Sunday, July 23, 2017

July 23, 1972 - Dixie 500

The recently released 2018 Cup schedule included no new tracks; however, a few races were moved around during the calendar and from one track to another. One notable change was the movement of the Chicagoland race from the first race of the playoffs to July 1, a week before Daytona's summer race.

Soon after the announcement, fans began to chirp about how hot it's expected to be in Joliet on a July day. Seriously.

Genuinely hot races of NASCAR's salad days included the daytime Firecracker 400 at Daytona, the Talladega 500 in July and August, and Atlanta's Dixie 500 before it was moved to November. One such Dixie 500 was held on July 23, 1972.

Source: Motor Racing Programme Covers
The 1972 season was the second one sponsored as the Winston Cup Series by R.J. Reynolds but the first with a significantly reduced schedule. Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, the length of NASCAR's Grand National division schedules ranged from 45 to 60+ races. With RJR coming aboard, the schedule was trimmed to 31 races in 1972.

The season was largely controlled by three drivers: Richard Petty and Bobby Allison in full-time efforts and David Pearson in an abbreviated schedule with the Wood Brothers. Petty was the two-time defending winner of the Dixie 500 in 1970 and 1971, and Allison won the Atlanta 500 earlier in the season.

A few days before the race, Petty joked with a few writers by reminding them to tell fans not to forget their blankets for the race. Blankets in July? "They're not for the temperature. But folks might want to throw a blanket over the finish. That's how close things are."

Pearson captured the pole - his second in seven starts with the Woods. Bobby Isaac qualified alongside him in the #71 K&K Insurance, Harry Hyde-prepared Dodge Charger. Allison, Coo Coo Marlin, and Petty rounded out the top five starters.

On Saturday night before Sunday's race, the track hosted a country music concert. Ferlin Huskey, Ray Price, Don Gibson, Donna Fargo, and fellow racer Marty Robbins entertained the fans and apparently a few drivers in a matinee and an evening show.

Everyone deals with heat and humidity in their own way. Independent, life-of-the-party driver Joe Frasson handled the southern, summer climate by downing beer poured into his hat!

Donnie Allison raced a few times for Bud Moore in 1972 - the ride Pearson vacated after two starts earlier in the year before joining the Wood Brothers. For most of the 1970s and into the early 80s, Bud's #15 Fords were always plain white. In 1972, however, he painted them butterscotch yellow.

The race was highly competitive throughout its first half. The top five starters along with Donnie Allison and a couple of others swapped the lead regularly. No lead lasted longer than a single-digit number of laps other than two segments when Pearson held serve for 47 and 13 laps, respectively.

In the middle stages of the race, Pearson put his #21 Mercury into the wind and decided to keep it there. Whereas the first part of the race saw many lead changes, the middle third saw Pearson pull the field around Atlanta lap after lap after lap. He was seeking his first Atlanta win since the 1961 Dixie 400, his third career victory.

Around lap 230, the skies could no longer hold the mugginess of the day. Showers arrived, and a yellow flag flew for the damp track. Today's crew chiefs have all sorts of weather technology at their disposal. In 1972, however, teams had to survey the skies and read the winds. Glen and Leonard Wood believed plenty of rain was on the way, the race would soon be called, and Pearson would be declared the winner.

As a result, the Woods chose not to have Pearson pit. The Junior Johnson and Dale Inman led teams of Allison and Petty believed otherwise. Both were called to pit road.

Sure enough, the rain was short-lived. With one to go before returning to green, Pearson was called to pit road after all. He got fresh tires and a load of fuel, but he lost a lot of track position.

Allison took off with Petty in pursuit. Pearson was about a half-lap behind the duo after his team's weather gamble failed to pay off. With a quarter of the race left to go and still some uncertainty about the weather, Pearson picked up his pace. But in doing so, he burned a valve in his Mercury's engine. Down on power, he cruised the rest of the race. He still managed a third place finish albeit three laps down to the winner.

Petty was a three-time winner of the Dixie 500 - all in a Plymouth. He was looking for his first Atlanta win after Petty Enterprises converted to Mopar's Dodge brand. But Allison had the mojo in his Coca-Cola Machine.

The #12 Chevrolet stretched the lead over Petty's Dodge and led 90 of the race's remaining 92 laps. Allison took a comfortable win over second place Petty - the only two cars on the lead lap at the finish.

The win was Allison's third in a row after having won at Trenton Speedway and Bristol. He also swept Atlanta's races in 1972. The race was the 13th of 24 times Petty and Allison were the top two finishers.

