Monday, May 21, 2012

May 21 - This day in Petty history - part 2

1971 - Richard Petty gets win number 128 by scoring the pole, leading 252 of 300 laps, and winning the Asheville 300 at at New Asheville Speedway in North Carolina.

The race was pretty much a cakewalk for Petty. Only 17 drivers started, and no other big-name drivers started. Petty plus sixteen independent or also-ran drivers arrived in Asheville. George Ledford - the track's promoter - paid Petty an appearance fee. This arrangement was common for many years in an effort to secure a driver's appearance to then help sell tickets.

Many of the independents also wanted a bit of 'show money' to help fill the field; however, Ledford refused and said Petty was the only name he needed. In protest, James Hylton started the race but parked his car on the first lap. Many others followed suit in the next few laps. When the checkers fell, only five cars were on the track.

In Greg Fielden's Forty Years of Stock Car Racing - Volume 3, he quoted Petty's forecast for NASCAR's future:
I think Grand National racing will work itself out of short track racing into nothing but a large track circuit. I think for it to be what it started out to be - the very best in racing - then NASCAR is going to have to work up a circuit with 25 races or something like that. ~ p. 341
Petty was spot-on with his prediction - and New Asheville Speedway was one of the casualties of his forecast. After a run of eight Grand National events between 1962 and 1971, Petty's win in 1971 turned out to be the final GN race at the track.

Article courtesy of Jerry Bushmire

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