Richard Petty made himself at home over a multi-year stretch at Phoenix. He won three of four races between 1978 and 1981 - including the Arizona NAPA 250 on November 23, 1980.
King Richard won the pole for the 1980 event, and another Cup ringer Bobby Allison qualified second in a car borrowed from Cup journeyman D.K. Ulrich. Bill Schmitt, a Winston West regular, timed third. Joe Ruttman, who raced USAC stock cars, ARCA, and just about any other stock car with 4 wheels, lined up fourth in an Oldsmobile fielded by Jim Stacy. Coincidentally, Ruttman got the nod to take the seat of Stacy's #2 Cup car about nine months later when Dale Earnhardt left Stacy's team after it had been purchased from Rod Osterlund.
A couple of next-generation young drivers who would have a future impact in Cup racing also made the Phoenix event. Bobby Allison's son - Davey - qualified 11th in his father's hand-me-down AMC Matador, and Kyle Petty qualified 7th in an STP Chevy Caprice.
Richard took the lead at the green and led the first 27 laps. Canadian racer Roy Smith then took over a few laps - as did Richard's son, Kyle, for six laps. Second-place starter Allison led the middle third of the race for a streak of 50+ laps.
Richard raced a Chevy Monte Carlo and Kyle raced the Caprice - presumably the same cars they raced at Ontario in the Cup race a week earlier. Allison is shown here in Ulrich's #4 Monte Carlo.
As the race headed for its conclusion, R. Petty and Allison battled for the lead though Richard led all but one lap down the stretch to capture the win. Allison finished where he started - second, and Kyle stayed competitive all day to come home third as the final car to finish on the lead lap. Davey Allison crashed early in the event and ended up 29th in the 30-car field.
|GNS cover and article courtesy of Russ Thompson|