With R.J. Reynolds joining the sport with its Winston cigarettes as the series' title sponsor, the 1972 schedule was cut to 31 races from 48 races in 1971. As a result, Petty's win at Columbia turned out to be the final NASCAR Grand National/Cup race at the track.
|Source: Motor Racing Programme Covers|
The race included a mixture of the full-sized Grand National cars such as Petty's Plymouth and Dodge Chargers and the smaller-sized cars from NASCAR's Grand American series such as Ford Mustangs and AMC Javelins. As noted in this article, the race was the third event with cars from the two series. If you read the article, you will find that NASCAR and the track promoter were still fiddling with the rules two days before the race. Its not just a recent phenomenon folks.
In his book, Silent Speedways of the Carolinas, Perry Allen Wood writes:
[T]his was Columbia Speedway's goodbye in its final race. Time trials were completed with Petty on the pole and H.B. Bailey of Houston outside in a red Pontiac Firebird 36...The first half mile went to Petty, but [Ron] Keselowski crashed out for last, 30th, just like last time here...On the 55th circuit and still badgering leader Petty every lap, H.B. got the Firebird crossed up entering the first turn and pulverized the rail, nearly leaping off into the night...From the green flag to the checkers, it boiled down to a war between Petty and Grand American superstar [Tiny] Lund and [Jim] Paschal...With 13 laps to go, Petty made a daring move under those infield lights as he out-horsepowered the Camaro and Javelin down the backstretch, passing Tiny just as they braked for turn three. From there, [nothing] could keep Petty from his second straight victory in a row here and seven for 24 overall. (pp. 80-81)
Edited August 24, 2014