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.
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.
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.
|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.
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.
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.