Indy 500 and USAC racing 1972
AAR produced an entirely new car for 1972, based in some part on the successful McLaren M16, and it proved to be the quickest car of the season. Bobby Unser took pole position six times in nine races. The McLaren M16Bs were more numerous - a pair for Penske and a pair for McLaren Cars - but could not quite match the speed of new Eagles. The third of the competitive cars was the new Parnelli VPJ1 designed by Maurice Philippe and built by chief crew George Bignotti for the "superteam" of Al Unser, Joe Leonard and Mario Andretti, the latter recruited from the defunct STP/Granatelli operation.
Unser won four of the short track events but his Eagle was unreliable in the longer races and he finished well down in the title race. McLaren driver and early points leader Mark Donohue was sidelined mid-season by a testing accident and the Parnelli team took advantage, Joe Leonard winning three races in July and August. Leonard took a second successive title with the next places filled by Billy Vukovich in Jerry O'Connell's customer Eagle and Roger McCluskey's whose dismal season had been rescued when team owner Lindsey Hopkins acquired a second-hand McLaren.
18 Mar 1972 > Jimmy Bryan 150 at Phoenix International Raceway
23 Apr 1972 > Trenton 200 at Trenton International Speedway
27 May 1972 > Indianapolis 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway
04 Jun 1972 > Rex Mays Classic at Milwaukee (Wisconsin State Fair Park)
16 Jul 1972 > Michigan 200 at Michigan International Speedway
29 Jul 1972 > Pocono 500 at Pocono International Raceway
13 Aug 1972 > Tony Bettenhausen 200 at Milwaukee (Wisconsin State Fair Park)
03 Sep 1972 > California 500 at Ontario Motor Speedway
24 Sep 1972 > Trenton 300 at Trenton International Speedway
04 Nov 1972 > Best Western 150 at Phoenix International Raceway
1972 USAC National Championship table
|1||Joe Leonard||Parnelli VPJ1 - Offy 159 ci turbo||3460 pts||3 wins|
|2||Billy Vukovich||Eagle 72 - Offy 159 ci turbo||2200 pts||0 wins|
|3||Roger McCluskey||Kuzma-Kenyon - Offy 159 ci turbo|
Antares 72 - Offy 159 ci turbo
McLaren M16A - Offy 159 ci turbo
|1970 pts||1 win|
|4||Al Unser||Parnelli VPJ1 - Offy 159 ci turbo||1800 pts||0 wins|
|5||Mark Donohue||McLaren M16B - Offy 159 ci turbo||1720 pts||1 win|
Points table by Phil Harms.