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Allisons deliver 1-2 punch in '92 Daytona 500

TOM HIGGINS SCUFFS

- ThatsRacin.com Contributor
Wednesday, Feb. 01, 2012

First in a four-part series on past Daytona 500s as the 2012 race looms on Feb. 26.

It will forever rank high among the most dramatic press box scenes in Daytona 500 history.

Sitting in the place of honor as the victor was a beaming, delighted Davey Allison. And right alongside him was his famous father, the NASCAR legend, Bobby Allison.

The date was Feb. 16, 1992.

Just four years earlier the roles had been reversed. Bobby was being interviewed as winner of the great race, and Davey sat beside him. Davey had finished a close second to his dad in a dramatic, emotion-filled dash to the checkered flag!

It was by far the biggest 1-2 finish for a father and son in all of NASCAR’s years, dating to 1949.

“You will get one of these 500s some day,” Bobby predicted, smiling and nodding to Davey.

The younger Allison grinned and nodded back at his father, winner of 84 races and the 1983 Cup Series championship.

Davey did it by avoiding a wild 14-car pileup just before the midpoint of the 200-lap race on the sprawling, fast 2.5-mile track. After that, he kept his Ford, fielded by the Robert Yates Racing team and prepared by a Larry McReynolds-led crew, out front for 98 of the final 103 laps.

The younger Allison finished two car lenths ahead of runner-up Morgan Shepherd. Following and completing all 500 miles were Geoff Bodine, Alan Kulwicki, Dick Trickle and Kyle Petty.

Unfortunately, as the Allisons shared the microphones for the joint interview in ’92, Bobby didn’t recall much about that magical February Sunday in 1988. It had been blocked from his memory by injuries he suffered in a life-threatening crash on Father’s Day later in ’88 at Pocono Raceway.

But Bobby says he’ll always remember that special Sabbath in ’92 at the speedway in Florida where he won three Daytona 500s.

And no wonder! He had watched as Davey embraced racing from his days as a toddler.

“This has been a goal as long as I can remember,” said Davey, the sincerity touchingly evident in his voice. “I watched my dad win this race a couple times, and the third time he won I followed him to the finish line.

“You know, it’s hard to sit here and say this is the greatest thing that ever has happened to me, ‘cause that was such a special day back in ’88 and I don’t think anything could ever replace it. But as far as wins go, this is the best one I ever had.”

Rather insensitively, someone asked Davey if winning “lifted any burdern he might have felt in racing as Bobby Allison’s son.”

Davey’s dark eyes flashed.

“I’ve never had a burden on my shoulders because of my dad’s name,” he answered. “That’s the greatest advantage a kid like me could ever ask for. To learn the things I did from him at an early age and then to actually get to race against him and learn more things on the track. There’s no way his name could be a burden to me.

“I don’t want to be as good as my father, I just want to be as good as Davey Allison can be. Whether that’s better than him or not as good, I don’t think that matters just as long as I do the best job I can every time I get in the car.

“That’s one of the things I learned from him. Don’t measure yourself up to somebody else.”

It was an eloquent reply to an awkward question.

Hearing it, Bobby Allison’s chest seemed to expand and his jaw jutted out with pride.

“I feel very happy and fortunate when I think about the fathers around this country that would like to feel this way about their sons,” Bobby said emphatically. “To have a young guy come along like Davey…”

For a moment, he stopped, short of words to complete the sentence. Then, the senior Allison continued: “Early on, Davey talked about how he really wanted to go racing and make it his life. He paid attention and worked hard.

“He was willing to start at the bottom and work his way up. He ran the sportsman division races, he ran the All Pro Series, he ran some ARCA races. He worked his way in there and earned the nice situation he has now Robert Yates has a good strong team behind Davey and all the guys on the crew are devoted to him.

"I take a lot of pleasure in the whole thing, but especially the win today.”

In taking the Daytona 500’s checkered flag, Davey became only the second of the sport’s many second generation drivers to achieve the feat. The other was Richard Petty, a seven-time winner of the race whose dad, Lee, triumphed in the 1959 inaugural.

“Anytime you can match something that Richard and Lee Petty accomplished, well, that’s a thing to be proud of,” said Davey.

Tragically, Davey wasn’t to win the Daytona 500 again. He lost his life – and NASCAR lost an immensely popular star – in a helicopter crash in July of 1993.

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