Source: Free Lance Star via Google News Archive


Thursday, July 20, 2017

July 20, 1975 - Nashville 420

From 1975 through its final Cup race in 1984, Nashville's fairgrounds speedway was slotted as the next race following Daytona's Firecracker 400. The drivers went from the 2-1/2 mile superspeedway to the 5/8 mile, 18-degree banked short track in middle Tennessee. Coincidentally, the two tracks opened within about six months of one another - Nashville in August 1958 and Daytona in February 1959.

The 1975 edition of the Nashville 420 was slated for July 19th - about 2 weeks after the Firecracker and a bit of a season's breather for the teams.

Richard Petty was The Man in 1975. He had won 8 of the season's first 16 races - including the race before Nashville, the Firecracker 400. The King hit on one streak where the STP Dodge won five of 7 races, including three in a row.

Cale Yarbough started the season in a bit of a bind. His Junior Johnson-owned team had split sponsors in 1974. The first half of the season had been sponsored by Kar-Kare, and the #11 Chevy carried the colors of Carling Black Label in the second half.

Carling was gone when the calendar turned to 1975, however, and the team had no replacement sponsor. To save costs, the team skipped the season opening race at Riverside.

When Yarborough's team arrived in Daytona, the car's official photo was made with prior year colors and no sponsor name on the side. A last minute, one-race deal with Valvoline provided Johnson's team with a few dollars to pay the tire bill, but the team's financial - and winning - challenges continued.

Johnson finally landed a  sponsor in the spring. The company was in his own back yard and had backed him a few times in his own driving days: Holly Farms Chicken.The Kar-Kare / Carling red was painted over with solid white, and a handful of Holly Farms emblems were affixed to the hood and sides.

Many of today's fans are baffled by many of NASCAR's rules, penalties, and its decision-making process in general - and rightfully so. While many are more aware of the sanctioning body's oddities in today's era because of the size of racing, social media, etc., NASCAR certainly had plenty of quirks back in the day to make one scratch his head. 

NASCAR struggled to draw full fields for its races in 1975. One reason: lack of sufficient team sponsorships. Two: woeful track purses. So what was NASCAR's decision when one sponsor offered to sweeten the purse - even if it may have benefited the sponsor's own driver? Read on in this excerpt from the July 9, 1975 edition of The Tennessean.
NASCAR has turned down an offer by the STP Corporation to donate additional prize money to the first Dodge to finish in next Saturday’s Nashville 420.

The offer was intended to help Richard Petty, an STP-sponsored driver, reach the $2 million plateau in career winnings. Petty, who needs $10,172 to break the $2 million barrier, is one of only five Dodge drivers who generally make the 40-car lineup for Grand National races.

The winner’s share of the Nashville 420 is $6,085. Petty, however, can take no more than $5,485 as $600 of the total purse is posted by STP, and Petty’s earnings from the sponsoring corporation cannot be counted in his official winnings.

Yesterday’s offer of $5,000 in additional prize money to the highest finishing Dodge driver was flatly rejected by NASCAR. Lin Kuchler, Executive Vice President of the governing body, told Nashville Speedway promoter Bill Donoho permission for such an offer would be granting special favors to the Dodge drivers.

“They said they would not permit STP to boost the prize money, so it looks like Petty won’t have a chance to win his $2 million on this track,” said Donoho. Petty will likely reach the $2 million mark in the Aug. 3 Pocono 500, next stop on the Grand National circuit after Nashville.

Ironically, Petty narrowly missed another milestone on the local track as the first driver to win $1 million in 1971. Petty won the Nashville 420 that year but left town still $2,357 short of the $1 million mark. And now again it appears Petty is going to just miss making racing history on the local track. 
When the teams arrived in Nashville, Junior Johnson had added a bit of burnt orange to the hood, trunk deck, and hood of the 11. Cale also had a Monte Carlo at his disposal vs the Chevy S3 he raced on the superspeedways. The Monte became his go-to car for him as well as many others through 1980.

With his new colors, Cale and Junior were ready to get back the mojo they had for much 1974. Among their wins during the previous season was a controversial one in the Nashville 420. So the duo looked forward to repeating in 1975.

Another driver who planned to keep both Petty and Yarborough at bay was Darrell Waltrip. With a career still teetering between potential and a busted bank account, Waltrip still had his confidence. He was a two-time late model sportsman champion at Nashville and had 50+ victories at the fairgrounds. He also captured his first career Cup victory earlier in 1975 in Nashville's Music City 420.

