Sunday, October 22, 2023

1972 – Weld From Far Back in National Open Victory

Kenny Weld gives a wave from victory lane after winning the National Open at Williams Grove Speedway for the second straight year. 

Mechanicsburg, Penn. (October 22, 1972) - Kenny Weld tooled his Weikert Livestock #91 from far back in the pack to win the 10th annual National Open Sunday at Williams Grove Speedway and pull down $2,710 for his afternoon’s work.

Repeating his 1971 success with his 29th feature triumph of the season, Weld started his climb from 22nd spot where he was stationed when the 35-car field took the green for the 150-lap grind.

Weld was charging hard right from the start and made his way up to 10th by the fifth lap. He was in fourth on lap 26 when Smokey Snellbaker, the leader at the time, dropped out because of mechanical troubles.

With Snellbaker in the pits, Jan Opperman inherited the lead, closely pursued by Bobby Allen. However, Allen lost his drive line on the 67th circuit as Steve Smith moved up to second and Weld took third.

Then, with one lap to go before the mandatory pit stop after 75 laps, Weld slipped past Smith.

Five laps into the second segment of the event, Weld worked his way around Opperman as they roared through the third turn. Once in front, there was no stopping him although Opperman was only 1.2 seconds behind at the checkered.

Lee Osborne came on strong for third as Smith slipped back a notch. Tommy Spriggle was next, the first five finishers all in the same lap.

Weld’s car apparently had been geared wrong for Saturday’s time trials, and his clocking of 23.462 seconds was far off the new track record set by Opperman with one lap in 22.317 seconds.

Snellbaker earned the other front row berth with a time of 22.664 seconds while Smith, with a time of 22.760 seconds, and Allen, caught in 22.840 seconds, were right behind.

Opperman erased the track record of 22.606 seconds set by Bobbie Adamson last year. Adamson, also a two-time winner of the National Open, settled for sixth money in the final payoff from the total purse in excess of $13,000.

Opperman’s time for the first 75 laps was 33 minutes and 38 seconds while Weld turned the second portion in 35 minutes and 23 seconds. The overall time was 1 hour, 8 minute and 1 second. All are off track records.

Lap leaders included Snellbaker 1 to 11, Opperman 12 to 25, Snellbaker 26, Opperman 27 to 79 and Weld 80 to 150.

Results –

1. Kenny Weld
2. Jan Opperman
3. Lee Osborne
4. Steve Smith
5. Tommy Spriggle
6. Bobbie Adamson
7. Eddie Zirkle
8. Ronnie Rough
9. Lou Blaney
10.Kenny Slaybaugh
11.Sam Armstrong
12.Bill Bannick
13.Bill Wentz
14.Ed Lynch
15.Lynn Paxton
16.Ron Blazer
17.Cliff Cockrum
18.Kramer Williamson
19.Rick Ferkel
20.Gary Gollub
21.David James
22.Elmer Ruby
23.Donnie Varner
24.Bobby Allen
25.Chuck Engstrom
26.Gus Linder

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