|McDuffie's Ford at Charlotte, circa 1969|
Although he started running Cup races in 1963 and lived within a two-hour drive of the speedway, McDuffie didn’t qualify for a race at Charlotte until the 10th annual World 600 on May 25, 1969. Even then, it was by the skin of his teeth - his 1967 Buick rolled out next-to-last in the 44-car field. But in the four-and-a-half-hour marathon, McDuffie climbed his way up to the 15th position, one spot behind last-place starter (and fellow owner-driver) Roy Tyner. LeeRoy Yarbrough took the win.
Three times at Charlotte, McDuffie drove for other teams, each time for other independents. His second-ever start there on October 12, 1969 came driving in a second car prepared by future pace car driver Elmo Langley. McDuffie ran 24th in the #84, out with a burned clutch, while Langley came home 13th. On October 10, 1971, during the National 500, McDuffie climbed aboard the 1971 Ford fielded by second-year driver Raymond Williams. This time, McDuffie finished 22nd in a rain-shortened event won by Bobby Allison. The third occasion was the 1980 renewal of the 600 on May 25 of that year, where this time he drove Californian D.K Ulrich’s #40 Chevrolet 145 laps before the engine let go, leaving him 30th.
|McDuffie before the 1976 Coca-Cola 600|
PHOTO: source unknown
The Sanford driver very nearly finished in the Top Ten once more on October 8, 1978, during the NAPA National 500 won by Bobby Allison. McDuffie earned a better starting spot, rolling off 22nd in the Bailey Excavating Chevrolet, and finished 11th. The 10th-place finisher, Dick Brooks, broke a fuel pump in on Junie Donlavey’s Mercury, and came within just two laps of losing the spot to the closing McDuffie. From there, Car #70 remained consistent at the 1.5-mile oval, turning in Top 20 performances in five of his next eight starts.
|McDuffie pits during his final Cup start at Charlotte, 1986|
PHOTO: Original JPS Broadcast
McDuffie attempted 8 of the following 9 Charlotte races, and while he didn’t make any of them, the DNQ for the 1988 Coca-Cola 600 was particularly significant. It was there that the driver made his first qualifying attempt since his serious burns suffered in the Twin 125s at Daytona, just three months earlier.
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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