Wednesday, July 27, 2016

July 27, 1968 - Nashville 400

Music City USA. The Ryman Auditorium. Chet Atkins' and Owen Bradley's Nashville Sound. Printers Alley. And the Nashville fairgrounds - home of the Tennessee State Fair and Fairgrounds Speedway.

Throughout the 1960s, Nashville generally hosted one NASCAR Grand National race per season (though two were scheduled each year in 1964-65).  Richard Petty was looking to bank his fifth consecutive win at the track in the 1968 Nashville 400.

The King's - and by extension the Petty Enterprises team's - Nashville stats should have qualified him for a gold record. Gold record? Music City? OK, never mind, I'll see myself out...

From 1962 through 1967, the Petty Plymouth team won all seven races entered - two by Jim Paschal and five by Petty. For extra measure, Paschal won the 1961 race for car owner and Richard's uncle, Julian Petty, and Paschal and Petty picked up a couple of P2 finishes in races where a teammate won.

Petty fans likely thought another Nashville victory was King's for the taking. Apparently, the other drivers in the field didn't get that memo. Bobby Allison also didn't get the memo that drivers needed to wear their uniform for a promotional photo shoot.

Source: The Tennessean
Petty's car arrived in Nashville at the Mercury Motel on Murfreesboro Road with a slightly different look. The Mercury Motel was the traditional lodging spot for the Petty team (and a few other drivers) and the location for the Middle Tennessee Petty Fan Club Chapter Meeting.

The 43 Plymouth sported a white roof and C-pillars. The purpose of the white paint was allegedly to help cool the car a bit with the expected scorching July temps.

Credit: Mike "BigMike312" Hodges
The team also ran a white roof along with a white hood three weeks earlier in the Firecracker 400 at Daytona. Supposedly, the paint had some texture to it rather than a smooth coat. The idea was to help improve the flow of air over and around the car.

The King picked up where he'd left off at the fairgrounds in 1967 by winning the pole. Bobby Allison qualified second in his Chevrolet, and David Pearson claimed the inside of the second row in third. Bobby Isaac and Elmo Langley rounded out the top five starters.

Jack Marlin - Coo Coo's brother and Sterling's uncle - qualified 14th and finished 10th in his one and only career GN/Cup start.

Courtesy of Russ Thompson
At the drop of the green, Petty's Hemi-powered Plymouth took off as if he knew a little something about how to get around the place. He led the first 131 laps before taking a breather for a pit stop.

After surrendering the lead to Pearson for a couple of laps, Petty went back to the point where he led for another 100-lap stretch. Because of an issue with how his carburetor was set, Petty ended up burning fuel at a quicker pace than Pearson's Holman Moody Ford. As a result, Petty made his second pit stop several laps earlier than Pearson - and under green. He lost a couple of laps during this stop but planned to get them back when Pearson's 17 had to stop.

As Pearson got ready to make his second stop around lap 250, the caution flew. This allowed him to get service from the Dick Hutcherson-led crew and maintain his lead over Petty. Once the green flag returned, Pearson was able to stay comfortably out front.

With about 100 laps to go, rain arrived - a typical occurrence on many muggy summer nights in middle Tennessee. The decision was made to red flag and then call the race official after 301 laps. Pearson was declared the winner, and Petty finished second three laps down to the winner.

The 1968 Nashville 400 was Pearson's only victory at at Nashville. The race was also the 24th of 63 times Petty and Pearson finished one-two.

Source: The Tennessean
Source: The Tennessean

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Michael Waltrip fan base has changed. Right?

On July 24, 1993, Schaefer co-founder Philly and I headed for a weekend of camping and racing at Talladega. The headline event was Sunday's DieHard 500. In tow was one of Philly's co-workers headed to his first NASCAR race.

He knew little about racing and didn't have a favorite driver. As we headed south on I-59 towards Gadsden, I asked him where he was from. When he responded Owensboro, Kentucky, I paused, looked at Philly, and smirked a bit like Ferris Bueller breaking the fourth wall. I looked back at him and said "I've got the driver for you. Michael Waltrip. He is from Owensboro."

To his credit, he was open-minded about his newly assigned favorite driver. Philly and I then formed an unspoken covenant that we'd drain his wallet with purchases of Mikey swag.

