Thursday, March 23, 2023

1969 - Allison Wasn't the Choice at Bristol

Bobby Allison took Mario Rossi's Dodge to victory at Bristol. 

Bristol, Tenn. (March 23, 1969) - The man with the fist full of money wearing the white cap wasn't willing to put his cash on Bobby Allison, not even with 55 laps to go in Sunday's Southeastern 500.

Allison was chugging along in third place, practically unnoticed with less than 30 miles to race in the 250-miler here at Bristol International Speedway.

The man waving the white cap with the fist full of money, and the man in the checkered shirt who called the bet was leading cheers every time David Pearson passed the grandstand.

Isaac, in a Dodge, and Pearson, in a Ford, had dominated the race, and were now engaged in a chase for the checkered flag. But with 52 laps to go, an unusual turn of events began to unfold.

Isaac's Dodge and Pearson's Ford became crop dusters. Both went up in a cloud of smoke, opening the way for Allison who rode home first.

The Hueytown, Ala. veteran, a four-time national modified champion, was driving a 1969 Dodge Charger. He led only 14 laps of the 500-lap race, taking command eight laps from the finish. He had led for six laps early in the event.

The rallying victory charge was worth $5,025 to Allison, who averaged 81.455 miles per hour, a new record for this track.

Lee Roy Yarbrough, in a Ford, was second. Pearson was third, Cale Yarborough fourth in a Ford, and Donnie Allison, a brother to Bobby, rounded out the top five in a Ford.

Isaac, who started on the pole, led a total of 269 laps, and Pearson, who started on the front row alongside Isaac, was in front for a total of 217 laps.

The race was slowed by four caution flags which brought the yellow out for 28 laps. There were no serious accidents.

The turn of events that made the race as thrilling as it was began developing back on lap 273 when Richard Petty spun in the third turn, bringing out the second caution flag. At the time, Isaac was riding along high and mighty, leading Pearson by half a lap.

Both Isaac and Pearson pitted twice under the caution and on his second stop for inside tires, Isaac was passed by Pearson.

Pearson then led the race until lap 422 when he spun coming off the fourth turn. The Ford driver had built up a good lead on Isaac when, he started into the third turn with Cale Yarborough right on his bumper. Bobby Johns was in the high-speed groove and didn't move. Pearson ducked low and there was James Hylton in the low groove. Pearson tapped Hylton and Yarborough tapped Pearson, and Pearson spun coming off the turn He didn't lose a lap, but he did lose position to Isaac who grabbed the lead.

Before the spin, Pearson had nearly a five second lead over Isaac, and on the restart Isaac held about the same lead over Pearson.

Once again Isaac was riding out front. Then, suddenly, on lap 447, as he approached the third turn, his car sent up a puff of smoke. Then a cloud of smoke followed, and Isaac was finished for the day.

Pearson took the lead, but before all the Dodge fans could make their way out of the grandstands, Pearson's Ford puffed smoke in the second turn, and it was a whole new deal. The Ford driver had a two - lap lead over Allison, but a valve had broken, and his pace was slowed. Allison passed Pearson on the track to make up one lap. Then Pearson went to the pits and Allison passed again to make up the second lap.

When the Ford driver came out of the pits he held a half lap lead over Allison, and with 10 laps to go Allison was trailing by half a straightway but catching up fast. Allison made his move and went under Pearson in the second turn with seven laps to go, taking the lead for good.

By this time the man in the checkered shirt was on the way to his car. Ford had lost. The man with the white cap wasn't any richer. Isaac had lost, too, but Dodge hadn't, and he was just as happy. The white cap went sailing down through the grandstand and landed on the track near the finish line. It was all over now.

Results –

1. Bobby Allison
2. Lee Roy Yarborough
3. David Pearson
4. Cale Yarborough
5. Donnie Allison
6. Dave Marcis
7. Richard Petty
8. Elmo Langley
9. Friday Hassler
10.Neil Castle
11.Bobby Johns
12.Jabe Thomas
13.James Hylton
14.Bobby Isaacs
15.E.J. Trivette
16.Henley Gray
17.Wendell Scott
18.Dick Johnson
19.Charlie Glotzbach
20.Bill Champion

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