The early part of the 1972 NASCAR Winston Cup season was rather lethargic. Richard Petty lost a cylinder midway through the 250-miler at Martinsville in April, yet still won the race by seven laps. Fan attendance was down, and the forecast for the season was uncertain. But toward the end of the year, a feud exploded between Richard Petty and Bobby Allison, the two front-runners, that would ignite the fierce competition of the rest of the season. Explore the 1972 season in this article, including highlights, photos, and the full standings that were left when the dust cleared.

January, 1972

NASCAR announces the 1972 NASCAR Winston Cup Grand National season will be reduced to 30 events. Only races of 250 miles or more will be part of the schedule.

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Richard Petty throttles his #43 STP Plymouth down the straightaway during the Jan. 23, 1972 Winston Western 500.
Richard Petty throttles his #43 STP Plymouth down the straightaway at Riverside International Speedway during the Jan. 23 Winston Western 500. Petty was in front of the field when NASCAR officials were forced to red flag the event after 149 of the 191 laps were completed due to heavy fog conditions. Five days earlier, STP announced it had signed a multiyear pact to sponsor the Petty Enterprises team. See more pictures of NASCAR.

January 11, 1972

NASCAR founder Bill France steps down as president and turns the reins over to his son, Bill France, Jr. "I am sure that NASCAR will continue its dynamic leadership in the sport of automobile racing," says the senior France.

February 20, 1972: Daytona 500

A.J. Foyt blisters the field to win the Daytona 500 by nearly five miles. Foyt leads the final 300 miles in the lackluster event. Third-place driver Jim Vandiver finishes six laps off the pace.

A.J. Foyt was signed to drive the #21 Wood Brothers Purolator Mercury in the 1972 NASCAR season.
Tough Texan A.J. Foyt was signed to drive the #21 Wood Brothers Purolator Mercury in the early portion of the 1972 NASCAR Winston Cup Grand National season. Foyt dominated the Daytona 500, leading all but 33 laps and finishing nearly five miles ahead of runner-up Charlie Glotzbach. Third-place Jim Vandiver finished six laps behind the leader and 10th-place Vic Elford was more than 40 miles behind Foyt when the checkered flag fell.

March 5, 1972

A.J. Foyt leads most of the way and posts an impressive win in the second annual 500-miler at Ontario Motor Speedway. ABC Sports, which televises the second half of the race live across the nation, reports that the final half hour draws a 12.3 Nielsen rating.

March 26, 1972: Atlanta 500

Bobby Allison drives his Chevrolet to a near photo-finish ­victory in the Atlanta 500. Allison records the first superspeedway win for Chevrolet since 1963.

 Roy Mayne, Coo Coo Marlin, Darrell Waltrip, Jim Vandiver, and Fred Lorenzen race in the 1972 Winston 500.
Number 46 Roy Mayne, #14 Coo Coo Marlin, #95 Darrell Waltrip, #31 Jim Vandiver, and #28 Fred Lorenzen battle on the high banks during the Winston 500. Waltrip was making his NASCAR Winston Cup Grand National debut in a self-owned Mercury.

April 16, 1972: Rebel 400

David Pearson slips past Richard Petty with 93 laps to go and speeds to victory in the Rebel 400 at Darlington Raceway. It is Pearson's first start with the famed Wood Brothers Mercury team.

July 4, 1972: Daytona Firecracker 400

David Pearson prevails in a three-car finish to win the Daytona Firecracker 400. Pearson beats Richard Petty by four feet as Bobby Allison finishes a close third.

Number 21 David Pearson puts a lap on #34 Wendell Scott in the April 30 Virginia 500 at Martinsville Speedway.
Number 21 David Pearson puts a lap on #34 Wendell Scott in the April 30 Virginia 500 at Martinsville Speedway. Scott overcame innumerable odds to compete in the race. The engine in his race car blew up on Saturday, forcing Scott to install the engine that powered his tow truck. Scott was lapped 64 times in the Martinsville race, but still managed to finish 16th.

August 6, 1972: Talladega 500

Independent driver James Hylton enjoys the finest day of his career by taking a narrow victory over Ramo Stott in the Talladega 500. New tires introduced by Goodyear fail to withstand the high-speed punishment and eliminate most of the favorites.

September 10, 1972: Capital City 500

Richard Petty emerges victorious after a wild duel with Bobby Allison in the Capital City 500 at Richmond Fairgrounds Speedway. Petty and Allison engage in a heated bumping duel. At one point, Petty's Dodge climbs on top of the guardrail. Incredibly, he returns to the track, retains the lead after the mishap, and motors to victory.

A quintet of speedy cars tour the high banks of Daytona in the July 4, 1972 Firecracker 400.
A quintet of speedy cars tour the high banks of Daytona in the July 4 Firecracker 400. Bill Champion's #10 Ford ducks to the low side to allow passing room for #14 Coo Coo Marlin, #15 Donnie Allison, #12 Bobby Allison, and #88 Ron Keselowski. Bobby Allison finished third, Marlin fourth, Keselowski seventh, and Donnie Allison eighth. Champion brought his self-owned car home in 18th place.

October 1, 1972: Wilkes 400

Richard Petty outruns Bobby Allison in the final laps of an epic slugfest and wins the spine-­tingling Wilkes 400 at North Wilkes­boro (N.C.) Speedway. Petty and Allison tangle repeatedly during the final laps and both cars are badly crumpled when the checkered flag galls.

October 8, 1972: American 500

Bobby Allison drives to a two-lap victory in Rockingham's American 500 to record his 10th win of the season. Allison leads in his 39th consecutive race, an all-time record that is acknowledged as stock car racing's "Joe DiMaggio Record."

November 12, 1972: Texas 500

Buddy Baker edges A.J. Foyt by a half car length at the finish line to win the season-ending Texas 500 at Texas World Speedway. Richard Petty finishes third and clinches his fourth NASCAR Winston Cup Grand National championship.

For a full list of the 1972 NASCAR Winston Cup Grand National standings, see the next page.

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