After we settled into our campsite amongst the trees behind turn two and away from the rowdies that prowled the wide open spaces behind the back stretch, we headed for Saturday's Busch race and then the souvenir trailers.

In those days, souvenir row was positioned along Speedway Boulevard across from the track's main entrance. Our eyes roamed to and fro looking for what should have been the easily identifiable, vibrant yellow, Pennzoil emblazoned trailer featuring a boo-coodle of Mikey Merch.

Earnhardt had what seemed to be about a dozen trailers. The noob, Jeff Gordon, had his stuff sold at a handful of trailers as well. The other predictable trailers were there as well hawking gear for drivers such as Mark Martin, Rusty Wallace, Daytona 500 winner Dale Jarrett, Darrell Waltrip, etc.

As we roamed about the beaten-down grass, I still vaguely remember scalding my mouth with a cup of Maxwell House coffee. Why a cup of coffee in late July in the heat and humidity of central Alabama? Well, one - they sponsored Sterling Marlin. Reason enough, right?

But also - duh - it was free! Well, that plus the consumption of a prodigious amount of beer during the Busch race and a copious supply of stupidity. But I digress...

The search for Michael's gear soon grew weary. I was sweating like a hack poker player and had scar tissue forming inside my mouth from my free cup of joe. I headed for one of Kyle Petty's Mello Yello trailers for a transaction and an answer to a question.

A few weeks before the race, I'd won a Kyle Petty jacket on a Chattanooga sports talk radio show. One problem: it was a medium. I laughed at medium after about two semesters in college - yet the jacket was free.

I explained my situation to the guy at the Mello Yello trailer, and he was superb with customer service. "No problem. Whadda ya want? XL? *pitch* There ya go man." Boom, that easy. With a big grin, I shook off the lisp from my scalded tongue and dehydration from my multiple adult beverages to ask a legit question. "Can you help out my bud here? He's a big fan of Mikey. But we can't find his trailer out here anywhere. Are we just overlooking it - have you spotted it?"

The dude went from Mr. Gregarious to the scene from Casino when DeNiro and Pesci believe the FBI can read lips from a distance. His reply still makes me laugh to this day: "Naw, there ain't one here. Mikey has a lot of good lookin' stuff. He just ain't got any fans."

It was the line of a lifetime. In 1993, no one quite frankly could argue with him. Our new Mikey fan got off without spending any money on a shirt, hat, koozie, die-cast, seat cushion, jacket, decal, anything. Fast forward a few years, and Mikey did build a sizable fan base. He did it through hard work, some wins, and a sizable dose of campiness.

As the 2016 season began, it was indeed different. The field did not feature Michael Waltrip on a regular basis - as a driver or as an owner. The new guy was prepared to buy Mikey's gear that day in '93, not me. Yet, Michael has been a part of Cup racing for over two decades.

He is certainly still a part of NASCAR with his commentary during televised truck races and FOX Sports' pre-race grid walks. Many seem to love what he does - but he has also has a ton of detractors. As Dale Earnhardt once said "At least they’re making noise. It’s when they stop making noise that you know something’s wrong.”


Thursday, July 21, 2016

July 21, 1964 - Pennsylvania 200

From the late 1950s through the late 1960s, NASCAR's Grand National division supplemented its largely Southern-based schedule with a trip through states such as Maine, Pennsylvania, New York, and New Jersey. Races on the "Northern Tour" were often promoted by Ed Otto, a senior NASCAR official, equity partner and successful promoter north of the Mason-Dixon line.

In 1964, Billy Wade made the Northern Tour his own. Driving a Mercury for owner Bud Moore, Wade won four consecutive races in July at Old Bridge, NJ; the road course at Bridgehampton, NY; Islip, NY on Long Island; and another road course at Watkins Glen. Lincoln Speedway in New Oxford, PA presented Billy and Bud the opportunity to make a five-race clean sweep.

The Pennsylvania 200 on Lincoln's half-mile track was the only dirt race on the Northern Tour in 1964. Although Otto promoted many of the northern races, Hilly Rife handled the Lincoln races. The track hosted seven GN races from 1955 through 1965. Lee Petty won the track's 200-lap race in 1958.

David Pearson won the pole in Cotton Owens' Dodge. In what turned out to be his final career GN start, Bob Welborn qualified on the front row alongside Pearson in a Holman Moody Ford. Welborn was a three-time NASCAR convertible division champion in the 1950s. He also won 28 combined races in the ragtop and GN divisions - many with Julian Petty, brother of Lee Petty and uncle of Richard.

