Petty wins, loses after father’s protest

Sunday, June 14, 1959 – Richard Petty’s first victory in NASCAR’s premier series lasted approximately one hour. That’s how long it took for his father Lee to protest the final results and for officials to rule in the elder Petty’s favor, giving Lee the win at Lakewood Speedway and dropping his once-again winless son into second place.

Richard Petty, competing in a convertible, was making his 17th start in the series and his second start at Lakewood, a 1-mile dirt oval located outside Atlanta.

It was career win No. 42 for Lee Petty, who would go on to capture a third series championship that season. “I lapped Richard twice when he was in the pits,” Lee Petty told reporters afterward. “He’s my boy and I’d love to see him win a race, but when he wins one I want him to earn it.”

Rumors suggested Lee Petty convinced officials of the scoring error in order to collect a bonus for winning with a current-year model car. Lee was driving a ’59 Plymouth, Richard a ’57 Oldsmobile.

The 150-mile race was stopped briefly after 50 laps when dust from the track made visibility nearly impossible. According to reports, fans were so angered by the delay they tossed rocks at the pace car before the race could resume.

Track conditions forced NASCAR to cancel qualifying and instead had drivers draw for starting positions. That move also angered fans and was just one reason track promoter Carl Queen issued an apology afterward.

The race was the 11th and final for NASCAR’s premier series at the facility.

Trailing Lee and Richard Petty across the finish line in third through fifth were Buck Baker, Curtis Turner and Tom Pistone.

Keller’s second win is first for Jaguar

Sunday, June 13, 1954 – Al Keller’s second and final win in the NASCAR premier series was a first for a foreign manufacturer as the New York native piloted a Jaguar to the victory at Linden (N.J.) Airport. Joe Eubanks (Hudson) finished second and was the only other driver on the lead lap. It was the second NASCAR event to allow foreign-made cars.

Keller made just 29 starts in NASCAR, eventually working his way into open-wheel competition. His first victory on the stock-car circuit had come months earlier, at Oglethorpe Speedway in Savannah, Ga. He drove a ’54 Hudson to the win in that race.

Foreign-built cars had also competed in 1953 at Langhorne (Pa.) Speedway; Dick Allwine’s sixth-place finish in a Jaguar was tops for a foreign entry until Keller’s win.

The 50-lap race, which took place on a 2-mile layout, is considered NASCAR’s first contested on a road course.

Attendance was listed at 5,000 for the first and only race to be held at the airport venue.

Keller’s car was owned by prominent big band leader Paul Whiteman. Junior Johnson (’54, 55) and Gwyn Staley (’54) also made starts in Whiteman-owned entries.

Twenty-one of the 43 cars in the starting lineup were foreign-built: 12 Jaguars, two Austin Healeys, five MGs, one Porsche and one Morgan.

Keller competed for several seasons in open wheel and made six starts in the Indianapolis 500 with a best finish of fifth in 1961.

Keller was 41 when he died from injuries sustained in a crash during the Bobby Ball Memorial race in November of ’61 at the Arizona State Fairgrounds in Phoenix, Ariz.

Wallace shuts down Riverside with victory

Sunday, June 12, 1988 – Rusty Wallace will forever be the last driver to win a NASCAR Cup Series race at Riverside International Raceway as he outran Terry Labonte, Ricky Rudd and Dale Earnhardt in a four-lap shootout to capture the Budweiser 400, the final NASCAR race to be held at the 2.62-mile road course. The track, which hosted its first NASCAR premier series race in 1958, was closed and a shopping mall was eventually built on the site.

It was the fifth career win for Wallace, driver of the Raymond Beadle-owned Blue Max Racing Pontiac, and the first of six he would score in ’88. It was also his third road course win and second in a row at Riverside.

A NASCAR error nearly cost Wallace the victory – when the caution flag appeared for a spin by Ken Schrader with eight laps remaining, the pace car mistakenly picked up the leaders before they had a chance to race back to the start/finish line (allowed at that time). Wallace and Rudd slowed; Earnhardt and Phil Parsons shot by both drivers and the pace car and rushed back to the line. Officials realized the error and corrected it by placing Earnhardt and Parsons behind Wallace and Rudd before the final restart with four laps remaining.

