1972 Miller High Life 500

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1972 Miller High Life 500
Race details[1]
Race 4 of 31 in the 1972 NASCAR Winston Cup Series season
Souvenir program of the 1972 Miller High Life 500
Souvenir program of the 1972 Miller High Life 500
Date March 5, 1972 (1972-March-05)
Official name Miller High Life 500
Location Ontario Motor Speedway, Ontario, California
Course Permanent racing facility
2.500 mi (4.023 km)
Distance 200 laps, 500 mi (804 km)
Weather Warm with temperatures approaching 82 °F (28 °C); wind speeds up to 6 miles per hour (9.7 km/h)
Average speed 127.082 miles per hour (204.519 km/h)
Attendance 68,498[2]
Pole position
Driver Wood Brothers Racing
Most laps led
Driver A.J. Foyt Wood Brothers Racing
Laps 132
Winner
No. 21 A.J. Foyt Wood Brothers Racing
Television in the United States
Network ABC
Announcers Jim McKay
Jackie Stewart

The 1972 Miller High Life 500 was a NASCAR Winston Cup Series racing event that took place on March 5, 1972, at Ontario Motor Speedway in Ontario, California. An inexpensive souvenir magazine was sold to the spectators at $1.50 USD per copy ($8.59 when adjusted for inflation).

The race car drivers still had to commute to the races using the same stock cars that competed in a typical weekend's race through a policy of homologation (and under their own power). This policy was in effect until roughly 1975. By 1980, NASCAR had completely stopped tracking the year model of all the vehicles and most teams did not take stock cars to the track under their own power anymore.

Summary[edit]

Two hundred laps took place on a paved track spanning 2.500 miles (4.023 km); the race was resolved in three hours and fifty-six minutes.[2][3] With a purse larger than the previous month's Daytona 500, 113 cars were waiting in line to compete in three qualifying sessions to fill the 51-car grid.[4] An unprecedented number of teams failed to qualify for the race.[4] Given the economic outlook of that era, it was amazing that 113 cars would try to earn a spot on the racing grid (with only a 45% chance of actually qualifying for the race).

All of the drivers who qualified were born in the United States.[2] Clem Proctor won the 100-lap Sportsman race that was held the day before this race in a 1963 Thunderbird. The 1971 winner George Follmer withdrew after his owner had a dispute with the way NASCAR was inspecting the cars, seems like only two cars (Follmer's and Sonny Easley's) were being checked with templates as both were 1968 models and everything else was older.

Foyt was ridiculously faster than my Chevy down the straights.

— Bobby Allison

A.J. Foyt defeated Bobby Allison by 4.2 seconds in front of nearly 69,000 live spectators.[2][3] This victory would be as equally impressive as his wins at the 1964 Firecracker 400 and the 1972 Daytona 500.[5] The pole position was achieved by the race winner qualifying at a speed of 153.217 miles per hour (246.579 km/h).[2][3] Four cautions were given out for 31 laps and the average racing speed was 127.082 miles per hour (204.519 km/h).[2][3] Jim Vandiver would earn the last-place finish due to an engine issue on the very first lap of the race.[2][3] Country music legend Marty Robbins would compete in this race in a 1972 Dodge Charger vehicle; he started in 22nd and ended in 8th place.[3][6] After the race, Robbins was named as the "Sportsman of the Race.[6]" The winner's purse for the 1972 Miller High Life 500 was $31,695 ($181,470.89 when adjusted for inflation).[2]

Drivers that retired from NASCAR after this race were: Cliff Garner, Ron Gautsche, Les Loeser, and Don White.[3] The drivers who commenced their NASCAR Cup Series careers during this race were: Carl Adams, Bill Butts, former USAC Championship Car series driver George Follmer, and Jim Whitt.[3] Follmer would eventually go back to USAC Championship Car racing for its 1974 season.

Qualifying[edit]

Grid No. Driver Manufacturer Qualifying time[7]
1 21 A.J. Foyt '71 Mercury 58.740
2 12 Bobby Allison '72 Chevrolet 58.983
3 43 Richard Petty '72 Plymouth 59.374
4 11 Buddy Baker '72 Dodge 59.602
5 71 Bobby Isaac '72 Dodge 59.605
6 97 Red Farmer '72 Ford 60.520
7 16 Mark Donohue '72 AMC Matador 60.778
8 96W Ray Elder '72 Dodge 61.012
9 72 Benny Parsons '71 Mercury 61.057
10 9 Ramo Stott '72 Plymouth 61.567

Failed to qualify: Pat Fay (#99), Bill Shirey (#74), Perry Cottingham (#73), Dale Lee (#65), Tru Cheek (#62), Don Graham (#57W), Ken Shoemaker (#56), Jerry Barnett (#55), John Fairchild (#50), Sam Stanley (#47W), Bill Seifert (#45), D.K. Ulrich (#40), George Wiltshire (#39), Jimmy Insolo (#38), Joe Frasson (#78), Marion Collins (#78W), Dick May (#84), Richard Childress (#96), Harry Jefferson (#94), Larry Smith (#92), Verlin Eaker (#91), Richard D. Brown (#91), Bill Dennis (#90), Clint Hutchins (#89W), Les Covey (#89), Mike Saint (#88W), Ron Keselowski (#88), Allen Jennings (#86), Dan Geiger (#85), Harry Schilling (#84W), Don Tarr (#37), Frank Burnett (#36), Ed Negre (#8), Bob England (#8W), Steve Pfeifer (#08), Ivan Baldwin (#07), Charlie Glotzbach (#6), Jerry Oliver (#6W), Neil Castles (#06), Doc Faustina (#5), John Sears (#4), Emiliano Zapata (#04), Tommy Gale (#03), Johnny Steele (#2), Frank James (#00W), John Lyons (#9), Phillip Pedlar (#11W), Larry Esau (#12W), Bub Strickler (#35), Gene Riniker (#34W), Wendell Scott (#34), Glenn Francis (#33), Johnny Halford (#32), Carl Joiner (#26), Chuck Hetrick (#25W), Jabe Thomas (#25), Jim Gilliam (#24W), Nels Miller (#21W), Paul Dorrity (#15), Arnie Krueger (#14W), Willie McNeal (#14), Bobby Mausgrover (#00)[7]

Top forty finishers[edit]

Timeline[edit]

  • Start: A.J. Foyt had the pole position as the green flag was waved in the air
  • Lap 6: George Follmer blew his vehicle's engine; starting a caution which ended on lap 16
  • Lap 37: Walter Ballard had a terminal crash on turn three; caution ended on lap 41
  • Lap 47: Mark Donohue and Bobby Isaac had an accident on turn one; caution ended on lap 55
  • Lap 150: Cecil Gordon had a terminal crash on turn four; caution ended on lap 155
  • Finish: A.J. Foyt was officially declared the winner of the event

References[edit]

  1. ^ Weather information for the 1972 Miller High Life 500 at the Old Farmers' Almanac
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h 1972 Miller High Life 500 information at Racing Reference
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h 1972 Miller High Life 500 information at Race Database
  4. ^ a b 1972 Miller High Life 500 qualifying information at NASCAR
  5. ^ A.J. Foyt’s top five career accomplishments at Yahoo Sports
  6. ^ a b Marty Robbins information at MartyRobbins.net
  7. ^ a b Qualifying information for the 1972 Miller High Life 500 at Racing Reference
Preceded by
1972 Richmond 500
NASCAR Winston Cup Series Season
1972
Succeeded by
1972 Carolina 500
Preceded by
1971
Miller High Life 500 races
1972
Succeeded by
none (postponed until 1974)