MRN Flashback: 1975 Purolator 500

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In August 1975, David Pearson led the final 14 laps of the Purolator 500 at Pocono for his third win of the season. But it came with a controversial finish. (Photo: ISC Archives)

In 1974, Richard Petty won the inaugural Cup Series event at Pocono Raceway.  The following season, David Pearson took his turn in Victory Lane.

On Aug. 3, 1975, Pearson led the final 14 laps of the Purolator 500 to claim his third victory of the season.  But the win came with a controversial finish.

After passing Petty for his final lead of the afternoon, Pearson was steadily pulling away when smoke appeared behind the No. 21 Wood Brothers Mercury.  The wispy, white puffs soon became a small cloud.  Dale Inman, Petty’s crew chief, began lobbying for NASCAR to black-flag Pearson.  But the sanctioning body refused to do so.

When the smoke finally got thick enough, the black flag was displayed … with just two laps remaining.  At the time, NASCAR had a four-lap grace period for drivers to respond.  As a result, Pearson rode it out and rode to the Winner’s Circle.

"They sure didn’t need the STP car winning the Purolator race two years in a row," said Petty, referencing both his long-time sponsor and his victory from the previous season.  "I think politics had something to do with this deal."

Predictably, Pearson disagreed.

"I wasn’t dropping any oil," he insisted.  "If there was that much oil leaking, I’d have been the first to know because the engine would have blown.  We had a leaking gasket or something … more smoke than oil."

Petty did salvage second place, 4.8 seconds behind Pearson.  Buddy Baker, Benny Parsons and Richard Childress completed the top five.  Pole sitter Bobby Allison ran only 22 laps before engine failure saddled him with a 31st-place finish.

Today, both Pearson and Petty ... Allison, also ... are members of the NASCAR Hall of Fame.  Following the disappointment of Pocono in 1975, "King Richard" won four of the next seven races and went on to claim the sixth of his record seven championships.

This week, the Sprint Cup Series returns to Long Pond, Pa., for Sunday’s GoBowling.com 400 on the track that’s now nicknamed "The Tricky Triangle."

Visit MRN.com on Thursday at 12:30 p.m. (ET) to hear the complete broadcast of the 1975 Purolator 500 from Pocono Raceway, anchored by Chris Economaki.  Motor Racing Network – "The Voice of NASCAR" – features a classic race each week on "Throwback Thursday" only at MRN.com.

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