Tag:Hall of Fame
Posted on: December 8, 2011 4:45 pm
Edited on: December 8, 2011 5:10 pm
 

Driver lineup set for January NASCAR preview

By Pete Pistone

Some of NASCAR's top stars will be on hand for the inaugural NASCAR Acceleration Weekend in January at Charlotte's Hall of Fame.

The January 21 event will include a variety of fan interactive attractions as well as driver appearances for autographs and question and answer sessions.

Series champion Tony Stewart, Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt lead the list of drivers who will attend the preview along with eleven others. 

NASCAR Preview 2012 Presented by Sprint is a new addition to the annual calendar. Reminiscent of popular season-preview events of the past, the festival-like event will feature driver and show car appearances, simulators, games, prizes and a host of other fan-friendly and interactive activities. The event is part of the three-day NASCAR Acceleration Weekend from Jan. 20-22 in Charlotte, N.C. that gives race fans an unprecedented experience through a combination of events and activities featuring the legends of the sport and stars of today.

The weekend will begin Friday, January 20, with the NASCAR Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony for the Class of 2012, which features Darrell Waltrip, Cale Yarborough, Dale Inman, Richie Evans and Glen Wood. Following Saturday’s NASCAR Preview 2012 Presented by Sprint event will be the unveiling of the Class of 2012 exhibits in the NASCAR Hall of Fame on Sunday, Jan. 22.

Stewart and other NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers will sign autographs in the Ballroom of the Charlotte Convention Center starting at 9:15 a.m. on Saturday, January 21. Beginning Saturday at 7 a.m. in the Charlotte Convention Center Ballroom, wristbands will be distributed to a limited number of fans. Recipients must have an event ticket to be eligible to receive a wristband.

Driver Appearance Times (Jan. 21, 2012)

9:15 a.m. – 11:15 a.m. – Kyle Busch & Matt Kenseth

10:15 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. – Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson & Denny Hamlin

11:45 a.m. – 1:45 p.m. – Brad Keselowski

12:15 p.m. – 2:15 p.m. – Kevin Harvick & Greg Biffle

12:30 p.m. – 2:30 p.m. – Kasey Kahne & Ryan Newman

2:45 p.m. – 4:45 p.m. – Dale Earnhardt Jr. & Juan Pablo Montoya

3:15 p.m. – 5:15 p.m. – Tony Stewart, Carl Edwards & Kurt Busch

 
More NASCAR coverage


Posted on: November 29, 2011 12:16 pm
 

NASCAR Preview 2012 set in Charlotte

Posted by Pete Pistone

From News Release

With the completion of the 2011 NASCAR season, planning for the NASCAR Preview 2012 Presented by Sprint season preview fan event is in high gear. Driver appearances by the newly crowned 2011 champions in the three NASCAR national series have been confirmed for the fan-centric, all-day event located inside the Charlotte Convention Center on Saturday, Jan. 21. 

Three-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Tony Stewart and first-time national series champions Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (NASCAR Nationwide Series) and Austin Dillon (NASCAR Camping World Truck Series) are scheduled for two-hour appearances that include driver autograph and on-stage question-and-answer sessions. 

The NASCAR Preview 2012 Presented by Sprint is a new addition to the annual calendar. Reminiscent of popular season preview events of the past, the festival-like event will feature driver and show car appearances, simulators, games, prizes and a host of other fan-friendly and interactive activities. 

The event is part of the three-day NASCAR Acceleration Weekend from Jan. 20-22 in Charlotte, N.C. that gives race fans an unprecedented experience through a combination of events and activities featuring the legends of the sport and stars of today. 

NASCAR Acceleration Weekend kicks off Friday, Jan. 20 with the NASCAR Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony for the Class of 2012, which features Darrell Waltrip, Cale Yarborough, Dale Inman, Richie Evans and Glen Wood. Following Saturday’s NASCAR Preview 2012 Presented by Sprint event will be the unveiling of the Class of 2012 exhibits in the NASCAR Hall of Fame on Sunday, Jan. 22.

