|Source: Motor Racing Programme Covers|
For a number of reasons, contemporary Cup fields generally have just enough cars to fill the field. At the 1969 Martinsville race, the car count was a bit different. Traditional qualifying set the first 20 starting spots. A 50-lap qualifying race was held the day before the 500 to set the remaining 20 spots. Dick Brooks - who would be named the Rookie of the Year at the end of the season - won the race. He and 19 others including Jim Vandiver, Wendell Scott, and Hoss Ellington made the show; however, four others had to load their cars and head for the exits.
Petty's day didn't start well. Only 17 laps into the race, he rubbed another car, nicked the guardrail, spun and lost two laps as he pitted to change tires. The 43 was then in catch-up mode pretty much the rest of the afternoon. Yarborough's Mercury and Buddy Baker's Cotton Owens-prepared Dodge were the dominant lap leaders - though Pearson and Yarbrough also worked their way up front occasionally to lead a handful of laps here and there.
With 100 laps to go, however, the engine went POOF in Yarborough's #21 Mercury. Baker's Dodge dropped a cylinder about 30 laps later, and Pearson began to reel him in easily.
someone should write a song with that title!), many NASCAR drivers formed the Professional Drivers Association to address key issues with Bill France, Sr. and NASCAR. Petty was elected as its initial (and turns out, only) president. Most of the GN regulars led by Petty chose not to run the Talladega race because of safety concerns. The Martinsville race was the first event following Talladega where all the big names were back on the track.
Presumably some 'fan' took issue with Petty's leadership of the PDA and hurled a beer over the fence onto the windshield of the 43 Ford just as Petty had unlapped himself by passing Pearson. The move by the anonymous knucklehead likely backfired because the beer can resulted in a caution flag. The caution allowed Petty to make up the remaining distance on Pearson and Baker. When Pearson's Ford and Baker's Dodge had to make pit stops with a handful of laps remaining, the 43 sailed by both and completed the comeback by taking the checkers.
|Article courtesy of Jerry Bushmire|
|Source: Spartanburg Herald via Google News Archive|
Edited September 27, 2014