Wednesday, April 4, 2018

#JD70: J.D. McDuffie competed in a handful of Texas races

J.D. McDuffie in his Bailey Excavating cap, circa 1975
PHOTO: source unknown
Though he raced years before the opening of the Texas Motor Speedway, J.D. McDuffie made several trips to the Lone Star State in his career.

McDuffie competed in seven of the eight races run at the Texas World Speedway in College Station, missing only the inaugural event in 1969. Today, the mammoth two-mile oval stands empty, and most recently was the staging ground for vehicles damaged during Hurricane Harvey. But on December 12, 1971, the #70 Mercury lined up 44th on the grid of a tremendous 49-car field. In a race won by Richard Petty, McDuffie climbed up to 19th at the finish, 39 laps down to The King.

In those seven starts, McDuffie never finished last. In fact, one of his 106 career top-ten finishes happened there. On June 10, 1973, another race won by Petty, McDuffie finished 10th. Though the #70 came home 12 laps down that afternoon, he was in good company – Petty had lapped the entire field not once, but twice, besting runner-up Darrell Waltrip by more than two full circuits. He also finished ahead of Bobby Allison, Dave Marcis, and Richard Childress, among others.

McDuffie very nearly finished in the top-ten again during the series’ final visit to the track on June 7, 1981. That day, he finished 11th, one spot and two laps behind 10th-place Harry Gant. This time, the group in his rear view included polesitter Terry Labonte, Ricky Rudd, Darrell Waltrip, and Morgan Shepherd. Benny Parsons took the win, his second of three for the late Bud Moore. It was also the day Kirk Shelmerdine made his Cup Series debut as a driver.

Interestingly, McDuffie also competed at a second Texas venue. Car #70 was one of 14 entrants who competed in the Space City 300, a 300-lapper at the Meyer Speedway, a half-mile paved bullring in Houston. Held on June 23, 1971 – the Wednesday between the summer rounds at Riverside and Greenville-Pickens – McDuffie started 6th and finished 10th, the next-to-last driver to finish under power. Cruising to victory that day was Bobby Allison, who inherited the lead when Richard Petty had early mechanical issues.

Reserve your copy of "J.D.: The Life and Death of a Forgotten NASCAR Legend" at Waldorf Publishing, coming July 15, 2018. Click here for more details.

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