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1971:

Petty's Plymouth Dominates

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By Ben White

Richard Petty, driver of the No. 43 Petty Enterprises Plymouth, accumulated 21 victories, 41 top-10 finishes and nine pole positions en route to his third NASCAR Cup Series championship.

The 1971 season featured the most significant change in NASCAR history. With the addition of a major series sponsor, the sanctioning body was free from the uncertainty of auto manufacturers that were often not happy with rule changes.

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With cigarette advertising now banned from television and radio in the United States, R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. began its sponsorship of NASCAR with the Winston 500 at Talladega Superspeedway. Winston also added $100,000 to the point fund, a huge amount of money in those days.

RJR officials would eventually work with NASCAR cut the schedule from more than 55 races to 30 races in an effort do reduce costs and legitimize racing as a professional sport. Further, they began upgrading the tracks with paint, new grandstands, press boxes and media centers, dressing up facilities very much in need of repair.

It was the beginning of a 33-year relationship that brought hundreds of millions of dollars into the sport.

On the competition side in 1971, Petty simply dominated, no matter the type of track. He started the year by winning the Daytona 500 for the third time and took command of the points after winning the eighth race of the year in Hickory, North Carolina. With 21 victories, Petty was just shy of winning half the races on his 46-race schedule.

Bobby Allison won 11 races, including five in a row, but suffered nine DNFs.

By season’s end, Petty had accumulated 365 more points than James Hylton to claim his third NASCAR Cup Series crown.

1971

PRESIDENT: RICHARD M. NIXON

NO. 1 AT THE BOX OFFICE: A CLOCKWORK ORANGE

MOVIES TO WATCH: WILLY WONKA AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY AND FIDDLER ON THE ROOF

NO. 1 SONG: “MY SWEET LORD” BY GEORGE HARRISON

GALLON OF GAS: 36 CENTS

POP CULTURE: ALL IN THE FAMILY BEGAN AIRING ON CBS WITH CARROLL O’CONNOR STARRING AS ARCHIE BUNKER. LATER, THE SHOW WAS RENAMED ARCHIE BUNKER’S PLACE. THE FIRST VIDEO-TAPED SITCOM, THE SHOW RAN UNTIL 1983.

BEST DRIVER

Driving the No. 43 Petty Enterprises Plymouth, Richard Petty enjoyed one of his best seasons in 1971, winning 21 NASCAR Cup Series races. The Level Cross, North Carolina, native led 2,932 of 14,295 laps completed during his 46-race schedule. His average start was 3.8 and average finish was 4.2. He endured five races where he did not finish due to engine failure or crashes. It was Petty’s third championship in 13 seasons.

BEST RACE

Charlie Glotzbach helped fill the stands for the Coca-Cola 600 in May at Charlotte Motor Speedway by driving a new No. 3 Chevrolet Monte Carlo fielded by team owner Richard Howard and team manager Junior Johnson. It was the first time in nearly a decade a Chevrolet was capable of winning. Glotzbach had the race well in hand until Speedy Thompson pulled in front of him and crashed them both on lap 234 of 400.

TOP CARS

Richard Petty’s No. 43 Petty Enterprises Plymouth went to Victory Lane 21 times, posting 41 top-10 finishes in 46 starts.

Bobby Allison’s No. 12 Holman Moody Ford won 11 times with 31 top-10 results in 42 NASCAR Cup Series races.

1971 Season Recap

DATE | LOCATION | WINNER

Jan. 10 | Riverside International | Raceway Ray Elder

Feb. 11 | Daytona International Speedway | Pete Hamilton

Feb. 11 | Daytona International Speedway | David Pearson

Feb 14 | Daytona International Speedway | Richard Petty

Feb. 28 | Ontario Motor Speedway | A.J. Foyt

March 7 | Richmond Raceway | Richard Petty

March 14 | Rockingham Speedway | Richard Petty

March 21 | Hickory Speedway | Richard Petty

March 28 | Bristol Motor Speedway | David Pearson

April 4 | Atlanta Motor Speedway | A.J. Foyt

April 8 | Columbia Speedway | Richard Petty

April 10 | Greenville-Pickens Speedway | Bobby Isaac

April 15 | Smoky Mountain Raceway | Richard Petty

April 18 | North Wilkesboro Speedway | Richard Petty

April 25 | Martinsville Speedway | Richard Petty

May 2 | Darlington Raceway | Buddy Baker

May 9 | South Boston Speedway | Benny Parsons

May 16 | Talladega Superspeedway | Donnie Allison

May 21 | New Asheville Speedway | Richard Petty

May 23 | Kingsport Speedway | Bobby Isaac

May 30 | Charlotte Motor Speedway | Bobby Allison

June 6 | Dover Motor Speedway | Bobby Allison

June 13 | Michigan International Speedway | Bobby Allison

June 20 | Riverside International Raceway | Bobby Allison

June 23 | Meyer Speedway | Bobby Allison

June 26 | Greenville-Pickens Speedway | Richard Petty

July 4 | Daytona International Speedway | Bobby Isaac

July 11 | Bristol Motor Speedway | Charlie Glotzbach

July 14 | Albany-Saratoga Speedway | Richard Petty

July 15 | Islip Speedway | Richard Petty

July 18 | Trenton Speedway | Richard Petty

July 24 | Fairgrounds Speedway Nashville | Richard Petty

Aug. 1 | Atlanta Motor Speedway | Richard Petty

Aug. 6 | Bowman Gray Stadium | Bobby Allison

Aug. 8 | International Raceway Park | Richard Petty

Aug. 15 | Michigan International Speedway | Bobby Allison

Aug. 22 | Talladega Superspeedway | Bobby Allison

Aug. 27 | Columbia Speedway | Richard Petty

Aug. 28 | Hickory Speedway | Tiny Lund

Sep. 6 | Darlington Raceway | Bobby Allison

Sep. 26 | Martinsville Speedway | Bobby Isaac

Oct. 10 | Charlotte Motor Speedway | Bobby Allison

Oct. 17 | Dover Motor Speedway | Richard Petty

Oct. 24 | Rockingham Speedway | Richard Petty

Nov. 7 | Middle Georgia Raceway | Bobby Allison

Nov. 14 | Richmond Raceway | Richard Petty

Nov. 21 | North Wilkesboro Speedway | Tiny Lund

Dec. 12 | Texas World Speedway | Richard Petty

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