Before its demise in 1981, however, OMS hosted some solid races. One of those events was the 1977 Los Angeles Times 500, the season-ender for the Cup series.
Other than his Petty Blue Plymouths of 1966-67, the 1974 body style Charger was perhaps Petty's best race car. When Petty drove onto Ontario's surface, it would be the next to last time the Charger raced. The Level Cross bunch prep'd the car just one more time for a Cup ride in the 1978 season-opener at Riverside International Raceway road course.
Stacy bought the team in the off season between the end of 1976 and beginning of 1977. Marcis was not re-signed, and Bonnett was given the opportunity to race the car. Stacy continued to use #71 in the early part of the season. At mid-season, he changed to number 5. Bonnett notched a few poles and got his first Cup win at Richmond, but the team was otherwise inconsistent on a week-to-week basis.
|Source: Ocala Star Banner via Google News Archive|
Eleven different drivers had their time out front. Many of them led on multiple occasions, and many led for only single-digit segments. Lap leaders included the expected such as: Petty, Pearson, Bonnett, and Cale Yarborough. Others had their day in the shade as well including James Hylton, rookie Ricky Rudd, James Hylton and even Janet Guthrie.
It's amazing to reflect back to the day when two (eventual) seven-time champions - The King in Cup and Super Tex in USAC - were in the same race.
Neil would not be passed again. He led the remaining five laps and claimed his first career superspeedway win. Petty who had last won at Daytona on July 4, 1977, extended his wait to another day to win his next one. What the King obviously couldn't have anticipated was that he'd have to wait a full season and then some before notching win number 193 in the legendary 1979 Daytona 500.
|Source: Richard Guido|
Though the win was a huge boost to Bonnett's career and a near-miss for Petty, the larger story perhaps was Cale Yarborough's claim to his second consecutive Winston Cup title. His nine wins and 25 top 5's in 30 races remains among the top seasons of all time. Though Cale had accumulated enough points to clinch the title over Petty as the runner-up, Yarborough's title became official when he crossed the line in third place at Ontario.
|Source: Reading Eagle via Google News Archive|