"There were fenders and sheet metal and water and oil everywhere . . . I just tried to pick my way through it," said Kyle Petty, who edged his car through a crash that wiped out the leaders on lap 397 and won the Miller 400 NASCAR Grand National stock car race Sunday at Richmond, Va.
The late-lap collision on the .542-mile oval started when the second-place car of Darrell Waltrip, defending NASCAR champion, moved inside leader Dale Earnhardt on the back stretch. Waltrip appeared to edge ahead before the two collided in Turn 3.
Joe Ruttman, in third place, tore into the tangle and spun onto the infield. Geoff Bodine, in fourth place, ended up in the wall.
"When I got through, I couldn't see the three car (Earnhardt)," Petty said. "The five (Bodine) was up in the wall, and I couldn't see the three car anywhere."
Petty found a clear path through and drove to his first victory in NASCAR's top division after five full seasons on the tour.
The victory in a Ford Thunderbird was worth $37,880 out of the posted awards of $321,040.
Ruttman finished second, Earnhardt third. Bobby Allison was fourth, a lap down. Waltrip and Bobby Hillin Jr. were fifth and sixth, two laps down.
No one was injured in the wreck.
The time of the race was 3 hours 2 minutes 54 seconds. There were nine caution periods for 63 laps.
Sarel van der Merwe, driving a Chevrolet Corvette GTP, won the pole position for next weekend's $288,000 Miami Grand Prix by posting a qualifying time of 5.37.819.
Winning the pole was worth $20,000 for Van der Merwe, a native of South Africa who now lives in Indianapolis. Jo Gartner, driving a Porsche 962, had the second-best time--5.39.362. Bob Wollek qualified third in a Porsche 962, and defending champion Al Holbert, also in a Porsche 962, was fourth.
Van der Merwe actually won the pole with his pit stop, which took 13.12 seconds, quickest of the day. Gartner's pit stop took 15 seconds, accounting for the 1.5-second difference between the two drivers. Average speeds were not kept because times were affected by pit stops.
Rounding out the top 10 starters were: Oscar Larrauri, John Paul, Pete Halsmer, Hurley Haywood, Klaus Ludwig, and Drake Olson.
Earlier Sunday, in a 30-minute Camel Lights race, Don Bell of Rolling Hills, Calif., avoided the trouble that plagued other front-runners and finished first in a Buick Royale, 7.3 seconds ahead of Gianpiero Moretti. Bell completed 21 laps and had an average speed of 76.353 m.p.h. He won $7,000.
Sammy Swindell of Bartlett, Tenn., continued his dominance of Ascot Park by winning the World of Outlaws 30-lap main event Sunday.
There was no official time because the race was halted after 16 laps because of severe tire wear in the heat.
Six-time World of Outlaws winner Steve Kinser of Bloomington, Ind., led the first seven laps before running high and brushing the fence. Swindell, who has won all three Outlaw events run at Ascot since September, led the rest of the way.
Bobby Davis Jr. of Memphis, Tenn., finished second, with Jeff Swindell, also of Memphis third, followed by Kinser. Bobby Allen of Hanover, Pa., the day's top qualifier at 106.038 m.p.h., ran fifth.