR Winston Cup Champion Bill Elliott
Wallace won four of the final five races, but Elliott performed well enough in those events to wrap up his first title. He finished 24 points ahead of Wallace. Earnhardt led the standings from March through early June, but fell off the pace in the second half of the season and placed third, 232 points behind Elliott.
For Elliott, it was sweet redemption for his bitter defeat in the 1985 NASCAR Winston Cup title chase.
Aside from the top three, no other driver seriously contended for the title or won more than two races.
For the full standings for the 1988 NASCAR Winston Cup season, see the chart below.
1988 NASCAR Winston Cup Standings
||Bobby Hillin, Jr.
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