1970 NASCAR Grand National Recap

Auto racing -- particularly the NASCAR Grand National tour -- in the United States was billed as "The Sport of the 1970s" as the new decade approached. With new, ultra-modern facilities popping up all over the country and millions of dollars being poured into NASCAR stock racing by the automotive factories, the sport seemed to be on a roll.

Despite the overall rosy appearance, the earth was rumbling a bit within the NASCAR domain. Most of the licensed NASCAR Grand National drivers had formed a union called the Professional Drivers Association. The drivers were serious about gaining awareness from NASCAR about conditions at the speedways, including the alarmingly high speeds, the amount of time teams had to spend at a track to prepare for a race, the perceived lack of posted awards, and amenities for the competitors.

Even with behind-the-scenes friction, the 1970 NASCAR tour produced many great moments. This article will cover the highlights of the season, and give you the year's full standings, along with plenty of great pictures.

January 18, 1970

A.J. Foyt's Ford nips Roger McCluskey's Plymouth Superbird to win the season opener at Riverside. Five-time River­side winner Dan Gurney finishes sixth.

NASCAR Image Gallery

Cale Yarborough leads Tiny Lund in the early laps of the Feb. 22 Daytona 500.
Cale Yarborough leads Tiny Lund in a close battle for the lead in the early laps of the Feb. 22 Daytona 500. Cale blew an engine on the 31st lap while leading. Lund encountered overheating problems and finished 13th. In the Twin 125-mile qualifying race three days before the 500, Yarborough won at an average speed of 183.295 mph, an official race speed record that stood for 14 years. See more pictures of NASCAR.

February 19, 1970

Cale Yarborough and Charlie Glotzbach win the Twin 125-mile qualifiers at Daytona. Rookie Talmadge Prince is fatally injured in a 19th-lap crash in the second qualifier.

February 22, 1970: Daytona 500

Pete Hamilton, recently signed to drive a Petty Enterprises Plymouth, posts an upset victory in the Daytona 500. Hamilton passes Ford's David Pearson with nine laps to go and wins by three car lengths.

March 1, 1970: Richmond 500

James Hylton holds off a furious rally by Richard Petty to win the Richmond 500. It is Hylton's first career NASCAR Grand National win and his first start in a Ford after campaigning a Dodge for four years.

On March 24, 1970, Buddy Baker set a record with a 200.447 mph lap at Talladega.
On March 24, Buddy Baker took Chrysler's company car, a royal blue Dodge Daytona, to Talladega for a special world record attempt for a closed circuit. In an officially timed run, Baker became the first driver to surpass the magic 200-mph barrier on a closed oval. His best lap was 200.447 mph.

March 24, 1970

During a Goodyear tire test at Talladega, Buddy Baker becomes the first man to break the 200-mph barrier on a closed course. Baker turns in a lap of 200.447 mph to establish himself as the "Fastest Man on Four Wheels."

April 12, 1970: Alabama 500

Pete Hamilton cruises to victory in the Alabama 500 at Talladega as ABC Sports televises the second half of the race live to a nationwide audience. The network squeezes the three hour and 17 minute race into a 90-minute time slot.

April 18, 1970: Gwyn Staley Memorial 400

Richard Petty breezes to an easy win in the Gwyn Staley Memorial 400 at North Wilkesboro, the second event televised live by ABC Sports. Petty leads 349 of the 400 laps, and is ahead of the pack every lap shown during the live telecast.

Pete Hamilton's #40 Plymouth Superbird passes #34 Wendell Scott and John Sears during the 1970 Alabama 500.
Pete Hamilton's #40 Plymouth Superbird passes #34 Wendell Scott and John Sears on the short chute at Alabama International Motor Speedway during the Alabama 500. Hamilton took the lead 18 laps from the finish and recorded his second win of the 1970 season. Hamilton, in his second full season in NASCAR Grand National racing, was the superspeedway sensation in 1970, winning the Daytona 500 and both events at Talladega.

May 9, 1970: Rebel 400

David Pearson scores his first win of the season in the Rebel 400 at Darlington. Richard Petty is injured when his Plymouth flips on the front chute. ABC Sports picks up live coverage a few minutes before Petty's crash.

May 24, 1970: Charlotte World 600

Donnie Allison finishes two laps ahead of the field to win the Charlotte World 600. Fred Lorenzen ends a three-year retirement with a competitive run, but exits with a blown engine after 378 miles. ABC cameras join the race in progress for the fourth live telecast of the season.

July 25, 1970: Nashville 420

Bobby Isaac dominates the Nashville 420, finishing two laps ahead of the field. Only nine cars ­finish the grueling race, which is ­televised in part by ABC Sports. Third-place finisher Neil Castles finishes 26 laps behind Isaac.

August 16, 1970

Restrictor plates make their first appearance in NASCAR racing at Michigan International Speedway. Charlie Glotzbach drives a winged Dodge Daytona to victory under the caution flag.

 Number 8 Ed Negre, #61 Hoss Ellington, and #34 Wendell Scott race in the Sept. 7, 1970 Southern 500.
Number 8 Ed Negre, #61 Hoss Ellington, and #34 Wendell Scott hustle down the front chute in the Sept. 7 Southern 500 at Darlington. Negre had an unusual sponsor for his self-owned NASCAR Grand National team. Negre's Ford Torino Talladega was sponsored by Pyramid Motors, a small Carolina Chrysler-Plymouth dealership. None of the trio finished in the top 10. Negre experienced engine problems and finished 36th. Ellington placed 18th, and Scott came home 17th.

