Tuesday, June 2, 2015

June 2, 1961 - Paschal Wins Spartanburg

Julian Petty's greatest success as a car owner took place in 1958 with Bob Welborn at the wheel. At the end of the season, Petty apparently sold his racing equipment and disappeared from the track. He returned, however, within a couple of years paired with Jim Paschal - who later would drive for his brother Lee as a teammate to rising star Richard Petty.

NASCAR's Grand National drivers rolled into Spartanburg, SC's Piedmont Interstate Fairgrounds on June 2, 1961 for a 200-lap, 100-mile race. A Who's Who of NASCAR legends made up most of the top 10 starters.
  •  Joe Weatherly in Bud Moore's Pontiac won the pole. 
  • Cotton Owens started alongside Little Joe. 
  • NASCAR Hall of Famer Buck Baker and Jack Smith made up row 2.
  • Another pair of NASCAR Hall of Famers, Ned Jarrett and Junior Johnson, timed 5th and 6th.
  • Yet another NASCAR Hall of Fame duo, Rex White and Richard Petty, started in the 4th row.
  • Doug Cox and Darel Dieringer rounded out the top 10.
Source: Spartanburg Herald via Google News Archive
When the race began, Owens beat pole-winner Weatherly to the first turn. He was able to power around Little Joe, and Cotton led the first five laps. Weatherly got his groove back, and he passed Owens on the sixth lap and built a comfortable lead as he paced the field for about the first third of the race.

Hometown hotshoe Cotton continued his pursuit of Weatherly. Around lap 70, Owens put a bump-and-run on Weatherly as he took the lead. Weatherly spun, and he then wiped out Richard Petty as he attempted to get going back in the right direction. Both were done for the night.

Once Weatherly and Petty parked their cars, Cotton began his domination of the remainder of the race. With a few laps to go and the checkers in sight, however, Owens broke a wheel - likely related somehow to the earlier incident with Weatherly. Maybe, maybe not.

Either way, Cotton's misfortune meant good times for Jim Paschal in Julian Petty's #14 Pontiac. Paschal took the lead from Cotton and nabbed his first victory in three years. Prior to Spartanburg, Paschal's last GN win was in July 1958 in a Chevrolet at McCormick Field in Asheville, NC  - coincidentally fielded by Julian.

Cotton limped along to settle for second - two laps down to Paschal. Maurice Petty finished third for his best career finish as a driver. Chief started near the end of the field, and his 3rd place finish came with an assist from his older brother. Richard took over Maurice's #41 Plymouth in relief after his own Plymouth was sidelined following the wreck with Weatherly.

Source: Spartanburg Herald via Google News Archive

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