Benny Parsons won the pole on Friday night, July 18th. Waltrip lined up alongside him. Yarborough, Petty, and Dave Marcis rounded out the top five starters.

Starting shotgun on the field in a car fielded by Bobby Allison was Neil Bonnett in only his third Cup start and his first one on a short track. Bonnett was no stranger to Nashville though. He had raced several time previously at the fairgrounds - including a win in a 100-lap late model race about a month before the Nashville 420.

Allison wasn't entered in the 420. He was in Michigan for the USAC Norton Twin 200, a twin bill of stock car and Indy car races. He raced his famed AMC Matador in the stock car race a Roger Penske McLaren in the Indy car headliner.

Though night races are now a common part of the Cup schedule, that wasn't the case in the 1970s. Even Bristol didn't host its first night race until 1978. Throughout the 1970s, the only track to host two scheduled night races was Nashville.

But Mother Nature screwed with Nashville's scheduling in 1975. Rather than race on a dark, hot, muggy, summer evening, the teams returned to race on a Sunday afternoon. They then got to race on a bright, hot, muggy, summer day.

Source: The Tennessean

When the green fell on Sunday, Waltrip got an early jump on pole-winner Parsons. Ol' DW - then a young pup - led the first 18 laps before losing a transmission and heading to the garage.

With Waltrip's exit, Yarborough took over the lead and picked up where he'd left off at Nashville the previous summer. Cale put his #11 in the wind and for the most part didn't look back.

The only wreck in the race happened at lap 30 when two Tennesseans tangled, Coo Coo Marlin of Columbia and Grant Adcox of Chattanooga.

Another caution fell just past lap 300 that must have caused Cale's stomach to lurch into his throat. Two-time Nashville track champ and Cup indepenendent David Sisco, lost his car off turn four and looped it down the front straightaway. To avoid clobbering Sisco, Yarborough looped his car right at the starter's stand.

With a lap lead over second place Petty, however, Cale never lost his top spot. He righted his car, got a fresh set of tires, re-entered the fray, and continued on another 100+ laps to capture his second consecutive Nashville 420.

The race was the 19th of 31 times Petty and Yarborough finished in the top two spots. Bonnett had a solid day. He rallied from his 30th and dead-last starting spot to finish 14th.

By finishing second, Petty still wouldn't have cleared the $2 million career earnings mark even if the STP incentive money had been allowed. It seems to me NASCAR was more in-the-way than necessary for a local track promoter's effort to draw attention to a race. But it wasn't the first time such a decision was made - and it certainly wasn't the last.

Yarborough celebrated in victory lane with multiple Miss Winstons - along with 18 year-old Sterling Marlin who photobombed the photo shoot while clinging to a fence post.

Credit: Marchman Family Collection

Source: The Tennessean


Sunday, July 2, 2017

43 More Reasons to Dig Richard Petty

On Friday, June 30, Ryan McGee of ESPN noted 80 reasons to love Richard Petty. His 80 examples matched the King's 80th birthday to be celebrated on July 2nd.

I agree with all on McGee's list - and have had my own personal experiences with many of them. While I won't denote another 80 examples, I have outlined 43 additional reasons of my own.
  1. My first time meeting the King and getting his autograph - July 1982 at Nashville's fairgrounds speedway
  1. Learning through others that King has read many of my blog posts - primarily the series about his 200 wins
  2. Having him tell me as much on the floor of Petty's Garage! 
  3. Allowing himself to put cool on the shelf long enough to ham it up with Tim Richmond 
  1. Stopping his van as he exited the track following the 1990 Firecracker 400 in Daytona to sign an autograph for my friend's nine year-old son. The kid recognized the van ahead of him and broke out in a sprint in an attempt to chase down the King. The 30+ year-old kid still has that autograph. 
  2. Stopping after the fall 2013 Dover race to sign an autograph for the kid of another friend of  mine. Their family had flown from Australia to attend a few races and support Marcos Ambrose. 
  3. His 1980s Son of a Gun commercial - shoot da dash, shoot da tars
  1. Letting the competition know his coolness would not be compromised on the track. His battle with Bobby Allison in 1972 at North Wilkesboro was epic, and 43 prevailed to notch P1.
  2. Making bank by compromising a bit of cool to pose for an ad with Allison 
  1. Having enough coolness to meet with Allison, agree not to rough each other up any more, and to park their so-called feud while at its peak. 
  2. Calling out Dale Earnhardt after getting wrecked in the 1986 Southern 500 (13:30 mark)
  1. Telling Ned Jarrett that he planned to keep on winning after capturing his 7th Daytona 500 in 1981. (2:00:00 mark)
  1. Having my pic made by the STP Dodge for the first time in 1978 at Nashville 
  1. Having him spend a few minutes with me most recently at Phoenix in November 2013 and chatting about the old days
  1. Bailing on a scheduled interview with Jim Rome and explaining later that he had something else to do during the original date and time 
  2. Flying to Vietnam to visit US troops right after winning the 1971 Winston Cup title 
  3. Making it possible for others in his family to race: Kyle Petty, Ritchie Petty, Mark Petty, Adam Petty, Austin Petty, and Thad Moffitt 
  4. Making a D.K. Ulrich car look cool in 1986
  1. Mayonnaise sandwiches 
“I remember when I was 6 or 7 years old,” said Kyle recently. “Daddy would have been 26 or 27 and in his prime. He would go to work in the morning at the shop near the house, come home and have a mayonnaise sandwich with pepper.