For many fans, the highlight of the weekend will be the opportunity to meet their favorite NASCAR driver. Stewart and other NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers will sign autographs in the Ballroom of the Charlotte Convention Center starting at 9:15 a.m. on Sat., Jan. 21. Beginning Saturday at 7 a.m. in the Charlotte Convention Center Ballroom, wristbands will be distributed to a limited number of fans. Recipients must have an event ticket to be eligible to receive a wristband. 

Driver Appearance Times

3:15 p.m. – 5:15 p.m. – Tony Stewart

11 a.m. – 1 p.m. – Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

2:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. – Austin Dillon 

Additional driver appearances from the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, NASCAR Nationwide Series and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, plus the four living NASCAR Hall of Fame members inducted the previous night, will be announced at a later date. Appearance times are subject to change. 

Tickets to NASCAR Preview 2012 Presented by Sprint start at just $10. Experience the entire weekend at a discounted rate: Ticket prices range from $10 for individual event admission to $299 for a VIP weekend package that includes the NASCAR Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, and are available at www.ticketmaster.com or by calling 1-800-745-3000.

 

More NASCAR coverage
Category: Auto Racing
Posted on: August 16, 2011 1:38 pm
 

New fan event joins 2012 Hall of Fame ceremony

Posted by Pete Pistone

From News Release

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (Aug. 16, 2011) – NASCAR announced today the addition of a new fan-friendly event – the NASCAR Preview 2012, Presented by Sprint – that will follow January’s 2012 NASCAR Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony. 

“NASCAR Acceleration Weekend,” scheduled for Jan. 20-22 in Charlotte, N.C., gives race fans an unprecedented, festival-like experience with a combination of events and activities featuring the legends of the sport and stars of today. 

“The NASCAR Acceleration Weekend will be an unforgettable start of a special tradition centered on the NASCAR Hall of Fame,” said NASCAR President Mike Helton. “Putting the 2012 Induction Ceremony together with the NASCAR Preview 2012 makes this a must-visit event weekend for racing fans across the country.” 

Kicking off the inaugural NASCAR Acceleration Weekend on Friday, Jan. 20 is the induction of the NASCAR Hall of Fame’s Class of 2012 – Richie Evans, Dale Inman, Darrell Waltrip, Glen Wood, and Cale Yarborough – at a dinner and ceremony located in the Charlotte Convention Center, which adjoins the NASCAR Hall of Fame. This revered group, comprised of three drivers, a crew chief and a team owner, marks the third class to be inducted into the Hall. Exhibits of the five-member class will be unveiled inside the NASCAR Hall of Fame on Sunday, Jan. 22. 

Following the Induction Ceremony on Saturday, Jan. 21 is the NASCAR Preview 2012, Presented by Sprint, a new addition to the annual calendar reminiscent of popular season preview events of the past. The fan-focused, all-day event located inside the Charlotte Convention Center will feature driver and show car appearances, simulators, games, prizes and a host of other fan-friendly and interactive activities. The highlight of the day for many fans will be autograph and on-stage Q&A sessions with drivers from the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, NASCAR Nationwide Series and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, plus four of the five new NASCAR Hall of Fame members inducted the previous night. 

The NASCAR Preview 2012, Presented by Sprint now joins the NASCAR Preseason Thunder Fan Fest at Daytona International Speedway, held the previous week, as the two premier events for fans to meet their favorite drivers and get revved up for the start of the season at the 54th annual Daytona 500 on Feb. 26. 

“Accessibility to the stars of the sport is what sets NASCAR apart from other professional sports,” said Winston Kelley, executive director of the NASCAR Hall of Fame. “Giving fans an opportunity to honor legends of the sport one day and then meet future Hall of Famers the next day is the kind of fan-focused activities that the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte is uniquely positioned to deliver.”

