By Ben White
Driving the No. 17 Holman Moody Ford Torino, David Pearson secured his second NASCAR Cup Series crown during the 1968 season by winning 16 races and logging 38 top-10 finishes in 47 starts.
On the heels of Richard Petty’s amazing 1967 season with 27 wins in 48 starts, Ford Motor Co. officials wanted to come out swinging in 1968.
Ford had not previously sent its factory-backed teams to short-track events, feeling their money should be spent on the races that were 250 miles or more. But to win a championship, their guns needed to be pointed in all directions.
Dick Hutcherson, a top Ford driver from 1965 to ’67, was asked to step away from driving to work with the up-and-coming David Pearson, already a champion with team owner Cotton Owens in 1966.
The retired Fred Lorenzen teamed with Bobby Allison at Holman Moody as well, and Cale Yarborough was with Wood Brothers Racing.
Allison’s tenure lasted only three races as did Lorenzen’s, even though he won the season opener in Macon, Georgia. Allison broke out his own Chevrolet, won in Islip, New York, and continued to have good finishes before joining team owner Tom Friedkin in late September.
Pearson went to Victory Lane at Bristol Motor Speedway in March and steadily began building his assault on the championship. In May, he won four straight races with three more consecutive wins coming later in the season.
Pearson captured the Cup Series championship by 126 over Bobby Isaac, who was driving Nord Krauskopf’s Dodge. Isaac only scored three wins.
PRESIDENT: LYNDON B. JOHNSON
NO. 1 AT THE BOX OFFICE: ROSEMARY’S BABY
MOVIES TO WATCH: PLANET OF THE APES AND NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD
NO. 1 SONG: “HEY JUDE” BY THE BEATLES
GALLON OF GAS: 33 CENTS
POP CULTURE A LEATHER-CLAD ELVIS MADE A BIT OF A COMEBACK WITH HIS TELEVISION SPECIAL ON NBC. ARTISTS SUCH AS FLEETWOOD MAC, JAMES TAYLOR, NEIL YOUNG AND JONI MITCHELL DEBUTED ALBUMS.
David Pearson, driver of the No. 17 Holman Moody Ford, was quiet off the track but allowed his Waddell Wilson-built engines to roar on them. The Spartanburg, South Carolina, native enjoyed a phenomenal season in which his average start was 3.4 and average finish was 5.8 in 16 races. He was known for preserving his equipment until the closing laps and then striking. Later in his career, this strategy earned him the nickname “The Silver Fox.”
Driving the No. 21 Wood Brothers Racing Ford, Cale Yarborough held David Pearson at bay on the tight, single groove Darlington Raceway to win the prestigious Southern 500. Pearson was faster, but Yarborough held him off for several laps as attempts to pass for the lead proved unsuccessful. Yarborough eventually bounced off the steel guard rail and hit Pearson’s Ford, causing Pearson to spin. Pearson recovered but could not pass for the win.
TOP CARS (2)
David Pearson’s No. 17 Holman Moody Ford notched 16 wins and 38 top-10 finishes after 47 Cup Series starts.
Bobby Isaac’s No. 71 Nord Krauskopf-owned Dodge had 35 top-10 results, including three victories, in 49 races.
1968 Season Recap
DATE | LOCATION | WINNER
Nov. 12 | Middle Georgia Raceway | Bobby Allison
Nov. 26 | Montgomery Speedway | Richard Petty
Jan. 21 | Riverside International Raceway | Dan Gurney
Feb. 25 | Daytona International Speedway | Cale Yarborough
March 17 | Bristol Motor Speedway | David Pearson
March 24 | Richmond Raceway | David Pearson
March 31 | Atlanta Motor Speedway | Cale Yarborough
April 7 | Hickory Speedway | Richard Petty
April 13 | Greenville-Pickens Speedway | Richard Petty
April 18 | Columbia Speedway | Bobby Isaac
April 21 | North Wilkesboro Speedway | David Pearson
April 28 | Martinsville Speedway | Cale Yarborough
May 3 | Augusta Speedway | Bobby Isaac
May 5 | Asheville-Weaverville Speedway | David Pearson
May 11 | Darlington Raceway | David Pearson
May 17 | Beltsville Speedway | David Pearson
May 18 | Langley Field Speedway | David Pearson
May 26 | Charlotte Motor Speedway | Buddy Baker
May 31 | Asheville Speedway | Richard Petty
June 2 | Middle Georgia Raceway | David Pearson
June 6 | Smoky Mountain Raceway | Richard Petty
June 8 | Birmingham Speedway | Richard Petty
June 16 | Rockingham Speedway | Donnie Allison
June 22 | Greenville-Pickens Speedway | Richard Petty
July 4 | Daytona International Speedway | Cale Yarborough
July 7 | Islip Speedway | Bobby Allison
July 9 | Oxford Plains Speedway | Richard Petty
July 11 | Fonda Speedway | Richard Petty
July 14 | Trenton Speedway | LeeRoy Yarbrough
July 21 | Bristol Motor Speedway | David Pearson
July 25 | Smoky Mountain Speedway | Richard Petty
July 27 | Fairgrounds Speedway Nashville | David Pearson
Aug. 4 | Atlanta Motor Speedway | LeeRoy Yarbrough
Aug. 8 | Columbia Speedway | David Pearson
Aug. 10 | Bowman Gray Stadium | David Pearson
Aug. 18 | Asheville-Weaverville Speedway | David Pearson
Aug. 23 | South Boston Speedway | Richard Petty
Aug. 24 | Langley Field Speedway | David Pearson
Sept. 2 | Darlington Raceway | Cale Yarborough
Sept. 6 | Hickory Speedway | David Pearson
Sept. 8 | Richmond Raceway | Richard Petty
Sept. 13 | Beltsville Speedway | Bobby Isaac
Sept. 15 | Orange Speedway | Richard Petty
Sept. 22 | Martinsville Speedway | Richard Petty
Sept. 29 | North Wilkesboro Speedway | Richard Petty
Oct. 5 | Augusta Speedway | David Pearson
Oct. 20 | Charlotte Motor Speedway | Charlie Glotzbach
Oct. 27 | Rockingham Speedway | Richard Petty
Nov. 3 | Jeffco Speedway | Cale Yarborough