September 30, 1970

The final dirt-track race in NASCAR Grand National history is run at State Fairgrounds Speedway in Raleigh, N.C. Richard Petty wins in a Don Robertson-owned Plymouth.

October 4, 1970

Legendary NASCAR driver Curtis Turner perishes in a private plane crash in Pennsylvania. Bobby Isaac finishes first in the 250-miler at North Wilkesboro Speedway.

November 15, 1970: American 500

Cale Yarborough hustles to victory in the American 500 at Rockingham, and announces from ­victory lane that he will move to the USAC Indy Car trail in 1971.

November 19, 1970

Ford announces that it will cut back its factory effort in 1971. Jacques Passino, director of Ford's racing program, quits the company.

 Bobby Isaac drove the K&K Insurance Dodge to the 1970 NASCAR Grand National champion­ship.
Bobby Isaac drove the K&K Insurance Dodge to the 1970 NASCAR Grand National champion­ship. Team owner Nord Krauskopf started his operation in 1966 with a five-year plan to win the NASCAR title. With Isaac driving and Harry Hyde filling the role of crew chief, Krauskopf realized his dream in the allotted time frame. Isaac won 11 races and finished ­second nine times in 47 starts.

November 22, 1970

Bobby Allison captures the season finale at Hampton, Va., as Bobby Isaac is declared the 1970 NASCAR Grand National champion.

December, 1970

R.J. Reynolds announces its Winston brand of cigarettes will become the title sponsor of NASCAR's premier stock car racing series. The official title will be NASCAR Winston Cup Grand National Series.

See the next section to learn the full results of the 1970 NASCAR Grand National season.

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1970 NASCAR Grand National Standings

Bobby Isaac overtook James Hylton in late August and won the 1970 NASCAR Grand National champion­ship. It was the most competitive title chase in NASCAR history. A total of seven drivers swapped the points lead on 12 occasions during the 48-race campaign, a record that still stands.

1970 NASCAR Grand National Champion Bobby Isaac
1970 NASCAR Grand National Champion Bobby Isaac

Isaac moved to the front with a ­runner-up finish in the Talladega 500 and stayed atop the standings for the final 14 events. Hylton lost his fading hopes for the championship when he crashed in Charlotte's National 500 in October. Bobby Allison surged past Hylton to capture second place in the final standings, 51 points behind Isaac.

For the second straight year, Richard Petty's hopes for a third title were dashed when he missed five races due to an injury suffered at Darlington. The King managed to climb to fourth place in the standings at the end of the ­season.

The seven drivers who led the points standings at one point in the 1970 season were Isaac, Hylton, Allison, Petty, Dave Marcis, Neil Castles, and LeeRoy Yarbrough. See the chart below for the complete 1970 NASCAR Grand National Standings.

1970 NASCAR Grand National Standings

Rank
Driver Points Wins Earnings
1
Bobby Isaac 3,911 11 $199,600
2
Bobby Allison
3,860 3 149,745
3
James Hylton
3,788 1
78,201
4
Richard Petty
3,447 18 151,124
5
Neil Castles
3,158 0
49,746
6
Elmo Langley
3,154 0
45,193
7
Jabe Thomas
3,120 0
42,958
8
Benny Parsons
2,993 0
59,402
9
Dave Marcis
2,820 0
41,111
10
Frank Warren
2,697 0
35,161
11
Cecil Gordon
2,514 0
32,713
12
John Sears
2,465 0
32,675
13
Dick Brooks
2,460 0
53,754
14
Wendell Scott
2,425 0
28,518
15
Bill Champion
2,350 0
30,943
16
J.D. McDuffie
2,079 0
24,905
17
Ben Arnold
1,997 0
25,805
18
Bill Seifert
1,962 0
25,647
19
Henley Gray
1,871 0
23,130
20
Friday Hassler
1,831 0
27,535
21
Pete Hamilton
1,819 3
131,406
22
Joe Frasson
1,723 0
20,172
23
David Pearson
1,716 1
87,118
24
Buddy Baker
1,555 1
63,510
25
Bill Dennis
1,432 0
15,630
26
Ed Negre
1,413 0
14,580
27
G.C. Spencer
1,410 0
17,915
28
Charlie Glotzbach
1,358 3
50,649
29
Roy Mayne 1,333 0
16,910
30
Bill Shirey
1,244 0
12,215
31
Raymond Williams
1,204 0
12,535
32
Larry Baumel
1,138 0
16,645
33
Buddy Arrington
1,087 0
16,845
34
Cale Yarborough
1,016 3
115,875
35
Dr. Don Tarr
995 0
16,592
36
Johnny Halford
975 0
15,645
37
Earl Brooks
884 0
10,340
38
Coo Coo Marlin
876 0
14,799
39
Ron Keselowski
855 0
11,985
40
Donnie Allison 841 3
96,081
41
Ken Meisenhelder 812 0
7,020
42
Roy Tyner 631 0
5,565
43
LeeRoy Yarbrough 625 1
61,930
44
Dick May 551 0
4,510
45
Jim Vandiver 519 0
16,080
46
John Kenney 457 0
4,150
47
Dub Simpson 367 0
4,115
48
Leroy Carrigg 355 0
4,130
49
Joe Phipps 325 0
4,090
50
Wayne Smith 300 0
4,505

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