Category Archives: David Pearson

Pearson’s Daytona 500 Winner Was One Memorable Mercury

As he watches his rookie driver Trevor Bayne work his way into a job in the Sprint Cup Series, Eddie Wood can’t help but think back to the days when he was just coming into his own as a mechanic on his family’s race team.

One race that stands above the rest from Wood’s early days as a full-time mechanic was the 1976 Daytona 500, a race that is rated by many as having the most exciting finish ever in NASCAR.

In that race, the Woods’ driver David Pearson drove a 1976 Mercury Montego.

Eddie Wood, now a co-owner of the No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion driven by Bayne, remembers that the car arrived at the team’s race shop in Stuart, Va., as just a rolling chassis with the roof and quarter panels tack welded on. It was built up to that point by famed car builder Banjo Matthews, and it was up to the team to complete the car and prepare it for racing. Unlike today, where teams prepare fleets of cars to start the season, the Woods had just one car to build. And whereas today’s race teams have dozens of mechanics assigned to car preparation, the Woods handled that basically by themselves.
Team founder Glen Wood, his brother Leonard, and Glen’s sons Eddie and Len had just one full-time employee besides themselves working in the shop.

Eddie Wood, then 24, said he and his brother decided they’d like to paint the inside of their car something other than the dull flat black that it had been in the past. Their inspiration came in part from seeing their friends and rivals at Petty Enterprises paint the insides of their cars blue.

Wood said the first color chosen for the Mercury’s interior was silver.

“We painted it in the middle of the floor,” Wood said.

But when it was done, it just didn’t look right.

“We got together, Len, myself and Leonard and got lacquer thinner and some rags and wiped all that paint off,” he said. “Then we painted it in red lacquer.”

Wood said that experience illustrated how his uncle Leonard, who is still regarded as one of the brightest minds in the NASCAR garage, was patient with his nephews and willing to try their ideas on a race car.

But, as Wood pointed out, Leonard’s primary focus was on that No. 21 and making it fast. And at the race tracks, when Len and Eddie would wander around the garage and check out other cars, Leonard never ventured far from the No. 21’s garage stall.

“He stuck close with the car,” Wood said. “It was his baby.”
For the ’76 Daytona 500, Leonard’s baby was one of the best in the field.

A former Woods driver, A.J. Foyt led the most laps that day, but his Hoss Ellington Chevrolet blew an engine. Buddy Baker, who would eventually drive the No. 21, led 28 laps in Bud Moore’s Ford, but also blew an engine.

But all the while, from the drop of the green flag, the two drivers at the head of the class were Pearson and Richard Petty, just as they were at countless other races and countless other tracks back in the day.

The Pettys and Woods were fierce rivals, but also friends. It was true then, and it’s true today. “We’ve always been friends with the Pettys,” Wood said. “When we were running a limited schedule and happened to fall out of a race, we’d go stand with Dale Inman in Petty’s pits. It’s still that way today.”

As the laps wound down back in February of 1976, Pearson led from Lap 177 to 187. Then Petty led from 188-199.

As usual for those times, Eddie Wood was the only team member in radio contact with Pearson. “Leonard was the crew chief and changed tires, and he didn’t want to be bothered with the radio,” Wood said.

As Pearson trailed Petty under the white flag, Wood keyed his radio and asked his driver:
“Can you get him?”
The reply was brief: “I don’t know.”
The cars went out of sight into Turn One. With no TV monitor and no vantage point providing a view of the backstretch, Wood and the rest of the people on pit road were left to wonder what was happening.

As the cars roared off Turn Two down the backstretch, the crowd began to stand up. A roar was building.

Pearson came on the radio with a simple update: “I got him.”

Pearson went high to the lead, but Petty came back on the low side. The two future Hall of Famers ran side by side, but a slight bump set in motion a series of events that have become an unforgettable part of Daytona and NASCAR lore.

