Sunday, August 27, 2023

1972 – Al Unser takes Indiana Century

Al Unser steered Rudy Hoerr's Torino to victory in the USAC-sanctioned Indiana State Century. 

Indianapolis, Ind. (August 27. 1972) – Al Unser, driving a 1971 Ford Torino, won the Indiana State Century for USAC late model stock cars on Sunday afternoon.

The two-time Indianapolis 500 winner completely dominated the 30-car field by leading every lap except the 31st circuit when he made his mandatory pit stop. Momentarily giving the lead to Ralph Latham in a ’72 Chevrolet Monte Carlo.

Unser and Latham share the front row starting position with Unser on the pole position after a record-breaking run of 38.86 around the one-mile dirt oval. That equaled out to 92.640 miles per hour.

On lap 19 of the 100-lap race, Unser turned an amazing 38.48 second lap in traffic as he continued to build a lead that was nearly impossible for Latham to contend with.

Two yellow flags slowed the action during the first 50 laps with Unser out front, Latham second, Roger McCluskey third, Sal Tovella fourth and Chuck McWilliams fifth at the halfway mark.

The race was stopped on lap 61 after a chain reaction pileup occurred on turn two caused by Al Bunkofske spinning his 1972 Ford and being broadsided by Dan Dickey driving a ’70 Charger. Lem Blankenship, Chuck McWilliams and Bud Schroyer were also involved in the fracas which produced a lot of bent metal but no injuries.

After a delay of 17 minutes the race was resumed and went six more laps when Butch Hartman spun his 1972 Dodge in the same turn causing another massive mx with the red flag flying again.

Ray Bolander’s ’72 Monte Carlo, Bay Darnell’s ’72 Dodge, Tiny Lund’s ’70 Chevelle, Ramo Stott’s ’72 Plymouth, and Jim Tobin’s ’70 Dodge were all crunched in the pileup. Only Bolander, Hartman and Tobin were able to continue.

On the restart, Latham gave a quick challenge to Unser coming out of turn two, but Unser pulled away and sailed to victory by a seven-second margin. Latham managed to beat out Roger McCluskey by six seconds while McCluskey’s '70 Plymouth finished about five seconds ahead of Sal Tovella and his ’72 Plymouth.

Paul Feldner, in a ’70 Dodge, finished fifth one lap back with Butch Hartman, the 1971 USAC stock car national champion taking sixth in a fender less ’72 Dodge. Rounding out the top-10 were Paul Sizemore in a ’70 Plymouth. Harold Fair driving a ’71 Ford, Frank Freda in a ‘72 Chevelle. and Bud Schroyer in a ’70 Dodge.

Fifteen cars were running at the finish with most of them sporting some kind of body damage from the wild afternoon of racing. Over 11,000 paid spectators were at the track to watch the USAC pros to after more than $15,000 in prize money.

Results –

1. Al Unser
2. Ralph Latham
3. Roger McCluskey
4. Sal Tovella
5. Paul Feldner
6. Butch Hartman
7. Paul Sizemore
8. Harold Fair
9. Frank Freda
10.Bud Schroyer
11.Jim Tobin
12.Dan Dickey
13.Ken Reiter
14.Terry Ryan
15.Joe Booher
16.Jay Wyatt
17.Ray Bolander
18.Tiny Lund
19.Bay Darnell
20.Ramo Stott

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