Milestone Moment: Richard Petty Overcame Blown Engine, Six-Lap Deficit

4301033P NAPA 500 PETTY

By Keith Waltz

In one of the greatest come-from-behind drives in the history of stock car racing, Richard Petty erased a six-lap deficit and beat Dick Brooks’ Ford to the finish line by 1.3 seconds to win the Delaware 500 on Sept. 14, 1975, at Dover International Speedway.

Petty had lapped the field by lap 180 and was almost two laps ahead when a piece of debris from a blown engine in Elmo Langley’s Ford snapped the tie rod on his No. 43 STP Dodge.

Petty was six laps behind the leader after his crew repaired the damage and he returned to the track. He steadily made up the deficit but was still nearly a full lap behind with 20 to go, as it appeared the race would be decided between Brooks and Benny Parsons.

However, with 15 laps remaining in the 500-mile race, Petty received what many believed was an “intentional assist” from Buddy Arrington. Running more than 50 laps behind the leaders, Arrington stopped on the track for no apparent reason and the resulting caution flag put Petty back in the hunt.

“I couldn’t have won without that last caution flag,” Petty admitted following his 10th victory of the season and the 174th of his career.

Parsons ended up third with Cale Yarborough and Bruce Hill rounding out the top five in the 37-car field.