Saturday, June 22, 2024

1968 – White Finishes First; Booed by Record Crowd

Don White waves to the crowd after winning the "Indiana Classic" for USAC stock cars at the Indiana State Fairgrounds. Car owner Ray Nichel joins White in victory lane. - Wayne Bryant Photo/Doug Schellinger Collection

Indianapolis, Ind. (June 22, 1968) – Don White’s winning streak at the Indiana State Fairgrounds is still intact. 

His popularity is not...

White emerged victorious in a thundering duel of Dodge Chargers in Saturday night’s “Indiana Classic” as Al Unser spun out in the fourth turn of the 99th lap while running head-to-head with the defending USAC national champion.

A record crowd of 18,813 thought that Unser’s spin might have been assisted by a nudge from White. Don said it wasn’t and several witnesses confirmed that.

They said that Unser was running too high, too fast, and lost it.

This did not help White with the fans. They booed so loudly afterwards that his victor remarks were completely drowned out.

White didn’t care. He just smiled, accepted his trophy for his fourth consecutive victory at the one-mile dirt oval and thought about the $5,473 he just won.

Unser, who led 82 of the 100 miles, was about as unhappy with White as the crowd was – but not over the spin. The object of his wrath was the beginning of the 99th lap.

The 98th lap, like the 10 before, was run under the yellow after Bob Robbins parked his Chevelle on the inside fence of the first turn.

When the green flag waved on the 99th lap, White took it side by side with the previous leading Unser. Al thought White was a little ahead, in fact, which happens to be illegal, immoral, and most unfattening to the pocketbook under the USAC rules.

Unser discussed the matter afterwards with chief steward Billy Taylor. Al was ready to protest but left he decision to car owner Rudy Hoerr because he had to leave immediately for Langhorne, Penn., for Sunday’s championship race.

Hoerr decided not to protest.

As it was, lap 99 was the most memorable in any race. White nabbed the lead heading into the first turn, but Unser was back in front as they entered the backstretch.

White nosed in front on the inside as the pair entered turn three, but Unser was a radiator ahead midway through the turn. Then White had a little advantage as they entered the fourth and final turn – that’s where Unser spun out.

That was it.

White led the last lap and third and then smiled as he was pelted with boos from the grandstand.

It was a tough one to lose for Unser, who had been in command for most of the day.

Results –

1. Don White
2. Al Unser
3. Butch Hartman
4. Roger McCluskey
5. Roger Regeth
6. Dave Hirschfield
7. Gene Marmor
8. Dave Whitcomb
9. Gordon Gorman
10.Tom Klippel
11.Glen Bradley
12.John Kennedy
13.Tom Jones
14.Len Blanchard
15.Frank Freda
16.Paul Sizemore
17.Bob Haack
18.Paul Feldner
19.A.J. Foyt
20.Bob Robbins
21.Fred Zack
22.Sal Tovella
23.Elmer Davis
24.Parnelli Jones
25.Jim Nusbaum

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