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.