NASCAR's Grand National / Winston Cup raced at Texas World Speedway five times between 1969 and 1973. Through a litany of challenges, NASCAR stepped back from TWS but then returned for races in 1979 through 1981.
Meanwhile, USAC continued to race in College Station - even during NASCAR's "gap period". USAC's stock car division readied for the Texas 500 on June 4, 1978. From Motor Racing Programme Covers.
The two quickest drivers in final practice before qualifying were Terry Ryan and Freddy Fryar. Ryan started second in the 1976 Daytona 500 after the top 3 speeds by A.J. Foyt, Darrell Waltrip and Dave Marcis were tossed. Fryar was rallied to practice and qualify Bobby Allison's Matador. Allison was in Nashville for what was to be the first Cup race I attended - the Music City 420.
Race weekend got off to a solemn start when the garage learned one of Sal Tovella's crew had been killed when the team's transporter was involved in an accident on the way to the track.
Neither Ryan or Fryar were fasted on pole day though. Tom Williams - who I know nothing about and sounds more like a CPA than a race driver - won the pole. Ryan timed second. Fryar placed Allison's Matador third on the grid, but Allison had to start from the back of the field after the driver change for the race.Click article to open larger version in new tab.
Despite NASCAR's irregular visits to TWS, Allison continued to race at the track with races sanctioned by groups other NASCAR. As a former winner at the track and the fast laps laid down by Fryar, Allison was expected to be the driver to beat.
Foyt had a rotten weekend. After finishing 7th in the Indy 500, he turned his attention to readying his stock car for Texas. The Buick needed extra work because Ron Hutcherson wrecked the car after tangling with Al Holbert in James Hylton's car in NASCAR's World 600 at Charlotte. He was quick in practice but had engine issues.He and his Gilmore team made a return trip to Houston to resolve them. By the time they got back to the track, he had missed qualifying. As a result, Super Tex started near the end of the field. Then after completing only three laps, Foyt's engine woes returned and he was done for the day.
Terry Ryan and Joe Ruttman led some of the early laps of the race, but both fell out of the race. As expected, Allison was quick again once the race got underway. He worked this way through the field and eventually found his way to the point. As he piled up the lap leader count, he built a two-lap lead over the field. But then, his Matador first broke a track car and then developed an overheating problem slowing his pace. When the race ended, he returned to Hueytown with a 5th place finish. All in all, the finish wasn't bad - but after leading 114 laps and building the two-lap lead, Allison couldn't have been happy with a P5.
The scariest incident of the day happened on lap 9 when Bob Keselowski spun. In an effort to miss the spin, Ricky Otts ended up tagging the wall. Ken Rowley then spun as well. The back of his car nailed the back of Otts car rupturing BOTH fuel cells. A huge fireball erupted, but thankfully both drivers were generally OK.
With Allison and Foyt out of the picture, defending winner Bay Darnell took over the lead. Close behind him was 21 year-old Gary Bowsher, son of USAC and ARCA veteran Jack Bowsher. Bowsher led a sizable chunk of laps - particularly as the race entered the final 50 laps. But then with about 25 to go, Bowsher's car began to slow a bit and Darnell re-took the lead.
With 15 to go, Darnell then had overheating issues of his own. He lost his engine and coasted helplessly on the apron of turn 1. Bowsher who had slowed to help offset some of his overheating problems swept by Darnell to take the lead and the win. Darnell still managed to finish second despite his DNF.
The attrition rate was as brutal as the Texas sun. Of the 38 starters, only 7 cars were still running at the end of the 250 laps:
3. Paul Feldner
4. Keith Davis
6. Tom Harrington
7. H.B. Bailey
|1||Gary Bowsher||Ford Torino|
|2||Bay Darnell||Chevrolet Camaro|
|3||Paul Feldner/Dave Decker||Dodge Magnum|
|4||Keith Davis||Chevrolet Chevelle|
|5||Bobby Allison||AMC Matador|
|6||Tom Harrington||Pontiac LeMans|
|7||H.B. Bailey||Pontiac Trans Am|
|8||Dave Watson||Buick Skylark|
|9||Dale Koehler||Chevrolet Monte Carlo|
|10||Wayne Watercutter||Chevrolet Malibu|
|11||Kevin Housby||Plymouth Volare|
|12||Tom Williams||Chevrolet Chevelle|
|13||Tom Sturdivant||Chevrolet Camaro|
|14||Bill Venturini||Plymouth Volare|
|15||Randy Ogden||Chevrolet Camaro|
|18||Bob Schacht||Chevrolet Laguna|
|20||Terry Ryan||Chevrolet Laguna|
|21||Rich Sundling||Chevrolet Chevelle|
|22||Gordon Blankenship||Dodge Magnum|
|23||Eddie Wachs||Chevrolet Camaro|
|24||Bob Labonte/Billy Hagan||Chevrolet Laguna|
|25||Paul Feldner||Dodge Magnum|
|26||Bob Brevak||Dodge Magnum|
|27||Jim Hurlbert||Dodge Magnum|
|28||Tommy Taylor||Plymouth Fury|
|29||Joe Wallace||Chevrolet Camaro|
|30||Dean Roper||Dodge Magnum|
|32||Bob Keselowski||Dodge Aspen|
|34||Ken Rowley||Plymouth Volare|
|35||Jerry Jolly||Chevrolet Chevelle|
|36||Ricky Otts||Chevrolet Laguna|
|38||Tom Meinberg||Chevrolet Laguna|
Schaefer: It's not just for racing anymore.
updated by @tmc-chase: 12/05/16 04:00:58PM