Jackie Stewart completed the season with his second win on the trot, his victory at the US Grand Prix at Watkins Glen ensuring he finished runner-up to champion Emerson Fittipaldi. His win hinted at how close the season might have been had it not been for his own health problems.
A massive prize fund of £112,000, with £20,000 for the winner, the largest reward in the sport's history, meant there were 32 entries for the race, with several teams entering a third car to test potential signings for 1973. Jody Scheckter made his F1 debut alongside Denny Hulme and Peter Revson for McLaren, and Patrick Depailler joined Stewart and Francois Cevert in the Tyrrells.
Rain and cold winds harried the drivers in qualifying, and Friday's times determined the grid. Stewart hence took pole position from Revson's McLaren and Hulme's sister car with the second row boasting Cevert's Tyrrell and the Brabham of Carlos Reutemann.
Stewart led from Hulme at the start while Clay Regazzoni contrived to clatter into Reutemann and Revson behind. The incident allowed Fittipaldi to inherit third ahead of Scheckter's McLaren with the recovering Regazzoni sixth behind team-mate Jacky Ickx. Reutemann and Revson, however, needed to pit for repairs.
Fittipaldi was another to pit on lap five after sffering a slow puncture and Scheckter moved up to third place but was soon caught and passed by Cevert who then progressed to second place at the expense of Hulme.
It made it a Tyrrell 1-2 with Scheckter third but the South African was caught out when rain began to fall and he spun down to ninth place. It allowed Hulme to bag third and Ronnie Peterson fourth place from Jacky Ickx and Mario Andretti.
Emerson Fittipaldi's race ended on lap 17 with suspension failure but it mattered little: he was already the world champion. Stewart was barely troubled, setting a lap record as well as completing the race in record time. "What a day," he said. "The car went like a dream." Cevert's second-place finish made it a Tyrrell 1-2 with the third car of Depailler in seventh.