Tickets for the 2012 NASCAR Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony and the NASCAR Preview 2012, Presented by Sprint go on sale Sept. 20. Fans can enter their e-mail address at www.nascaracceleration2012.com to receive updates and to receive a promo code for pre-sale opportunities.

 
More NASCAR coverage
Category: Auto Racing
Posted on: June 13, 2011 3:34 pm
Edited on: June 13, 2011 4:06 pm
 

Choices for 2012 NASCAR Hall of Fame class

By Pete Pistone

Less than a month after NASCAR’s second Hall of Fame class was inducted the five names that will go in as the Class of 2012 will be revealed on Tuesday. 

NASCAR and Hall of Fame officials have decided to move the now two-year-old induction ceremony from May to January in an effort to capture more of the national spotlight during a time when racing news is slow. 

But with that move came the need to expedite the nomination and voting process so the third class will be unveiled this week. 

I don’t have a vote in the proceedings and will entrust the 21-person nominating committee consisting of representatives from NASCAR, the NASCAR Hall of Fame and track owners with the responsibility. 

This may be the most difficult task in the young history of the process as there are maybe a handful of clear cut choices in my mind. 

So without further adieu here are my choices for the NASCAR Hall of Fame Class of 2012:
 

Darrell Waltrip 

He’s tied for third on the all-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series win list with Bobby Allison and now Jeff Gordon (84 wins), is a three-time series champion and one of the most well-known personalities NASCAR has ever known. Many felt “Old D.W.” should have gone in last year but he didn’t make the cut behind contemporaries David Pearson and Bobby Allison. His statistics and contribution to the sport are impressive. However his polarizing personality, which continues today as a television analyst and commentator, still makes it a difficult choice for some voters. None of that should matter and Waltrip is a Hall of Famer. 

 

Raymond Parks 

NASCAR’s first championship-winning car owner should not be overlooked any longer. Parks was part of the original committee that helped form the sanctioning body at the famed meeting held in Florida’s Streamline Hotel and won the 1949 championship with driver Red Byron. Without Raymond Parks there would be no Richard Childress, Rick Hendrick, Jack Roush, Joe Gibbs or other successful team owners of today. He’s a true pioneer of the sport and belongs in the Hall.

 

Red Byron 

He won NASCAR’s first race in 1948 and was the first champion in 1949 behind the wheel of Raymond Parks’ ride. A World War II veteran, Byron is NASCAR’s original hero and like his title-winning team owner a pioneer who is owed a debt of gratitude by the entire sport for paving the way.

 

Cale Yarborough 

One of only two drivers along with Jimmie Johnson to win three consecutive Sprint Cup titles, Yarborough was the epitome of NASCAR during his illustrious driving career. He’s fifth on the all-time win list with 83 victories and won the Daytona 500 an impressive four times. He was Driver of the Year three times and the first NASCAR star to be on the cover of Sports Illustrated.

 

Dale Inman 

One of if not the most successful crew chief in NASCAR history, Inman won 198 races and seven championships with Richard Petty. For good measure he added another title to his resume when he guided Terry Labonte to the 1984 Sprint Cup crown. Inman was the template for today’s modern crew chief and pioneered the extensive preparation and driver communication that is now so commonplace in NASCAR.
 

Complete list of 2012 nominees
Buck Baker Richie Evans Bobby Isaac Les Richter Darrell Waltrip
Red Byron Tim Flock Fred Lorenzen Fireball Roberts Joe Weatherly
Richard Childress Rick Hendrick Cotton Owens T. Wayne Robertson Glen Wood
Jerry Cook Jack Ingram Raymond Parks Herb Thomas Leonard Wood
H. Clay Earles Dale Inman Benny Parsons Curtis Turner Cale Yarborough


More NASCAR coverage


Posted on: May 22, 2011 11:04 am
Edited on: May 24, 2011 9:54 am
 

Hall of Fame class ready for deserved honor

By Pete Pistone

(The Hall of Fame will welcome its next class on Monday night)

There is absolutely no denying each man who will be inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame’s second class on Monday night is deserving of the honor. 

