Tuesday, December 13, 2011

1977 - First career win helped Feldner cop USAC stock crown

Paul Feldner receives a champagne shower after scoring his first career USAC stock car victory at the DuQuoin State Fairgrounds on August 27, 1977. Feldner would go on to capture the series' title that same season.

Speedway, Ind. (December 13, 1977) – Rebounding from a disappointing 1976 season, Paul Feldner of Richfield, Wis., ended years of frustration by scoring his first career USAC stock car win and capturing the division’s driving title in 1977.

Driving a 1974 Dodge Charger owned by Gary Wutke of Milwaukee, Feldner accumulated 1,525 points to 1,425 for runner-up Ramo Stott of Keokuk, Iowa. Sal Tovella of Addison, Ill., placed third with 1,330 points and Bay Darnell of Deerfield, Ill., took fourth with 1,075 points.

Rookie Dave Watson of Milton, Wis., who compete in only five of the circuit’s 10 events, totaled 865 points to place fifth in the standings, ahead of 1976 Rookie of the Year Wayne Watercutter, Gordon Blankenship, Don White, Jack Bowsher and Dave Decker. Watson was voted the division’s rookie of the year.

Feldner broke into the division in 1966 and became one of the circuit’s most consistent performers finishing in the top seven in the standings annually from 1970 to 1975.

In 1976, Feldner had his own 1974 Charger demolished in a multi-car wreck at Wisconsin State Fair Speedway on July 11. Wutke then purchased another 1974 Charger for Feldner from Butch Hartman, but bad luck continued to plague him the rest of the year and he finished 12th in the standings.

However, Feldner’s luck did an about face in 1977. He scored his first career USAC win in a 100-mile race at the Du Quoin (ill.) State Fairgrounds on August 27 and recorded three consecutive second-place finishes en route to capturing the point crown.

Stott was the division’s most prolific winner with three triumphs, but he missed one race, failed to crack the top 10 on three other occasions and had to settle for bridesmaid honors.

Watson won two events while Tovella, Darnell, Jimmy Insolo and Dave Marcis joined Feldner in winning one race apiece.

Final Standings
1. Paul Feldner – 1,525
2. Ramo Stott – 1,425
3. Sal Tovella – 1,330
4. Bay Darnell – 1,075
5. Dave Watson – 865
6. Wayne Watercutter -750
7. Gordon Blankenship – 645
8. Don White - 605
9. Jack Bowsher – 585
10. Dave Decker – 570
11. Harold Fair – 530
12. Dean Roper – 480
13. Bob Brevak – 480
14. Moose Myers – 425
15. Gary Bowsher – 415
16. Tom Meinberg – 385
17. Larry Nau – 370
18. Ron Hutcherson – 365
19. George Giesen – 355
20. Jim Sauter - 320

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