NASCAR just lost a legendary driver

Jan 11, 2024

2023 was not a very good year for NASCAR.

They suffered falling ad revenue, poor ticket sales, and an ever-shrinking fan base after going woke.

And NASCAR suffered another loss when this legendary driver passed away at the end of the year.

NASCAR legend Cale Yarborough has passed away at the age of 84.

A three-time champion

Yarborough was one of the most successful NASCAR drivers in the history of the sport racking up 83 Cup Series wins and three championships. 

In fact, Yarborough remarkably won his championships in three straight seasons from 1976-78 becoming the first driver to win three championships in a row.

During that span he also got 28 wins and 70 top-five finishes over 90 races, making it one of the best three-year periods for any NASCAR driver ever.

Upon hearing of Yarborough’s death NASCAR Chairman Jim France released a statement saying, “Cale Yarborough was one of the toughest competitors NASCAR has ever seen. His combination of talent, grit, and determination separated Cale from his peers, both on the track and in the record book. He was respected and admired by competitors and fans alike and was as comfortable behind the wheel of a tractor as he was behind the wheel of a stock car. On behalf of the France family and NASCAR, I offer my deepest condolences to the family and friends of Cale Yarborough.”

Even with all his success, one of Yarborough’s most famous NASCAR moments came from not a victory, but a wreck.

Right after he won his third and final championship Yarborough was racing for the lead with Donnie Allison in the 1979 Daytona 500 when the two drivers collided on the backstretch and their cars went careening through the infield. 

After climbing from their cars as Richard Petty won the race, the two started fighting and Allison’s brother Bobby also arrived on the scene.

A signature moment for NASCAR

The fight became a signature moment for NASCAR.

At the time it was primarily a southern regional motorsports series. 

And the 1979 Daytona 500 was the first race televised live from start to finish on broadcast television and a snowstorm in the northeast and midwest led to more people turning on the race because they were stuck at home.

The coverage of the wreck, and the ensuing fight made many Americans fans of what they saw as a new, exciting sport.

But Yarborough is known for far more than that one pivotal moment.

He is just one of seven drivers with more than 80 Cup Series wins and is tied with Jimmie Johnson for the sixth-most wins at NASCAR’s top level.

They are tied behind legends Richard Petty, David Pearson, Jeff Gordon, Bobby Allison, and Darrell Waltrip. 

Allison and Waltrip both finished their NASCAR careers with one more win than Yarborough.

And not only did Yarborough become the first driver in Cup Series history to win three consecutive titles, only Johnson has won more than two consecutive titles.

Johnson tied Yarborough with his third consecutive title in 2008 and then went on to win two more to get five straight titles in an amazing 2006-10 run.

Richard Petty is the only driver in NASCAR history to win more Daytona 500s than Yarborough. 

Yarborough, and his style of racing will be sorely missed.

Hot Take Politics will keep you up-to-date on any developments to this ongoing story. 

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