Tuesday, June 11, 2019

1972 - Masters Wins at Action Track

Terre Haute, Ind. (June 11, 1972) - With a large, enthusiastic crowd on hand at the Action Track, Charlie Masters won his first United States Auto Club sprint car feature on dirt, nipping Larry Dickson by three car lengths Sunday.

Masters jumped into the lead on the first lap after starting second. Dickson was never able to catch him although he pulled even several times. Behind Dickson were Gary Bettenhausen, Tinley Park, Ill., Chuck Allen, San Diego, Calif., and Sam Sessions, Nashville, Mich.

Sessions’ fifth place finish allowed him to maintain his lead in the USAC sprint division point standing.

Masters, who won $1,600 of the $9,000 purse, had never won a USAC sprint car feature on a dirt track and his last feature victory in the sprints was at Salem, Ind., in 1969.

Billy Cassella won the 12-lap semi-feature while Bubby Jones, Springfield, Ill., won the first heat race. Larry Cannon, Oakwood, Ill., took the second heat. Duane Carter Jr. of Huntington Beach, Calif., won the third and Merle Bettenhausen of Indianapolis took the fourth heat.
I was lucky to win it," said Masters, as he accepted pats on the back from well-wishers following the race.
Sessions, winner of Saturday’s Eldora Sprint at Rossburg, Ohio, picked up 25 points for his fifth-place finish Sunday. He now has 334 points to lead all USAC drivers in sprint action.
Dickson for the second day in a row finished as runner up. Dickson, currently in second place in the USAC standings, closed the gap on the leader. Sessions, by adding 35 giving him 310.
Gary Bettenhausen, who qualified sixth, was the day’s fastest qualifier, winning
the ice bucket trophy. Bettenhausen turned the half-mile track in 23.5 seconds.

It turned out to be a perfect afternoon for racing as the fans watched the accident-free race under clear blue skies.
Several cars spun out on the track as it turned slick after an afternoon of intense racing.
Early qualifiers found the track prepared to their liking as the first six men out turned in times on the mid-23 second range.

Jones won the first heat race with top qualifier Bettenhausen. Starting at the back of the inverted seven-car field and unable to get around traffic, and finally spinning out on the last lap in turn three.

“Boom Boom” Cannon grabbed the second heat but developed engine trouble on the last lap that proved fatal in the feature. Cannon started the championship running on six cylinders and was the first car out to drop out of the race.
Carter jumped out to an early lead and hot-footed it to win the third heat. Carter nicknamed “Pancho” was the birthday boy on Sunday and was presented a cake by Vigo County Fair Queen Betsy Larr when Billy Vukovich and friends dropped a bucket of ice water on the driver and local announcer, Bob Forbes.
Bruce Walkup, winner of the Hulman Classic, jumped out to the lead in the fourth heat but couldn’t hang on as Merle Bettenhausen, Darl Harrison, Tom Bigelow and Dickson finished ahead of him.
Cassella, in his first year on the USAC circuit, won the semi-feature event after passing Chuck Allen on the seventh lap. Allen finished second with Bettenhausen third. Steve Cannon and Lee Kunzman finished fourth and fifth.


Results –

Heat #1 – Bubby Jones
Heat #2 – Larry Cannon
Heat #3 – Duane Carter
Heat #4 – Merle Bettenhausen
Semi-main – Bill Cassella
Feature –
    1.     Charlie Masters
2.     Larry Dickson
3.     Gary Bettenhausen
4.     Chuck Allen
5.     Sam Sessions
6.     Tom Bigelow
7.     George Snider
8.     Steve Cannon
9.     Rollie Beale
10. Johnnie Parsons
11. Darl Harrison
12. Bubby Jones
13. Rick Goudy
14. Merle Bettenhausen
15. Gary Ponzini
16. Duane Carter
17. Ralph Liguori
18. Bill Cassella
19. Bill Puterbaugh
20. Larry Cannon

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