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1961:

Ned Jarrett and Rex White take the short track to contending

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Ned Jarrett and Rex White used talent on the short tracks to become the championship contenders during the 1961 NASCAR Cup Series season, collecting a combined eight victories throughout the 52-race premier series schedule.

Jarrett, a native of Newton, North Carolina, had competed in NASCAR’s premier series for eight seasons before making a championship bid in 1961. Team owner

B.G. Holloway fielded the No. 11 Chevrolet with Bud All- man serving as chief mechanic, a position known today as crew chief, for 46 of 52 races on the schedule.

Jarrett visited Victory Lane only once, topping Jim Paschal in a 100-mile event on June 4 at the Alabama State Fairgrounds in Birmingham. His championship season was sealed by consistency through 29 top-five finishes and 34 top-10 results.

White, driving his own No. 4 Chevrolet, won seven races in 47 starts that season, logging 29 top-five results and 38 top-10 finishes. The Taylorsville, North Carolina, native employed Louis Clements, grandfather of current Xfinity Series competitor Jeremy Clements, as his chief mechanic. Even though their number of wins was far greater that Jarrett’s, the team came up 840 points short under the system NASCAR used that year.

Races of 249 miles or less were awarded 50 points to the winner. Races of 250 to 399 miles awarded 100 points to the winner. Races lasting 400 miles or longer awarded 150 points to the winner. White failed to finish seven times during the season as the number of laps completed was also a factor in determining the championship.

White’s wins came at Bowman Gray Stadium (3) in Winston-Salem, North Carolina; North Wilkesboro (N.C.) Speedway (2); Asheville-Weaverville (N.C.) Speedway; and Hickory (N.C.) Motor Speedway.

1961

PRESIDENT: John F. Kennedy

NO. 1 AT THE BOX OFFICE: West Side Story

NO. 1 SONG: “Tossin’ and Turnin’” by Bobby Lewis

POP CULTURE: Navy Commander Alan B. Shepard Jr. rockets 116.5 miles up into space.

GALLON OF GAS: 31 Cents

BEST DRIVER

JOE WEATHERLY, driving a Ford owned by Doc White and a Pontiac owned by Bud Moore, won nine NASCAR Cup Series races during the 1961 season. The Norfolk, Virginia, native opened the season with a victory in the final event at the Charlotte Fairgrounds. He also won at Daytona, twice at Charlotte Motor Speedway and on short tracks in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina; Hillsboro, North Carolina; Richmond, Virginia; Martinsville, Virginia; and Bristol, Tennessee.

BEST RACE

ON MAY 6, 1961, young Fred Lorenzen, driving a Holman Moody Ford, and veteran Curtis Turner, in the Wood Brothers Racing Ford, battled for the win in the Rebel 300, bumping an estimated 50 times in the final 20 laps. Turner blocked Lorenzen numerous times while shaking fists at one another until Lorenzen faked high and went low. Lorenzen held a six-car length lead with two laps remaining and maintained it until crossing under the checkered flag.

TOP CAR

Ned Jarrett’s No. 11 blue-and-white Chevrolet Impala owned by B.G. Holloway – a one- race winner. Rex White’s No. 4 gold- and-white Chevrolet Impala – winner of seven races.

SEASON RECAP

DATE | LOCATION | WINNER

November 6 | Charlotte Fairgrounds | Joe Weatherly

November 20 | Speedway Park | Lee Petty

February 24 | Daytona International Speedway | Fireball Roberts

February 24 | Daytona International Speedway | Joe Weatherly

February 26 | Daytona International Speedway | Marvin Panch

March 4 | Piedmont Interstate Fairgrounds | Cotton Owens

March 5 | Asheville-Weaverville Speedway | Rex White

March 12 | Marchbanks Speedway | Fireball Roberts

March 26 | Atlanta Motor Speedway | Bob Burdick

April 1 | Greenville-Pickens Speedway | Emanuel Zervakis

April 2 | Orange Speedway | Cotton Owens

April 3 | Bowman Gray Stadium | Rex White

April 9 | Martinsville Speedway | Fred Lorenzen

April 16 | North Wilkesboro Speedway | Rex White

April 20 | Columbia Speedway | Cotton Owens

April 22 | Hickory Motor Speedway | Junior Johnson

April 23 | Richmond Raceway | Richard Petty

April 30 | Martinsville Speedway | Junior Johnson

May 6 | Darlington Raceway | Fred Lorenzen

May 21 | Charlotte Motor Speedway | Richard Petty

May 21 | Charlotte Motor Speedway | Joe Weatherly

May 21 | Riverside International Raceway | Lloyd Dane

May 27 | Ascot Speedway | Eddie Gray

May 28 | Charlotte Motor Speedway | David Pearson

June 2 | Piedmont Interstate Fairgrounds | Jim Paschal

June 4 | Alabama State Fairgrounds | Ned Jarrett

June 8 | Greenville-Pickens Speedway | Jack Smith

June 10 | Bowman Gray Stadium | Rex White

June 17 | Norwood Arena | Emanuel Zervakis

June 23 | Hartsville Speedway | Buck Baker

June 24 | Starkey Speedway | Junior Johnson

July 4 | Daytona International Speedway | David Pearson

July 9 | Atlanta Motor Speedway | Fred Lorenzen

July 20 | Columbia Speedway | Cotton Owens

July 22 | Rambi Raceway | Joe Weatherly

July 29 | Bristol Motor Speedway | Jack Smith

August 6 | Fairgrounds Speedway Nashville | Jim Paschal

August 9 | Bowman Grady Stadium | Rex White

August 13 | Asheville-Weaverville Speedway | Junior Johnson

August 18 | Southside Speedway | Junior Johnson

August 27 | South Boston Speedway | Junior Johnson

September 4 | Darlington Raceway | Nelson Stacy

September 8 | Hickory Motor Speedway | Rex White

September 10 | Richmond Raceway | Joe Weatherly

September 10 | Sacramento Fairgrounds | Eddie Gray

September 17 | Atlanta Motor Speedway | David Pearson

September 24 | Martinsville Speedway | Joe Weatherly

October 1 | North Wilkesboro Speedway | Rex White

October 15 | Charlotte Motor Speedway | Joe Weatherly

October 22 | Bristol Motor Speedway | Joe Weatherly

October 28 | Greenville-Pickens Speedway | Junior Johnson

October 29 | Orange Speedway | Joe Weatherly

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