There was a 25-minute red flag period after driver Ruben Garcia crashed through a guard rail, chain fence and cement wall, finally coming to rest just short of a seating area for spectators. Neither Garcia nor any fans were injured in the incident.

NASCAR team owner Rick Hendrick qualified 13th and finished 15th. Hendrick pitted during the race’s second caution and turned the driving duties over to road-course specialist Elliot Forbes-Robinson. It was Hendrick’s second, and final, Cup start.

Officials announced a crowd of more than 75,000 for the final race at the southern California road course.

While Wallace holds the mark as the final NASCAR race winner, Rudd holds the qualifying record, having set the mark of 118.484 mph during qualifying for the final race.

Morgan Shepherd filled in for Harry Gant in the Mach 1 Racing Chevrolet owned by movie director and stuntman Hal Needham. Gant was recovering from a broken leg sustained in a crash during the Coca-Cola 600.

Parsons adds road course win to resume

Sunday, June 11, 1978 – Benny Parsons, who won a Daytona 500 in 1972 and a premier series championship in ’73, finally won on a road course when he outlasted the competition to capture the NAPA 400 at Riverside International Raceway. The win came in Parsons’ 17th attempt at the 2.62-mile layout.

Parsons, 36, drove his L.G. DeWitt-owned Monte Carlo to the front, passing Bobby Allison with 16 laps remaining in the 95-lap affair. It was his third win of the year, coming on the heels of victories at Richmond, Va. and Darlington, S.C.

Parsons’ pit crew was the same group pitting the No. 11 Oldsmobile fielded by Junior Johnson and driven by Cale Yarborough. Parsons asked for the help in an effort to save money by not bringing additional crewmen on the trip.

Yarborough, the No. 2 qualifier, led 47 laps, most of anyone. However, he was penalized 30 seconds by NASCAR for improper pitting – he used an illegal shortcut to get to pit road after suffering a flat tire.

Runner-up Richard Petty saw his winless streak reach 28 races at Riverside. The six-time series champion had not won since the July Daytona race of the previous season.

Hershel McGriff won a sportsman/modified combo race, the Warner W. Hodgdon 200, contested earlier that day at Riverside. McGriff then came back to finish 17th in the Cup event.

What to make of Biffle’s Texas victory

Waiting on a Monday race and wondering what to make of Greg Biffle’s win in the Truck Series race at Texas on Friday night …

Obviously, Biffle hasn’t forgotten how to win races – no surprise there since he has won multiple races across all three NASCAR national series and championships in Xfinity and Truck series.

When he stepped away from full-time NASCAR competition at the end of the 2016 season, Biffle had won 19 times in the Cup series, 20 times in the Xfinity Series and 16 times in the Gander Outdoors Truck Series. The championships came in 2000 in Truck and ’02 in Xfinity.

The idea that the Vancouver, Wash., native could become the first driver to win championships in all three series was not farfetched but it didn’t happen.

Biffle is now 49 and if you’ve followed NASCAR for any length of time you ought to know that age isn’t a factor when it comes to competitiveness.

It had been more than two years since his last NASCAR start, though, and that probably said more than the fact he’s nearly 50. It would have come as no surprise had he appeared a bit rusty behind the wheel.

Still, he won Friday’s SpeedyCash.com 400 at Texas Motor Speedway and winning any race is no easy feat. It was a race of attrition and a race of survival and Biffle wasn’t dominant but in a race that featured 13 cautions, dominance wasn’t required.

As good as Biffle remains, however, Friday night’s victory would seem to say more about the KBM equipment at his disposal. Kyle Busch Motorsports puts together winning trucks. The organization has extremely capable talent beyond those folks sitting in the driver’s seat.

Biffle is the 11th different driver to win for KBM since 2010 – all but Christopher Bell and Noah Gragson are currently competing or have competed at the Cup level.

