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Gordon Johncock


Gordon Johncock (born 5 August 1937, Coldwater, Michigan) is a former racing driver, best known as a two-time winner of the Indianapolis 500 and 1976 USAC Marlboro Championship Trail champion.

Johncock's first USAC Champ car victory was scored at Milwaukee, Wisconsin in August 1965. He won six further races before winning the Indy 500 in 1973.

The 1973 Indianapolis 500 win was a very bitter-sweet victory as his teammate David 'Swede' Savage was severely injured in a crash during the race, eventually passing away a month later. In addition, Armando Teran, a mechanic for the same STP/Patrick Racing organization, was killed in a subsequent pit lane accident caused by a safety truck headed towards the Savage crash. The race was also shortened to 133 laps (from 200) because of rain.

Johncock won the USAC Champcar title in 1976, but was frustrated at Indianapolis; in 1975 he started the race on the front row but retired with ignition problems on the 11th lap. In 1976 and 1978 he was 3rd, and in 1977 he was leading A.J. Foyt comfortably when the car's crankshaft broke on lap 184.

Johncock had the distinction of winning the first CART sanctioned Champ Car race at Phoenix in March, 1979, but only won one further race until May, 1982.

Johncock took a second Indianapolis 500 victory in 1982, but by only 0.16 second from Rick Mears. Johncock was a dominant force for much of the race, but by the closing laps Mears was rapidly closing in. In Mears' final pit stop, Mears' team made a miscalculation and filled his car with more fuel than it needed to finish the race. As a consequence Mears had to catch up with Johncock again, and on the 197th and 198th laps came from 3 seconds back to within car lengths. The final lap was one of the most thrilling laps in motorsport history as Mears tried to pass Johncock for the win, with Johncock making a decisive defense of first place in Turn One. Mears would later joke about watching the tape over and over to see if 'this time I get around Gordy'.

Johncock took another three Champ car wins, including the 1982 Michigan 500 to complete two legs of what was then known as the Triple Crown (the three 500-mile races on the USAC Marlboro Championship Trail were known as such from 1970 until 1989, when the Pocono 500 was discontinued afterwards), before retiring from racing in 1985. He returned for occasional appearances in 1987, 1988, 1989, 1991 and finally quit after the 1992 Indianapolis 500 (also the final '500' for Mears).

Johncock also completed in twenty-one NASCAR Nextel Cup Series (then Winston Cup) events in his career. Johncock raced respectably, earning three top-fives and four top-tens in his limited schedules. The best of those finishes were a pair of fourths in 1973 at Daytona and 1966 at Rockingham.

Awards

Indianapolis 500 results

Year Car Start Qual Rank Finish Laps Led Retired
1965 76 14 155.012 20 5 200 0 Running
1966 72 6 161.059 8 4 200 0 Running
1967 3 3 166.559 3 12 188 0 Spun T3
1968 4 9 166.775 9 27 37 0 Rear End
1969 12 5 168.626 5 19 137 0 Piston
1970 5 17 167.015 13 28 45 0 Piston
1971 7 12 171.388 14 29 11 0 Crash T3
1972 24 26 188.511 8 20 113 0 Exhaust Valve
1973 20 11 192.555 13 1 133 64 Running
1974 20 4 186.287 5 4 198 0 Flagged
1975 20 2 191.653 2 31 11 8 Ignition
1976 20 2 188.531 3 3 102 18 Running
1977 20 5 193.516 6 11 184 129 Crankshaft
1978 20 6 195.833 8 3 199 0 Flagged
1979 3 5 189.753 5 6 197 0 Flagged
1980 20 17 186.075 15 4 200 11 Running
1981 20 4 195.429 7 9 194 52 Engine
1982 20 5 201.884 5 1 200 57 Running
1983 20 10 199.748 13 14 163 0 Gearbox
1984 20 5 207.545 5 25 103 0 Crash T4
1987 2 18 207.990 12 22 76 0 Valve
1989 91 23 215.072 19 31 19 0 Engine
1991 92 33 213.812 33 6 188 0 Flagged
1992 92 31 219.287 32 29 60 0 Engine
Totals 3158 339
Starts 24
Poles 0
Front Row 3
Wins 2
Top 5 8
Top 10 11
Retired 14
  • Johncock ranks 3rd on the list of laps completed at Indianapolis.


Indianapolis 500 Winners
Four-time winners

A. J. FoytAl Unser, Sr.Rick Mears

Three-time winners

MeyerShawRoseRutherfordB. Unser

Two-time winners

MiltonVukovichWardJohncockFittipaldiLuyendykUnser, Jr.Castroneves

One win

HarrounDawsonGouxThomasDePalmaRestaWilcoxChevroletMurphyCorumBoyerDePaoloLockhartSoudersKeechArnoldSchneiderFrameCummingsPetilloRobertsDavisRobsonHollandParsonsWallardRuttmanSweikertFlahertyHanksBryanRathmannJonesClarkHillAndrettiDonohueSnevaSullivanRahalVilleneuveLazierCheeverBrackMontoyade FerranRiceWheldonHornish