Saturday, June 15, 2024

1969 – McCluskey Wins at Tri-County

Roger McCluskey (2) moves up to pass race leader Jack Bowsher (21) en route to winning the 100-lap USAC late model stock car race at Tri-County Speedway. – Bowen & Robinson Photo

West Chester, Ohio (June 15, 1969) – Roger McCluskey picked up his first victory of 1969 in the United States Auto Club late model stock car division on Sunday at Tri-County Speedway.

The triumph gave McCluskey’s lead over A.J. Foyt in the stock car point standings a tremendous shot in the arm. Foyt, a pre-race favorite, dropped out on the 69th lap and went pointless for the evening.

McCluskey’s victory in the main event also shut off an attempt by Jack Bowsher, owner of the Ford Torino’s driven by himself and Foyt, who won the fast car dash and the first heat. Bowsher settled for a distant second place finish in the feature.

Defending stock car champion Foyt angled into the lead on lap 6, moving up from his 13th starting position, and began to pull away from the rest of the field. By lap 20, the engine in Foyt’s ’69 Torino was purring smoothly, he had built up a four-second lead over his teammate Bowsher, and the race appeared to be a runaway.

McCluskey, his ’69 Plymouth Roadrunner running in third place after his start in the ninth row, was having issues getting to the leaders as he battled with Don White.

By lap 30, Foyt, Bowsher, McCluskey, and White were all bunched up, within one-car-length of each other, in a scramble for the lead.

Bumping each other in the turns, Foyt and Bowsher ran side-by-side for three laps until the Springfield, Ohio, driver spurted into the lead and held it as Foyt suddenly started fading. McCluskey was right behind.

“I was having a fit with Bowsher,” said McCluskey, “Then he and A.J. started at it, and I didn’t want to get involved in that.”

McCluskey pulled even with Bowsher just after the halfway mark and accelerated into the lead on the inside groove of lap 54. He stretched his lead to over half-a-lap by the 75th circuit and coasted to the checkered flag.

Bowsher and White got into a battle for second place for the final 40 laps with Bowsher getting the nod. White had to contend with Butch Hartman who was shadowing him on the inside groove and could never get close enough for a shot at Bowsher. Hartman, who would lose five laps after a lengthy pit stop, would finish out of the money.

Ross Smith of Sayler Park led the local entrants with a fourth place finish. Dave Whitcomb would round out the top-five finishers.

Foyt pulled into the pits after 69 circuits when his overheating engine caused a radiator hose to break apart and he was through for the evening.

Results –

1. Roger McCluskey
2. Jack Bowsher
3. Don White
4. Ross Smith
5. Dave Whitcomb
6. Dick Trickle
7. Verlin Eaker
8. Paul Feldner
9. Glen Bradley
10.Terry Nichels
11.Jay Wyatt
12.Gene Marmor

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