With the 2019 season serving as the 50th anniversary of Richard Childress Racing, we plan to dip into the archives to present the stories of iconic moments, race wins, championships and much more as part of our weekly Throwback Thursday series.
When Richard Childress began making his mark on the NASCAR Cup Series in the early 1970s, he was blazing the path of a true independent. With little financial support and few crew members working on his cars, Childress was making a yeoman’s effort in the garage against some of the sport’s biggest names and deepest pockets.
During the 1973 season, Childress would earn his first top-10 finish of his Hall of Fame career in his first start of the year at Rockingham Speedway. That success at Rockingham would be indicative of the strong runs for the Winston Salem, North Carolina native that year.
As the season rolled around to Darlington Raceway in mid-April, Childress had an average finish of 14.5 – nothing to shy away from when racing against the likes of Petty Enterprises, the Wood Brothers, Junior Johnson and others.
For the Rebel 500 on April 15, Childress’ No. 96 L.C. Newton Trucking Chevrolet started in the 21st position out of 40 cars entered in the race. The 367-lap event was a battle of attrition through motor failures and wrecks, but also featured a fierce battle between David Pearson, Richard Petty and Bobby Allison for the top spot.
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While these future NASCAR Hall of Famers were battling for the lead throughout the day, Childress was taking care of his Tim Brewer set-up Chevrolet and managing his tires on the track ‘Too Tough To Tame.’ As more and more drivers feel out of the race, Childress maintained his pace and methodically worked up the running order.
Pearson dominated the race, leading 246 of the 367 laps, but when the checkered flag flew Childress had worked his way to the fourth position. The strong run was the first top-five finish of Childress’ NASCAR Cup Series career and earned him a total of $4,035 – nearly as much money as he had earned through the first four races of the season.
Thanks in part to the fourth-place finish at Darlington in April, Childress and his No. 96 L.C. Newton Trucking team would go on to finish 15th in the season standings, competing in 25 of the year’s 28 races.