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Rudd bumps Allison to Sonoma race win

Davey Allison was awarded the victory in Sunday's Banquet Frozen Foods 300-kilometer NASCAR stock car race after Ricky Rudd, the apparent winner, was penalized at the finish for rough driving. Rudd took the lead with one lap remaining when he bumped the rear of Allison's car, turning the Ford Thunderbird around and seemingly assuring Rudd of his second win here in three years.

NASCAR officials told Rudd's team to bring him into the pits on the final lap around the 2.52-mile Sears Point circuit for a stop-and-go penalty. But Rudd drove past the pit entrance and continued to the flagstand, where starter Doyle Ford showed him only a black flag and saved the checkered for Allison, 6 seconds behind.

Allison was waved to victory circle by NASCAR while Rudd and his crew heatedly debated the scoring with NASCAR officials.

After reviewing videotape of the last two laps and discussing the incident with representatives of Hendrick Motorsports, Rudd's team, NASCAR ruled Allison the winner and penalized Rudd 5 seconds, pushing him back to second place.

Les Richter, NASCAR's vice president of competition, made the announcement 2 hours and 10 minutes after the end of the race, saying, "We're trying to maintain law and order out there and that's what it's all about."

Richter said Rudd's bump was a flagrant violation and that the time penalty was a device to put him back to second place, where he was before it happened.

"It would have been more difficult (to judge) if Ricky would have been on the quarterpanel of (Allison's) car," Richter said. "It wasn't. He hit Davey in the rear end and spun Davey out. He was running very hard into the corner, racing hard to win. But there comes a time when you have to make a judgment call."

The ruling cannot be appealed.

Rudd's team manager, Waddell Wilson, said, "We officially won the race as far as I'm concerned. The 42 (Tom Kendall) and 6 (Mark Martin) got together and there was nothing done when that happened."

The controversy was set up when Kendall and Martin, running first and second at the time, got into a bumping match four laps from the end of the 74-lap event.

Martin was spun around and his car was damaged. Moments later, Kendall's right-front tire went flat and he was forced to pit.

Richter said there were no penalties meted out because "the situation took care of itself," referring to the fact that Martin finished ninth and Kendall 18th.

Allison, who picked up his second Winston Cup win of the season, was jubilant in victory circle, saying, "I was leading the race. I went into that corner protecting the line, driving straight, not doing anything wrong, and somebody got into the back of me and turned me around."

Earlier, Allison had said in an interview that Rudd's bump was intentional, but later he said, "If the roles would have been reversed, that wouldn't have happened because I would have raced him clean. I'm not saying he did it on purpose, but there had to be another way."

This was not the first time that Rudd has been involved in a controversial finish here. In the first Winston Cup race at Sears Point in 1989, Rudd and Rusty Wallace bumped in the final lap. Wallace went off course and Rudd took the victory.

The previous year, on the road course at Watkins Glen, N.Y., the same drivers bumped in the last turn of the race as Wallace tried to pass. Wallace got sideways for a moment and Rudd won.

In both situations, though, Wallace said Rudd did nothing wrong.

Wallace, usually Rudd's main competition in NASCAR's few road racing appearances each season, appeared to have this race wrapped up as he led Rudd by more than 6 seconds before the fourth of five caution flags on lap 59 after Morgan Shepherd and Mike Chase tangled and Shepherd spun to a stop in the middle of the track.

The official standings showed defending champion Wallace finished third, followed by Ernie Irvan, Ken Schrader, Terry Labonte and Dale Earnhardt.

The only serious crash came on lap 63 when Richard Petty slammed into a tire wall on the hill above the first turn. Petty did not appear to be injured, but was taken to a hospital for X-rays and further examination.

Prudhomme wins


KIRKERSVILLE, Ohio _ Don Prudhomme earned his first Top Fuel victory in 21 years Sunday by defeating Joe Amato in the finals of the NHRA Springnationals.

Prudhomme drove past Amato in the finals with a time of 5.08 seconds at 281.86 mph on the quarter-mile track. Amato lost traction at the starting line and limped home with a time of 7.91 at 98.57.