David Pearson notched 18 wins for the Wood Brothers' famed #21 team over the two-year stretch of 1973-1974. He only won three races, however, during 1975 in the Purolator Mercury. The team was ready to prove the single digit number of wins was an anomaly vs. the new norm.
Cale Yarborough began 1975 as his third season with Junior Johnson's Chevy team. Like Pearson, he bagged a double-digit number of wins in 1974 - but slipped to only three victories in 1975. Cale, Junior, and Herb Nab were ready for another shot at knocking King Richard off his throne in 1976.
The Winston Cup drivers rolled into North Wilkesboro in early April for the Gwyn Staley 400, the seventh race of the 1976 season.
The King rebounded nicely from Daytona. The crew thrashed on the wrecked 43, towed it to Rockingham two weeks later, and celebrated as Petty won the Carolina 500 in the rebuilt Dodge. Dave Marcis nabbed a win at Richmond, and Cale put a whuppin' on the field at Bristol.
Wilkesboro was slotted as the third short-track event in the first seven races of the season. The scarce number of short track races now compared to the abundance of them then has robbed today's fan base of some legendary racing facilities, rivalries, and driver skills.
On race day, a thunderstorm kept many folks in their cars and trucks until closer to race time. Once the weather moved to the east, folks headed for the gates. Track employees were stubbing tickets as quickly as they could. Assisting them was NASCAR's president, Bill France Jr. - on his birthday no less!
Prior to the start of the race, track officials recognized Wilkesboro legend, former driver, and car owner Junior Johnson by renaming a new section of backstretch grandstands in his honor.
|Source: High Point Enterprise|
|Credit to & courtesy of Keith Hall|
|Credit: Mickey York|