Busch himself won five times in five starts this year with the same team but is it farfetched for the owner/driver to expect similar results from drivers with far less experience? And we’re no longer talking about Biffle here.

Busch is Busch and Todd Gilliland is not. And Harrison Burton is not. Gilliland and Burton drive for KBM. Gilliland is 19 and Burton is 18 and together they’ve made fewer than 60 starts in the series.

Busch has nearly as many wins (56).

Busch has previously indicated that drivers in his trucks are expected to contend and to win.

Days before the Texas stop, KBM announced crew chief moves that included putting Wes Ward in charge of the No. 4 truck driven by Gilliland at Texas.

Gilliland, Friday night’s pole winner, led 31 laps but wound up 27th after getting into the wall. He has one top-five and four top-10 finishes this year and is ninth in points.

Burton finished fifth; it was his third top five and fifth top 10. He’s eighth in points.

It’s difficult to judge a driver’s ability when competing in average equipment. But that’s not the case here.

Maybe those are unrealistic expectations for anyone else but not for Busch.

And Biffle’s quick success no doubt only strengthened the team owner’s contention.

Long gives Savage a shot

Monday, June 10, 1968 – Three days after driver Bobby Allison announced he was leaving the team, car owner Bondy Long announced a one-race deal with driver Swede Savage for the No. 29 Ford entry in NASCAR’s premier series. Savage, 21, was scheduled to make his first start of the season in the Carolina 500 at North Carolina Motor Speedway.

Savage made three starts in ’67 for Holman-Moody Racing, with a best finish of sixth at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway. Other starts had come at Hickory, N.C., and North Wilkesboro, N.C.

Although he raced motorcycles competitively as a teen, he was considered a protégé of West Coast veteran racer Dan Gurney.

Savage finished 13th at Rockingham, then third at Bristol. He made four more starts, with the Wood Brothers, Smokey Yunick and Banjo Matthews, in ’69 before turning to open-wheel competition.

The Bondy Long team was run by 26-time race winner Fred Lorenzen, who had curtailed his racing obligations. Lorenzen had won the Carolina 500 in 1966 and was crew chief in ’67 when Allison went to victory lane.

Ned Jarrett had won the ’65 title while racing for Long.

Allison left the team, and Ford, to campaign his own Chevelle, citing a lack of racing opportunities provided by the organization.

Rudd penalized, Allison wins

Sunday, June 9, 1991 – Davey Allison collects the victory, his second of the season, after officials penalize Ricky Rudd for rough driving on the penultimate lap of the Banquet Frozen Foods 300 NASCAR premier series race at Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway. Rudd was black flagged for contact in Turn 11 and assessed a five-second penalty, leaving him second in the final rundown.

While Allison went straight to victory lane, despite crossing the finish line four seconds behind Rudd, it took officials two hours to officially declare the Robert Yates Racing driver the winner.

Allison led two of the race’s 74 laps; it was his 10th premier series victory and his first on the 2.52-mile California road course.

Officials described the contact from Rudd’s Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet as “unnecessary and avoidable,” despite the fact that several similar incidents had occurred throughout the race but did not result in penalties.

Rudd, to no one’s surprise, wasn’t pleased with the ruling, comparing the actions to those of the “World Wrestling Federation” and saying it was “the best example of how NASCAR makes their own rules. NASCAR needs a Ford in victory lane.” Chevrolet, Pontiac and Oldsmobile had won 10 of the first 11 races of the season – Allison’s win in the Coca-Cola 600 two weeks earlier had been Ford’s first of the year.

Chad Little, upset about contact from Ernie Irvan during the race, traded blows with the Morgan-McClure Motorsports driver in the garage afterward. The pair were eventually separated by officials.

Former Trans-Am champion Tommy Kendall nearly pulled off the upset while driving for an injured Kyle Petty. Kendall led laps 60-71 before contact with Mark Martin left him with a flat tire and no shot at the win. Petty had suffered a broken leg the previous month when he was involved in a multi-car crash at Talladega Superspeedway.

