Allison wheels Chevelle to win at Oxford

Tuesday, July 12, 1966 – Hueytown, Alabama’s Bobby Allison collected his first career win in NASCAR’s premier series with a dominating performance at Oxford Plains Speedway in Oxford, Maine. Allison led 238 of the race’s 300 laps around the .333-mile track and finished one lap ahead of runner-up Tiny Lund.

The victory came in start No. 29 for the three-time modified champion. He started on the pole for the second time in his career.

The 100-mile race was the first NASCAR Grand National event held in New England.

Fourteen of the 27 drivers who started the race were running at the finish. Among those falling by the wayside were two-time series champion Ned Jarrett (crash) and Marvin Panch (broken rear end).

The series competed at Oxford Plains twice more – Allison returned to win again in 1967 while Richard Petty won the final NASCAR premier series race at the track in ’68.

Glotzbach gets help and win at Bristol

Sunday, July 11, 1971 – Chargin’ Charlie Glotzbach won the only caution-free NASCAR premier series race contested at Bristol Motor Speedway with help from relief driver Friday Hassler, capturing the Volunteer 500. Hassler, whose own entry was sidelined earlier with a broken wheel, took the checkered flag after relieving Glotzbach with less than 150 laps remaining in the 500-lap affair.

  Thanks to the lack of yellow flags, Glotzbach still holds the race record at BMS of 101.074 mph. That mark eclipsed the previous record of 91.704 mph set earlier that season by David Pearson.

The winning No. 3 entry was owned by Charlotte Motor Speedway promoter Richard Howard, built and fielded by team owner Junior Johnson.

It was the first victory for Chevrolet in three years – prior to the win, Bobby Allison had been the last driver to put a Chevy in victory lane, winning at Islip (N.Y.) Speedway on July 7, 1968.

The Glotzbach/Hassler switch was just one of many on the day at BMS. Bobby Allison took runner-up honors with James Hylton at the wheel of the No. 12 Holman-Moody Ford; Richard Petty was third and split seat time with Buddy Baker; Hylton placed fifth although G.C. Spencer was driving the entry at the conclusion of the race.

The victory was the last of four for Glotzbach in 124 premier series starts.

Bristol is one of seven tracks on the current NASCAR Cup Series schedule that has seen a race go caution-free. The others are Darlington (1), Daytona (7), Dover (1), Michigan (3), Talladega (3) and Watkins Glen (1).

Even with the mid-race driver change, Glotzbach’s winning margin was still three laps.

Pearson feted by officials, fellow drivers

Tuesday, July 10, 1973 – Less than one week after his victory in the Medal of Honor Firecracker 400 at Daytona International Speedway, driver David Pearson was honored by city and state officials, fellow competitors and citizens of his hometown of Spartanburg, S.C. “David Pearson Day” paid tribute to the 38-year-old, three-time NASCAR premier series champion who had scored a series-best 20 superspeedway victories.

Taking part in the festivities were South Carolina Gov. John C. West, Lt. Gov. Earle Morris, as well as numerous other political figures from the local and state level.

Among the drivers who turned out to honor Pearson were Richard Petty, Bobby Isaac, Cale Yarborough, Bobby Allison and Donnie Allison. Members of the Wood Brothers Racing team, which fielded the No. 21 for Pearson, were on hand as was country musician and racer Marty Robbins.

At a “Roast Pearson” luncheon, much was made of the driver’s somewhat miserly ways. He was presented with a framed cancelled check for $5.22, Pearson’s first prize money from racing. After Pearson stated the amount was likely “about right,” promoter/publicist Joe Littlejohn quipped “You know it’s right. You’ve probably still got it.”

The story was also told about how Pearson was reluctant to spend $15 in order to compete at NASCAR sanctioned events early in his career. Eventually he was convinced and it paid off handsomely. In ’73 he became only the second driver to earn more than $1 million during his career.

Stewart dedicates win to fallen comrade

Sunday, July 9, 2000 – Tony Stewart, a three-time series winner the year before as a fresh-faced rookie, won for the third time in his sophomore season when he won the rain-shortened thatlook.com 300 NASCAR premier series race at New Hampshire International Speedway.

The call to keep Stewart on the track during the second of two red flags for rain proved decisive when officials ended the race 27 laps shy of its scheduled 300-lap distance. Stewart led 156 of the 273 laps completed in his No. 20 Pontiac for Joe Gibbs Racing. Joe Nemechek, Mark Martin, Jerry Nadeau and Jeff Gordon completed the top five.

