Roberts wins inaugural Atlanta stop

Sunday, July 31, 1960 – Glen “Fireball” Roberts of Daytona Beach, Fla. passed Cotton Owens with 12 laps remaining to capture the inaugural Dixie 300 NASCAR premier series race at Atlanta International Raceway. The victory was the second of the year for Roberts and came in his sixth start of the ’60 season.

Roberts was flagged the winner when the race ended under caution. Owens and Jack Smith were second and third, respectively. All three were fielding Pontiac entries.

The win was the 23rd of Robert’s NASCAR career.

Bud Moore, head mechanic for Smith, lodged a protest after the race claiming his driver and Owens were both ahead of Roberts when the checkered flag appeared. NASCAR officials, however, ruled in Roberts’ favor.

Official starter Ernie Moore was knocked unconscious after he was struck in the neck by a piece of debris that flew off one of the race cars. He was transported to a local hospital with non life-threatening injuries.

According to reports, attendance for the inaugural race was 25,000, fewer than what had been anticipated.

Driver Speedy Thompson suffered three broken ribs when his car slammed into the fourth turn guard rail, bringing out the caution and sealing the win for Roberts.

Owens complete the entire 200-lap race on a single set of tires.

Eddie Rickenbacker, the World War 1 flying ace and recipient of the Medal of Honor, provided the American flag that was raised in the AMS pits. Rickenbacker was also a racer, competing in the Indianapolis 500 four times.

Yarborough wins; Earnhardt injured

Monday, July 30, 1979 – Three-time NASCAR premier series champion Cale Yarborough won the rain-delayed Coca-Cola 500 under caution while rookie of the year points leader Dale Earnhardt was transported to a local hospital following a hard crash at the 2.5-mile Pocono Raceway. Yarborough, driving the No. 11 Chevrolet fielded by owner Junior Johnson, beat Darrell Waltrip out of the pits during a final fuel stop and was leading when a final yellow appeared for a crash involving Nelson Oswald. Officials were unable to clear the track in time for a one-lap dash under green, giving Yarborough his third win of the season.

Earnhardt, driving the No. 2 Chevrolet of Rod Osterlund, blew a tire and struck the wall hard just two laps from the 100-lap mark. The former race leader was transported to a local hospital where he was diagnosed with a concussion, one broken collarbone and one cracked collarbone.

Two days after the crash, the Osterlund team announced veteran David Pearson would fill in as driver until Earnhardt was able to return. The injuries kept Earnhardt sidelined for the following four races. Pearson, winner of 103 career races, had split with Wood Brothers Racing earlier in the year.

Richard Petty, Buddy Baker, Benny Parsons and Ricky Rudd completed the top five in the race, which was run one day later than originally scheduled due to rain.

Waltrip finished seventh in a “borrowed” car that was practically rebuilt after he crashed his own entry during practice. Unable to make the necessary repairs to his car, Waltrip “bought” a ride in the No. 22 of Al Rudd.

Rookie Harry Gant finished 15th in the No. 47 Jack Beebe Race Hill Farm entry after winning his first premier series pole.

Petty closes in on win mark

Saturday, July 29, 1967 – Richard Petty won for the 17th time of the season, leaving the popular Level Cross, N.C. driver only one victory away from the single-season win record with a victory in the Nashville 200 at Nashville (Tenn.) Speedway. It was the fourth consecutive win at Nashville for Petty, who inherited the lead after mechanical troubles felled several of the race leaders.

Petty overcame a deficit of at least five laps (due to early pit stops) to win by five laps over runner-up James Hylton.

Tim Flock held the single-season win mark of 18 set in 1955.

Only 10 of the 32 drivers who started the race were running at the finish. Pole winner Dick Hutcherson finished 11th even though he was sidelined with a blown engine after just 305 laps of the 400-lap race. Early contenders Jim Paschal and Bobby Allison were also felled by mechanical issues, putting the lead in Petty’s hands.

Petty’s explanation for his good fortune in the second half of the race? “I was doing plenty wrong, but they done wronger,” he said.

