Sunday, July 29, 2012

July 29 - This day in Petty history

1967 - Starting second alongside pole-winner Dick Hutcherson, Richard Petty leads 131 of 400 laps and wins the Nashville 400 at Fairgrounds Speedway in Nashville, TN.

In this photo published in The Tennessean, Petty is shown looking over his engine before the race as a crewman stands nearby.

The crewman is Joe Millikan. About 7 or 8 years later, Petty Enterprises fielded late model sportsman and ARCA cars in selected races with Joe as the driver. In 1979, Millikan joined L.G. DeWitt's Winston Cup team to compete for Rookie of the Year. He had a reasonable year as he finished 6th in the points (tops among all rookies ... and many veterans), won the pole position for Nashville's SunDrop 420, and collected 20 top 10s in 31 starts. The bad news was he was in the same rookie class as Dale Earnhardt, Terry Labonte and Harry Gant, arguably the top rookie class in NASCAR history - and his car owner was looking to exit the sport. Earnhardt won a race and finished 7th in points despite having missed four races because of an injury suffered at Pocono. And in early 1980, DeWitt folded the team, and Joe was out of a full-time ride.

The start of the race with pole-winner Hutcherson choosing to start on the outside of the front row.

Petty spent the first half of the race just trying to get out of his own way. The 43 Plymouth burned through several tires, and the King even spun on his own following a blown tire.

Source: The Nashville Banner - July 31, 1967
The Petty Enterprises team, however, never lost its composure. As the race entered its second half, the 43 regained its mojo and headed for the front. Petty passed Chattanooga, TN's Friday Hassler with about 130 laps to go and banked his 65th career NASCAR Grand National victory with a 5-lap win over second-place finisher James Hylton.

Source: The Nashville Banner - July 31, 1967
Article courtesy of Jerry Bushmire
Edited July 29, 2014

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