You can argue about timing, who should go in ahead of someone else and whether as time marches on if pioneers of the sport will be left behind in the quest to make the Hall. 

But the five names on this year’s ballot are all worthy of the accolades that will be bestowed upon them on Monday. 

They may not be the Mount Rushmore of NASCAR but David Pearson, Bobby Allison, Bud Moore, Lee Petty and Ned Jarrett are about as close to a history lesson in stock car racing as you can get. 

Profiles: Bobby Allison | Ned Jarrett | Bud Moore | David Pearson | Lee Petty

Many thought Pearson should have gone in as part of the inaugural class. “The Silver Fox” has Ty Cobb-like numbers and behind NASCAR’s Babe Ruth “King Richard” Petty. 

He debuted on the then Grand National racing circuit in 1960 and earned Rookie of the Year honors that same season. Pearson went on to win the NASCAR Championship in 1966, 1968 and 1969, the only three full-time seasons of his career. 

Pearson ranks as one of the greatest of all NASCAR drivers and his duels with Richard Petty are legendary. Between August 8, 1963 and June 12, 1977, they finished one/two on sixty-three occasions, with Pearson coming out on top with thirty-three victories. Their most famous encounter came at the 1976 Daytona 500 when the two were running bumper-to-bumper on the final lap. 

After twenty-six seasons in racing, he retired in 1986. He finished his career in second place behind Richard Petty on NASCAR's all-time win list with 105, and second in all-time pole positions. 

“It’s an honor that I don’t take lightly,” said Pearson who still resides in his native Spartanburg, South Carolina. “Racing was my life and to be remembered for what I was able to do on the track is tremendous.” 

Pearson would not have been able to have some of the historic battles with Richard Petty without the patriarch of the legendary family. Lee Petty started the dynasty that in many ways would define NASCAR with a stellar driving career and perhaps more importantly business sense that helped shape the sport. 

Petty went on to have fifty five career wins and this places him at seventh place as drivers with the most wins. He won the Grand National Championship three times, in 1954, 1958 and 1959. He won the inaugural Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway in a spectacular way, Lee, Johnny Beauchamp and Joe Weatherly were battling during the final laps of the race and all three drove side by side across the winning line in the final lap, making it a photo finish. 

Beauchamp was declared the unofficial winner but Lee protested, saying "I had Beauchamp by a good two feet. In my own mind, I know I won." It took NASCAR three days to decide, using the national newsreel, who was the winner and Lee was declared officially the winner. 

His awards include in addition to his HOF honor are many including the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in 1990 and being named as one of NASCAR’s 50 Greatest Drivers in 1998. 

But the powerhouse that was Petty Enterprises and continues today as Richard Petty Motorsports might be an even greater legacy for the elder Petty, who passed away in 2000. 

“My father only knew about racing,” said Richard. “That was our life, still is, and he gave his all to NASCAR over the years and we’re grateful.” 

Bobby Allison knows about sacrifice and giving so much of his life to NASCAR. One of the original members of the famed “Alabama Gang,” Allison made his mark on the sport as a driver who accumulated 84 wins during the course of his stellar career. 

But there was also pain and suffering along the way. Allison lost two sons, Davey to a helicopter crash and Clifford to a racing accident, while barely surviving a near-fatal accident himself that cut his driving career short. 

However Allison has persevered through the tragic times to remain active in the sport today and cherishes his contributions to NASCAR over the years. 

"I was a little poor boy that came along and put a lot of effort, and got a lot of help from people and was able to succeed at something I really wanted to do," Allison said. "I was a racer's racer." 

That same description aptly fits Ned Jarrett, who earned the name “Gentleman Ned” for a smooth driving style that helped him win a pair of series championships. 

But Jarrett will be remembered for more than his prowess on the racetrack. When he retired from racing he became one of the sport’s most respected and popular broadcasters, establishing himself as a staple of the sport through his radio work with the Motor Racing Network and on television including with CBS and ESPN. 

