Thursday, February 25, 2021

1968 – Yarborough cops Daytona 500

Cale Yarborough is interviewed by Chris Economaki following his Daytona 500 victory. 

Daytona Beach, Fla. (February 25, 1968) – Chunky Cale Yarborough won the Daytona 500 demolition derby by a scant 50 feet Sunday. That figure out to be $945 a foot.

In winning his second race in a row over the high-banked Daytona International Speedway, the blond driver from Charlotte, N.C., picked up a tidy sum of $42,250 in the richest stock car race in history.

Yarborough, who won the Firecracker 400 here last July 4, passed his sound-alike on the stock car circuit, LeeRoy Yarbrough, with only seven miles to go in the grinding 500-miler.

LeeRoy collected $17,525 for his second-place finish.

It was a one-two finish for the spiffy new Mercury Cyclones as Yarborough flashed by the finish line with Yarbrough a single second behind him

“My heart fell at least four times,” said Yarborough, as he sipped a soft drink and wiped the grime from his face afterwards. “It just seemed like we were always having a lot of pit stops and each time I felt like ‘this is it’.”

First it was a bad transformer, said Yarborough, the two stops for cut tires and a fourth stop for an overheating engine.

Fifty sparkling stock cars rolled under the green flag at 12:30 pm, but only 19 followed Yarborough across the finish line 3 hours, 23 minutes and 44 seconds later in a race marked by several wrecks in front of the grandstand.

Although the finish was one of the most exciting in stock car racing history, Yarborough failed to set an expected new record due to 11 caution flags, which were flown for 58 laps of thee race for wreck debris on the track.

His winning speed was 143.251 miles per hour compared to the official record of 154.334 set by Richard Petty in 1964.

The $200,000 race was watched by a crowd of nearly 100,000 racing fans and was seen on closed-circuit television in England, Europe and Japan.

Petty, the Randleman, N.C., flash who was one of thee favorites in his new Plymouth Roadrunner, took the lead briefly early in the race but had to make several unscheduled pit stops because of windshield trouble. He finished eighth, two laps behind Yarborough.

The first three cars were in the same lap with David Pearson of Spartanburg, S.C., in a 1968 Ford leading a pack of four other car a lap behind the leaders. Pearson finished fourth, followed by Paul Goldsmith of Munster, Ind., in a 1968 Plymouth; Darel Dieringer, Charlotte, N.C., 1968 Plymouth; and Al Unser, Albuquerque, N.M., 1968 Dodge.

Results –

1. Cale Yarborough
2. LeeRoy Yarbrough
3. Bobby Allison
4. David Pearson
5. Paul Goldsmith
6. Darel Dieringer
7. Al Unser
8. Richard Petty
9. Tiny Lund
10.Andy Hampton
11.Bob Pronger
12.A.J. Foyt
13.Bob Senneker
14.Clyde Lynn
15.Bill Seifert
16.Butch Hartman
17.Wendell Scott
18.Larry Manning
19.Henley Gray
20.Dave Marcis
21.Rod Eulenfield
22.Sam McQuagg
23.Charles Burnett
24.Frank Warren
25.Elmo Langley
26.Jabe Thomas
27.Jim Hurtubise
28.Don Biederman
29.Mario Andretti
30.Buddy Baker
31.John Sears
32.Charlie Glotzbach
33.Earl Brooks
34.Bill Champion
35.Dick Johnson
36.Bobby Isaac
37.Bobby Johns
38.Sonny Hutchins
39.Bob Cooper
40.Donnie Allison

Cale Yarborough (21) and Richard Petty lead the field to green for the 1968 Daytona 500. 

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