Guthrie to focus on NASCAR

Thursday, July 28, 1977 – Janet Guthrie, the first woman to compete in the Indianapolis 500, announced that she will give up her USAC license to focus on competing in NASCAR’s premier series. Guthrie, 39, had made five NASCAR starts in 1976 with a best finish of 15th at Charlotte Motor Speedway and Daytona International Speedway while also competing in USAC events. She had eight NASCAR starts in ’77 at the time of the announcement, highlighted by an 11th-place run at Bristol Motor Speedway.

• Guthrie was competing for NASCAR Rookie of the Year honors in ’77, along with Ricky Rudd, Sam Sommers, Tighe Scott, Tommy Gale and Gary Myers. Rudd was eventually named ROY.

• NASCAR and USAC conflicting race dates meant Guthrie would have to choose between sanctioning bodies. When NASCAR was scheduled to run at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway, USAC teams would be running at Texas World Speedway; and when the stock car set pulled into Michigan International Speedway, open-wheel teams were slated to be racing in Milwaukee, Wis.

• Guthrie drove for team owner Lyndia Ferreri during the bulk of her brief NASCAR career. She never competed for a full season, running only partial schedules in ’76, ’77, ’78 and ’80. She is credited with 33 starts and five top-10 finishes.

• Guthrie made 12 open-wheel starts, including four in the Indianapolis 500. She finished a career-best ninth in the ’78 annual classic.

Hillin wins a scorcher at Talladega

Sunday, July 27, 1986 – Bobby Hillin Jr. survived the soaring temperatures and held off a red-hot Tim Richmond to score his only NASCAR premier series win with a victory in the Talladega 500 at Alabama International Motor Speedway. The win came in Hillin’s 78th start in the series and snapped a two-race win streak enjoyed by Richmond.

Hillin became the series’ youngest winner with the victory, at 22 years, 1 month and 22 days.

Hillin competed for a dozen years after his Talladega win, eventually ending his career with 334 starts, eight top-five and 43 top-10 finishes.

It was the second career victory for team owners Billy and Mickey Stavola, who fielded the No. 8 Buick for Hillin as well as the No. 22 Buick for Bobby Allison.

Davey Allison made his only career start for team owner Junior Johnson, filling in for an injured Neil Bonnett in Johnson’s No. 12 Chevrolet. Allison finished seventh. After making infrequent starts for Hoss Ellington and the Sadler Brothers, the start was the final time Allison would compete in a Chevrolet.

Bonnett had suffered rib and shoulder injuries the previous weekend during a crash at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway.

Ricky Rudd finished third in the No. 15 Bud Moore Ford, with an assist from Rusty Wallace. Rudd exited the car due to illness and turned the driving over to Wallace, who had fallen from the race earlier due to engine issues in his Blue Max Racing Pontiac.

The race featured a then-record 26 drivers leading one or more laps. There were 48 lead changes.

Hillin was the 12th different winner of the season, tying the NASCAR record set in 1983 and matched in ’84.

Thirty-nine of the 40 cars in the lineup qualified at more than 200 mph.

Merger increases ISC track ownership

Monday, July 26, 1999 – International Speedway Corp. completed its merger with Penske Motorsports Inc., increasing ownership for the Daytona Beach, Fla.-based company to 10 race tracks across the country. The merger moved PMI tracks in Brooklyn, Mich., Nazareth, Pa., Fontana, Calif., and Rockingham, N.C. under the ISC umbrella.

As part of the move Roger Penske, founder of PMI, was named vice chairman of ISC’s board of directors.

Greg Penske, PMI president and chief executive officer, was named to oversee management of the acquired tracks for ISC.

ISC also increased its ownership stake in Homestead-Miami Speedway to 90 percent.

Prior to the move, ISC owned tracks in Daytona Beach, Fla., Talladega, Ala., Avondale, Ariz., Tucson, Ariz., Darlington, S.C., and Watkins Glen, N.Y.

ISC originated in 1957 as Daytona International Speedway Corp. It was formed by NASCAR founder and president William H.G. France.

Jarrett wins rainy Volunteer 500

Sunday, July 25, 1965 – Ned Jarrett persevered through delays for rain and wrecks and at the end of a long, 4-plus hour race took the checkered flag, winning the Volunteer 500 at Bristol International Speedway. Jarrett, bidding for his second championship in NASCAR’s premier series, had a healthy 20-second lead on runner-up Dick Hutcherson at the finish line. Sam McQuagg, Jim Paschal and Buck Baker completed the top five.