Wood still couldn’t see what was happening and only got a brief report from Pearson over the radio: “He hit me.”

By this point, everybody at Daytona International Speedway was going wild. “Especially me,” Wood said. “I knew what had happened before they came into sight.”
Wood looked to his right and saw Petty’s Dodge sliding through the grass toward the plane of the finish line. But he slid to a stop just shy of victory.

Then Wood heard Pearson on the radio, asking: “Where’s Richard?”

It was a moment that clearly illustrated just how calm Pearson was in that situation compared to everyone else around him.

“I couldn’t even find the button to push to answer him,” Wood said.

When Wood finally got the message back to Pearson that Petty had not crossed the finish line, Pearson responded, as calm as ever: “I’m coming.”
And he won the Daytona 500, at about 20 miles per hour.

Wood said that over the years, he’s watched replays of that finish, and come to appreciate even more just how calm the Silver Fox was in those critical moments.

“When he asked me ‘Where’s Richard’ he was spinning,” Wood said. “He had clutched the car and was keeping it running, which was using both feet. He had to use one hand to push the talk button, which was on his shoulder harness, and he still had to steer the car.

“And there was no emotion in his voice.”
In the years since, moments like that have helped build a special bond between Pearson and Wood.
“There was nobody monitoring the radio,” Wood said. “I’m the only one that knows just how calm he was.”
But the story of that Mercury and David Pearson didn’t end with that finish. The car was rebuilt and Pearson drove it to victory in the sport’s other two big races that year – the World 600 at Charlotte and the Southern 500 at Darlington, all won with the same engine block that was in the car at Daytona.

The car later served as a show car for series sponsor Winston, then ended up parked out back of the Woods’ shop in Stuart, made obsolete by NASCAR’s downsizing of the Cup cars.

“We sold it for $200 just to get it out of the way,” Wood said.

The car found its way to a junkyard in Florida, where it was rescued and restored. At last report it was on display in the Museum of American Speed in Lincoln, Neb.


Courtesy of Ford Racing

Daytona International Speedway

TREVOR BAYNE – No. 21 Motorcraft Ford Fusion – YOU’LL BE RUNNING BOTH
SERIES THIS YEAR. HOW DID THAT COME ABOUT? “We’re really excited for
the upcoming year. We checked the box for the Nationwide Series, so
to be able to run for that championship, I think we’re gonna be really
competitive. They’ve built a really solid team around me. I’m gonna
be in the 16 this year, which is one of the primary cars, whereas last
year I was kind of a fifth team that was just thrown in there, so I
know our Nationwide deal is gonna be strong. The way this Cup deal
came about was just being there in the Nationwide Series and running
strong there and showing some potential. Then when I made the switch
over to Ford Racing and Roush last year, the opportunity came about
with the Wood Brothers because Roush was working on supporting them a
little bit and Donnie Wingo had just switched over and Bill Elliott
was the driver at the time and they just said, ‘Hey, if you want to
come over here and drive this thing one race, come on over.’ So the
reason I went there to run Texas was to get approved for Daytona and
this race we’re gonna run now. At the time, I thought it might be a
fifth Roush car or something, but it ended up going really well at
Texas and the Wood Brothers were like, ‘Hey, we’ll keep moving forward
here.’ So it’s a really awesome opportunity and I love the Wood
Brothers team. If I could just drive there forever I would be happy
because they’re just racers. Eddie and Len Wood, they like to hang
out at the shop and be a part of it. Leonard is always there working
on projects. I always tell Leonard, ‘It’s no wonder you guys won so
many races.’ This guy is smart. He’s in there building carbon fiber
R/C cars and all kinds of stuff, so it’s just a racer’s dream to drive
for the Wood Brothers. It’s a famous car and to make my debut here at
Daytona with them, I couldn’t ask for a better situation.”