NASCAR Hall of Famers Richard Petty and Ned Jarrett made up the second row, and Doug Cooper qualified an impressive fifth. Interestingly, Wade wasn't in the field. For unknown reasons, Bud Moore did not bring Wade's Mercury to Lincoln despite the four-race winning streak and a ton of momentum. The Tuesday Lincoln race was only two days after the Sunday Watkins Glen race. Perhaps Moore's team and car were simply too worn out after four wins - or perhaps Rife offered only minimal show money - or perhaps Bud simply wanted the additional time to prepare for the race after Lincoln, the Volunteer 500 at Bristol.

At the drop of the green, Welborn took off and grabbed the lead. He drove as if he was re-living his glory years. It helped he was at the wheel of a Ford prep'd by the same team that built cars for drivers such as Fred Lorenzen and Fireball Roberts. Interestingly though, Welborn drove the sole Holman Moody car in the race.

Welborn embraced his role as the lap bully. He led the first 125 laps as Petty and Pearson stayed on his heels and kept him honest. On the 126th lap, Pearson got around Welborn and brought Petty's #41 Plymouth with him. Petty had wrecked his 43 Plymouth at the Glen two days earlier. He likely drove his dad's #41 that Lee raced at the Glen in what turned out to be his final career start.

Pearson and Petty then began to pull away a bit from Welborn and the rest of the field. Perhaps in a case of overdriving to catch the leaders, Welborn smacked the wall at lap 145. He managed to get the damaged car to the pits, and a relief driver took over as the team attempted to repair the Ford as best they could.

In the end, however, the repairs nor the driver change made a difference. About 30 laps after Welborn's wreck, his Ford lost an engine. The car was done for the day after dominating more than half the race.

With Welborn sidelined, Pearson and Petty laid waste to the rest of the field and settled the race amongst themselves. Pearson's Dodge had already opened a gap on Petty's Plymouth when both made their final pit stops. Pearson's Cotton Owens-led crew was a bit quicker than the Petty team, and the difference provided the Silver Fox even more margin to manage down the stretch.

At the checkers, Pearson won with a comfortable lead over second place Petty. The two were the only remaining cars on the lead lap. Third place finisher Jimmy Pardue was six laps down to the first two cars. The race was the seventh of 63 times Petty and Pearson finished in the top two spots.

Source: Illustrated Speedway News

Monday, July 4, 2016

July 4, 1974 - Firecracker 400 - That's 3!

I've historically thought of snooker as a billiards game. The word, however, can also sometimes be skillfully applied to motorsports.

Daytona's annual Firecracker 400 in 1974 was scheduled as it had been since the first one in 1959: on the 4th of July. Regardless of the day of the week on which the 4th fell, the Firecracker began at 10 AM on Independence Day. In 1974, the race was run on a Thursday morning.

Four drivers won the season's first fifteen races:
  • Bobby Allison, 1
  • David Pearson, 4 in only nine starts
  • Richard Petty, 5 
  • Cale Yarborough, 6
Pearson was the two-time defending champion of the Firecracker and the winner of Talladega's Winston 500. Petty had finished second in the Firecracker three consecutive years (twice to Pearson), captured the Daytona 500 in the second race of the season, and finished third at Talladega. Clearly all eyes were on the #43 STP Dodge Charger and #21 Purolator Mercury.

The race included the normal cast of NASCAR regulars. In addition to them, two USAC regulars  - A.J. Foyt and Johnny Rutherford - joined the fray. Rutherford was making his second of three NASCAR starts in 1973.. He won the Indianapolis 500 six weeks before the Firecracker and the Schaefer 500 at Pocono few days earlier.

Pearson won the pole, and Bobby Allison flanked him in his Roger Penske-owned, Coca-Cola sponsored Matador. Donnie Allison qualified third in his DiGard Chevy, and Charlie Glotzbach timed a pleasantly surprising fourth in Junie Donlavey's famed #90 Ford. Petty nabbed the sixth starting spot.

The competition was intense all day long. Bobby Allison launched from his front row starting spot to lead lap 1. Buddy Baker in Bud Moore's Ford then led laps 2 and 3. Bobby decided he liked the look of the top spot, and he went back in the lead for another couple of laps. And so it continued all morning.