“If you don’t know, daddy’s mayonnaise sandwich with pepper was two pieces of bread with mayonnaise. He put mass quantities of pepper on the bread, put the slices back together and ate it.

“Then, daddy drank a big old glass of milk. When he ran out of milk, he’d bang the glass on the table which meant (for mom to) fill it up again,” Kyle said. “Then dad would get up and lay in the floor face first. He just laid out - feet out - and laid there resting his eyes for about five hours.

“Everybody else would be over at the shop working. They’d come and wake daddy up and he’d go back to the shop for about an hour. Then he’d come home, eat supper and sit in a chair watching TV until about 12:20 or 1 o’clock.

“Daddy would get up about 7 and go back and do the same thing,” said Kyle. “Every day the man ate a mayonnaise sandwich, and I know the man’s won a million races and done all this great stuff for the fans. But just think of what he could’ve done if he had worked whole days all his life instead of half-days.” ~ Asheville Citizen-Times – June 14, 1992
  1. Being invited to the grand opening of the current Petty Museum - where I also got to trade stories about being a Petty fan with the aforementioned Ryan McGee
  1. Listening to King tell the story of driving the family race car as a teenager to the only GN race held in Corbin, Kentucky because his dad, Lee, was arriving from another track 
  2. Having my uncle and aunt name my cousin Richard based on their King fandom
  3. Having my bud name his son Richard Lee for the same reason - and then being at Dover in 2011 for his first Cup race
  1. Winning the only NASCAR Grand National / Cup race sponsored by Schaefer beer
  1. My getting to hold the Schaefer 300 winner's trophy 40+ years later
  1. Having King autograph our Schaefer Hall of Fame 20th Anniversary banner in Dover.
  1. Having an uncle care enough to mail me my first Petty postcard in the mid 1970s - and I still have it
  1. Exiting the 43 early in a Riverside race because of an injury and then coolly delivering TV commentary 
  1. Respecting everyone. King is equally cool with kids, fat dudes, fans of other drivers, hot chicks, grammaws, celebs, politicians, athletes, common folks, etc. 
  2. My bicycle that I converted from a yellow bike with a red banana seat to a Petty Blue, motocross bike.  
  1. An interview with David Letterman following his spectacular wreck in the 1988 Daytona 500 (26:20 mark)
  1. The Hat - The combo day-glo red (e.g. orange) and blue panel hat was a universal sign of being a Petty fan in the 70s and 80s. I had two of them - one of Richard and one of Kyle. Wish I still did. 
  1. Being more concerned about who took his boots than a destroyed race car after nearly wiping himself out at Darlington in 1970.
  1. The silhouette profile logo 
  1. Seeing the joy on his face when the 43 returned to victory lane at Phoenix in 1996 with Bobby Hamilton aboard. About 10 years later, my son and I were able to stand by the winning car at Hamilton's shop.
  1. Wearing snakeskin cowboy boots to meet President Ronald Reagan 
  1. The super cool, logo'd Petty Enterprises hauler unveiled in the early 1980s. It was among the first of its kind and established a new trend towards the modern, luxury transporters.
  1. Rejecting doctor's advice for additional rest after having overdue surgery for stomach ulcers. A few weeks after the surgery, he won his sixth Daytona 500.
  2. The way he pronounces Pontiac: Pony-ack
  3. His driving a bulldozer in February 1988 as part of the ceremonial ground breaking for the new 3/4 mile Richmond Raceway. One week earlier, he endured a spectacular crash in the Daytona 500.
  1. Having the local volunteer fire department number their station after the King's famous car number.
  1. His service to his community and the nation - including his participation in the Hayride 500, a 1986 drought relief program to transport hay from Ohio to North Carolina.
  1. All the friendships and relationships I've developed through being a Petty fan for 43 years.