TITLE? “I love it. I was hoping they didn’t take away the Cup
drivers altogether because that’s just competition. We want to race
against the best and that’s the only way we’re gonna become the best
is if we’re racing against them and bettering ourselves all the time.
But I also like the point that we’re gonna be able to shine as
champions now. One Nationwide regular is gonna win the championship
this year and I think that’s really cool and gives us something to
look forward to, and it just gives us some credibility moving forward.
It’s gonna help us build a brand as we’re moving up to Cup because
you can sell a champion. I think that’s really important, but I love
that the Cup drivers are still around because it’s the best of both

ABOUT HOW TO RUN AT DAYTONA? “I haven’t got the chance to talk to
David much yet. I was actually testing during media tour and that was
the first time he kind of came back around, so hopefully he’s gonna be
down here and I can talk to him because that’s a smart guy. I got to
talk to Bill Elliott a little bit last year when I was in Texas about
even this race and those guys have a lot of knowledge. They just know
so much about it. Obviously, it’s a little bit different now but the
rules of physics in racing still apply, so everything that they tell
you is true. But I think the best learning tool is experience, so
some of the stuff they were telling me I was trying to be as big of a
sponge as I could, but I didn’t have enough pores to soak it in
because they were feeding me so much, so I think once I get out on the
race track and I know what to expect, then I can go back to them and
even learn more and ask more questions.”

YOU DON’T SEEM TO HAVE ANY JITTERS ABOUT BEING ON THIS BIG STAGE. “I don’t know. When you setyour expectations and you finally get there, it doesn’t come as a surprise, I guess. Since I was five years old I wanted to be here at this point, so now that we’re here, this is where I wanted to be so we
belong here and I think we’re gonna try to make that statement that
we’re not just here to run a race, we’re here to stay. I know that’s
a strong statement because we haven’t been on the race track yet, but
I think we can. I think we’ve got the opportunity to do it. I’ve got
all the support around me with Ford Racing and Wood Brothers and Roush
on the Nationwide side, and getting double seat time this weekend, I’m
really looking forward to that because I like to stay busy all the

that’s the mentality you have to have. Sometimes it gets me in
trouble because I’m so worried about performance and being the fastest
in practice and qualifying on the pole that you set unreal
expectations and that sets you up for disappointment, but I think as
long as we set those real expectations, kind of like we did at Texas,
and you meet those expectations, you’re just gonna get better and
better. I think you have to set those expectations so you can meet
them and keep bettering yourself all the time.”

ARE YOU RUNNING FOR ROOKIE OF THE YEAR IN CUP? “I would like to. I would love to be
able to say I was a Cup Rookie of the Year, but I don’t know what
they’re gonna do yet. I’ve been asking them and prying at them. I
think they are gonna build something to make it easy for somebody to
run for Rookie of the Year. Whether it’s this year or next year, I
don’t know. They may be more forgiving on how many races I can run,
or whether you’re designated to run that series for points or not then
you become a rookie. I don’t know what they’re gonna do, but I would
love to one day run for Rookie of the Year, whether it’s this year or
next year. I’ve got 17 Cup races scheduled so far, but if somebody
wants to come on for four more, we’ll do it. I think everything is
open-ended right now. Our Nationwide deal, our Cup deal. You’ll see
my styling Herbie the Lovebug-looking suit when I come out here. It’s
all solid white. I think David Pearson will have some respect for
that – a solid white car. I actually think Ford is on the car for
this week promoting the Mustang, and our Cup deal is really
open-ended. We’ve sold 17 so far with Ford Racing, Motorcraft, Ford and Quick Lane have all come on and kind of combined to help
us get those 17, but now we’re looking to build on that. As many as
we can run, I would be more than happy to get behind the wheel.”