Driver Kenny Irwin was killed during practice two days earlier at NHMS when his car struck the wall in Turn 3 and overturned. In spite of the fatality, which came approximately eight weeks after the death of Adam Petty in almost exactly the same place on the track, NASCAR continued with practice and qualifying.  Irwin was NASCAR Rookie of the Year in the Cup Series in 1998.

In the same race a year earlier, Stewart had lost the race at NHMS despite dominating when he ran out of gas with less than three laps remaining.

Jeff Burton, winner of three consecutive July races at New Hampshire, was involved in an accident with Chad Little and finished 11th.

Nothing wrong with Haley’s Daytona win

What to make of Sunday’s rain-delayed, rain-shortened finish to the Coke Zero Sugar 400 at Daytona International Speedway?

• Justin Haley, first-time Cup winner. Deserving? Well, he was leading when NASCAR officials declared the race official with 127 of 160 laps completed. That’s pretty much all that’s required.

A driver doesn’t have to lead a certain number of laps or pass a certain number of cars or anything other than be in the lead when the race officially ends to be declared the winner.

That’s the way it’s always been (OK, there ARE exceptions. The winning car has to pass post-race technical inspection; and years ago, there were instances of drivers protesting race results and NASCAR officials correcting the official finishing order.).

A quick search of the record book fails to unearth any instances of drivers turning down victories because they happened to be leading the race when it ended short of regulation for one reason or another.

Had Kurt Busch not pitted under caution and handed the lead to Haley, the Chip Ganassi Racing driver would have been your winner.

Had Busch and Haley both pitted, runner-up William Byron (Hendrick Motorsports) would have celebrated career win No. 1.

It could have been Jimmie Johnson (third) or any one of several others who chose to remain on the track during the sixth and final caution.

But it wasn’t.

Lightning in the area forced officials to halt the action twice before rain eventually arrived and soaked the track.

And Haley, the 20-year-old Xfinity Series competitor, became the first non-Cup regular to win a race since Trevor Bayne won the 2011 Daytona 500 while driving for Wood Brothers Racing.

Spire Motorsports is a first-time winner as well after just 18 starts in the series. The last time there was a “first-time” organization winner? Probably 2014 when A.J. Allmendinger won for JTG Daugherty Racing at Watkins Glen International.

Maybe it matters to others that Haley was making only his third start in the series or that the Spire organization had exactly one top-25 finish before Sunday.

But he was out front when it counted.

That’s what matters to me. Mr. Haley, too, I presume.

If I was disappointed about anything, it was that the weekend marked an end to the July 4th holiday race week at Daytona.

It’s been a staple for so long. From the very beginning in ’59 up through ’87 the race was held on July 4 no matter what day of the week that happened to fall on.

Talk to some garage veterans and they’ll tell you about the 1969 season when teams raced at Daytona on Friday, the 4th, then beat it up the east coast for the inaugural Mason Dixon 300 at Dover held just two days later.

Put that on your 2021 schedule …

Even when the Daytona race was moved to be contested on the holiday weekend, there was still something unique about it.

Going forward, the race will be held in August and it’s the cutoff race for the playoffs and maybe that will spice it up somewhat, but it’ll be tough to top its predecessor.

Parsons gets relief, and win, at Bristol

Sunday, July 8, 1973 – Benny Parsons survived the heat and humidity as well as the attrition that sidelined others to score his second career victory in NASCAR’s premier series with a win in the Volunteer 500 at Bristol International Speedway. Parsons, driving the No. 72 Chevrolet for car owner L.G. DeWitt, took the checkered flag a full seven laps ahead of runner-up L.D. Ottinger.

Parsons got an able assist from local standout John A. Utsman, who drove in relief of the Ellerbe, N.C. resident for approximately 180 laps during the race. Parsons was behind the wheel for the final push to the checkered flag.

Ottinger, of Newport, Tenn., finished second in what was only his second career start in the series. His initial qualifying time on Friday, which placed him third in the lineup, was tossed out when his car was found to be too light. He returned the following day to lead second-day qualifying and started in the No. 11 spot.

Several drivers had relief help during the 500-lap affair, including Cecil Gordon, who stepped out to recover while Richard Petty, felled earlier by ignition issues, drove the No. 24 Chevrolet for a short stint. Gordon eventually finished third. Ottinger was spelled by Kingsport’s Gene Glover as well.

It was career win No. 2 for Parsons, who had not won since coming out on top at South Boston, Va. some two years earlier. “I was thinking of how close it was to victory near the end and how tragic it would be if we lost,” the winning driver told reporters.