Sunday, June 4, 2017

June 4, 1972 - Mason-Dixon 500

Dover opened in 1969 and hosted four Grand National / Winston Cup races in its first three years. Richard Petty won three of the four - including the first two, and Bobby Allison banked the 1971 Mason-Dixon 500.

The Cup regulars returned to Dover in June 1972 for the track's first of two races of the trimmed Winston Cup schedule. The Mason-Dixon 500 once again turned into a race between the two drivers who had claimed all of Dover's previous trophies.

Source: Motor Racing Programme Covers
With Harry Hyde as his crew chief, Bobby Isaac won the pole in the #71 K&K Insurance Dodge Charger. Fellow Bobby - the Allison one - qualified alongside Isaac in his #12 Coca-Cola Chevy.

Coo Coo Marlin lined-up third in his first ever Dover start. He actually laid down the same timed lap as Allison. Because Allison qualified first, however, Marlin was bumped back to the third starting spot. At the time, the fast lap became his top career starting position. He later qualified second at Talladega in 1976.

Allison won the 1971 Mason-Dixon 500 in a Holman Moody Ford. After several years of a strained business partnership, John Holman and Ralph Moody finally divorced at the end of 1971. Allison joined Richard Howard's Chevy team with its cars prepared by Junior Johnson. Moody joined Dover as a Vice President and assisted many drivers with set-ups for the race - primarily independents such as James Hylton, Soapy Castles, and British driver Jackie Oliver in Junie Donlavey's Ford.

Isaac capitalized on his top starting spot and led the first two laps. Allison took the lead on lap three, and the rest of the race was a duel between his Coke Machine and Petty's STP Plymouth.

Each driver led a chunk of laps before returning the lead to the other. As the race entered its final 100 laps, Petty was out front. On lap 416, however, Allison returned to the top spot. He remained there for the next 85 laps to take the win. The King developed transmission issues, lost a lap to Allison, but still managed to finish second.

Source: Spartanburg Herald
The race was the eleventh of  24 career times where Allison and Petty finished in the top two spots.


Friday, May 12, 2017

May 12, 1979 - Sun-Drop Music City 420

The 1979 Cup season ranks comfortably in the top five of all-time memorable NASCAR seasons. The season began with a Waltrip win on Riverside's road course in January, and then the entire nation seemingly took notice of the legendary finish of the Daytona 500.

Through ten races of the season:
  • Richard Petty won the Daytona 500 for the sixth time and notched his fifteenth Martinsville victory in the Virginia 500. 
  • Darrell Waltrip logged two wins, and Bobby Allison banked three. 
  • Cale Yarborough won at Richmond after two rough finishes at Daytona and Rockingham.
  • Buddy Baker recovered from a disappointing Daytona finish with a win at Atlanta. 
  • Rookie Dale Earnhardt picked up his first career Cup win in at Bristol.
A roadie, two superspeedways, three intermediates, and four short tracks to open the season. Ahhhhh.

After Bobby Allison captured his third win of the season at Talladega, the circuit headed to Nashville for the fifth short track race of the season.

After years of being known as Fairground Speedways and Nashville Speedway, the track was re-branded as Nashville International Raceway by the track's new leaseholders and promoters, Lanny Hester and Gary Baker. The wording choice perplexes me to this day because the only thing international about Nashville in 1979 was the house of pancakes near Vanderbilt.

The Winston 500 raced with a full field of 40 cars. By contrast, 28 drivers answered the call a week later to Gentlemen, Start Your Engines! in Nashville - the second lowest car count of the season.

One driver who raced at Talladega but opted not to race at Nashville was independent Coo Coo Marlin. Coo Coo was a four-time Nashville late model champion and had raced in all but two of Nashville's Cup races since his debut Cup event in 1966. (His son Sterling raced his dad's car in the two races Coo Coo didn't start.)

The new promoters implemented a change to charge crew members a pit entry fee - including Sterling's crew at a late model race a few weeks before the 420. Coo Coo fervently disagreed with the new policy, took a stand, and and refused to race at his home track.

