The race was started on March 6 - but then postponed to March 13 because of rain. Also, the win was the only one of The King's career televised by relatively new cable sports programming channel ESPN.
Petty and Bill Elliott, seeking his first win, hounded Petty for the final 28 laps trying to retake the lead after losing it to Petty on lap 464. Elliott drove the wheels off the car that day only to come up half a length short at the stripe. Great race.The margin of victory over winless upstart Awful Bill from Dawsonville (never was a big Elliott fan to be honest). Though he didn't win that day, Elliott did eventually get his first Cup win (with a few dozen more to follow) - at Riverside in the final race of the 1983 season.
The race was actually scheduled the week before. I left Sumter at midnight with a guy I worked with, and we slept in the car. When we got there about 2AM, a work crew was replacing a huge section of guardrail in turn 2. A late model sportsman car, I do not recall the drivers name, hit the rail in turn two tearing out the entire section, posts and all, until the car hit where the concrete wall started. It sheared everything from the firewall forward off the car. The engine, I was told, bounced down half the length of the back stretch.
A few years back, I saw the pictures of the crash, and the size of the gaping hole in the guardrail was unbelievable. Where we parked in the infield did not have good drainage, and I was in well above ankle deep water when I got out of the car. Actually the water was even with the door jamb. The crew was still working on the guard rail. The rain delay actually helped them get it completed before the start of the race. Less than 100 miles was run when they called it until the next Sunday. We came back and not a cloud in the sky on race day. A beautiful day and a great race.
Some ESPN video highlights of the race and the exciting finish:
|Article courtesy of Jerry Bushmire|
Edited March 12, 2015