Tuesday, October 3, 2023

1976 – Senneker Wins Third Dri-Powr 400 at Winchester

Bob Senneker won the Dri-Powr 400 at Winchester Speedway for a record third time. 

Winchester, Ind. (October 3, 1976) – Bob Senneker made it three “Dri-Powr 400” titles in a row at Winchester Speedway on Sunday, beating his younger brother, Terry, by four laps.

The crowd, estimated at 9,000, was the first bona-fide sellout in the seven seasons Roger Holdeman has owned the speedway. It was the largest crowd at Winchester since Labor Day 1950, when the Mutual Racing Association staged a 200-lap event. That race drew 15,000.

Senneker set a new Dri-Powr 400 race record of 2 hours, 20 minutes, and 9.5 seconds (85.622 mph), in taking home the lion’s share of the $42,215 purse.

In becoming the first in the seven-year history of the stock car classic to win from the pole position, Senneker also became the first driver ever to win the event three times.

The handsome Dorr, Mich., plot admitted afterwards that the third win was the hardest on the high banked, half-mile asphalt.

“This one was the toughest,” he said, “because I just couldn’t slow down. I couldn’t ‘cool it,’ because there was always someone pushing me.”

Just 18 laps into the event, Larry Moore and Ray Dillon came together in the second turn and crashed through the guardrail and down a 25-foot embankment into the woods. Neither driver was injured, but it took the track crew an hour and 42 minutes to make repairs.

Consequently, the race ended at 6:31 pm, just as the drivers were running out of racing light.

“The shadows got to be a real problem up in the north end,” Senneker said. “I kept hoping they’d shorten the race because it was getting hard to see the track.”

Senneker had to chase down the Don Gregory – Lennie Waldo race team late in the race, and only a lengthy late stop to change tires and drivers kept Gregory from second and possibly first. Waldo, driving relief for Gregory, pitted on lap 327 while running second. He lost that position plus five laps and wound up fourth, seven laps behind the winner and three laps behind the runner-up. Third went to steady Vern Schrock, the 1973 winner. Lonnie Breedlove was fifth to complete a Camaro sweep of the top five.

Breedlove came all the way from his 38th starting position in the 40-car field for his fifth=place finish. Veteran Ellis Herbert, who made the race in the 40th and final starting position when Joe Bennett’s car was disqualified, finished an impressive seventh.

Senneker had taken the lead on lap 361 after a lengthy stop had cost him two laps on the leaders. He and Waldo hooked up in a “showdown at sundown,” that went on for several laps before Senneker finally caught Waldo in slower traffic and whipped around him.

Senneker took the lead at the start and held on for 14 laps before Mike Eddy stormed to the front. Senneker got back into the lead on lap 97 until giving way to hard-charging Art Sommers on lap 128. Gregory took command on lap 131 and held it until Senneker came back for laps 163 and 164 before pitting.

Terry Senneker took over at that point and led until lap 219. Lead changes got more and more frequent in the final half of the most competitive “Di-Powr” yet.

Gregory led 220 – 242; then it was Bob Senneker 243 – 251; Gregory 252 – 263; John Anderson 264 – 267; bob Senneker 268 – 273; Anderson 274; Waldo (for Gregory) 275- 360, and Senneker for the final 40 circuits.

Engine problems waylaid several favorites. Dave Sorg one of a pair of two-time winners to start the race, was finished after 174 laps with a blown engine. Exiting with the same issue were Tom Maier at 169 laps and Rodney Combs at lap 34.

It really wasn’t Combs’ engine that broke. It was Larry Moore’s. Combs came to the pits with engine woes when Moore crashed through the guardrail. Moore’s crew hauled his car out of the woods and let Combs’ crew pull the engine and put it in Rodney’s car.

Mike Eddy was out after 146 laps with a faulty water pump.

Results –

1. Bob Senneker, Dorr, Mich.
2. Terry Senneker, Grand Rapids, Mich.
3. Vern Schrock, Middlebury, Ind.
4. Don Gregory, Columbus, Ohio
5. Lonnie Breedlove, Indianapolis
6. Jim Cushman, Worthington, Ohio
7. Ellis Herbert, Rushville, Ind.
8. Don Lamb, Milford, Ohio
9. John Anderson, Massillon, Ohio
10.Denny Nyari, South Bend, Ind.
11.L.J. Lines, Greensboro, Ind.
12.Bob Kohlmeyer, Fort Wayne, Ind.
13.Don Seaborn, Dayton, Ohio
14.Glenn Ohlmann, Louisville, Ky.
15.John Vallo, West Carrollton, Ohio
16.Roger Herp, Byron Center, Mich.
17.Art Sommers, Warren, Mich.
18.Jigger Sirois, Hammond, Ind.
19.Bob Coffey, Indianapolis
20.Robbie Dean, Grove City, Ohio.

Gregory had relief from Lennie Waldo, Grove City, Ohio

Bob Kohlmeyer had relief from Joe Bennett, Fort Wayne, Ind.

Don Seaborn had relief from Larry Moore, Dayton, Ohio

Jigger Sirois had relief from Jeff Bloom, Kalamazoo, Mich.

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