DURING YOUR TEEN DAYS THAT YOU REGRET? “My birthday is on the 19th
and is on the day of the Nationwide race and I’ll be 20, so my teen
years are kind of over now and I definitely see what Jeff is saying.
It takes a lot of sacrifice, but that’s why only a few get to do this
every weekend. It’s missing birthday parties when you’re five years
old to go to the go kart track, but looking at it now, there’s nothing
I would rather do than be sitting here ready to run the 500. I don’t
count it as a loss for having to do those kind of things. At the
time, it may seem like the end of the world when I hang out with
friends, but this has been my dream, so to stay focused and stay
driven, I think it’s good for kids to have these kind of goals. Some
of the activities they do participate in they shouldn’t be (laughing),
so I think it’s good to have these kind of goals and get there.”

HOW DO YOU LIKE BEING HERE AT 8 AM? “Every Tuesday I get up and do that
Sirius radio show at 8:30, so I’m kind of used to getting myself
going. If I could sleep in until 12 every day, that would be the way
I would have it, but that’s not reality anymore. The problem is I
still stay up until two every night. I haven’t fixed the night part
yet, but I’ve fixed the morning, so, really, I just lose sleep instead
of going to bed earlier.”

“I want to be realistic, but I’m also an optimist, so I’m gonna say
that we’re gonna be really competitive. I think setting those high
expectations will make us perform better. I think we have all the
equipment. We have the support from Ford Racing. They’ve really
stepped up their game this year. They sat us all down and said, ‘Hey,
what is it gonna take to win races and championships?’ Just to see
that kind of support from a manufacturer is huge. To know Roush
Fenway is behind me as a driver on the Nationwide side and anything I
need is gonna really help me to move forward. The Wood Brothers,
they’ve poured their heart and soul into this. You can see a lot of
excitement going on and they said they haven’t felt this excited going
to Daytona in a long time, so to hear that it gives me a little boost
to see the confidence they already have in me after one race.
Hopefully, we can just build on that, but I think we can be
competitively a top 15 team. I don’t know that because we haven’t
been on the track yet, but given our run last year, if it’s anything
like Texas, then there’s no doubt in my mind that we can be a top 15
team every week.”

THROUGH A LEARNING PROCESS? “It was tough in the Nationwide Series
last year. It started here on lap four or seven and we were already
wrecked. I don’t want to say that’s part of it because it’s not, it
doesn’t always happen, but I definitely think there’s a learning
curve. You look at guys like Joey Logano and now look at what he’s
doing, so there’s no doubt in my mind that there’s gonna be a learning
curve, so to have those 17 races this year to prepare for hopefully a
full season next year, that’s a perfect scenario to learn. But I
think we can avoid some of that, too, by running good. If you stay up
front, then you’re generally out of trouble, especially on the
Nationwide side. When you’re running 15th-20th, you’re probably gonna
get crashed just because that’s where you’re around, so as long as we
stay competitive and stay up front, I think we should be OK this year.
On the Cup side, I’ve already gotten to know a lot of the drivers, so
I don’t really see it being a problem of them looking down at me and
saying, ‘Hey, I need a caution, let’s find the 21 car.’ I’ve been
there before, but I think running the Nationwide Series and having
them run with me has really built a lot of confidence and respect
between us.”

Jimmie Johnson has always been out-of-his-way-nice to me, and that’s
something you wouldn’t expect a five-time champion to do, but
everytime I see him, whether I’m walking down pit road and he’s on the
other side, he always comes to me. Even at Texas, I was standing
there before qualifying and he’s like, ‘Hey, just keep your blinders
on and stay focused on your goals.’ He’s incredible at being able to
block out everything, so I’ve got to take that advice and run with it.
Kevin Harvick, believe it or not, has played an instrumental role. A
lot of younger guys think he pushes them around, but, for some reason,
we’ve clicked. He called me over to his trailer at the first Dover
and he’s like, ‘Man, I don’t know what’s going on, but I feel like I
want to help you.’ He was talking about setting a pace for myself
and not racing every lap like it’s the last lap. That’s my
competitive nature. I want to lead every lap. I want to be the
fastest every lap, so to have a guy like that kind of tell me, ‘It’s
OK not to be the fastest every lap, just be the fastest on the last
lap.’ That’s the kind of stuff that helps. And obviously Carl now
that he’s my teammate. As soon as I started talking to Roush he
called me up. He was like, ‘Man, we would love to have you.’ It’s
almost like he was talking to me as Jack would. He’s like, ‘Come on
over. We want to have you and help you.’ So he’s just been really
awesome about it so far.”

