DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (June 23, 2008) – Richard Petty owned the prestigious season-opening Daytona 500 with a record seven victories. But Daytona International Speedway’s July mid-summer classic was owned by David Pearson, also known as “the Silver Fox.”
Pearson, who unlike his rival Petty won only one Daytona 500 in 1976, brought home a record five victories in the Independence Day holiday classic including an unprecedented three straight between 1972-74.
“I don’t know what it was but it seemed like I ran better in July than in February down there,” Pearson said. “I don’t know if it was the way we set the car up or because it was usually hot and slicker in July than it is in February. I don’t know if it was luck but it seemed like I always ran better in July than I did in February.”
A common trait in each of Pearson’s three consecutive July 400-mile victories was that Petty finished second.
One of the more remembered finishes of Pearson’s three consecutive Coke Zero 400 wins would be the 1974 race. On the white flag lap, Pearson was leading Petty when Pearson backed off the throttle and ducked to the low side of the track on the straightaway entering Turn 1. Petty had to take evasive action and pass him.
But Pearson gained enough steam and made up the two-second deficit and pulled off sling shot pass in Turn 4. Petty, who had yet to win a 400 at the time, was furious about Pearson’s last lap tricks. It was the fourth time in a row that Petty finished second in the 400.
For Pearson, no matter the circumstances, his Daytona victories “were all good.”
“Of course Richard and I always ran real close together,” Pearson said. “We had a good time running with each other and I always enjoyed running with him. There were all good. Anytime you can go to a place like Daytona and win. After the race, we would always go back to the motel and by the pool and stuff like that. It was just enjoyable to go there and run, especially when you win.”
Tickets for the Coke Zero 400 Weekend Powered By Coca-Cola, including the Coke Zero 400 Powered By Coca-Cola on Saturday, July 5, the Winn-Dixie 250 Powered By Coca-Cola NASCAR Nationwide Series race on Friday, July 4 and the Brumos Porsche 250 Rolex Series race on Thursday, July 3, are available at racetickets.com or by calling 1-800-PITSHOP.