Sunday, April 9, 2023

1978 – Carter Wins USAC Inaugural

Pancho Carter tames the high banks of Winchester.

Winchester, Ind. (April 9, 1978) – Duane “Pancho” Carter, still on the mend from serious injuries suffered in a December crash, made it two USAC sprint car wins in a row by leading all the way in the 40-lap feature at Winchester Speedway on Sunday.

On Saturday night at Indianapolis Raceway Park, Carter marked his comeback by winning the season-opening USAC 40-lapper.

As in Saturday’s race, the fastest qualifier on Sunday was Tom Bigelow, who would be the only driver to record a time under the 16-second mark.

Carter qualified fourth, with Gary Bettenhausen and Bob Frey in second and third, respectively.

Larry Rice qualified fifth fastest and started in the front row of the feature, in which the six fastest qualifiers are inverted on the starting grid. He finished sixth after blistering his right rear tire.

“It was an experimental tire,” Rice said, adding that the crew had other tires to choose from. “It started blistering about midway through the race. We just made the wrong choice.”

Bigelow was moving through the pack when his car tangled with Frey’s on lap 9. The collision put Frey out of action, but Bigelow was able to continue although his front suspension was damaged. The damage caused a tire to blister, and Bigelow was forced to slow his pace, resulting in a ninth-place finish.

Finishing second in the race was Billy Cassella, with the defending USAC national sprint car champion Sheldon Kinser in third and Gary Bettenhausen in fourth. Dana Carter, Pancho’s brother, rounded out the top five finishers.

Results –

1. Duane Carter
2. Billy Cassella
3. Sheldon Kinser
4. Gary Bettenhausen
5. Dana Carter
6. Larry Rice
7. Bubby Jones
8. Chuck Gurney
9. Tom Bigelow
10. Greg Leffler
11. Jeff Bloom
12. Rich Leavell
13. Roy Hicks
14. Malcom Lovelace
15. Bruce Walkup
16. Ron Shuman
17. Eddie Leavitt
18. Bob Frey
19. Mack McClellan
20. Mark Alderson

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