gonna lie it does, but getting to know these guys they’re really
personable people. They’re awesome. They treat me just like my
buddies do at home, so it’s really cool to see that and it’s weird
because my buddies at home are like, ‘Dude, you were just on the phone
with Carl Edwards? What’s that?’ I just lost that kind of
perspective of it because I’m in it everyday. I’m in Mooresville a
lot and I’m around the shop and I’m just used to it, but when you get
outside of that immune system, everybody is like, ‘Whoa, this is a big
deal.’ So it’s cool to see that people still think NASCAR is big deal
because it is and it’s awesome.”

the Wood Brothers team is that you would never think the 21 team would
be an underdog team, but in a sense it is because it’s not a four-car
powerhouse team like Hendrick or Roush or Joe Gibbs even with their
three cars. So I love the opportunity that I’m getting there. I’m
not expected to go out and light the world on fire as if I jumped in
the 99 car next week, then that’s what people would expect. Like the
Kevin Harvick situation when he took over for Dale Earnhardt. I heard
him talking about this when we were down here for the test. People
just expected him to do good, whereas me, I get to kind of start at
the ground level and work my way up. There is a lot of opportunity to
keep bettering ourselves and moving up to those powerhouse teams, but,
like I said, I’d like to stay at the Wood Brothers forever. I think
top 15, that might be setting the bar a little high at first and that
may set us up for failure, but I want to have high goals so I can get
to them and not be satisfied if we run 25th. I always want to be
pushing for more, but I definitely think I’m in the perfect situation
to be with the Wood Brothers and great support. I couldn’t ask for a
better time to be a part of Ford Racing. The Roush Yates engines are
really strong. The chassis side from Roush last year was really
stepping it up with Carl winning the last two races, so I think it’s
perfect timing.”

Woods Use Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion to Salute Pearson’s Hall of Fame Induction

After 61 years in the NASCAR racing business, the Wood Brothers have two long-standing relationships that stand above the rest – their ties to Ford Motor Company and to David Pearson.

Both of them will be prominently represented on their No. 21 Ford Fusion for the 2011 season. Ford Customer Service Division is returning as the team’s primary sponsor with its Motorcraft and Quick Lane brands for the 11th straight season, and the team has dedicated its year to Pearson in honor of his induction into the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

The season-opening paint scheme, a red-and-white car with gold numbers, is the same as the Woods ran on the 1971 Mercury that Pearson began driving at Darlington in the spring of 1972. The magic was apparent from the start as Pearson won both the pole and the race that weekend. It was the first of his 43 wins and 51 poles in the Wood Brothers Mercury.

An announcement will be made at the Concord, N.C., airport on Thursday, and Pearson is expected to be on hand along with several members of his crew from the 70s, a group that included Glen Wood, Leonard Wood, Delano Wood, Kenny Martin, Cecil Wilson and Butch Moricle, as well as Len and Eddie Wood.

Eddie Wood, one of the team’s current co-owners, said he was especially pleased to be starting the season with Motorcraft/Quick Lane and backing his car and with the opportunity to honor Pearson.

“As we begin our 61st year, we’re really excited to have Ford Customer Service Division back for the 11th straight year,” Wood said. “And we’re proud to be able to honor David Pearson as a friend and as a 2011 inductee into the NASCAR Hall of Fame.”

Wood acknowledged that of all the drivers who have been at the wheel of the No. 21 over the years, one stands head and shoulders above the rest.

