Tuesday, May 13, 2014

May 13, 1972: Grand National East at Nashville

From the 1960s through 1970, NASCAR's Grand National (Cup) schedule averaged about 50 races each season. In 1971, R.J. Reynolds climbed aboard, and the Winston Cup Series was born. The series had a transition year in 1971 with 48 races before dropping back to around 30 that became the staple until the mid 1990s.

When the schedule was dramatically slashed, many traditional tracks - particularly in the eastern time zone - lost their race dates. Perhaps as a way to ease their way out of relationship vs. leaving cold turkey, NASCAR formed the Grand National East series. The series only lasted for a couple of years; however, NASCAR later formed the Busch North Series in the mid 1980s to fill a similar role.

The series ran several tracks discarded from the Cup schedule such as Columbia, Hickory, Myrtle Beach and Kingsport. In 1972, the series ran the Mr. D's 200, its one and only event at a track that remained on the Cup schedule - Nashville Speedway.

Mr. D's was a fast food seafood restaurant created by the parent company of Shoney's restaurants. The chain's name was a nod to one of Shoney's founders, Ray Danner. Its first store was opened in Donelson, a suburb of Nashville, and happens to be where I grew up and lived from the late 1960s through the early 1980s.

Within a year or two of its opening, the name was changed to one more widely recognized today - Captain D's. I guess Cap'n had more of maritime, 'fishy' name than Mister. (For those unfamiliar with Captain D's, think Long John Silver.)

On Saturday May 13, 1972 - Mother's Day weekend - the GNE series raced at the Fairgrounds. The race was co-sanctioned with NASCAR's Grand American division, a series made up of pony cars such as Mustangs and Camaros.
Source: Russ Thompson - Nashville Fairgrounds blog
Some of the drivers who entered the event were Winston Cup regulars - albeit independent drivers and/or those who weren't typically considered amongst the front runners. The field included such drivers as:
  • Jim Paschal who raced Cup actively through much of the 1960s and won frequently as a driver for Petty Enterprises
  • NASCAR HOFer Buck Baker whose heyday was in the 1950s when he won 2 GN titles
  • D.K. Ulrich - long-time driver and owner for a multitude of up-and-comers including Al Loquasto 
  • Richard Childress who struggled for 15 years as a driver before striking gold as the owner for Dale Earnhardt
  • Elmo Langley, a two-time GN winner who later became NASCAR's pace car driver
  • Dick May - an independent who later became a rep for STP
  • Wayne Andrews - a regular participant and winner in the Grand American series
  • Tiny Lund, winner of the 1963 Daytona 500 and a multi-race winner in the GNE division.
  • Cup regulars and brothers, Bobby and Donnie Allison
L to R: Tiny Lund, Bobby Allison, Jim Paschal
The Cup series raced on May 7th at Talladega but didn't run again until May 28th in the World 600 at Charlotte. Having a couple of weeks off gave some of the Cup regulars a chance to run the Nashville event (and presumably pocket a little show money from track promoter Bill Donoho).

Bobby Allison brought a #49 Coca-Cola Mustang Fastback to Nashville. The car was owned by Mel Joseph and had been raced in a few Grand National / Grand American combo races - including at Winston-Salem's Bowman Gray Stadium in 1971. Allison took the checkered flag over Richard Petty in the Mustang; however, NASCAR did not (and still doesn't) recognize the victory as an official Winston Cup win for Allison. (Interestingly, Petty wasn't given the win either.)

Perhaps as expected, Allison laid down the quickest lap to nab the pole. But the margin to second was maybe closer than he had counted as veteran Paschal showed he still knew the quick way around the track. (Paschal won three consecutive GN races at Nashville in 1961, 1962, and 1963).

Darrell Waltrip, Nashville's 1970 late model champion, won the preliminary late model race. He won the short, 30-lap feature six days after making his Cup debut in the Winston 500 at Talladega. The fans were winners because some of the national drivers also raced in the late model event plus were out-qualified by many of the locals.

Source: The Tennessean - May 13, 1972
For a while, Waltrip raced P.B. Crowell's creamsicle orange-and-white #48 Chevelle. But in 1972 as a new sponsor came aboard, Waltrip's 48 sported a transitional white with blue accent scheme.
Credit: Russ Thompson
Paschal had to give up his front-row starting spot after puking a motor in practice. Tiny Lund who was injured in a bizarre accident when a tire fell on him moved to the front row to take Paschal's vacated spot. With his injuries, however, his team made a driver swap at the first caution. Waltrip who'd won earlier in the day and obviously knew the track well took over for Tiny. (I am curious about how well Tiny's seat fit Waltrip back in those days!)

