Saturday, August 14, 2021

1977 – Tovella wins Milwaukee Mile’s Fair Stock 200

Sal Tovella

Milwaukee, Wis. (August 14, 1977) - Birthday celebrant Sal Tovella squeezed past Dave Watson on the final turn and held on for a car-length victory in Sunday’s 200-mile United States Auto Club stock car race.

Tovella, a used car salesman from Chicago who celebrated his 40th birthday Sunday, had trailed by nearly three seconds until a caution period 11 laps from the finish allowed him to close his Plymouth Volare up behind Watson’s Buick Skylark.

Watson, who had been aiming for his second straight victory at the one-mile Wisconsin State Fairgrounds Speedway, started on the pole position and led 147 of the 200 laps.

Except for the final lap, Tovella had not been in front since lap 60, a 12-lap stint that was his only other time in the lead. He had gambled on pit strategy and stayed out on the track, while all the other leaders made service stops during a caution period. He stopped later under green and nearly lost a lap.

Tovella had a chance to make up his lost ground at the halfway point during another caution period but elected instead to stop for tires. It wasn't until lap 148 that he managed to work himself back as high as second again.

“I think that if I had an advantage over Dave there at the end it was in the tires,” said Tovella after scoring his fourth career USAC stock car victory. “We took on tires on our last pit stop, and I don't believe he did.”

The most serious of three accidents during the race occurred on lap 115 when Gordon Blankenship blew an engine and spun with Boyce Sparkman into the first turn wall. Both cars were heavily damaged, but the drivers were not injured.

During that caution period, Tovella was able to move up and rejoin the lead pack. He passed Paul Feldner 25 laps later for third and went past Ramo Stott five laps after that for second.

Stott, who ran the final 100 laps on the same tank of fuel in his Volare, finished third, the only other car to complete the distance.

Feldner ran out of gas on lap 198 but sputtered home for fourth, unofficially, ahead of Harold Fair.

Watson protested to USAC officials after the race that Tovella had lost a lap during one of his tire change stops. The preliminary verdict on the protest went against Watson.

Results -

1. Sal Tovella
2. Dave Watson
3. Ramo Stott
4. Paul Felder
5. Harold Fair
6. Larry Nau
7. Jeff Bloom
8. Dave Decker
9. George Giesen
10. Rich Clement
11. Wayne Watercutter
12. Dean Roper
13. Tom Meinberg
14. Bob Dotter
15. Jerry Wolland
16. Jack Bowsher
17. Ken Rowley
18. Bob Schacht
19. Moose Myers
20. Boyce Sparkman
21. Gordon Blankenship
22. Bob Keselowski
23. Gary Bowsher
24. Fred Zack
25. Rich Sundling
26. Don White
27. Bay Darnell
28. Bob Brevak
29. J. J. Janovetz
30. Steve Drake
31. Frank Cabrera

No comments:

Post a Comment