A crash on lap 347 took out potential winners Bobby Allison and pole winner Cale Yarborough after Allison’s car hit the wall in Turn 3 and Yarborough was unable to avoid.

Two teams were ruled illegal for wheelbase infractions (too long) on Friday – Bobby Isaac’s Bud Moore-owned Ford entry and the Nord Krauskopf Dodge driven by Buddy Baker. Isaac and Moore returned (Isaac finished 22nd) however Baker did not.

Langley scores second and final win

Thursday, July 7, 1966 – Elmo Langley returned to the winner’s circle for the second time in approximately one month when he captured the Old Dominion 150 at Old Dominion Speedway in Manassas, Va. Langley, a native of Landover, Md., was seven laps ahead of runner-up John Sears in his No. 64 Ford. James Hylton finished third in the NASCAR premier series event.

Langley had scored his first victory in June at Spartanburg, S.C.

Only 11 of the 24 starters were running at the finish of the 400-lap race.

Bobby Allison won the pole, his first in NASCAR’s top series. He led 49 laps before being sidelined due to transmission issues.

Tiny Lund led 120 laps but was felled by a blown engine.

Langley went on to work as crew chief for team owner/driver Cale Yarborough, then became an official with NASCAR, driving the pace car in each premier series event.

New venue, familiar face in victory lane

Sunday, July 6, 1969 – NASCAR’s premier series added a new venue to the schedule but at the end of the day it was a familiar face in the winner’s circle – Richard Petty captured the inaugural Mason-Dixon 300 at Dover International Speedway. It was the fifth win of the season for Petty, who had a six-lap advantage on runner-up Sonny Hutchins at the finish.

The race was contested just two days after teams had run the Firecracker 400 at Daytona International Speedway.

Because it was a new venue, tire issues were frequent – David Pearson was leading the race when he suffered a tire failure on lap 64 and sent his car hard into the wall.  Lee Roy Yarbrough battled Petty for the top spot for nearly 100 laps before a blown tire sent the Junior Johnson-owned entry to the garage and out of contention.

Yarbrough’s entry was dealt a mechanical blow during practice when the drive shaft in his entry failed. Pearson’s Holman-Moody group stepped up and provided the Johnson team with the necessary parts to make repairs.

Four days after the Dover debut, the series was competing again, this time at Thompson (Conn.) Speedway.

Another Andretti wins at Daytona

Saturday, July 5, 1997 – John Andretti, nephew of Indianapolis 500 and Daytona 500 winner Mario Andretti, scored his first NASCAR premier series win with a victory in the Pepsi 400 at Daytona International Speedway. Andretti led 113 of 160 laps in collecting his first win as well as the first victory for Cale Yarborough Motorsports.

The ’97 race was the last to be run in the morning at Daytona; beginning in ’98 the race was run under the lights on Saturday nights.

Andretti, who would win two times in Cup competition, picked up the victory in his 110th career start.

Terry Labonte, Sterling Marlin, Dale Earnhardt and Dale Jarrett completed the top five.

Mario Andretti had one win in 14 NASCAR starts, winning the 1967 Daytona 500.

A win for Petty, the President and NASCAR

Wed., July 4, 1984 – Richard Petty, NASCAR’s first seven-time premier series champion, recorded his milestone 200th career victory when he beat Cale Yarborough by a fender in the annual Firecracker 400 at Daytona International Speedway. Petty became the first driver to win in front of a sitting president, Ronald Reagan, who had arrived at the track after the race had begun.

Petty’s 200th victory came 24 years after his first and it was his 943rd career start.

Petty beat Yarborough back to the line with two laps remaining when the yellow flag appeared for an incident involving Doug Heveron. Petty was leading when the caution came out, Yarborough passed Petty going into Turn 3, then Petty pulled up alongside Yarborough in Turn 4 as they sprinted side-by-side to the finish line.

Petty’s 200th win came with team owner Mike Curb, who he had joined following the ’83 season. The legendary driver competed eight more seasons before retirement without another victory.

Yarborough, driving the No. 28 Chevrolet for owner Harry Ranier, had used the slingshot move – waiting until the final lap to draft past the leader – to win multiple races on the series’ biggest tracks, including that season’s Daytona 500.

The final two laps were run under caution; Yarborough mistakenly thought there was only one lap remaining and pulled onto pit road. As a result, he lost one position, falling from second to third in the final rundown. Harry Gant was awarded the runner-up spot.