At Kent the
pressure was obviously building for Chrysler to do something more than
pole-sit. The reason was simple. Chrysler will probably go with just one
Trans-Am team next year, and both Autodynamics and AAR want the contract.
"It's like musical chairs," said Posey. "There are just so many
good rides available." And usually three or four more drivers than good
possibilities, just within Chrysler, are many. It is strongly rumored (ah, that
mist again) that Gurney, who at 39 has become a sort of trackside elder
statesman, will soon retire from all competitive racing, perhaps at the end of
this year. If AAR gets the nod, that would leave the No. 2 spot open on the
Plymouth team. Would it go to Posey?
If Posey, or his
second driver imported for the final two races, Ronnie Bucknum, should win, or
even do obviously better than Gurney or Savage, would Autodynamics get the job,
and Posey with it? "A driver on the way up has to keep his momentum,"
said Posey. "The world is filled with drivers who almost made it."
Savage is probably more secure than Posey, a fact Posey is very much aware of,
and Sam's primary goal at Kent was not to win the race, but to beat AAR.
background, the Kent 200 became more than just another race, and qualifying,
held on a course that ranged from damp to wet, gave only a slight indication of
what was to come. Jones showed that the Fords had a horsepower superiority when
he turned in a time of 1:25.5 (some 95 mph) over the 2.25-mile course to grab
the pole. He was 0.8 seconds faster than Donohue. But between Donohue and the
sixth car, Elford's Camaro, there was a margin of just 0.7 seconds. The race
promised to be lively, but thanks to Jones the promise was unfulfilled.
in a superior car, Jones jumped off to an early lead which, except for a
surprise stop for tires on his 20th lap and a routine pit stop later in the
day, he held with ease. The final margin, over Donohue, of just under 40
seconds could have been more if he had not eased off the throttle late in the
race to conserve fuel. His victory, of course, clinched the Trans-Am
championship for Ford's Mustangs. It was their third.
Next to Jones,
the happiest driver of the day was Sam Posey. He finished a well-beaten third
but picked up valuable points in his personal duel with AAR. Gurney blew an
engine on the 14th lap of the 90-lap event and Savage went under, with a sick
gearbox and a dead engine, in the last 12 laps. That gave Dodge 18 points and
Plymouth 12. By the end of the day Mt. Rainier still was not to be seen, and
the Trans-Am mist continued to swirl.