David Pearson is one of, if not the, greatest driver in NASCAR Cup history. He ranks second on the all-time wins list and has a trio of titles to attest to his career. As if that’s not impressive enough, consider the fact that Pearson generally ran a limited schedule during his 26 years in the sport. He literally was a threat every time he showed up at the track, and his talent has been admired and emulated by drivers for years. His list of accomplishments runs deep, but here’s five that show why Pearson belongs in the Hall of Fame.
Imagine if Pearson had run more races on a consistent basis. After all, a brief look at his 1974 season shows just how potent he could be. That season, he drove in only 19 of the 30 races with his Wood Bros. Racing team -- and finished third in the championship season to Richard Petty and Cale Yarborough.
Six Daytona wins
Pearson must have liked the fast superspeedway that hosted two events a year. After all, he found a lot of success on the prestigious oval. He won the Daytona 500 only once, but overall he tallied six victories on the 2.5-mile superspeedway.
Pearson was fast all the time, not just during the race. That made him a threat from the moment he took to the track. As with wins, he ranks second to only Richard Petty in pole positions won with his 113.
Champ, champ, champ!
Certainly, Pearson’s not the only multititle winner in NASCAR. But he’s the only one to tally a trio of titles without ever running the full Cup schedule. In 27 years of racing, he came close to a few full seasons, but never actually competed in all the races. That didn’t seem to slow him, though. In 1966, he ran 42 of 49 races and won his first championship driving for Cotton Owens. In 1968, he actually ran all but one event to take his second title, running most of the races for Holman-Moody. And in 1969, he raced in 51 of the 54 races to take his third crown, again driving for Holman-Moody. The competition simply couldn’t keep up under his consistent, winning form.
Pearson, known as the Silver Fox, was crafty and wily in races -- and was often more than the competition could withstand. He ranks second on the all-time wins list with his 105 victories. An impressive feat, no doubt, but consider Pearson ran up that tally in just 574 starts. That’s winning almost every fifth race that he ran during his career -- an unheard-of 18.3 winning percentage. Considering the size of the NASCAR fields in his day, that’s a stunning number.