Thursday, August 22, 2013

August 22, 1958 - Lee Petty Banks Bowman Gray

August 22, 1958: Starting second, Lee Petty piloted his #42 Oldsmobile to a spirited win over Shorty Rollins in a 200-lap, 50-mile race at Bowman Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem, NC. Rookie Richard Petty in a #2 1957 Oldsmobile started 11th and finished 20th. (There is a trivia question for you - what car number have Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt shared?)

The race was Bowman Gray's second NASCAR Grand National event, and it was a 'sweepstakes' race - a blend of hard top and convertible series cars.. The first was about three months earlier on May 24, 1958, and it was won by Bob Welborn in a Chevrolet owned by ... Julian Petty, Lee's brother.

The August race was a reversal of fortune for Welborn. Julian Petty again fielded a Chevy for Welborn. Although he won the spring race, he completed only one lap in Julian's #49 Chevrolet and finished 23rd - dead last - in the August race. Julian fielded a second car in the August race for Ken Rush. He finished 14th in a #44 Chevrolet.

Greg Fielden writes in Forty Years of Stock Car Racing - Vol. 1:
Old pro Lee Petty eked out a half-car length victory over rookie Shorty Rollins in the exciting climax to the 50-mile sweepstakes race at Bowman Gray Stadium.

Petty took the lead from Rollins with 19 laps remaining on the quarter-mile paved oval. The two drivers treated the crowd of 12,000 to a spine-tingling conclusion. Rollins' last lap bid fell short by only a few feet.

George Dunn put his Mercury on the pole and led the first 10 laps. Petty, who started second, nosed to the front on lap 11 and stayed there for 126 laps. Rollins, who started sixth found the 'groove' and began pressing Petty at the half way point. He was able to push his Ford into the lead on lap 137 and led until Petty made the final pass.

Bob Welborn qualified third, but his Chevrolet was taken out with transmission failure after just one lap.

Petty won the 50-miler at an average speed of 39.258 mph. ~ p. 316
Source: Spartanburg Herald Journal via Google News Archive

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