Wednesday, October 5, 2011

October 5 - This day in Petty history - part 2

1975 - Richard Petty banks his 176th career victory, his 12th win of the season, and a season-sweep at Charlotte by winning the National 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Petty-prepared cars ran Charlotte from the time it opened in 1960 and scored multiple wins:
  • 1964 World 600 - Jim Paschal (Richard finished 2nd)
  • 1966 World 600 - Marvin Panch (with Richard taking the checkers as a relief driver)
  • 1972 World 600 - Buddy Baker in the Petty #11 STP Dodge
Yet, Richard couldn't score his own win - until 1975. He won the World 600 in May and followed it up with a win in the National 500 by leading about half the laps.

As was generally the case throughout the 1970s, David Pearson won the pole position in the #21 Wood Brothers Purolator Mercury. Not that his pole win was really ever in doubt, but Leonard Wood put extra effort into ensuring his team's Merc would be the quickest when the track announced a $10,400 prize for the pole winner.

The race was highly competitive with multiple lead changes in the first two-thirds of the race. The usual suspects such as Petty, Pearson, Cale Yarborough, Buddy Baker and Bobby Allison took their time at the front of the pack. But others got in on the action as well such as A.J. Foyt, Dave Marcis, Jim Vandiver, and even the ageless Hershel McGriff.

The Petty blue and STP day-glo red Dodge Charger took the lead again on lap 224 and led the rest of the way in the 334-lap race. His lead, however, didn't go unchallenged. When the green flew on lap 307 following the race's final caution, Petty missed a shift coming to the green. His hiccup allowed Baker and Pearson to bull rush the 43 as the field stormed into turn 1.

The King grabbed the right gear and caught right back up to the duo down the backstretch and took them three-wide through turn 3 - with Baker in the middle and Pearson on the outside. Pearson lifted for just a moment, and Petty slipped by Baker to resume the lead.

Pearson then spent the next few laps bird dogging Baker before finally getting by him for second on lap 314. For the remaining laps, Pearson's 21 hounded Petty's 43 as had been between the two so many times over their long, successful careers.

As the white flag few, Pearson drew ever closer as he made up time through the corners. But Maurice Petty's engine and Dale Inman's set-up would not be denied. Petty kept his foot in it, floated it smoothly around the track a final time, and held off Pearson to claim the victory.

Article courtesy of Jerry Bushmire
Petty was obviously elated to get his second and back-to-back win at Charlotte after so many years of coming up short at the track. Not all drivers were quite as pleased with their day - particularly with NASCAR officiating. In today's Cup racing, Kyle Busch is generally the poster child for chirping on the radio and making his feelings known to pit road officials with a "You're (not) number 1!" finger gestures. In the 1975 National 500, generally good-natured Joe Frasson and rookie-of-the-year candidate Bruce Hill filled that role.

Source: Spartanburg Herald via Google News Archive
Edited October 5, 2014

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