Friday, April 27, 2012

April 27 - This day in Petty history - part 1

1969 - Starting sixth, Richard Petty wins the Virginia 500 at Martinsville to claim his 94th career NASCAR Grand National victory.

Source: Motor Racing Programme Covers
Petty continued his mastery of the flat, half-mile track with his seventh win in 21 career starts to that point - and fourth win in his last five starts. The 1969 win, however, required some help. In the middle stages of the race, Petty was exhausted and nearly sick in the car. James Hylton, whose day ended early, relief drove for Richard for about 50 laps - long enough for Petty to get some clean oxygen and fresh energy. Hylton was a Dodge driver, and Petty drove a Ford during the 1969 season.

Fortunately no manufacturer conflicts occurred with Hylton's driving another car make - something I'm not sure would be quite so easy in today's Sprint Cup Series. The King returned to his seat with about 50 laps to go and took the checkered flag. Interestingly,David Pearson who was credited with finishing second also needed a relief driver to make it through the day. Fellow Ford driver, Cale Yarborough, relieved the Silver Fox and helped him finish behind Petty.

Article courtesy of Jerry Bushmire
In the finishing order for the race, at least some newspaper published Petty and Hylton as co-winners and Pearson and Yarborough teaming to finish second. NASCAR has always made it clear the driver who starts a race is credited with the finish. So its interesting to me to see both names listed, and I haven't seen that format in any other finishing order listings over the years.

In another scoring quirk, Dick Brooks finished 16th despite being disqualified from the race. According to Greg Fielden in his book, Forty Years of Stock Car Racing Vol. 4:
Dick Brooks was disqualified from the race after his 428th lap for running in the wrong direction on the track. The Porterville, CA rookie had spun out in the first turn. He drove his Plymouth back to the pits opposite traffic. NASCAR officials told him to park the car for the rest of the day. ~ p. 231
As has often been the case with the car manufacturers' involvement with NASCAR, Petty's win was used to promote the sale of Ford Torinos. Win on Sunday, Sell on Monday!


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