Thursday, August 11, 2011

August 11 - This day in Petty history - part 2

1974 - Richard wins his 162nd career race in the Talladega 500 at Alabama International Motor Speedway (now Talladega Superspeedway). He was the sixth different winner in the race's six editions. The different-winner streak continued thirteen years until 1982 when Darrell Waltrip won the race for the second time.

The Silver Fox, David Pearson, plunked his Wood Brothers Mercury on the pole. Bobby Allison qualified his Penske Matador beside him. King Richard, Donnie Allison and Buddy Baker rounded out the top 5.

Talladega opened in 1969 amidst controversy - and a lot of what happened at the track in the years to follow got even more bizarre. On race morning of the 1974 Talladega 500, many teams discovered their cars had been sabotaged overnight. To my knowledge, no one was ever caught.

Some early action featuring Bobby Isaac in Hoss Ellington's #28 Chevy, Bobby Allison in the #12 Penske Matador, and Coo Coo Marlin in the red and gold #14 Chevy. At the back of this pack is the recognizable purple and yellow Dodge of country singer Marty Robbins who had great day with a 9th place finish.

Buddy Baker was the lap bully of the day. He led 98 of the race's 188 laps and pulled the King behind him most of the day. In the late stages, the two had a comfortable lead over Pearson.

With 20 to go, the trio pitted for the final time. The 43 got the edge off pit road and Baker tried to latch on to the bumper. Bad luck bit Baker as it did often in his career. His Bud Moore problems developed drive train issues and he faded to a sixth place finish and three laps down to the leader. Petty was then all alone out front with a sizable lead over Pearson. But as often happens in racing, a late caution flew - the final one for a blown engine.

When the green was unfurled again, Petty gapped Pearson by a few car lengths. But the 21 was able to close the gap and draft by the 43 to take the lead with 3 to go. Coming out of turn 4 of the last lap, Petty headed to the outside. Pearson countered by moving up to block. When he did, Petty hooked it right and side drafted to Pearson's inside. The two banged door-to-door as they headed through the tri-oval, and the Petty blue and STP day-glo red Dodge Charger nipped the Purolator Mercury at the line.

Source: Gadsden Times via Google News Archive
The King was greeted in victory lane by with dad, Lee and 14 year-old son, Kyle. To Richard's left is businessman and career Tennessee politician and scoundrel, John Jay Hooker from Nashville. (When life doesn't revolve around NASCAR or Schaefer, you can bet it revolves around Nashville.) At the time, Hooker was CEO of  STP.

Article courtesy of Jerry Bushmire
Before he could become a race driver himself, Kyle may have needed a few lessons from the King about how to wear the victory lane hats.

Edited August 9, 2014

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