The Fairgrounds once had the oddest of pit roads. Drivers came through turn 4 on the .596-mile track, crossed the start-finish line, turned left onto the inner quarter-mile track, pitted, returned to the track, crossed the start-finish line again (though not completing another lap), and headed for turn 1. Drivers, officials and scorers were frequently confused as to who was on what lap, who had pitted, etc.

The confusion was present again during the GNE race. Rather than slow or stop the race to sort out things, officials let 'em race and tried to figure it out on the fly. As a result, the scoreboard was bouncing around with 'lead changes' though no passes were being made on the track.

Allison got out front about one-third of the way through the race. Waltrip tried to make the best of a good opportunity in Lund's car and did his best to track down Bobby. But after running like a scalded dog, Waltrip's car lost an engine with about 15 laps to go. Allison then cruised home to take the victory. Waltrip and Allison would wage many more battles over the next 10-12 years - especially in the early 80s on the Cup level.

Source: The Tennesseean - May 14, 1972
Courtesy of Russ Thompson
As Russ Thompson noted in his blog post, NASCAR apparently enjoyed what they saw at Nashville that weekend. Perhaps as a result, the track earned a second date on the Cup schedule. From 1973 through 1984, the Fairgrounds featured two races a season - a distinction several tracks didn't have, then or now.

I encourage you to visit GrandNationalEast.com authored by Jeff Droke, long-time crewman for James Hylton, for more information about the series.

Edited August 27, 2014

Monday, May 12, 2014

May 12, 1984: Nuttiness At Nashville

My introduction to stock car racing was at Nashville's Fairgrounds Speedway in 1974. While I won't swear to it, I think the evening's feature was a 200-lap NASCAR late model sportsman race featuring drivers such as Jack Ingram, L.D. Ottinger, Harry Gant, Morgan Shepherd and Butch Lindley. The date, the race, who won, etc. have all been forgotten, but I do remember my eyes being wide open and my heart pumping.

The first time I got to see Cup cars live was during qualifying for the 1976 Nashville 420. My first Cup race to attend was naturally at Nashville - the 1978 Music City 420. During the second half of the 1970s, I was a bigger fan of the local favorites such as Steve Spencer, Alton Jones, Sterling Marlin, Mike Alexander, Tony Cunningham, P.B. Crowell III, etc. than I was of the Cup series. After leaving for college, however, I found it harder to keep up with the local guys and really went all-in as a Cup fan.

The original ownership group sold to another in the late 70s, and the track was renamed Nashville International Raceway. California real estate developer and racing outsider Warner Hodgon bought into the ownership group (as well as stakes in Bristol and North Wilkesboro), and 'International' was dropped from the track's name. Yet then (and now) I always just referred to the track as 'the fairgrounds'.

After being known as the Music City USA 420 through the 1970s, the spring race took a title sponsor coinciding with the ownership change. In 1984, the race was branded as the Coors 420 - though a car with Po' Folks restaurant was featured on the program. Go figure. (One of the local guys was sponsored by Po' Folks ... I think.)

Coors sponsored the race as well as a car in the race - the #9 Harry Melling Ford. The team's driver, Bill Elliott, was still a season away from exploding in the NASCAR consciousness with his dominating 1985 season. A different beer brand, however, sponsored the two cars that became the story of the race - Budweiser.

In 1982, Junior Johnson announced two sport-shaking deals. One, he announced Hodgdon was investing in his team. Also, he planned to expand his operation to a two-car team in 1984. Outside investors and multi-car teams in NASCAR were both rarities up to that point. Generally speaking, the second car was way off the primary car.

Darrell Waltrip was already on board with Junior's championship winning #11 team. Neil Bonnett joined him in 1984 in a matching Chevrolet after spending a transition year in 1983 with Rahmoc Racing and 'sponsorship' by Hodgdon. Both cars were sponsored by Budweiser and Kentucky Fried Chicken, and the team was quickly dubbed Double Thunder.

