Tuesday, October 18, 2011

October 18 - This day in Petty history

1970 - Richard Petty dominates the Old Dominion 500 at Martinsville. He led 480 laps, put a lap on the field, won the race and earned his 118th career Grand National win. To put in perspective the King's dominance at Martinsville in this era:
  • The 1970 Old Dominion 500 win was his 9th overall at Martinsville
  • The win was his 6th in the last 8 races at that time.
  • Petty won four of the last five races at Martinsville.
  • The win was his 4th consecutive Old Dominion 500 victory.
The race was originally slotted for Sunday, September 27th. Qualifying was completed as scheduled on Friday, but rain on race day forced the postponement of the race until October 18th.
Source: Motor Racing Programme Covers
Bobby Allison won the pole in his Coca-Cola Dodge, and another Bobby - Bobby Isaac - joined him on the front row in his K&K Insurance, Harry Hyde-prepared Dodge. Cale Yarborough qualified 3rd in the Wood Brothers Mercury, and King flanked him in the 4th starting spot.

The cars to see in 1969-1970 were the winged Dodge Daytonas and Plymouth Superbirds. The cars must have been a sight to see on NASCAR's superspeedways, The Grand National division's schedule in those years, however, were still comprised of many short track traces. Aerodynamics were less of an issue, and durability for frammin and bammin was required. On those tracks, the Mopar teams opted to race Dodge Chargers and Plymouth Road Runners rather than the Daytonas and Superbirds with the rear wing and specially-designed pointed nose clip.

At Martinsville, however, independent driver Dave Marcis chose to run his light-blue with yellow trim winged Daytona anyway. He qualified 5th in the original qualifying session; however, the following photo seems to indicate he actually started the race farther back in the field - perhaps because of a change to the car between September 27th and October 18th.

At the drop of the green, Allison's #22 Coke Machine grabbed the inside line along Martinsville's curbing and led the first 17 laps. From there though, Petty took over and led the rest of the race except for 3 token laps led by Isaac and Donnie Allison.

The leaders had a pretty clean track on which to race because of a high attrition rate.Many of the independent drivers were mad about the minimal purse offered by Martinsville for drivers finishing deep in the field. Adding to their anger was qualifying bonus money offered by the track - which of course was snagged by the factory-supported teams who laid down the quickest laps. Despite advice from track promoter Clay Earles and NASCAR officials, about a dozen drivers dropped out of the race. One by one, drivers including Marcis simply pulled off the track and put their cars on their trailers. Most ran no more than 5 laps.

With open track in front of him, the Petty Blue 43 Plymouth was untouchable. He cruised to a fairly easy win yet again on Martinsville's paper clip.

Article courtesy of Jerry Bushmire

Edited October 18, 2014

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