Johncock ‘wins’ Atlanta pole

Saturday, March 31, 1973 – Gordon Johncock is awarded the pole for the Atlanta 500 after rain washes out qualifying for the third consecutive day. The Michigan native, piloting the No. 28 Chevrolet for owner Hoss Ellington, had posted the fastest speed on Friday in qualifying before rain forced officials to postpone the remainder of the round.

The determination of the starting lineup drew the ire of many competitors as two different “systems” were employed to fill out the 40-car grid. The names of 17 drivers, determined by NASCAR officials to have the fastest cars, were placed in a hat and drawn individually to set positions 1-17. The remaining drivers’ names were then placed in a hat and drawn to fill positions 18-40.

It was the only pole of Johncock’s NASCAR career, but it isn’t listed as official because time trials were never completed. Johncock, one of several open-wheel racers to also run a limited schedule in NASCAR, made 21 starts in NASCAR’s premier series with a best finish of fourth twice (the Charlotte fall race and July race at Daytona).

Johncock finished 11th at Atlanta. He would go on to win the Indianapolis 500 twice, in 1973 and ’82, and was the USAC series champion in ’76.

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