Thursday, March 25, 2021

March 25, 1967 - Greenville 200

NASCAR's Grand National division rolled into South Carolina on Easter Saturday for the eighth race of the 1967 season for the Greenville 200 at Greenville-Pickens Speedway. 

Looming over the early part of the season was a potential Chrysler boycott - just two years removed from when big names such as Richard Petty and David Pearson were sidelined as part of their factory alliance. Once again, the Mopar Brass wasn't happy with NASCAR and its allowances for Ford Motor Company. If Chrysler boycotted again, the Petty team would be parked as would Cotton Owens' team with Pearson. Rumors began to surface that both teams might consider leaving Chrysler though denials from both camps soon followed.

Dick Hutcherson won the pole in Bondy Long's Ford (which likely added to Chrysler's boiling point). Three-time Greenville winner Pearson joined him on the front row in Owens' Dodge. Pearson banked two of his three Greenville wins the previous season and was going for three in a row. Elmo Langley, Big John Sears, and Jim Paschal rounded out the top five starters. 

Pearson got the jump on Hutcherson at the start and led the first 74 laps before a caution for a two-car spin sent the drivers to the pits. Sixth-place starter, Richard Petty, received great pit service and put the 43 in the lead as the race returned to green. 

Unfortunately, Petty collided with Hutcherson as they exited the pits. Though King took the top spot, he faded after a couple of laps because of damage from the pit exit collision. About 20 laps or so later, Petty's Plymouth became more than a handful. The car swapped ends in turn four, and he found himself looking directly at oncoming traffic. That was it for the King, and the Plymouth was loaded on the trailer for the trip back to Level Cross.

Throughout the second half of the race, Hutcherson pursued Pearson in an attempt to get the lead. Pearson's Dodge never surrendered, however, and Hutcherson began to fade a bit as the race neared its end. 

Pearson had a dominant night to capture his third consecutive Greenville win, his second in a row after winning at Bristol, and the 30th of his GN career. He led all but two laps - the two led by Petty near halfway. Paschal finished second as Hutcherson faded to seventh with a bum wheel.

The win turned out to be Pearson's final one for Cotton Owens and his last in a Dodge. A disagreement, a misunderstanding, a difference of opinion, or whatever it was about a month of so after their Greenville win, Owens released Pearson. After missing a few races, Pearson then linked up with the famed Holman-Moody team - a move that kept his mojo going in the final years of the 1960s.

Source: Greenville News


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