The team should perhaps have been nicknamed Double Trouble. Though the two teams had common ownership, sponsors, and car makes, the 11 and 12 bunch did not function as a team as is the model for contemporary NASCAR racing. Led by crew chiefs Jeff Hammond (for Waltrip) and Doug Richert (for Bonnett), the two cars were perhaps more competitive with one another than with other cars on the track.

Yet - they were quick. On short tracks where Junior's cars historically had run well, they raced even better with DW and Neil behind the wheel.

As the Winston Cup series rolled into Music City for the 10th race of the 1984 season, Waltrip was ready to race with a high level of confidence.
  • He was a two-time late model champion at the track in 1970 and 1973.
  • Waltrip earned his first Cup win at the track in 1975.
  • The 11 team was the defending champion of the race having won the Marty Robbins 420 a year earlier.
  • DW had two wins and eight Top 10s in the first 9 races of the year. 
Sure enough, the 11 team laid down the quickest qualifying lap on Friday night to nab the pole. Ricky Rudd qualified alongside Waltrip in his Wrangler Jeans Bud Moore Ford. A couple of unsponsored drivers made up the second row: Geoff Bodine in Rick Hendrick's Chevy and Ron Bouchard in Jack Beebe's Buick. Dale Earnhardt rounded out the starting five in a second Wrangler ride, Richard Childress' Chevy.

Bonnett qualified 15th, about mid-pack, but a quick, single-lap wasn't his measurement of greatness for the weekend. Two weeks earlier, he wheel-hopped the curb at Martinsville. Doing so caused his steering wheel to spin quickly to the right - so quickly that he didn't have a chance to loosen his grip. The spin snapped Bonnett's wrist and dislocated his thumb. He incredibly popped his thumb back into place while at speed, and finished the race in fifth place. Only after returning home to Alabama was he able to have the bones set and a cast applied. The awkwardness of the cast and persistent pain when racing were challenges he had to face, yet Neil did not miss a start.

When the green flag flew on Saturday May 12, Neil spent the first 20 percent of the race working himself methodically towards the front. He finally went to the point on lap 87 and led sizable chunks of laps throughout the race. When the night was done, he'd led 320 of the 420 laps - with a broken, throbbing right wrist.

With about 10 laps to go, Neil was being hounded by the #5 Chevy of Geoff Bodine. Two weeks earlier at Martinsville, Bodine won the first Cup race for himself and Hendrick Motorsports - the race in which Bonnett had broken his wrist. Bodine got past Bonnett, but Neil fought back in an effort to reclaim the lead. Instead, he spun himself out with seven to go.

Remarkably, Bonnett was able to gather his car and pit without losing too much track position. Bodine ducked in the pits as well knowing he'd have to race Neil hard again. The race resumed with three to go with Waltrip out front (who chose not to pit). Then all sorts of a mess broke out. Cup upstart Rusty Wallace trashed his Gatorade Pontiac coming out of turn two. Bobby Allison, the reigning Cup champion, got collected, caught fire, and drove in reverse down the backstretch through three and four and then down pit road.

Bonnett was humping it on the high side as he tried to catch Waltrip. Then the King inexplicably spun his STP Pontiac and Kyle Petty looped his car into the inner wall to avoid t-boning his father's 43.

Waltrip flashed under the starter's stand taking the white and yellow flags. He checked up some to make it through the debris from the wrecks yet maintained good speed. Bonnett still went full bore, caught DW in turn four, and nipped the 11 at the line. Waltrip, his crew, and the TV announcers initially believed DW was the winner because the caution had flown a lap earlier. Bonnett believed the track was essentially still 'green' because the yellow flew as the last lap started vs. at the end of the next to last lap. In that era, cars raced back to the line when a caution happened vs. the 'frozen field' model used today.

NASCAR's officials then went into Keystone Kops mode. They directed Bonnett to victory lane. Within a minute or so, they had Waltrip drive to victory lane and had Bonnett leave. But again within a few minutes they switched back to Bonnett as the winner. The collective set of officials seemed unable to determine when the yellow flag flew and what was permissible in terms of racing back to the finish line.

As the crowd left the stands and TV left the air, Bonnett was indeed in victory lane as Waltrip's team was left fuming.