“We’re most associated with Pearson,” he said. “Almost half of the 97 races we’ve won came with him as the driver.”
Having Pearson and the old crew come to Concord for Thursday’s announcement means a lot to Wood and the current members of the team.

“It’s really humbling,” he said. “David and Leonard together, made Wood Brothers Racing. What they did is almost unheard of in terms of racing today. They won 11 of the 18 races they started in 1973, and all but one was on a superspeedway.”

In that impressive season, the team also had two runner-up finishes and a third.

Their 1976 season was another dominating performance as they won 10 times in 22 starts and swept the Triple Crown, the sport’s big three races – the Daytona 500, World 600 and Southern 500.

Among those who find the Woods’ accomplishments with Pearson something to behold is the team’s current driver, rookie Trevor Bayne.

Bayne, 19, is the youngest driver ever to take the wheel of the No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Fusion. As he’s toured the team shop and visited with members of the family like Leonard Wood, he’s come to appreciate the car he’s driving and the special paint scheme it will carry in 10 races this year.

“I remember that famous paint scheme with the gold numbers,” he said. “David Pearson made it famous. It’s a real honor to be a part of that history.”

Excerpt from Great Rivalries Have Roots Deep Within Sport’s Core

Excerpt from Great Rivalries Have Roots Deep Within Sport’s Core

By Joe Menzer, NASCAR.COM
August 29, 2008

David Pearson had the last laugh, in Victory Lane after the 1976 Daytona 500.
Getty Images

David Pearson had the last laugh, in Victory Lane after the 1976 Daytona 500.

1. Richard Petty vs. David Pearson

Getty ImagesDavid Pearson had the last laugh, in Victory Lane after the 1976 Daytona 500.
This one manifested itself in the 1976 Daytona 500, but had been going on for many years prior to that epic event. In the 13 seasons prior to the running of the race that neither of them would ever forget, they had finished one-two in a remarkable 57 races — with David Pearson winning 29 times and Richard Petty 28.

Long-time NASCAR journalist Bill Robinson once wrote, “What could be more beautiful than Petty and Pearson, side by side, flat out and belly to the ground, racing toward a hurrying sundown?”

While the two drivers respected each other, there was no love lost between them. In the 1975 Daytona 500, won by Benny Parsons, Petty had infuriated Pearson by towing Parsons in his draft until Parsons could get within striking distance of Pearson, who was leading the race at the time. Petty was eight laps down and could have simply gotten out of Parsons’ way, leaving him to attempt catching Pearson unassisted by aerodynamics. When Cale Yarborough and Richie Panch forced Pearson into an unfortunate spin on the backstretch late in the race, Parsons — courtesy of Petty — was in position to take advantage. He passed Pearson, who eventually had to settle for fourth, and went on to the victory.

“The race I’ll be remembered most for, and the one I’ll remember most, is the one I lost”–Richard Petty

Petty considered it payback for one time in 1974 when Pearson had duped him in the Firecracker 400, the July race at Daytona. Knowing that it was best to be in second coming down the stretch at the superspeedways, where the driver directly behind the leader could use he draft to execute the slingshot pass, Pearson didn’t like the fact that he was the leader as they came around to take the white flag, signifying just one lap to go.

So as they approached the start-finish line, Pearson slowed and held up his arm out of his driver’s side window as though he had car trouble. Petty drove by, and Pearson grinned to himself. Then he gunned his engine, quickly snuggled his No. 21 Wood Brothers Racing machine behind the No. 43 Petty Enterprises car, and moved into position for the slingshot pass. He executed it to perfection going down the homestretch and won the race.

But it was in the ’76 Daytona 500 where the rivalry peaked. The two drivers were running one-two once again as they headed into Turn 3 toward a quickly setting sun on the final lap that afternoon, when Pearson executed a slingshot pass and vaulted into the lead. But when he drifted just a little too high up the track, Petty dove under him to retake the lead.

