Since the inaugural DAYTONA 500 in 1959, over 2,000 drivers have lined the starting grid with aspirations of taking home the Harley J. Earl DAYTONA 500 Trophy; however, only 58 drivers can claim the title of DAYTONA 500 Champion. Even fewer still have been able to do so multiple times, with only 11 multiple-time champions and only five legendary drivers who have won “The Great American Race” three times or more.
Seven-time DAYTONA 500 champion (1964, 1966, 1971, 1973, 1974, 1979 and 1981)
Richard Petty is the all-time leader in DAYTONA 500 wins with seven. Known as “The King,” he is one of only three drivers to win back-to-back DAYTONA 500s and is one of only two drivers to have won the DAYTONA 500 in three different decades. Other records Petty holds include most laps led (781), most races led (20) and most laps led in a race (184) when he captured the 1964 DAYTONA 500.
Four-time DAYTONA 500 champion (1968, 1977, 1983 and 1984)
Thanks to his patented slingshot pass, Cale Yarborough produced four DAYTONA 500 victories. Yarborough has been part of several memorable DAYTONA 500 moments including the infamous fight with Donnie and Bobby Allison in the 1979 DAYTONA 500: being one of only three drivers to earn back-to-back victories; and flipping upside down in 1983 DAYTONA 500 qualifying as he was trying to become the first driver to qualify at more than 200 mph. Yarborough had to wait a year before accomplishing that feat.
Three-time DAYTONA 500 champion (1978, 1982 and 1988)
Bobby Allison is one of only five drivers to have won the DAYTONA 500 three or more times. He captured the 1978 DAYTONA 500 with Bud Moore Engineering, the 1982 DAYTONA 500 with DiGard Racing and the 1988 DAYTONA 500 with Stavola Brothers Racing. Arguably, his greatest DAYTONA 500 moment was in 1988 when dueling his son Davey, he ended up beating Davey to the finish line to deliver the race’s only 1-2 father-son finish. Bobby’s winning way didn’t begin there as that same year, he won the 300-mile XFINITY Series race, one of the 125-mile DAYTONA 500 qualifying races and the fishing tournament.
Three-time DAYTONA 500 champion (1993, 1996 and 2000)
Dale Jarrett is a three-time DAYTONA 500 champion and made his 20th and final DAYTONA 500 start in the 50th running of the DAYTONA 500. He had one DAYTONA 500 victory with Joe Gibbs Racing and two DAYTONA 500 victories with Robert Yates Racing. The 1993 race remains the most iconic as the race’s final laps turned into a duel between the great Dale Earnhardt, gunning for his sixth Winston Cup title, and the young Jarrett, then with only a single career victory. The final lap saw Jarrett hold off a hard inside pass from Earnhardt on Turn 4, while CBS turned to Ned Jarrett to call his son home. Audio of Ned’s call and images of Martha Jarrett’s disbelief are lasting memories of this thrilling race.
Three-time DAYTONA 500 champion (1997, 1999 and 2005)
The three-time DAYTONA 500 champion, who ranks sixth in all-time victories (14) at DIS, became the then-youngest DAYTONA 500 winner with his 1997 victory. Gordon and his Hendrick Motorsports teammates Terry Labonte and Ricky Craven slipped past Bill Elliott in the final laps of the race to deliver the ailing car owner a 1-2-3 finish. The victory was notable in that the win was dedicated to car owner Rick Hendrick, who was back in North Carolina battling leukemia. After taking a cell phone call from Hendrick in Gatorade Victory Lane, Gordon received a champagne soaking from his teammates Labonte and Craven. Gordon went on to solidify his legacy with two more DAYTONA 500 victories racing for Hendrick Motorsports.
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