Friday, March 2, 2012

March 2 - This day in Petty history

1963 - After qualifying second and on the outside of the front row, Richard Petty lucked into his 15th career victory by winning a 200-lap race Piedmont Interstate Fairgrounds speedway in Spartanburg, SC. (Read this story about the lost Spartanburg track.)

Petty led only 2 laps - the final two after Ned Jarrett ran out of gas. Gentlemen Ned managed to get a bit more gas to eke out second while Petty teammate Jim Paschal finished 3rd in a #42 Petty Enterprises Plymouth. Petty's victory was the fourth straight short-track win for Petty Enterprises in the 1963 season - two by Paschal and two by Richard.

The race on the half-mile dirt track was just six days after the Daytona 500 on its 2-1/2 mile superspeedway. Despite the differences in the tracks and race strategy, Jarrett ran short of fuel with the victory in sight for the second race in a row. (He ran out of gas with nine laps to go at Daytona.)

Perry Allen Wood wrote in his book, Silent Speedways of the Carolinas:
The race started on what became a warm Saturday afternoon with [Junior] Johnson jumping out front and the rest of the field in tow ... Jarrett held the lead with the Plymouths of Petty and Paschal in hot pursuit until lap 183 when rookie Johnny Clements spun that old Chevy right in the groove ... and was t-boned by another rookie, Frank Waites. The leaders bore down on the scene, and Jarret slipped by high. But when Petty tried to follow, he rattled off that infamous board fence damaging the right front fender and suspension ... Jarrett looked to be home free, but Petty pitted as Lee and Maurice hammered out the fender and added ten gallons of Pure Firebird without losing a lap. They restarted, and Ned dashed away but not far. With three to go, the baby-blue 11 sputtered out of gas. Ned rolled in, got a splash and barely nipped for Paschal for second. ~ p. 17
Article courtesy of Jerry Bushmire

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