Tuesday, February 20, 2024

1972 - Foyt Whizzes to Win at Daytona

A.J. Foyt basks in the glory of his Daytona 500 victory. 

Daytona Beach, Fla. (February 20, 1972) - Like the Cowboys winning the Super Bowl by 50 points, like the Pirates winning the seventh game of the Series by 21 runs, Sunday’s Daytona 500 was a humdrum parade.

Things came up horseshoes for A.J. Foyt and horselaughs for everybody else.

The largest crowd ever estimated at Daytona International Speedway - 98,600 - saw probably the most boring race in the 14-year history of the speed plants.

Richard Petty, last of Foyt’s competition, went behind the wall on lap 80. From that point on the Texan rode tall in the saddle, never relinquishing the lead and making shambles of the rest of the field.

Charlie Glotzbach, not fast enough to run with the Wood Brothers’ Mercury, finished second in a Dodge, one lap back of the leader. Jim Vandiver in another Dodge was third. Benny Parsons in a Mercury was fourth and James Hylton in a Ford rounded out the top five. Former 500 winner Cale Yarborough was sixth in a Ray Fox Plymouth, 12 laps behind.

Foyt, who led 167 of the 200 laps, averaged 161.550 miles per hour over the 2.5-mile tri-oval and collected $38,400 for his Sunday afternoon cruise. His winnings included $4,900 in lap money.

There were only two other leaders in the race. Petty, who was leading at the time when a broken valve spring sidelined him, was in command for 31 laps, and Bobby Allison, who finished 16th, led two laps.

There were only 13 lead charges among the three leaders. Three caution flags slowed the stock car classic for a total of 16 laps.

There was one spectacular crash and it occurred on lap 20 when Walter Ballard chopped Buddy Baker coming off the fourth turn, bringing out the first yellow. Baker and Petty, who started 31st and 32nd, respectively, in the 40-car field, had moved to the front and were running down Foyt. Petty was second and Baker third, bumper to bumper.

Coming off four, Ballard was in the lower lane of traffic and began moving up to the wall. Petty slipped by, but the door closed on Baker. They rammed the wall at about the entrance to pit road. Baker spun onto the infield grass after Ballard’s car had flipped on its top. After flipping, Ballard’s machine slid on its top to a halt ending the skid with a violent cartwheel as the car slid from asphalt to grass, flipping over again on the inside apron.

Baker and Petty wasted little time in coming to the front. By lap 10 the two were running third and fourth with Foyt and Allison just ahead.

On the restart Foyt and Petty were bumper to bumper and swapping the lead. On lap 47 the lead car zipped by the third place car which was Jim Vandiver.

The two were engaged in the only real racing of the day. On lap 54 Foyt pitted for a 19-second stop. On lap 57 Petty pitted and was in for 28 seconds. This separated the two until Foyt pitted again on lap 74 for outside tires. Petty moved into the lead but shut it off and pulled behind the wall on lap 81.

“I think my car was handling a little better, but Foyt was a little stronger down the straightaways,” remarked Petty. “I was just cruising down the backstretch when the engine started skipping I knew that was all. It could have been an interesting finish had nothing happened.”

Pole winner Bobby Isaac completed only 19 laps. He was sidelined with ignition problems and finished 33rd.

Of the six competitive cars in the field, only three were running at the finish – Foyt, Glotzbach and Allison – and Allison had overheating problems after the first few laps.

The second caution of the day came on lap 97 when a car stalled on the track, and the third and final yellow flag rippled the breeze on lap 115 when Jim Hurtubise’s Chevy engine exploded in the second turn, giving Foyt his only close call of the day.

Some of the rated independents also had their problems, along with Mark Donohue, driving the only openly factory backed car in the field—an American Motors Matador.

Donohue’s machine went out with a broken push rod on lap 13 Dave Marcis was sidelined with engine failure on lap 57. Coo Coo Marlin’s Chevy went out on lap 81 with a broken valve.

Only Foyt was blessed with luck. It was his third win here at Daytona. The three-time Indianapolis 500 winner came home first here in the July 4th races twice.

Results –

1. A.J. Foyt
2. Charlie Glotzbach
3. Jim Vandiver
4. Benny Parsons
5. James Hylton
6. Cale Yarborough
7. David Sisco
8. Jabe Thomas
9. John Sears
10.Vic Elford
11.Tom Gale
12.Elmo Langley
13.Richard Brown
14.Henley Gray
15.George Altheide
16.Bobby Allison
17.Ben Arnold
18.Frank Warren
19.David Boggs
20.Ed Hessert
21.Larry Dickson
22.Jim Hurtubise
23.Bill Dennis
24.J.D. McDuffie
25.Coo Coo Marlin
26.Richard Petty
27.Dave Marcis
28.Ron Keselowski
29.Bill Seifert
30.Red Farmer
31.Jimmy Finger
32.Buddy Arrington
33.Bobby Isaac
34.Buddy Baker
35.Mark Donohue
36.Walter Ballard
37.Ramo Stott
38.Bill Champion
39.Cecil Gordon
40.Ray Williams

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