Source: Gainesville Sun via Google News Archive
Interestingly, Warner Hodgon (in slacks and buttondown shirt and getting Waltrip's glare) was part of the winning and losing end of it all. He was a partial owner of both Bud teams as well as an investor in the track whose reputation was getting dinged because of NASCAR's ineptness. But the disputed finish would soon be the least of his concerns.

Waltrip wasn't finished. He defiantly protested the finish. Junior Johnson had the unenviable position of protesting the victory by his own car. (Such a protest by a car owner against another of his own cars wasn't unprecedented. Lee Petty protested his own son's win in 1959 at Lakewood Speedway.)

Three days later, NASCAR sided with Waltrip's protest and declared him the winner and moved Bonnett back to second.

Source: Hendersonville NC Times-News via Google News Archive
A young Dave Despain - with hair on his head but not on his face - featured highlights of the controversial race on his weekly racing magazine show, Motorweek Illustrated.

I remember the confusing finish, but I don't remember if I saw the race on TV or listened to it on MRN. I'm thinking it was likely the latter. I was away at college, and we didn't have a TV in our dorm room. We had a TV in the rec room, but I know no one would have allowed it to be dominated by a race on a Saturday night. The guys had more important things to watch ... such as music videos on MTV.

The Coors 420 is available as part of MRN's Classic Races Podcast series. The original broadcast can be heard below, at MRN's site, or streamed through MRN's iTunes channel.

Nashville Speedway put its hooks deep into me 40 years ago, and it's amazing to think 30 years have passed since this particular race was run. Back then, I toted fewer pounds and bigger dreams. I had visions of spending many future years watching Cup racing there. No way it could ever end ... or would it?

Hodgdon's non-racing financial situation took a quick tumble in the mid 80s. His fall was so precipitous that his racing interests were drawn into the abyss. Suddenly, Junior Johnson was faced with losing his two teams and life's work as a car owner. He was able to craft a deal to buy back Hodgdon's equity and get him out of the picture.

The fairgrounds track wasn't as fortunate. The track hosted its annual summer race in July. Bodine won the Pepsi 420, but his win turned out to be the final Cup race in Nashville. With many questions surrounding Hodgdon's finances, the long-term viability of the track, and other legal complications between the track and its landlord, the city of Nashville, NASCAR chose to withdraw its sanction after the 1984 races.

Racing continues to this day at my home track - and it's truly hard to believe three decades have passed since the final year of Cup racing. But at least The Fairgrounds' Cup days went out with a bang as two teammates had to scrap like foes to settle the score.

Big thanks to Russ Thompson for many of the photos and video clip! 


Wednesday, May 7, 2014

May 7, 1972: Pearson Begins His Talladega Triad

After parting ways with Holman-Moody after several successful seasons including two championships, David Pearson ran a pretty spotty schedule in 1971.

In spring 1972, Pearson joined the Wood Brothers' Purolator Mercury team. The Woods already had a great start to the season with A.J. Foyt's winning the pole at Riverside and wins in the Daytona 500 and Miller High Life 500 at Ontario. With Foyt's commitment to Indy cars, he clearly wasn't in a position to run a limited yet regular NASCAR schedule. When Pearson was hired, so began a remarkable team whose success was also immediate and lasted through 1978.

In 1972, the team won the pole and the race in their first outing together - the Rebel 400 at Darlington. Two races later, the NASCAR circuit rolled into Talladega for the Winston 500.

Source: Motor Racing Programme Covers
Bobby Issac won the pole in his Harry Hyde-prepared K&K Dodge Charger.

  Pearson plunked his Mercury right alongside him on the front row. Three legends rounded out the top 5 - King Richard, Bobby Allison and Buddy Baker. Though Petty Enterprises fielded Dodges for Baker in 1971 and 1972, the King was making his first start in a Dodge after switching from Plymouths as was announced before the spring Martinsville race. The 43 team ran a mixture of the two for the rest of the year before turning to Dodges full time in 1973.

Buddy absorbing some race strategy with Maurice Petty and long-time Petty crewman Richie Barz.

A notable racer making his first Talladega start was country music superstar and frequent racer Marty Robbins. He qualified his purple and canary yellow Dodge Charger 9th in the 50-car field.

Over the weekend of Marty's first Talladega first start, some footage was shot for a movie titled Country Music featuring Robbins. Adversaries on the track, Richard Petty and Bobby Allison, became co-stars in the footage. Allison plays the foil to Marty much as he did to the King by saying to Marty "Faron Young's one of my favorite singers."