Rutherford brought out the first caution after losing an engine and spinning in his own oil.

Source: Daytona Beach Morning Journal via Google News Archive
Once the car stopped, the normally open wheeled driver took the rare opportunity to stand on the roof of his car to signal his crew all was OK. JR looked, however, a bit like Ricky Bobby up there: Help me Tom Cruise! Help me Oprah!

Source: Spokesman Review via Google News Archive
Fans witnessed 48 lead changes among 9 drivers. Only twice in the 160-lap race did a driver's lead last for 10 more more laps. And neither of the two "large" lead segments lasted more than 14 laps.

With about 15 laps to go, Pearson took the lead from Baker and brought Petty with him in the draft. The two titans and career rivals then began to pull away from Baker and Cale Yarborough.

Immediately after Pearson took the white flag, he slowed dramatically and pulled to the inside. Petty kept his foot on the floorboard, swept around the Wood Brothers Mercury, and pulled a sizable lead down the backstretch.

Many sensed Pearson's car had dropped a cylinder or cut a tire. Instead, he simply lagged a bit and showed no signs of a developing engine or tire problem. As the two barreled through turns three and four, Pearson closed the gap he intentionally had opened. Then coming through the tri-oval, Pearson used the draft to sling-shot past Petty for the win.

Source: Southern Illinoisan
ABC aired a condensed version of the race a few weeks later. Here is the final two laps with accompanying audio by Ken Squier and Barney Hall of MRN.

Lost perhaps a bit at the time because of the Petty-Pearson battle was the race for third. Baker and Cale raced side by side much of the last lap - though they trailed the first two by a quarter to half a lap. As the two headed for the stripe, Baker's Ford was on the outside with Cale's Junior Johnson Chevy to his inside. Cale leveraged the draft to pull even with Baker. At the stripe, however, the two literally tied. Had today's technology been available then, it's possible NASCAR could have determined who finished ahead of whom. With the cameras and scoring technologies available, however, no one could determine who got the edge. The tie remains the only one in the NASCAR history books.

Source: Daytona USA by William Neely
While the King had to settle for his fourth consecutive second-place finish in the Firecracker and left over birthday cake, Pearson went to victory lane for the third straight year. Once there, he got the trophy, a peck from Miss Winston, and a fresh cig.

Barry McDermott covered the race for Sports Illustrated for SI's July 15, 1974 issue. Also, Ed Hinton, long-time motorsports writer, retired in 2014. On his way to retirement, he reflected upon his first race to see in person and his first race to cover as a professional writer: the 1974 Firecracker.

Petty was physically hot from having just raced 400 miles on a Florida summer morning. He was also hot at having been snookered by Pearson in the way that he did and likely for having finished second in the race for the fourth consecutive year.

Source: Spartanburg Herald Journal via Google News Archive
Two days after the race, however, Petty and Pearson met again during an appearance at Piedmont Interstate Fairgrounds in Spartanburg, SC as a fund raiser for the Greenville Shriners Hospital. Though I'm not sure all was forgotten, the two career rivals and long-time friends were friendly and in a joking manner.

Source: Spartanburg Herald Journal via Google News Archive

July 4, 1973 - Firecracker 400 - That's 2

The 1973 NASCAR Winston Cup season consisted of only 28 races. The total tied with 1985 as the fewest number of races in the modern era (1972 to present) and third overall behind the first two seasons in 1949-1950.

Daytona's Firecracker 400 was often the mid-point of the season. In 1973, however, the race represented the 17th of the year's 28-race schedule.

The year opened with the late Mark Donohue winning on Riverside's road course for Roger Penske, Donohue's first and only Cup victory. The King, Richard Petty, won his then-unmatched fourth Daytona 500 and tallied three more wins between the two Daytona races.

The story of the season, however, was David Pearson and his #21 Wood Brothers team. Running a limited schedule, the Purolator Mercury team raced in only 10 of the season's first 16 races. Yet Pearson won seven of his ten starts. Even more impressively, those seven wins came in the previous eight starts - with Pearson nabbing a second at the only race he didn't win during that streak.

