Ricky Craven - The Silver Fox David Pearson made me and NASCAR better


You couldn't be a fan of both, but a big difference between Petty and Pearson and the aforementioned teams was that you could root for one without despising the other. He won three championships-and found time to win in Trans-Am-before retiring in 1986 and returning in 1989. "He captured his first of 105 wins in the 1961 Coca-Cola 600".

Pearson also had a particular history with Charlotte Motor Speedway and former track promoter Humpy Wheeler. That's an accomplishment that will never be matched again.

Pearson, known as the Silver Fox, won 27 races and had 30-runner-up finishes in the 1968-69 seasons. His legacy as one of the greatest drivers if not the greatest driver in NASCAR history will undoubtedly live on forever. "The answer has always been David Pearson", Petty said.

One story that has been told and retold is of the mutual respect Pearson and Petty had for one another and how they generally complimented one another as being the best in their sport.

Big tracks, short tracks - like Bristol Motor Speedway, where he had five wins - paved tracks, dirt tracks and road courses, David Pearson was one of the greatest ever to get behind the wheel of a stock vehicle.

"On behalf of the France Family and everyone at NASCAR, I want to offer honest condolences to the family and friends of David Pearson, a true giant of our sport". Quick on his feet, Pearson was able to re-fire his engine and go 30 miles per hour across the line to win the race. "Like I say, I've had more fun running with him than anybody I ever run with 'cause I know if I ever went to a racetrack and he was there, if I could beat him, I'd win the race". I had the chance to interview him (with Yarborough) several years ago and found that the years hadn't changed that.

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Some 900 feet from the finish line, Pearson, having achieved his goal of getting the final "slingshot" of the race, came out of a high bank, whipped past Petty and won by 25 feet. We were lucky to be able to call him one of our champions.

His wins came in less than half of Petty's 1,184 starts. He became the youngest victor of the Daytona 500 and gave the Wood ownership its first Daytona victory since the Silver Fox, Bayne's newly found mentor, outlasted Richard Petty, Nascar's "King", 35 winters before.

The legendary Richard Petty was a longtime competitor of Pearson and released a statement shortly after Pearson's death.

Chip Ganassi: "RIP David Pearson". And despite their intense rivalry, Petty and the Spartanburg born, SC native remained good friends after their days behind the wheel ended.

In the 1970s, Pearson became synonymous with Wood Brothers Racing's #21 Ford, which he drove from 1972 to 1979.