Another driver making his first overall Cup start was newcomer Darrell Waltrip in a self-fielded #95 brown Mercury. Having relocated from Owensboro, KY to Franklin, TN, the two-time Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway late model champion Waltrip qualified mid-pack in 25th position.

The Alabama Gang was well represented in the race with Bobby and Donnie Allison, Red Farmer and Robert "Paddlefoot" Wales. Though I never met Paddlefoot, he frequently drove the #10 blue and gold Benward late model Chevelle at Nashville for a friend of my father's, Roy Counce.

Courtesy of Russ Thompson
Long time NASCAR independent driver J.D. McDuffie's car was 'sponsored' by Bro. Bill Frazier's ministry. Frazier's race day faith service was also broadcast over the track's PA system for what was believed to have been for the first time. As noted in the caption to the above photo of Marty Robbins, Marty agreed to sing a gospel number during Frazier's service.

Before the race, Pearson learned of the track's 'physical therapist'. Suddenly he developed a bad back and needed a massage. Who amongst us wouldn't find a similar catch in our back with such an available therapist?

Isaac and Pearson were pretty evenly matched most of the day. Pearson led 59 laps, and Isaac led 57. STP and Petty Enterprises teammates Baker and Petty led 32 and 14 laps, respectively.

Around lap 170, Isaac made his final pit stop & returned to the lead. However, the crew apparently didn't get the gas cap back on the car and it dangled in the wind for the next several laps. For reasons of who knows why, it took NASCAR officials about 10 laps to realize the 71's gas cap was indeed flopping and a couple of more to decide what to do about it.

They finally decided to black flag Isaac to force a return back to pit road. But Isaac and Harry Hyde hadn't come that far to give away a race on a technicality. So they continued onward and ignored the black flag. But with just a few laps remaining, Isaac inexplicably tangled briefly with Jimmy Crawford's Plymouth. Crawford went for a slide, and Isaac raced on. But the encounter was enough to let Pearson close the gap and motor on around Isaac to take the win.

NASCAR did not quit scoring the 71. I was under the impression even in the early 70s a driver got 3 laps to observe the black flag or risk having their scoring card pulled. If so, an EIRI interpretation was made that day. Isaac was able to retain his 2nd place finishing position - and apparently the driver and owner points that came with it. He was simply fined $1,500 for ignoring the black flag.

Source: Gadsden Times via Googles News Archive
I realize based on the purse sizes of that era that a $1,500 fine was more significant then vs. now. The amount was about 10% of Isaac's earnings for the day. Perhaps NASCAR felt the penalty was more significant than the points or purse he may have lost had his scoring card been pulled with only a couple of laps to go.

Pearson apparently liked Talladega's victory lane as he and the Woods returned there again in May 1973 and a third consecutive time in 1974. Surprisingly, he did NOT ever win the summer Talladega 500 race - even during that 12 year stretch when the race didn't have a repeat winner.

Finishing a strong fourth was The Golden (but Aging) Boy Fred Lorenzen in Hoss Ellington's Ford. Lorenzen who didn't have near the level of success in his comeback from the late 60s through early 70s raced in only six more Cup events. He retired as a driver at the end of 1972.

Fortunately, there was no "Big One" wreck to wipe out a bunch of cars. By most Talladega standards, the race was a relatively uneventful one which allowed for some levity.

The funniest story from the race involved Marty Robbins. Marty knew his limitations as a driver. He was as passionate about racing as he was his music. He knew he could race with the drivers - but didn't want to do anything stupid to screw up things for the drivers who raced full time for a living.

During a mid-race pit stop, Robbins had his crew finagle his restrictor plate to essentially negate its intended purpose. As a result, he was able to hold 'er wide open. Just because he could, he mashed the gas and passed cars like crazy - if for no other reason than to see the expression on other drivers' faces as he passed them.

After the race ended, he was to be presented an award for rookie of the race. It was then he copped to Bill Gazaway what he'd done and why he'd done it. Gazaway at first didn't want to believe him, but Marty insisted he couldn't accept the award. NASCAR was then forced to disqualify Marty and bury him in 50th and last place. The finishing position really meant nothing to Marty - all he knew was how much fun he had dicing it up with the big dogs. Listen to him tell the story beginning about the 3:45 mark of the following video.