Through Turn 4, Petty actually surged ahead by half a car length. But as they exited the turn, this time it was Petty who drifted high. The right rear of his No. 43 Dodge caught the left front of Pearson’s No. 21 Mercury — turning it nose-first into the wall before Pearson spun into the infield and on toward pit road, where he came to rest facing the wrong way at the entrance to the pit areas. Petty’s car fishtailed for 200 yards or more down the frontstretch and then turned head-on into the wall as well.

Even as he was spinning out of control, Pearson remained calm behind the wheel. He rammed in the clutch as he hit the wall, revving his engine in a last-ditch effort to keep it running no matter what was going to happen next. Petty’s car, meanwhile, bounced off the wall and slid to a stop in the grassy infield less than a football field short of the finish line and what would have been his sixth Daytona 500 victory. But his engine died, and he could not restart it.

Pearson was able to keep his wounded engine running, and soon crawled past the dead Petty machine a few feet at a time — whereas both men had been dueling at nearly 200 miles an hour only seconds earlier. Pearson crossed the finish line and claimed his first and what would be his only Daytona 500 victory.

Petty, of course, went on to win a record 200 races and seven points championships. Pearson remains second on the all-time list in victories with 105, and won three championships. They also rank one-two in career poles, with Petty claiming 126 to Pearson’s 113.

To this day, Petty still laments the outcome in the ’76 Daytona 500, saying, “The race I’ll be remembered most for, and the one I’ll remember most, is the one I lost.”

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DARLINGTON, S.C. (April 16, 2008) – Old met new at Darlington Raceway on Wednesday when David Pearson and Carl Edwards turned several laps around the newly-paved surface at the track “Too Tough to Tame.”

Also on-hand for the event was legendary car owner Leonard Wood. Wood was responsible for all of the restoration work that was done to get the legendary 1971 Wood Brothers’ No. 21 Purolator Mercury ready to turn laps at Darlington Raceway.

The event started with Edwards, Pearson and Wood fielding questions from media outlets and then moved outside and onto pit road.

Pearson strapped into the 1971 Wood Brothers’ No. 21 Purolator Mercury he made famous in the seventies while Edwards settled into his No. 99 Claritin Ford Fusion.

One of NASCAR’s most successful drivers, Pearson posted 105 career victories in a 27 year career including a record 10 victories at Darlington Raceway.

As the engines were fired and the cars came to life they were led off pit road by a Darlington Raceway pace truck outfitted with Dodge Challenger 500 logos.

The green-flag waived and the cars zipped around the 1.366-mile egg-shaped and just like old times, Pearson was leading the way.

After several laps the checkered flag waived on a finish reminiscent to the 2003 finish between Kurt Busch and Ricky Craven. The drivers returned to pit-road, both eager to see who would be declared the winner.

It was Pearson, by a nose, over Carl Edwards.

“It was great to get back out on the track at Darlington Raceway and get my 11th win here,” joked Pearson. “I have been looking forward to this day for a long time and I am honored to have been invited to this event.”

“Darlington is definitely my favorite track,” said Edwards. “A win at Darlington would be so cool because of all of the history at this track.

“This is a driver’s race track, you have to be on top of your game to run well here, not to mention win,” said Edwards.

Don’t miss your chance to see another incredible finish at Darlington Raceway when the stars of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series take on the track “Too Tough to Tame” in the Dodge Challenger 500 on May 10, 2008. The racing action kicks off with the NASCAR Nationwide Series Diamond Hill Plywood 200 on May 9th. Order your tickets now by calling 1-866-459-RACE or logging onto

PHOTO ATTACHED TO THIS RELEASE: David Pearson drives his 1971 No. 21 Purolator Wood Brothers Mercury as Carl Edwards follows him through turn 4 at Darlington Raceway. Pearson beat Edwards to the finish line to record his 11th career victory at Darlington Raceway. (Photo Credit: Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images)

For more information contact: Jake Harris, Darlington Raceway Public Relations, 843-395-8823