This is the definition of a racer: There is no such thing as second place. "You either win or you lose," said Bodine afterward. "It looked like we were going to lose anyhow. We couldn't outrun Elliott, so we had to try to outlast him."
Three laps from the end, leading by more than a mile, Bodine's Chevy coughed and coasted. He had won the 500 last year when, also with three laps left, Earnhardt ran dry; this time he finished 14th.
Both Parsons and Petty had stayed within striking distance of Elliott, but Baker and Earnhardt lost their chances in the pits and would finish fourth and fifth. Amiable Benny and ever-popular Richard, ages 45 and 49, respectively, had been the most spectacular drivers in the race, running together in the high, high groove—the long way around, where you have to go faster just to keep up. Now only they could stop the rampage of Wild Bill.
But neither Parsons' Chevy Monte Carlo SS nor Petty's Grand Prix Pontiac was handling as well as Elliott's car. Parsons gave it a great shot but finished .6 of a second back, with Petty a few car lengths behind him. Elliott's 176.263 mph would not beat Baker's record.
"We just worked with the car all day long," said Elliott, as if the other teams hadn't. "We just kept adjusting and finally got it to where I could run the way we wanted."
Parsons probably summed it up best. "There were times during the day when I thought Elliott was not invincible," he said. "Turned out in the end he was."