Source: The Tennessean
Coo Coo was peeved, but another local driver was relieved. Steve Spencer, the track's 1977 late model sportsman division champion, got the opportunity to make his Cup debut on his home track. Owner/driver Henley Gray put Spencer in his car, and Steve did an admirable job in his debut by qualifying 15th and finishing 12th.

Source: The Tennessean
Spencer raced in seven more Cup events in his career, and he later became Sterling Marlin's personal pilot. His weekend was made a bit more memorable as he won the 50-lap late model feature following Friday night's first round of Cup qualifying.

Dale Earnhardt was already a raw but popular and promising rookie. He brought a fan base from both his father's legacy as well his late model experience on tracks in the Carolinas. (Hint to NASCAR: a return to supporting short track heroes will result in their bringing a fan base with them to trucks, Xfinity, and Cup.)

Earnhardt, however, was not the only promising rookie in the 1979 class. Other talents in what was arguably the most talented collective group of rookies in Cup history included Joe Millikan, Terry Labonte, and Harry Gant.

Joe Millikan had been tabbed as a Petty protégé. He grew up in Level Cross, worked for Petty Enterprises for the better part of ten years, and won Daytona and Talladega late model sportsman races in an STP sponsored Petty Dodge.

Millikan got his chance at the big time in 1979 by landing a ride with L.G. DeWitt whose team had won the 1973 title and 1975 Daytona 500 with Benny Parsons. Earnhardt nabbed a win at Bristol, but Millikan had been impressive as well in the early part of the season. His #72 Chevy unloaded quick off the truck, and Joe captured his first (and ultimately only) Busch pole award.

Source: The Tennessean

Flanking Millikan was Buddy Baker - an unusual qualifying spot for him on a short track. Baker was known as more of a superspeedway racer though he did win at Nashville in 1973 and Martinsville later in 1979. Waltrip, Cale, and the King rounded out the top five starters.

Cale and Bobby Allison tangled in February at Daytona, but they soon put the incident behind them. The fact both of them had wins on the ledger by the time Nashville rolled around likely helped ease things a bit.

Source: The Tennessean
Millikan leveraged his top starting spot when the green fell, and he led the first 31 laps. Unfortunately for him, that brief time out front was the highlight of his race. Engine woes forced him out of the race with a DNF after only 120+ laps.

Long-time independent driver J.D. McDuffie took the lead from Millikan on lap 32. J.D. had himself quite the career race that spring night in Nashville. Over the course of the race, he led 111 laps across the four times he found himself out front. The number of laps led was easily the highest he had in any of any of his 653 career starts by a factor of 10! Though he didn't win the race, he finished a solid 5th - his 12th and final career top 5.

Before McDuffie headed to the front, he tangled a bit with Yarborough. Cale lost a lap because of his spin, but he didn't hit the wall or otherwise damage his Olds 442. Adding insult to injury was a second spin in the first half of the race. But again, racing luck favored Cale as he managed to keep it out of the wall a second time.

Part of McDuffie's secret sauce was his McCreary tires vs. the Goodyears worn by other cars. His tires provided a speed advantage in the short run, but they had a tendency to fall off quicker later in a run.

The STP Monte Carlo was out front when McDuffie wasn't. Petty led a stretch of 100+ laps in the middle stages of the race. Knowing McDuffie's McCreary tires wouldn't last as long, the 43 seemed to be in good position to capture the trophy.

Because of his need for new tires, J.D. surrendered the lead to Petty with just under 150 laps to go. Petty led the next 61 laps before officially losing the lead to Yarborough in a controversial turn of events.

During his final stop, Petty got tangled up a bit on pit road with Benny Parsons in his #27 M.C. Anderson Chevy. The King did a half-spin on pit road and had to straighten up to complete his stop. But the Dale Inman-led crew completed their service and sent the King back on track as the leader.

NASCAR ruled, however, that Yarborough had unlapped himself and taken the lead from the King during the 43's pit road bobble. After the race, Petty insisted he had not lost the lead to Cale and believed he was the winner of the race. Bobby Allison - in a rare moment of unanimity with Petty - agreed Petty won with Allison as the second place finisher.

But...NASCAR maintained its position and insisted Cale had made up his lost laps, passed Petty, and led the remaining laps to the checkers. Yarborough returned to Timmonsville, SC with yet another Nashville trophy as Petty and Allison scratched their heads.

The win was Cale's third in a row at Nashville and seventh in a 13-race stretch. The race was also the 27th time Petty and Cale finished in the top two spots.

Source: The Tennessean
Source: The Tennessean