"I think all fans really want to do," Jarrett said of his broadcasting approach, "is watch the race, with just enough information to help them enjoy it."

The thoughtful explanation sums up perfectly the character of one of NASCAR’s most beloved personalities.

Bud Moore shares a similar soft-spoken personality with Jarrett but make no mistake the former crew chief-car owner was one of the most ferocious competitors the sport has ever known. 

He’s also a true blue American hero, a decorated veteran of World War II who went ashore on D-Day in 1944. 

The oldest living member of the Hall at age 85, Moore is contributions he gave to the sport he loves so much are being recognized with his induction into the Hall.

“After racing 50 years, the races we won, the championships and all that was great,” Moore said. “But being inducted into the hall ... is a great feeling.”

A sentiment that will be shared by the family, friends and fans of all five members of the NASCAR Hall of Fame Class of 2011.
      

 
More NASCAR coverage




Category: Auto Racing
Posted on: May 20, 2011 11:19 am
 

Hall of Fame Profile: Lee Petty

Posted by Pete Pistone



     

Lee Petty was single-minded when it came to stock car racing as both driver and owner.      

It would be his business – and he would make it a successful one.       

Petty, born in 1914, grew up dirt poor in rural North Carolina. He sold biscuits and operated a trucking company, but Petty’s overriding passion was automobiles. Gifted as a mechanic – he would tell his wife Elizabeth he was “just improving” cars – perhaps it was pre-ordained that Petty would create a racing dynasty from the humblest of beginnings.      

And oh could he drive, although you might not have guessed Petty would become NASCAR’s first three-time premier series champion based on his performance in the organization’s 1949 inaugural race in Charlotte, N.C.      

Petty, already age 35, borrowed an unsuspecting friend’s Buick Roadmaster, enticed by the race’s $6,000 purse. He wound up rolling and demolishing the car when a part broke.      

It may have been an expensive lesson but one well-learned.      

The thrill of competition, the pre- and post-race camaraderie with friends and fellow competitors and the cheers of the crowd brought many to the sport but not Petty. The only way to survive was to win and you couldn’t win if you didn’t finish.      

His son, Richard, a seven-time NASCAR premier series champion and member of the NASCAR Hall of Fame’s inaugural class, remembers his father saying, “There ain’t no second place. You win or you lose. That’s the only two parts there are to racing.”      

That said, Petty outworked and outraced his rivals bringing his sons Richard and Maurice, the engine building whiz, along for the ride. Petty was not always popular with his rivals – he even spun out his son during one race – and many proclaimed him the most difficult driver to pass during that era.   

But all gave Lee Petty his due.      

“There wasn’t anybody better than Lee Petty in his day,” said NASCAR Hall of Fame member Junior Johnson.      

Fellow competitor Glen Wood, a NASCAR Hall of Fame nominee, said, “There might have been more colorful drivers but when it came down to winning the race, he had as much as I’ve ever seen. He was one of the toughest competitors there was at the time.”       

As a driver, Petty won 54 races – which is still tied for ninth all-time – beginning in 1949 at Heidelberg Raceway near Pittsburgh. He won on Daytona Beach’s famed road-beach course and the inaugural Daytona 500 in a finish that required three days to determine the winner. He won NASCAR premier series championships in 1955 and 1958-59.     

But Petty’s Hall of Fame driving career was just the opening act at Petty Enterprises. Lee Petty was anything but retired as the owner of what became a flagship for Chrysler Corp. during the 1960s and 1970s and later entered Fords and General Motors cars. Petty Enterprises fielded more than 2,800 entries over a 60-year period, ending in 2008 winning 268 races and 10 championships.      

Until Petty’s death in 2000, there was no doubt who was at the organization’s helm.

“Richard had his job to do and I had mine,” said son Maurice. “And then Lee told us what he wanted us to do and that’s what we did.”


 
More NASCAR coverage
Posted on: May 19, 2011 11:23 am
 

Hall of Fame Profile: Ned Jarrett

Posted by Pete Pistone




With Ned Jarrett, fans get two NASCAR legends for the price of one.