There were rumors of a sponsor pullout by Proctor & Gamble companies Tide and Folger’s coffee in part due to the Sonoma incidents. Tide was Rudd’s sponsor at the time while Folger’s backed Martin. The coffee brand did exit the sport at the end of the season, however Tide remained as a primary sponsor for more than a decade.

A hard crash in Turn 2 with 10 laps remaining ended the race for Richard Petty and sent the winner of 200 premier series races to a local hospital for further examination.

Rusty Wallace, Irvan and Ken Schrader finished behind Allison and Rudd.

Earnhardt’s first pole comes on road course

Friday, June 8, 1979 – It took Dale Earnhardt only 16 starts to win his first NASCAR premier series race. It didn’t take much longer for the future Hall of Famer to score his first pole. On a road course, at that. Earnhardt, 28, captured his first No. 1 starting position with a race record qualifying lap of 113.089 mph at Riverside (Calif.) International Raceway. The pole came in his 24th start; it was his second appearance on the eight-turn course.

Second fastest in first round qualifying was road-racing ace Jimmy Insolo, a Winston West champion. Insolo had given Earnhardt lessons on getting around the road course during a test in January of ’79.

In addition to the No. 1 qualifying position, the pole also put Earnhardt in the following season’s Busch Clash, a non-points race for the previous year’s pole winners.

Earnhardt had made one start for team owner Rod Osterlund in 1978 before running fulltime with the organization in ’79. Earnhardt’s crew chief was Jake Elder.

Race day wasn’t as memorable for both front-row starters. Earnhardt lost a wheel just 12 laps into the race and had to battle back to finish 13th after an extended pit stop; Insolo, felled by engine trouble after 45 laps, wound up driving in relief for Richard Petty due to the intense heat.

NASCAR founder Bill France Sr. dies

Sun., June 7, 1992 – While the NASCAR premier series was in Sonoma, Calif., to compete on a road course, William H.G. France, founder of the auto racing sanctioning body, passed away at his home in Ormond Beach, Fla. He was 82.

An auto mechanic by trade, France was on his way from Washington, DC to Miami in 1934 when his car broke down in Daytona Beach, Fla. It was there he and his wife, Anne B., would remain for the rest of their lives. He eventually began promoting races on the beach as well as competing in them. As the public’s interest in racing grew, France realized the need for uniform rules and organization. In December of 1947 he met with track owners, promoters and others in racing to iron out the details to what would eventually become NASCAR.

France ruled NASCAR from those early years until 1972 when he turned the organization over to his sons William Clifton (Bill Jr.) and Jim France. Bill Jr. served as president until November of 2000; Jim France has helped guide both NASCAR and International Speedway Corp., the publicly-traded arm that owns several NASCAR-sanctioned tracks, in a less public role.

• Jim France was named CEO and Chairman of NASCAR after serving in the role on an interim basis in 2018.

Allison endures heat for Dover win

Sunday, June 6, 1971 – On a broiling day that saw some of NASCAR’s top stars sidelined by fatigue, Bobby Allison persevered to collect his 20th career win in the premier series with a victory in the Mason-Dixon 500 at Dover International Speedway. The temperature in Dover, Del. exceeded 90 degrees – inside the cars it was said to be as high as 140. Allison took the checkered flag a full lap ahead of the runner-up entry of Richard Petty.

Fred Lorenzen was credited with the runner-up although he was replaced by Bobby Isaac with 60 laps remaining; Isaac had gotten out of his own car, which was taken over by Pete Hamilton. Petty was credited with a third-place finish – he was replaced by fellow Petty Enterprises driver Buddy Baker who had fallen out just past the halfway point with an engine issue.

The race remains the only caution-free Cup race at Dover. In spite of a lack of yellow flags, the race still took 4 hr., 30 min. to complete.

Allison’s Holman-Moody team had planned to run a Mercury in the race, but Ralph Moody said team made a last-minute call to switch and raced a Ford instead.

To help cool their driver, the pit crew sprayed Allison with a water hose during pit stops.

Allison’s winning average speed of 123.119 mph was a record for a 1-mile track.