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1960:

Popular underdog becomes to newest Cup champion

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The 1960 season featured a popular underdog who battled for a championship against the sport’s top teams. When the dust settled, a new champion was crowned.

The 1960 NASCAR season actually started with two races in late 1959 and featured a total of 44 events on a variety of tracks, including both paved and dirt short tracks along with a pair of new 1.5-mile speedways, as the sport began to expand its horizons.

The Chevrolets fielded by General Motors won 20 of the 44 races, including the Daytona 500, Charlotte’s new World 600 and the series championship. Ford drivers won 15 races, while Chrysler’s conservative effort logged nine total victories for its drivers.

The intensely competitive field of drivers included Rex White, in the No. 4 Chevrolet he owned, and rising star Richard Petty, part of the powerful Petty Enterprises operation. White, a native of Taylorsville, North Carolina, and Petty, of Level Cross, North Carolina, were involved in an interesting battle for the series championship.

White’s lone career NASCAR title came through consistent finishes, highlighted by victories in Mont- gomery, Alabama; Weaverville, North Carolina; Martinsville, Virginia; North Wilkesboro, North Carolina; and twice in Columbia, South Carolina. He accumulated 25 top-five finishes and 35 top-10 results.

After a long year full of triumphs and occasional setbacks, White was crowned the 1960 champion after finishing fifth in the season finale at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

Petty’s three victories came on short tracks in Martinsville, Virginia; Hillsboro, North Carolina; and the fairgrounds oval in Charlotte, North Carolina. His 16 top-five results and 30 top-10 finishes were not quite as strong as the numbers amassed by White. Petty’s season long tally of 17,228 points fell 3,936 short of White’s 21,164.

1960

PRESIDENT: John F. Kennedy

NO. 1 AT THE BOX OFFICE: Ben-Hur

NO. 1 SONG: “Theme From a Summer Place,” Percy Faith and His Orchestra

POP CULTURE:

– 1960 Olympics open in Rome, Italy

– Elvis Presley returns to U.S. after military service.

GALLON OF GAS: 31 cents

BEST DRIVER

REX WHITE WON THE 1960 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championship by wheeling the gold-and-white No.4 Chevrolets he and crew chief Louis Clements constructed with financial support from various sponsors that kept White’s fledgling team in business. White was consistent everywhere he raced, often finishing among the lead cars as he posted six victories, 25 top-five results and 35 top-10 finishes. At 5-foot-4, White bested all other drivers by capturing NASCAR’s top honor.

BEST RACE

DRIVING A 1960 Chevrolet sorely lacking in horsepower, Junior Johnson won the Daytona 500 after discovering how to draft other cars. After being pulled to the front by faster cars, Johnson took the lead with eight laps remaining when the rear window blew out of Bobby Johns’ car and he spun. Johnson, a moonshiner from Wilkes County, North Carolina, picked up the ride in John Masoni’s car just eight days before the race.

TOP CAR

REX WHITE, IN THE NO 4. Impala, sponsored by Nalley Chevrolet, collected six victories, 25 top-five finishes and 35 top-10 results in 40 starts. Richard Petty, driving the No. 43 Petty Enterprises Plymouth, amassed three wins, 15 top-five results and 30 top-10 finishes in 40 starts.

SEASON RECAP

DATE | LOCATION | WINNER

Nov. 8 | Charlotte Fairgrounds | Jack Smith

Nov. 26 | Columbia Speedway | Ned Jarrett

Feb. 12 | Daytona International Speedway | Fireball Roberts

Feb. 12 | Daytona International Speedway | Jack Smith

Feb. 14 | Daytona International Speedway | Junior Johnson

Feb. 28 | Charlotte Fairgrounds | Richard Petty

March 27 | North Wilkesboro Speedway | Lee Petty

April 3 | Arizona State Fairgrounds | John Rostek

April 5 | Columbia Speedway | Rex White

April 10 | Martinsville Speedway | Richard Petty

April 15 | Hickory Speedway | Joe Weatherly

April 17 | Wilson Speedway | Joe Weatherly

April 18 | Bowman Gray Stadium | Glen Wood

April 23 | Greenville-Pickens Speedway | Ned Jarrett

April 24 | Asheville-Weaverville Speedway | Lee Petty

May 14 | Darlington Raceway | Joe Weatherly

May 28 | Hub City Speedway | Ned Jarrett

May 29 | Orange Speedway | Lee Petty

June 5 | Richmond International Raceway | Lee Petty

June 12 | Marchbanks Speedway | Marvin Porter

June 19 | Charlotte Motor Speedway | Joe Lee Johnson

June 26 | Bowman Gray Stadium | Glen Wood

July 4 Daytona International Speedway Jack Smith

July 10 | Heidelberg Stadium | Lee Petty

July 17 | Montgomery Air Base | Rex White

July 23 | Rambi Raceway | Buck Baker

July 31 | Atlanta Motor Speedway | Fireball Roberts

Aug. 3 | Dixie Speedway | Ned Jarrett

Aug. 7 | Fairgrounds Speedway | Johnny Beauchamp

Aug. 14 | Asheville-Weaverville Speedway | Rex White

Aug. 16 | Hub City Speedway | Cotton Owens

Aug. 18 | Columbia Speedway | Rex White

Aug. 20 | South Boston Speedway | Junior Johnson

Aug. 23 | Bowman Gray Stadium | Glen Wood

Sept. 5 | Darlington Raceway | Buck Baker

Sept. 9 | Hickory Speedway | Junior Johnson

Sept. 11 | Sacramento Fairgrounds | Jim Cook

Sept. 15 | Gamecock Speedway | Ned Jarrett

Sept. 18 | Orange Speedway | Richard Petty

Sept. 25 | Martinsville Speedway | Rex White

Oct. 2 | North Wilkesboro Speedway | Rex White

Oct. 16 | Charlotte Motor Speedway | Speedy Thompson

Oct. 23 | Richmond International Raceway | Speedy Thompson

Oct. 30 | Atlanta Motor Speedway | Bobby Johnson

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