There’s “Gentleman” Ned Jarrett, two-time NASCAR premier series champion. Then there’s Ned Jarrett, landmark NASCAR television analyst.

Jarrett’s two-fold talents spanned historic and modern eras – from his first championship in 1961 through a broadcast career of more than two decades, initially in radio and most famously as a member of the CBS Sports’ NASCAR television team. Jarrett also was promoter at Hickory Motor Speedway a few miles from his native Newton, N.C.

Born on Oct. 12, 1932, Jarrett is one of two men to have a son follow in his championship footsteps (fellow NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee Lee Petty is the other). NASCAR Hall of Fame member Richard Petty won seven titles. Dale Jarrett is the 1999 NASCAR Sprint Cup champion and like his father has become a broadcaster, with ESPN/ABC.

The elder Jarrett will be inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame on May 23. A 50-time NASCAR Sprint Cup winner in competition between 1953 and 1966, he’s one of only 12 drivers to reach that plateau. All but one win came in a No. 11 car; 43 of those a Ford – the most any single NASCAR Sprint Cup driver has scored in that manufacturer’s car.

A farmer and saw mill worker, Jarrett began his stock car racing career in 1952 driving a car owned by his brother-in-law at Hickory Motor Speedway, winning the track championship three years later. Jarrett won NASCAR Late Model Sportsman championships in 1957 and 1958 although his climb to stardom was anything but an easy one.

Jarrett won his first two NASCAR Sprint Cup races back-to-back at Rambi Speedway in Myrtle Beach, S.C. and Southern States Fairgrounds in Charlotte, N.C. in 1959. Continuing to drive his own equipment, Jarrett won five times in 1960 finishing fifth in points.

He won the 1961 championship in a Chevrolet owned by Bee Gee Holloway, a car Jarrett later sold to Wendell Scott. Despite winning just once, Jarrett finished 34 of 46 races in the top 10 and beat the previous season’s champion Rex White by 830 points.

Fourth and third-place championship finishes followed in 1962-63 along with 14 victories, a record that brought Jarrett into Ford’s factory camp. Ford placed Jarrett with Bowani Racing, a team owned by Bondy Long, whose wife was a member of the DuPont family, and brothers Walter and Nicky. 

Jarrett won nine times in 1964 – including his first superspeedway victory at Atlanta Motor Speedway – and finished runner-up to Petty.

His most successful season followed in 1965: a second championship, 13 wins, nine poles and 45 top-10 finishes out of 54 races in which he appeared. Jarrett won Darlington Raceway’s Southern 500 by a record 14 laps, still the largest margin of victory in NASCAR’s premier division.

Ford’s exit from NASCAR in 1966 and nagging back injuries caused Jarrett to announce his retirement as a driver at age 34.

Jarrett, however, was hardly finished with NASCAR. Jarrett had been doing a weekly racing show at WNNC in Newton. Although Jarrett was popular with fans – one driver called him a “roadblock” when crowds gathered for autographs – he was uncomfortable speaking in public.

A $150 Dale Carnegie course, taken after winning the 1961 championship provided the polish he needed, joining the Universal Racing Network and later MRN, where another son Glenn, continues as a pit reporter. Jarrett then switched to television analysis at ESPN, The Nashville Network and ultimately CBS.

Sports announcers are supposed to be impartial but fans and drivers alike forgave Jarrett for his call of “go, Dale, go” on the final lap of the 1993 Daytona 500. Dale Jarrett edged Dale Earnhardt by just 0.16 seconds. Later, the elder Jarrett apologized to Earnhardt, who responded, “I understand; I’m a daddy, too.”

Jarrett remembers that afternoon as being the high point of his broadcast career along with 1984’s Firecracker 400 after which he interviewed President Ronald Reagan.

Jarrett retired from broadcasting in 2009 but continues to be in demand as a public speaker and as an ambassador for NASCAR racing.

