MRN Flashback: 1974 Motor State 400

Richard Petty

Petty won five more races during the second half of the 1974 season en route to the fifth of his record seven Cup Series championships. (Photo: ISC Archives)

On June 16, 1974, Richard Petty brought the first half of the NASCAR season to a close by claiming his fifth victory of the year at Michigan International Speedway.

“King Richard” and his No. 43 Dodge led 80 of the 180 laps, including the final 14, in a race that was shortened by 20 laps as part of NASCAR’s effort to conserve fuel during the energy crisis.

Pole sitter David Pearson was stalking race leader Petty when the final caution flag of the day was displayed for J.D. McDuffie’s blown engine just seven laps from the finish. Pearson pitted for four tires while Petty remained on the track. But the race never went back under green.

When track safety crews needed additional time to clean up, the race ended caution with Petty following the pace car to the checkered flag. Canadian Earl Ross finished second with Pearson, Gary Bettenhausen and Marty Robbins completing the top five.

“We just out-calculated ’em. Our cars were pretty equal,” Petty said, referring to Pearson’s Wood Brothers Mercury. “I wasn’t going to give up the lead, not with so few laps left.”

The race featured 50 lead changes among nine drivers, with six cautions for 40 laps.

Following the race, NASCAR President Bill France Jr. announced that all events would return to their traditional distance, stating that the sanctioning body had “complied with all conservation requests” and was meeting its target on fuel saving.

Petty won five more races during the second half of the 1974 season en route to the fifth of his record seven Cup Series championships.

This week, NASCAR returns to Michigan International Speedway and the scenic Irish Hills region for Sunday’s 45th running of the track’s spring race. The event debuted as the Motor State 500 in 1969, was shortened to 400 miles the following season and is known today as the Quicken Loans 400.

Visit MotorRacingNetwork.com on Thursday at 12:30 p.m. (ET) to hear the complete broadcast of the 1974 Motor State 400, anchored by Ken Squier. Motor Racing Network – “The Voice of NASCAR” – will feature a classic race broadcast each week on “Throwback Thursday” throughout the 2013 season at MotorRacingNetwork.com.

Related Topics:

NASCAR Sprint Cup

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