Pearson and the Woods kept the Big Mo' rolling. In 13 more starts together in 1972, the team notched another 5 wins and 10 more top 5's.


Sunday, May 4, 2014

May 4: Buddy Baker's Talladega Twin Wins

Over his multi-decade career, Buddy Baker won nineteen races. Of the nineteen, almost half were at two tracks. Four were at Charlotte,  and four happened at Talladega - including three in a row. Of his four Talladega victories, two happened to fall on the same day: May 4th.

Baker's three-race winning streak at Talladega began May 4, 1975. He let the field know early he was the man to beat by winning the pole for the fifty car field.

Long-time independent and Dodge driver Jim Vandiver won the preliminary race - the ARCA 200 - on Saturday May 3. In an odd scheduling twist, Coo Coo Marlin won the pole for the ARCA race in a qualifying session held ... a week earlier.

Vandiver's Dodge was sponsored by H.B. Ranier, father of Cup car owner Harry Ranier. The "Ranier" name figured prominently into Baker's 4th Talladega win 5 years later.

Donnie Allison in his DiGard Chevy qualified alongside Baker. Brother Bobby Allison and David Pearson comprised the second row. The field gathers 2x2 on the pace lap as the drivers amp up for the start.

The Cup raced was overshadowed by tragedy - which seemed to be a part of the fabric of Talladega in the 70s. Randy Owens - Richard Petty's crewman and brother-in-law - was killed during a pit stop when a pressurized water tank exploded as he tried using it to extinguish a wheel bearing fire on the 43.

A unique participant in both the 1975 and 1980 races was country music legend Marty Robbins. He wrecked out of the 75 race in his Dodge Charger and lost an engine in the 1980 event in his Dodge Magnum.

Baker was certainly the class of the field as he led 99 of the race's 188 laps. However, David Pearson led a sizable chunk as well by pacing the field for 27 laps. And Petty's 43 was out front for 22 laps as the Charger was pretty stout that day. But once Petty had to make the unexpected stop and Owens was killed, the Petty crew parked the 43 and withdrew from the remainder of the race.

Though Baker led more than half the race, his win was hardly assured as is the case more often than not at Talladega. But Baker manage to nip Pearson by about a foot to earn the win. Behind Baker and Pearson, Dick Brooks finished third. A pair of Tennesseans, Darrell Waltrip and Coo Coo Marlin, finished fourth and fifth respectively.

Following the race, the King was clearly distraught as he tried to speak with reporters about the accident in the pits that took Randy's life.

Source: Gadsden Times via Google News Archive
* * * * * * *
Baker nabbed his next-to-last career win on May 4, 1980 in Harry Ranier's #28 'gray ghost' Oldsmobile by nipping 1979 ROTY Dale Earnhardt by about 3 feet - not quite as close as the win over Pearson but still one for the ages.

In the preliminary Saturday race, a driver who'd made his name known on the bullrings of the midwest and started his first Cup race at Atlanta earlier in the 1980 season won: Rusty Wallace. He won from the pole in the short-lived Grand American series Alabama 300.

David Pearson continued to show folks he still had gas in the tank after parting ways with the Wood Brothers in 1979. In 1980, he took over from Donnie Allison in Hoss Ellington's Hawaiian Tropic #1 car. The two had some immediate success with a win in the Rebel 500 at Darlington and capturing the pole for the Talladega race. Baker lined up alongside Pearson in his Waddell Wilson prepared Olds 442.

As was the case in 1975, Baker led the most laps. However, the competition was more balanced in 1980. Baker led only about a third of the race vs. the 99 laps he led 5 years earlier. Earnhardt led 55 laps to Baker's 61. Cale Yarborough and Pearson took turns for double-digit laps as well.

Earnhardt had a sizable lead as the laps wound down. But Baker was relentless in his pursuit of the Osterlund Olds, and he was able to get around Dale with the checkers in sight. Using Buddy Arrington as a pick on the backstretch, Baker was able to break Dale's momentum limiting his chances to pass him back.

Some footage of the final few laps of the race is available on YouTube. Unfortunately, the video can't be embedded here. But [click here] to watch Baker eke out a win over Earnhardt.

Baker's win was the second Cup win at Talladega for car owner Harry Ranier in three seasons. Lennie Pond won the 1978 Talladega 500 for Ranier as well.