Sunday, April 26, 2015

April 26, 1958 - Welborn Wins Hickory

Two-time defending NASCAR convertible division champion Bob Welborn continued his 1958 hot streak in tact on April 26, 1956. The Denton, NC driver won his fifth consecutive race with car owner Julian Petty.

Twenty-three ragtops showed up for a 150-lap, 60-mile race at Hickory Speedway's dirt track. Jimmy Massey snagged the pole position in a Petty Engineering 1957 Oldsmobile, and Welborn timed second in Julian's Chevrolet.

NASCAR Hall of Famer and co-founder of the legendary Wood Brothers Racing team, Glen Wood, parked his Ford after only one lap with a blown engine. Fellow NASCAR Hall of Fame member, Buck Baker - making only his second convertible start of 1958 - exited the race three laps later when of all things his seat broke loose. Joe Weatherly, making his first convertible start since his win at Richmond a month earlier, suffered the same fate as Wood and Baker. Unlike the two of them, however, Little Joe made it to the half-way point of the race. But he then lost the steering on his Holman Moody Ford and was done for the day.

With some of his toughest competition sidelined early, Welborn set sail as he'd done over his past few races. He took the checkers with only one other car on the lead lap with him. Ken Rush was the runner-up in in a second Julian Petty-owned #44 Chevy. Julian's third entry driven by Possum Jones wasn't as fortunate. The throttle in Possum's #48 Chevy played dead on him, and Jones finished 19th after completing only 33 laps.

Pole-winner Massey finished third in Lee Petty's Oldsmobile, one lap down in his only convertible start for Petty Engineering. (Lee likely didn't attend the race as he was probably on his way back home to North Carolina after having raced in Manassas, VA on April 25th.) Though I don't have absolute proof, it stands to reason the Olds raced by Massey was the same car Richard Petty raced in his racing debut at Columbia Speedway on July 12, 1958. Two years later, Massey was behind the wheel of a Wood Brothers Ford and was chasing Richard Petty's Plymouth for the win at Martinsville. I blogged about Massey's Run back in 2012.

Welborn and Julian seemingly could not be stopped in the spring of 1958. The Hickory win was their fifth consecutive NASCAR win in a series of Grand National and convertible races entered. (Julian didn't field a car in a few GN races during that streak.)

The streak ended with the Hickory win. Welborn continued, however, with quality top 10s in the next three races before returning to victory lane twice more to complete his month of May.

04/05/58   Fayetteville (GN) - win
04/07/58   Winston-Salem (CV) - win
04/13/58   Weaverville (CV) - win
04/20/58   Martinsville (GN) - win
04/26/58   Hickory (CV) - win
05/02/58   Columbia (CV) - 3rd
05/04/58   Wilson (CV) - 2nd
05/10/58   Darlington (CV) - 6th
05/11/58   Greensboro (GN) - win
05/24/58   Winston-Salem (GN) - win


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