Cale Yarborough is perhaps best known for one of his worst moments, the infamous 1979 post-Daytona 500 fight with the Allison brothers after contact during the race. That moment put NASCAR on the map in some circles, but Yarborough made more positive contributions to the sport as both a driver and a team owner. Here are five that make him a NASCAR Hall of Famer.
Yarborough showed he could race anywhere and be a threat to win. He was one of the most versatile drivers of his day, spreading his victories over a series of tracks. He earned 23 wins at superspeedways, 25 on intermediate tracks, 31 on short tracks, three on road courses and six on dirt tracks. He really was a true racer.
Yarborough moved into the realm of team owner for the 1987-99 seasons. He drove for himself and also put a slate of drivers into his car over the years. Yarborough’s team made 371 starts and earned one victory.
Not only did Yarborough win often, he did so at some of NASCAR’s most prestigious tracks -- and in its top races. He won four Daytona 500s, second only to Richard Petty, and won at that superspeedway nine times overall.
Yarborough won 83 races in his Cup career, which ranks sixth all-time. His championship stretch highlighted his most dominating years, earning 28 wins in three years as he was taking the title.
Yarborough became the first NASCAR driver to earn three consecutive titles, winning the championship in 1976, ’77 and ’78. It’s a record that held until 2008, when Jimmie Johnson tied it, and the following year when he surpassed it. Yarborough's stats were stunning in that period. In 1976, he won nine times, earning 23 top-10 finishes, 22 of them top fives, in 30 starts. In 1977, he upped the ante with an average finish of 4.5 as he once more tallied nine wins. And in 1978, he scored 10 wins and an average finish of 6.0 to win the third title with the Junior Johnson-owned team.