Monday, July 8, 2024

1979 - Ruttman Takes Miller 200 Title

Joe Ruttman is interviewed in victory lane after winning the prestigious Miller 200 at the Milwaukee Mile.  

West Allis, Wis. (July 8, 1979) – Joe Ruttman said he didn’t feel he was the best driver in the race Sunday, even though he won the 200-mile United States Auto Club stock car event by a relatively comfortable 4.5 seconds.

“I just think I had the better car today,” said the younger brother of 1952 Indianapolis 500 winner Troy Ruttman after his victory at the Wisconsin State Fair Park track. “I didn’t finish ahead of A.J. Foyt because I’m a better driver than he is.”

“I could see that he (Foyt) had lots of problems with his car. I felt sorry for him, but then he’s beat me an awful lot of times, and I wanted to beat him for a change.”

The Upland, Calif., driver, who led 152 of the 200 laps on the paved fairgrounds one-mile oval, took the lead for good when he passed Terry Ryan going into the third turn of lap 130. Ryan, Ruttman, Foyt and defending champion Bobby Allison had battled for the lead for the previous 20 laps.

Ruttman, the 37-year-old driver whose brother won a 150-mile stock car race here in 1956, managed to stay a second ahead of Ryan and Foyt for the next 10 laps and then began increasing his lead to as much as five seconds.

“Everything worked so well that I could go anywhere I wanted on the track,” Ruttman said. “Hey, I’ve worked harder finishing third than I did today.”

Foyt, current USAC points standings leader and polesitter for Sunday’s event, was bothered most of the day by handling and tire problems.

Ruttman averaged 96.33 miles per hour in his Pontiac Phoenix as the caution flag was out seven times during the race.

He won $12,566 out of a record $75,000 purse by finishing ahead of Ryan, of Davenport, Iowa, and Foyt, of Houston, who both drove Camaros. Ryan won $7,523 and Foyt $5,538.

Allison, from Hueytown, Ala., finished fourth, one lap back, in his AMC Matador and won $4,089. Tom Sneva of Spokane, Wash., was fifth for $3,322 in a Ford Granada.

Ruttman’s victory, his first at the Milwaukee oval, came before a crowd of 21,169. His 73-year-old father, Ralph, who directed his brother’s pit crew at Indianapolis, was a member of his pit crew here.

Results –

1. Joe Ruttman
2. Terry Ryan
3. A.J. Foyt
4. Bobby Allison
5. Tom Sneva
6. Jim Cushman
7. Ricci Ware, Jr.
8. Dean Roper
9. Russ Peterson
10.Bob Schacht
11.Gordon Blankenship
12.Frank Freda
13.Larry Nau
14.Butch Hartman
15.Tom Schley
16.Clyde Dagit
17.Allan Sheppard
18.Bay Darnell
19.Bill Venturini
20.Bob Brevak
21.Ramo Stott
22.Sal Tovella
23.Tom Meinberg
24.Rusty Wallace
25.Brian Paulsen
26.Larry Phillips
27.Roger McCluskey
28.Dave Watson
29.Fred Zack
30.Randy Ogden
31.Bob Dotter
32.Carl Schultz

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