"Nope," he grimaced. "Not today. I'm afraid they might find something and keep me out of the race." Baker promptly outdragged Cale to the first turn, but lost the lead on the back-straight of the same lap and quickly fell back to sixth place. Then, on his first pit stop, a crew member cross-threaded a lug nut while changing a tire, which cost him four laps. He eventually drove behind the wall and parked it. Just beyond the halfway mark Cale Yarborough pitted several times in quick order to replace a burned-out wheel bearing in his Mercury, thus falling far behind the pack. Then he whomped the guardrail in the No. 2 turn several laps later—and he, too, retired.
Chrysler Corp., meanwhile, was taking its motorized shots at Lee Roy and failing everywhere. Charlie Glotzbach, in a Dodge, actually threatened to run away with the whole race in the early wheeling and only a succession of caution flags (there were 11 in all) kept the field closely bunched. But Glotzbach, who has not spent a lot of time on the superspeedways, was apparently overextending his car and, more importantly, his tires. It was hot going and the rubber was heating to temperatures somewhere beyond 270�. Glotzbach lost his right rear tire in the No. 4 turn, got it fixed, then just 11 laps later the right front chunked—sending pieces of rubber bouncing down the main straight and putting Glotzbach out of the race.
That left Richard Petty in a Plymouth and David Pearson in a Ford as the prime challengers.
You remember Richard Petty, tall, curly-headed, most successful stock-car driver of all time in 1967. He ran up a record 27 victories, three of them on major tracks, and won $130,275. But this year all of his 10 wins have been on the short tracks. So with 60 miles left, Petty, Pearson and Ford's Donnie Allison ran over debris practically on the same lap which chewed their tires up, and cost them time in the pits.
By then Lee Roy was home free. Still, one always wonders. After all, it was Lee Roy who was blinded when a foam fire extinguisher went off in his car during a practice session at Charlotte last year. He was nearly suffocated; the car careened into the wall and bounced back on the track in three separate and distinct pieces.
Then this year, Lee Roy's first as a driver for car owner Junior Johnson—the circuit's No. 1 hellion in his own day—all sorts of untoward things happened. In fact, Lee Roy was quickly getting the reputation as "the other Yarborough—the one without the first O"—because he had finished second to Cale in three major races this year, twice under peculiar circumstances (his only victory of the year was at Trenton, N.J. four weeks ago when Cale took the week off).
In the Daytona 500 Lee Roy was leading with less than 20 laps to go when he suddenly pitted, for no apparent reason. There was one. Junior's crew had flashed him a sign that read "P-1," which, to Junior, meant that Lee Roy was in first place. Lee Roy had other ideas. He thought it meant to pit—in one lap. Cale won that race by one second. For the rest of the year Lee Roy has had the pit signals pasted handily to his dashboard.
Then at the Atlanta 500 Lee Roy was penalized one lap for jumping the pace car under the caution flag. Lee Roy and Junior claimed that Cale did it, too, and should also have been penalized. Cale wasn't—and also won that race.
But strangely enough, nothing like that happened in Sunday's last laps, and Lee Roy had his first major victory since 1966 and his first in the year he had been driving for Junior.
After the race Lee Roy held court with Junior Johnson and Chief Mechanic Herb Nab at his side, and the inevitable question was asked: When did you think you had it won?