Saturday, June 16, 2012

June 16 - This day in Petty history

1974 - Richard Petty qualifies fourth, leads 80 of 180 laps, takes the yellow as the leader with 7 laps to go, and cruises the remaining laps to win the Motor State 400 at Michigan to earn his 159th career Winston Cup victory.

Throughout the first half of the 1974 racing season, NASCAR chose to cut its races by 10 percent as an acknowledgment of the nation's energy crisis and rise of OPEC. As a result, the Michigan race was 180 laps / 360 miles vs. 200 laps / 400 miles.

Ticket stub scan courtesy of Jerry Bushmire
Three of the top 5 finishers were certainly unique. Petty won the race, and David Pearson finished 3rd. The remaining drivers had career days:
  • Canadian and Winston Cup rookie driver Earl Ross finished second. It was a career-best finish at the time for Ross; however, he later one-up'd himself. At Martinsville that fall, he became the rare rookie and the only Canadian to win a Cup race. 
  • Career open-wheeler Gary Bettenhausen finished 4th in Roger Penske's AMC Matador - the top finish of his 8-race Cup career.
  • Country singer and part-time racer Marty Robbins scored a career best 5th in his recognizable purple-and-yellow Dodge.
 Source: Motor Racing Programme Covers

Article courtesy of Jerry Bushmire

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