Not only were three drivers, Ford trio Davey Allison, Bill Elliott and Alan Kulwicki, all in with a shout of landing the drivers’ title, Elliott for the second time, but NASCAR’s greatest champion and biggest hero Richard Petty was making his 1184th and final start in the sport’s top class. The King’s farewell race was a very big deal, and the 200-time race winner and seven-time champion wanted to go out in style.
For Allison, Elliott and Kulwicki, the pressure was on, particularly for privateer Kulwicki up against the might of super-teams Yates Racing (Allison) and Junior Johnson (Elliott). He sat just 30 points behind leader Allison and 10 ahead of Elliott coming into the Atlanta finale.
With Allison starting the race 17th, Elliott 11th and Kulwicki 14th, strategy and tactics would come into play for the championship protagonists in the three-and-three-quarter-hour enduro that was played out in front of more than 160,000 fans.
Elliott was the first of the three to lead the race, hitting the front in the Budweiser Ford Thunderbird on lap 62. Kulwicki was right with him, though, and got his Hooters Thunderbird to the front 10 laps later. The two engaged in a thrilling dogfight, swapping the lead many times.
Allison maintained a presence in the lead battle, taking top spot for five laps on the 86th tour.