  

More NASCAR coverage
Posted on: May 16, 2011 3:08 pm
Edited on: May 16, 2011 3:15 pm
 

Hall of Fame Profile: David Pearson

Posted by Pete Pistone




(Pearson discusses the finish of the 1976 Daytona 500)


The second class of NASCAR's Hall of Fame will be inducted in uptown Charlotte next Monday night. We'll profile all five of the inductees as we countdown to the ceremony and begin with "The Silver Fox" David Pearson:


HALL OF FAMER: DAVID PEARSON

The question “Who was the best?” can never be answered to everyone’s satisfaction.

By raw numbers – 200 victories, seven championships – NASCAR Hall of Fame member Richard Petty stands alone as the sport’s greatest driver.

An argument can be made, however, that David Pearson was Petty’s equal, as he joins “The King” in the NASCAR Hall of Fame. Pearson will be inducted in the hall’s second class on May 23.

Pearson, born in Whitney, S.C., on Dec. 22, 1934, won 105 races in just 574 starts – a winning percentage of 18.29. He’s second only to Petty in total victories.    

He won three championships, in 1966 and 1968-69, never running a complete schedule in any of the three years or, for that matter, in any of the 27 seasons of his career.       

Cotton Owens fielded Dodges for Pearson in 1966. Pearson won two more championships in Fords owned by Holman-Moody.      

“He could drive almost anything he wanted to drive and at any track,” said Owens, one of 25 nominees for induction into the 2012 NASCAR Hall of Fame. “He had a certain feel for a car that really buffaloed a lot of people.       

“You never knew how fast David Pearson could actually run until (the) time came to run.”       

That earned Pearson the nickname “The Fox” – as in sly as – that later, as his hair began to grey, became “The Silver Fox.”       

He outfoxed Petty in the 1974 Firecracker 400 at Daytona. Fearing Petty’s last-lap slingshot pass, Pearson slowed on the backstretch, simulating engine failure. Then he latched onto Petty’s rear bumper and pulled off the slingshot maneuver himself.       

Pearson, however, became most identified with the Ford and Mercury cars prepared by the Wood Brothers who – like their driver – ran partial seasons, concentrating on the biggest races. Between 1972 and 1979, Pearson and the Woods won 43 times including the 1976 Daytona 500 – a race that saw Pearson limp to the finish after colliding with rival Petty coming down to take the checkered flag.       

“He was good to start with, but he could drive his own race,” said Glen Wood, a NASCAR Hall of Fame nominee. “If somebody was up front and outrunning him, he would settle back and run behind them for a little while.       

“Later, when the chips were down, he could run with anybody.”       

Perhaps the greatest measure of Pearson’s talents was his mastery at the site of this weekend’s race – Darlington Raceway, a track that gave the pillars of the sport – even Petty – indigestion.        

Pearson won 10 times at the track “Too Tough To Tame,” including three Southern 500s. His 12 poles are double the number – six – of the track’s second-best qualifiers, Fred Lorenzen and Fireball Roberts.       

He used the oft-cursed “Darlington Stripe” to his advantage, sliding through what was then Turn 2 before tapping his bumper on the old guardrail with an audible “clank” that could actually be heard in the covered Brasington Grandstand. The move put Pearson’s car back on a straight line for a charge to the stripe and Turn 1.        

Pearson won 11 consecutive poles (and 14 overall) at Charlotte Motor Speedway between the fall of 1973 and 1978. That record for consecutive poles at one track still stands.       

So how did Pearson and Petty fare head to head?       

In races where the pair finished one-two, Pearson had a slim advantage – 33 to 30.       

Give Petty the last word to reflect on his greatest adversary. 

“Pearson could beat you on a short track, he could beat you on a superspeedway, he could beat you on a road course (and) he could beat you on a dirt track,” said Petty. “It didn’t hurt as bad to lose to Pearson as it did some of the others because I knew how good he was.”
 

 
More NASCAR coverage




 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com