MRN Flashback: 1972 Winston Western 500


Richard Petty celebrates a victory at the old Riverside International Raceway, where he claimed the first of his eight wins in 1972 en route to the Cup Series championship. (Photo: ISC Archives)


In January 1972, Richard Petty welcomed new sponsor STP to Petty Enterprises in the best way possible – with a trip to Victory Lane.

"King Richard" took his final lead of the race by passing Bobby Allison and kept the No. 43 Plymouth in front for the final 30 laps around Riverside International Raceway’s 2.62-mile road course, winning the season-opening Winston Western 500.

Petty’s margin of victory over Allison was more than one minute.  They were the only two drivers to complete the full distance, finishing three laps ahead of third-place Bobby Isaac.

NASCAR stopped the race after 149 of the scheduled 191 laps when heavy fog rolled in over the Southern California road course.  Ray Elder and Hershel McGriff completed the top five.

Allison was slowed in the closing laps by a sour engine and pole sitter A.J. Foyt was sidelined by transmission trouble, leaving Petty to claim his 141st career win.

"The three of us all ran about the same speed," Petty said.  "Foyt and Allison had trouble with their cars.  I didn’t and wound up winning."

Riverside was the first of eight victories that season which helped carry Petty to the Cup Series championship, the fourth of his record seven titles.  He finished 128 points ahead of second-place Allison.

Visit on Thursday at 12:30 p.m. (ET) to hear the complete broadcast of the 1972 Winston Western 500 from Riverside International Raceway, anchored by Ken Squier.  Motor Racing Network - "The Voice of NASCAR" - features a classic race each week on "Throwback Thursday" only at

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