Bobby Allison won the pole for the Firecracker - his first for a Daytona race. He'd win one other pole at the speedway in his career, the 1981 Daytona 500. Allison dominated the race but lost it to Petty's 43 on an epic pit call by Dale Inman. *snicker*

Cale Yarborough, a two-time, back-to-back winner of the Firecracker in 1967-68, qualified second alongside Allison followed by Bobby Isaac in Bud Moore's Ford. Petty, who celebrated his 36th birthday two days before the race and had finished second in the 400 the past two years, qualified fourth. Independent driver from Columbia, TN, Coo Coo Marlin, laid down a fantastic lap to earn the fifth starting spot. Pearson, the defending winner of the race, lined up beside Marlin in sixth.

Two USAC Indy car regulars, Gordon Johncock and A.J. Foyt, started 16th and 18th respectively. Both had quick cars but were ineligible for a top starting spot because they missed the first day of qualifying on Sunday, July 1. Both were in Pennsylvania for the running of the Schaefer 500 at Pocono, a race won by Foyt.

Allison got the jump as the race went green and led the first lap. Isaac battled back, took the lead, and then led laps two and three.

Source: The Pantagraph
From there, four drivers led the remaining 157 laps: Allison, Pearson, Petty, and Yarborough. But fans witnessed twenty-five lead changes throughout the morning on the 4th of July.

Despite leading 33 laps early in the race, Yarborough's day was done after 65 laps. He blew a tire coming through the tri-oval, pounded the fence head first, and was done for the day.

Next to fall by the wayside was the pole winner Allison. After losing an engine in his self-owned, Coca-Cola sponsored Chevrolet, he was done after 125 laps.

With two of their biggest competitors in the garage with DNFs, Petty and Pearson took the rest of the field to the woodshed. The two drafted each other and swapped the lead every few laps the remaining 150 miles.

As per usual, the Petty Enterprises and Wood Brothers crews nailed their jobs. This ensured the two legends would settle the race on the track rather than have one prevail because of a miscue on pit road. If whoever captioned the following photo for Getty Images is correct, the race was the first time the second generation Wood, Eddie, went over the wall as a crew member.

The career rivals separated themselves from the field. They hammered down and eventually lapped the field - including the third place car by four laps. As the white flag fell, Pearson was comfortably in front of Petty - but still may have been wondering about the possibility of the King's pulling a slingshot by him. With a restrictor plate on his big block hemi, however, Petty's STP Charger didn't have the needed punch. Pearson continued his lead all the way to the checkers, and he won the Firecracker by about six car lengths.

Source: Daytona Beach Morning Journal
Buddy Baker in the #71 K&K Insurance Dodge prepared by legendary crew chief Harry Hyde finished third. Johncock, the winner of the star-crossed and solemn Indianapolis 500 two months earlier, finished fourth in Hoss Ellington's Chevy. Finishing a very impressive 8th was country music singer and part-time Cup racer, Marty Robbins. Unfortunately, Coo Coo Marlin was not able to capitalize on his prime starting spot. He lost an engine only 35 laps into the race and finished 38th in the 40-car field.

Pearson headed to victory lane for the eighth time in eleven starts in '73. The King had to have scratched his head wondering "what the...?" after finishing second for the third consecutive year.

Source: Warren Times Mirror and Observer
A week after Pearson's win at Daytona, his hometown of Spartanburg, SC saluted him on David Pearson Appreciation Day.

Following a parade through town, approximately 1,200 folks stuffed Spartanburg's Memorial Auditorium for a meal and entertainment. As a sign of "that's racing, no hard feelings", the King was one of many racers who attended the event.

Source: Spartanburg Herald via Google News Archive

Another racer attending the shin-dig also provided the featured entertainment. Marty Robbins who finished eighth at Daytona sang several songs and quipped "This is as close as I'll ever get to David Pearson going across the finish line." Spartanburg songwriter Joe Bennett also performed his song Little David. Come on internet, cough up an MP3 of this single!


July 4, 1972 - Firecracker 400 - That's 1

David Pearson started the 1972 Winston Cup season without a guaranteed, solid ride. He finished 26th in the season opener at Riverside, California's road course and fourth in the season's sixth race, the Atlanta 500. In both races, Pearson drove Bud Moore's #15 Ford.

Meanwhile, the Wood Brothers continued with A.J. Foyt in their #21 Mercury in 1972 after several successful races together in 1971. Super Tex and the Woods were magic in their first four races of 1972:
  • won the pole at Riverside, 
  • won the Daytona 500, 
  • won the pole and the race at Ontario, and 
  • finished 2nd in the Atlanta 500.
Foyt, however, needed to turn his attention to preparing for the Indianapolis 500. He chose to step away from the 21 ride. Glen and Leonard Wood phoned David Pearson to see if he'd be interested in driving for them. The rest, as they say, is history.

