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1976:

Yarborough’s First Title

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Yarborough’s First Title

Cale Yarborough and Richard Petty proved they were the top championship contenders of the 1976 NASCAR Cup Series season as the superstars combined to win 12 of the 30 series races.

Heading into his fourth season with team owner Junior Johnson, Yarborough was poised to finally collect his first NASCAR Cup Series championship in his 18th year of competition at stock car racing’s highest level.

The Timmonsville, South Carolina, resident had built a strong relationship with Johnson, a former driver with 50 NASCAR Cup Series victories of his own. The two motorsports icons joined forces prior to the 1973 season.

Yarborough won 14 times during the team’s first two seasons, but he faced many disappointments through engine failures and crashes during the 1975 campaign. The championship chemistry finally came together in 1976, however, producing nine victories, 22 top-five finishes and 23 top-10 result along with two pole positions.

Yarborough’s biggest triumph that year came at Daytona International Speedway on July 4, 1976, as he beat David Pearson to the checkered flag by eight seconds. Another of his superspeedway victories came on Sept. 16 at Dover International Speedway when he outran

Petty after starting from the pole. With legendary crew chief Herb Nab at his side, Yarborough finished 195 points ahead of Petty in the season’s official point standings. Yarborough’s Chevrolets were equipped with engines built by Robert Yates, a future championship Cup Series team owner and Hall of Fame inductee.

Yarborough added Cup Series championships in 1977 and 1978 and scored 55 of his 83 career victories with Johnson’s operation before leaving at the end of the 1980 season to run select events.

1976

PRESIDENT: GERALD FORD

NO. 1 AT THE BOX OFFICE: ROCKY

NO. 1 SONG: “SILLY LOVE SONGS” BY WINGS

GALLON OF GAS: 59¢

POP CULTURE: APPLE COMPUTER CO. IS FOUNDED BY STEVE JOBS AND STEVE WOZNIAK

BEST DRIVER

CALE YARBOROUGH, DRIVING THE NO. 11 CHEVROLET owned by Junior Johnson, logged nine victories and secured his first NASCAR Cup Series championship. Yarborough’s win total included consecutive victories at Richmond, Dover, Martinsville and North Wilkesboro. His average start of fifth and average finish of eighth proved he was a consistent frontrunner. David Pearson actually won more races, 10, but was not a title threat as he only ran 22 of the series’ 30 events.

North Carolina Moonshine and Motorsports Trail

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Noah Teich

Noah Teich

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