Friday, March 23, 2012

March 23 - This day in Petty history

1975 - Starting from the pole, Richard Petty leads almost half the laps and wins the Atlanta 500 to claim his 167th career victory.

Richard had won four summer Dixie 500 races at the track prior to 1975. But his win in the 1975 Atlanta 500 was his first of two spring wins at the track.

Long-time rival David Pearson led another sizable chunk of the race; however, he found himself a lap down with less than 10 laps to go. The King had a big lead on second place driver (and former Petty Enterprises driver), Buddy Baker, when a late race caution flew for oil laid on the track by Lennie Pond. The caution allowed Baker to close back up to Petty as the remaining laps were reduced to single digits. Richard, however, quickly jumped back to the throttle before taking the final green flap. He built a lead of several car lengths on Baker before the 43 even crossed the S/F line. Heads up move by Petty - ehh, not so much of one by Baker.

Bruton (Schaefer Ring of Honor member class of 2010 and known as GaPettyFan in other on-line racing communities) remembers:
They qualified on Thursday in those days. He was fast off the truck and skipped the last practice on Saturday. The crew pushed the car onto pit road. While some of the guys were polishing the car, others were spit shining various engine components. It had to drive the competition nuts. He started from the pole, and when they dropped the green flag he took off like he had been shot out of a cannon. Four tire stops were still kind of rare then, but he short-pitted and got four all day because he was so fast. To this day I can still see him smoking the tires coming off turn four lap after lap.
Above 2 photos courtesy of lionel682

Photo courtesy of Ray Lamm
Article courtesy of Jerry Bushmire

Edited June 28, 2014

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