Pearson won the pole and the race in his first start with the Woods, the Rebel 500 at Darlington. Pearson also captured wins at Talladega and Michigan as the Cup season hit its midpoint.

The Cup teams returned to Daytona for the Firecracker 400 - the traditional beginning of the second half of the season. The race was held on Tuesday, July 4th.

Source: Motor Racing Programme Covers
The grand marshal for the race was Don Shula, the head coach of the the Miami Dolphins. Shula's experience at witnessing the speed, sounds, smells and incredible competition dropped his jaw. The day may have also inspired him to become an even better as coach as well. A few months after teh Firecracker race, Shula coached the Dolphins to a 17-0, Super Bowl-winning season.

Source: Colorado Springs Gazette
Bobby Isaac, the 1971 Firecracker winner, won the pole for the 400 with Pearson qualifying on the outside of the front row. Petty Enterprises and STP Dodge teammates Richard Petty and Buddy Baker made up the second row. Bobby Allison rounded out the top five starters.

Isaac and his Harry Hyde-led Dodge team arrived in Daytona a bit like the walking wounded.
  • Isaac was nursing a broken rib suffered in a golf cart accident.
  • Hyde was awaiting knee surgery to repair damaged cartilage.
  • Hyde injured his thumb with a drill bit after arriving in Daytona.
  • Crewman Buddy Parrott's broken jaw was wired shut after a diving board accident.
  • Crewman Harlan Cox couldn't work the race because of a slipped disc.
Despite the multiple injuries, the #71 team didn't get much sympathy from folks in the garage. Quite the contrary - at least by Pearson who took a good natured jab at Isaac after time trials:
I never worry about Isaac. I can beat him even if his car stays together. The way he looks now, his crew's in such bad shape he needs an ambulance instead of a race car.
At the drop of the green, Baker drafted by both of the front row starters to lead lap 1. Pearson returned the favor to lead lap 2, and the duo repeated process for laps 3 and 4.

For the first half of the race, fans saw much of the same. Baker, Pearson, Allison, Petty, and Isaac all swapped the lead. Only three times did a leader hold serve for more than a single-digit number of laps - and all three times it was Pearson.

Halfway was all Isaac had to offer. Engine woes put the 71 out of commission and on the trailer early. His DNF also continued the Firecracker pole winner curse. From 1959 through 1972, the pole winner had never won the race.

As the race neared the 100-lap mark, the twin STP Dodges showed the way. Baker found his way back to the front for a few laps, and then the King pulled the lead for a 10-lap stretch. Then, as often happened in Baker's career, misfortune whacked him upside his noggin. He blew a tire in the second turn. The shredded tire knocked the oil filter off Baker's red #11 Dodge, and he was doomed to a 24th place DNF.

The final sixty laps were dominated by the trio of Pearson, Petty and Allison. Pearson wanted to do all he could to set the pace, and he led a bit more than half of those remaining laps. Petty wasn't done though. With 25 to go, Petty put the day-glo red and Petty blue Charger in the wind for a stretch of 11 laps. Allison let the two know that his Junior Johnson-prepared Coke Machine was going to have a say in the finish, and he passed Petty to lead 4-lap segment. But the 43 Hemi found another gear, and the King re-assumed the lead with about 10 to go.

As Petty and Allison went toe-to-toe, Pearson watched from third. Then with about five to do, he put his research to work. He drafted by both of them and sailed into the lead yet again. Petty made a final pursuit on the last lap. He closed up as he and Pearson sailed down the backstretch, and he tried to side draft the 21's outside as they came through the tri-oval. But it was not to be. Pearson kept the Purolator Mercury glued to the inside and nipped Petty at the line by about a half a car-length.

The victory was Pearson's first full-length race win at Daytona since the 1961 Firecracker 250. (He also won two Daytona 500 qualifying races in the 1960s that counted as official races in that era.) Pearson knew he had a strong car, but he also thought Petty might made a stronger and/or earlier move to grab the win away from him at the last moment. The race was the 45th of 63 times Petty and Pearson finished in the top two spots.

Source: The Gaffney Ledger