The victory was career win No. 45 for Jarrett and came in the No. 11 Bondy Long-owned Ford

Rain forced officials to start the race under the yellow flag; there were eight cautions for 167 laps. Rather than red-flag the race for a wet track, at one point officials kept cars circling the half-mile oval for 99 laps under yellow.

The race marked the return of Richard Petty, who missed the first five months of the season following the ban of the hemi by NASCAR. A winner of 40 races, Petty finished 17th due to issues with his car’s differential.

Jarrett’s win was the last of 34 consecutive victories to open the season for Ford (Mercury notched one Daytona qualifying race win).

Fast-closing Goldsmith nets Bristol win

Sunday, July 24, 1966 – Paul Goldsmith made up three laps and passed relief driver Jim Paschal with less than five laps remaining to collect the Volunteer 500 win at Bristol International Speedway.

It was the ninth and final NASCAR premier Series win for Goldsmith.

Paschal had been summoned to fill in for Richard Petty, who exited the car on lap 376 with neck cramps. David Pearson, Paul Lewis and Bobby Allison completed the top five.

Petty had a three-lap lead when he climbed out of the car; Paschal lost two laps during the driver exchange and the third when Goldsmith made what proved to be the winning pass.

Ray Nichels, owner of the race-winning No. 99 Plymouth, would score three more victories in the series, at Talladega with Richard Brickhouse in the infamous PDA walkout of ’69, and twice with Charlie Glotzbach at Daytona and Michigan.

Marlin finds his groove on plate tracks

Sunday, July 23, 1995 – It took Sterling Marlin 279 starts to record his first win in NASCAR’s premier series. Once that was out of the way, Marlin has been almost unstoppable on the series restrictor-plate tracks. The Columbia, Tenn., resident picked up his fourth career victory, his third on a restrictor-plate track, when he captured the DieHard 500 at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway. Marlin, driver of the No. 4 Morgan-McClure Motorsports Chevrolet, led 57 of 188 laps and edged Dale Jarrett for the win.

Marlin’s first two career wins came at Daytona International Speedway, the other track where the use of restrictor plates was mandatory, in 1994 and ’95. He added a spring race win at Darlington prior to winning at Talladega.

A 13-car accident that unfolded on lap 139 wiped out several contenders, including Rusty Wallace, Bobby Labonte and Ken Schrader. Schrader’s Chevrolet went airborne after contact from teammate Jeff Gordon, and flipped several times before coming to rest on its roof. Other than a knot above his right eye, Schrader was not hurt. “We came off the corner and I saw Schrader sideways; it was kind of a scramble after that,” Terry Labonte said. “Everybody was trying to miss him. That was hard to do.”

Only one caution flag had flown prior to the ‘Big One,” for debris on lap 112. Otherwise the race had been under green and was being run at a record pace.

Marlin collected the Unocal bonus of $121,600 for winning the race from the pole.

NASCAR awards Yarborough Nashville win

Monday, July 22, 1974 – NASCAR officials ruled Cale Yarborough the winner of the Nashville (Tenn.) 420, two days after the race was completed. Following the conclusion of the premier series event, competitor Bobby Allison argued that Yarborough had been a lap down and he (Allison) had won the race. Officials announced no formal winner following the race; Yarborough had been flagged the winner on the track.

NASCAR officials Len Kuchler, Joe Epton and Bill Gazaway traveled to Los Angeles following the race to meet with NASCAR president Bill France Jr. and decide what action should be taken.

Allison contended that Yarborough had lost two laps, one when his No. 11 Chevrolet spun and another when the pace car picked up the wrong car under caution. NASCAR officials eventually agreed with Allison’s assessment but ruled that such infractions must confirmed during the race before a penalty can be assessed.

• It was the second consecutive week a driver had protested a win by Yarborough. The week before, Buddy Baker argued that Yarborough was actually a lap down at the end of the Volunteer 500 at Bristol (Tenn.) International Speedway. Officials eventually ruled in Yarborough’s favor in that one, too.