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THE COMMERCIAL APPEAL

SUNDAY MORNING, JUNE  29, 1969
SCIR's Curves Bend To A.J.'s
Pole-Winning Ride

By LARRY REA

Turn 1 - SCIR road course during qualifying

   On an afternoon created for popsicles, Eskimo Pies and a dip in the nearest swimming pool, the incomparable A.J. Foyt set about mastering another road course.

   And, when the 34-year-old Texan with the 10-gallon smile finishes his afternoon's work, tracks have been known to buckle at his feet.

   It happened for the umpteenth time yesterday afternoon as Shelby County International Raceway snapped, crackled and popped under the flying wheels of Foyt's 1969 Ford.

As a sunsplashed crowd of 2,500 watched in 95-degree heat, Foyt posted a speed of 94.241 miles per hour to win the pole position for today's Memphis 200 -mile, $20,000 race for United States Automobile Club stock cars.

USAC

Foyt, who is the defending USAC stock car champ and a five-time winner of the national point chase, turned the nine-curve, SCIR layout in a time of 1:04.94, only two-tenths of a second better than runner-up Parnelli Jones' 1:04.96 at 92.212 mph.

   "I'll gaurantee you that track was red-hot," said red-faced Roger McCluskey, who only two days ago sported a deep Arizona tan.  "It was just too hot to get out.  It must have been at least 150 degrees out there."

   McCluskey, driving a 1969 Plymouth Roadrunner for the Norm Nelson racing team, landed a spot in the second row with a 92.433 clocking.  He'll join No. 3 qualifier Don White (92.713) in the second row.

   Foyt, who won more than $34,000 on the stock car circuit last season, opened with a lap time of 1:11.35 at 85.774 mph, and it appeared doubtful that the 5-foot, 185-pound driver could earn the coveted pole.

   He pitted early to correct some minor troubles and then put speeds of 92.072 and 94.241 back-to-back.  On his final practice lap, Foyt blew an engine, a very crucial happening for most drivers, but not for A.J.

"We'll have another engine ready for the race," he said after the five hour qualifying session.  "This track is going to be tough, real tough.  It's going to be real hard on the car."

   It was particularly hard on the cars yesterday, with most of the drivers taking it easy on their first try at the treacherous course.

   "Most of us had to do some adjusting," said McCluskey.  "I had to switch gear ratios, and so did some of the other fellows.  I know Parnelli Jones switched."

   Twenty-four cars qualified for today's 133-lap race, which will begin at 2:30 after a special exhibition run by Memphian Jack Adams' turbine at 1.

   William F. Taylor, supervisor of USAC's stock car division, said that some late entries will probably arrive this morning in time to fill the race's remaining six spots.

   The speeds were a little higher than I expected," said a tired Taylor, as he wiped perspiration from his neck.  "On such a tight course, I thought the speeds would be a little slower."

   There was only one accident.  Bob Bolander of New Berlin, Wis., crashed his Chevelle into the homestretch wall, demolishing the car but escaping injury.  Bolander, who qualified for the 24th spot in today's race said that he'd try to find another mount.

   Tom Jones of Northbrook, Ill., blew an engine on the second curve and Dick Binlick of Prairieview, Ill., went out with engine trouble after qualifying 17th.

   The blistering heat took its toll on the drivers, with veteran J.J. Smith of Appleton, Wis., receiving first aid for heat exhaustion.  He qualified 14th with a speed of 79.843.

   "I don't think there's any particular part of the course that's giving any more trouble than the rest," said McCluskey, the current point leader on the USAC stack.  "I tried to find me a spot on the final curve (a 15-foot slope just before SCIR's 4000 foot straightaway).  If I hit that just right I follow the wall and head back down the middle of the track."

   Rounding out the top 10 qualifiers were Jack Bowsher of Springfield, Ohio (89.974); Butch Hartman of Zanesville, Ohio (89.552); Verlin Eaker of Cedar Rapids, Iowa (85.594); Ed Hoffman of Niles, Ill. (84.718; Gene Marmor of Rivergrove, Ill. (84.449) and Roger Regeth of West Allis, Wis. (79.843).

The 200 Lineup

ROW ONE

A. J. Foyt, Houston, Texas, Ford  ...............................94.241
Parnelli Jones, Torrance, Calif., Ford  ..........................94.212

ROW TWO

Don White, Keokuk, Iowa, Dodge  ..............................92.713
Roger McCluskey, Tucson, Ariz., Plymouth  .................92.433

ROW THREE

Jack Bowsher, Springfield, Ohio, Ford  .........................89.974
Butch Hartman, Zonesville, Ohio, Dodge  ......................89.552

ROW FOUR

Verlin Baker, Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Dodge  ...................85.594
Ed Hoffman, Niles, Ill., Chevelle  ...................................84.718

ROW FIVE

Gene Marmor, River Grove, Ill., Chevrolet  ...................84.449
Roger Regeth, West Allis, Wis., Plymouth  ....................82.413

ROW SIX

Bob Haack, Troy, Mich., Chevelle  ...............................81.275
Terry Nichels, Griffith, Ind., Dodge  ...............................80.431

ROW SEVEN

Dave Whitcomb, Valparaiso, Ind., Dodge  .....................80.147
J. J. Smith, Appleton, Wis., Plymouth  ............................79.843

ROW EIGHT

Paul Feldner, Colgate, Wis., Ford  ..................................79.667
Bill Shirley, Dearborn, Mich., Plymouth  ..........................82.413

ROW NINE

Dick Beinlick, Prairieview, Ill., Ford  ...............................78.958
George Rondelli, Chicago, Chevrolet  ..............................78.775

ROW TEN

Date Koehler, Milwaukee, Chevelle  ................................78.151
Fred Zack, Milwaukee, Ford  ..........................................78.051

ROW ELEVEN

Don Hill, Brookfield, Ill., Chevrolet  .................................77.714
Glen Bradley, Lincoln, Ill., Dodge  ....................................76.500

ROW TWELVE

Jim Perry, Indianapolis, Mercury  .....................................76.462
Ray Bolander, New Berlin, Wis., Chevrolet  ................... 74.671

 

 


The preceding article is Copyright The Commercial Appeal, Memphis, TN.  
Thanks to David Rubenstein for supplying this article.

 
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