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.

Car of Tomorrow debuts at Bristol

Sunday, March 25, 2007 – Kyle Busch becomes the first winner in a race featuring NASCAR’s Car of Tomorrow when the Hendrick Motorsports driver captured the Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway. Seven years in the making, the COT featured a front splitter and rear wing as part of its aerodynamic enhancements as well as numerous structural changes to make the car safer and less costly.

“I’m still not a very big fan of these things; I can’t drive them. They suck,” Busch said following his victory. It was his final win at HMS before his release at season’s end. The win was the 600th in NASCAR for Chevrolet and the auto maker debuted its new Impala SS in conjunction with the arrival of the COT. It was also the 200th overall victory for team owner Rick Hendrick.

NASCAR rolled out the Car of Tomorrow at select events in ’07 before teams began competing full-time with the piece in ‘08. The COT was phased out following the 2012 season.

Marlin tops Wallace for legends win at BMS

Saturday, March 21, 2009 – Tennessee’s own Sterling Marlin came out on top in a 35-lap legends race dubbed Scott’s Saturday Night Special at Bristol Motor Speedway. A native of Columbia, Tenn., Marlin bested Rusty Wallace in a race that featured 12 NASCAR “legends” competing in Late Model entries on the high-banked half-mile.

Marlin was still competing in NASCAR’s premier series, although not on a full-time basis.

In addition to Marlin and Wallace, others taking part in the event were: Junior Johnson, Cale Yarborough, Harry Gant, Terry Labonte, Phil Parsons, Jimmy Spencer, Jack Ingram David Green, Larry Pearson and local standout L.D. Ottinger from nearby Newport, Tenn.

Two-time premier series champ and five-time BMS winner David Pearson was the grand marshal.

Ownership proves tricky for DW

Tuesday, March 17, 1998 – Darrell Waltrip, the three-time NASCAR premier series champion (1981-82, ’85) and winningest active driver announces that he will put his single-car organization up for sale following the March 22 TranSouth 400 at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway. Waltrip said he did not know how the sale would impact his own driving career going forward but that he is exploring all options.

With financial problems arising surrounding sponsorship from Speedblock and Builders Square, Waltrip was forced to dip into his own bank account to help keep his Darrell Waltrip Motorsports (initially DarWal, Inc.) organization afloat. But after the season’s first four races, Waltrip made the call to put the team up for sale.

At Darlington, his No. 17 Chevrolet carried a final paint scheme paying homage to former NASCAR champion Tim Flock, who was battling cancer.

Waltrip would go on to compete in 13 races for Dale Earnhardt Inc., subbing for the injured Steve Park, before joining Tyler Jet Motorsports for the season’s final 15 races.

In his final 10 years as an owner/driver Waltrip won five times during 1991-92 – at North Wilkesboro, Pocono (twice), Bristol and Darlington. The Southern 500 victory was the 84th and final Cup win of his career.