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1968 American 500

The 1968 American 500 was a NASCAR Grand National Series (now Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series) event that was held on October 27, 1968, at North Carolina Motor Speedway in Rockingham, North Carolina.

1968 American 500
Race details[1]
Race 48 of 49 in the 1968 NASCAR Grand National Series season
Layout of Rockingham Speedway
Layout of Rockingham Speedway
Date October 27, 1968 (1968-October-27)
Official name American 500
Location North Carolina Motor Speedway, Rockingham, North Carolina
Course Permanent racing facility
1.017 mi (1.636 km)
Distance 492 laps, 500 mi (804 km)
Weather Chilly with temperatures of 67.3 °F (19.6 °C); wind speeds of 9.9 miles per hour (15.9 km/h)
Average speed 105.06 miles per hour (169.08 km/h)
Attendance 32,000[2]
Pole position
Driver Wood Brothers Racing
Most laps led
Driver Richard Petty Petty Enterprises
Laps 216
Winner
No. 43 Richard Petty Petty Enterprises
Television in the United States
Network untelevised
Announcers none

The transition to purpose-built racecars began in the early 1960s and occurred gradually over that decade. Changes made to the sport by the late 1960s brought an end to the "strictly stock" vehicles of the 1950s.

BackgroundEdit

North Carolina Motor Speedway was opened as a flat, one-mile oval on October 31, 1965. In 1969, the track was extensively reconfigured to a high-banked, D-shaped oval just over one mile in length. In 1997, North Carolina Motor Speedway merged with Penske Motorsports, and was renamed North Carolina Speedway. Shortly thereafter, the infield was reconfigured, and competition on the infield road course, mostly by the SCCA, was discontinued. Currently, the track is home to the Fast Track High Performance Driving School,[3]

Race reportEdit

There were 44 drivers who managed to qualify for this event. Only one foreigner was present - Australian-born driver Frank Gardner - would become the last-place driver due to an incident requiring a black flag on the first lap. He would become the "prototype" for current Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver Marcos Ambrose even though Garnder would never run another NASCAR Cup Series race after this one. Gardner's last-place finish within the confines of the American stock car world was eventually overshadowed by his championship victory at the 1968 British Saloon Car Championship while driving a European version of the Ford Escort Twin Cam.[4]

American-born driver Dexter Gainey would be black-flagged exactly forty laps later and would be disqualified as well. Wendell Scott would become the lowest-finishing driver to complete the event; albeit 191 laps behind the lead lap drivers.[2] Five hundred laps was raced at this event for a duration for four hours and forty-five minutes. Speeds on the track would reach around 105.06 miles per hour or 169.08 kilometres per hour for the entire course of this race. Thirty-two thousand spectators would witness another Richard Petty victory with him out-racing David Pearson by a time of fifteen seconds. LeeRoy Yarbrough would finish in third place, and two laps behind the top two finishers.[2] Petty was running an older chassis with current sheet metal because he couldn't get his 1968 vehicle to run on a super-speedway. Shortly after this race, his switch to Ford for 1969 was announced.

Cale Yarborough's solo qualifying performance of 118.677 miles per hour (190.992 km/h) would help him clinch the pole position for the event. While Yarborough and Bobby Isaac would dominate the opening laps of this event, the event ended up being a "Petty and Pearson" show for the final 100 laps. Glotzbach quit after he turned Bud Moore into the wall separating pit road from the racetrack on lap 59. Moore swerved to avoid a loose wheel on pit road and swerved into Glotzbach's path. Glotzbach was penalized a lap for the crash, so he parked the car.[2]

Individual race winnings for the drivers ranged from the winner's share of $17,075 ($123,022 when adjusted for inflation) to the last-place finisher's share of $515 ($3,710 when adjusted for inflation). The entire prize purse that was handed out to all the qualifying participants was $69,800 ($502,894 when adjusted for inflation).[5] Twelve notable crew chiefs were reported as participating in the race; including Jake Elder, Bud Moore, Glen Wood, Banjo Matthews, Dale Inman, Harry Hyde and Junior Johnson.[6]

QualifyingEdit

Grid[2] No. Driver Manufacturer
1 21 Cale Yarborough '68 Mercury
2 17 David Pearson '68 Dodge
3 71 Bobby Isaac '68 Dodge
4 43 Richard Petty '68 Plymouth
5 99 Paul Goldsmith '68 Dodge
6 98 LeeRoy Yarbrough '68 Ford
7 6 Charlie Glotzbach '68 Dodge
8 14 Bobby Allison '68 Plymouth
9 16 Tiny Lund '68 Mercury
10 3 Buddy Baker '68 Dodge
11 22 Darell Dieringer '68 Plymouth
12 1 Pete Hamilton '68 Dodge
13 27 Donnie Allison '68 Ford
14 91 Don White '68 Dodge
15 29 Bud Moore '68 Ford
16 84 G.C. Spencer '68 Ford
17 48 James Hylton '68 Dodge
18 75 Butch Hartman '68 Dodge
19 4 John Sears '67 Ford
20 03 Richard Brickhouse '67 Plymouth

Finishing orderEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Weather information for the 1968 American 500 at The Old Farmers' Almanac
  2. ^ a b c d e f Racing information for the 1968 American 500 at Racing Reference
  3. ^ "Fast Track High Performance Driving School, Inc". Fasttrackracing.com. Retrieved 2012-07-16.
  4. ^ Official list of BTCC champions Archived 2011-07-16 at the Wayback Machine at British Touring Car Championship
  5. ^ Racing information for the 1968 American 500 at Fantasy Racing Cheat Sheet
  6. ^ 1968 American 500 crew chief information at Racing Reference
Preceded by
1968 National 500
NASCAR Grand National Season
1968
Succeeded by
1968 Peach State 200
Preceded by
1967
American 500 races
1968
Succeeded by
1969
Preceded by
1968 Wilkes 400
Richard Petty's Career Wins
1960-1984
Succeeded by
November 1969 Georgia 500