When it comes to epic race finishes, the 1976 Daytona 500 is considered by racing experts and fans alike to be among the greatest in NASCAR history.
This iconic race is particularly memorable especially considering the recent death of NASCAR legend David Pearson, who passed away on November 12 at the age of 83.
Known as the Silver Fox for his slyness on the race track, Pearson would end up going head-to-head against Richard “The King” Petty on February 15, 1976, making for an intense installment of the Great American Race that no one would ever forget.
It was a wreck involving Johnny Ray and Skip Manning on lap 112 (which unfortunately ended Ray’s racing career) that would serve as a precursor to the final-lap drama that was to follow.
While A.J. Foyt held the distinction with most laps led at 66, Pearson (who was a driver for Wood Brothers Racing at the time) and Richard Petty were two laps ahead of anyone else when they came down the stretch.
With Petty ahead of Pearson by a nose, the Silver Fox pulled some late-race trickery by passing the King on the backstretch. Petty tried to return the favor, but instead of completely clearing Pearson’s car, the two made contact, and eventually ended up on the infield grass.
They were only yards aways from the finish line.
Pearson was somehow able to get his car to restart and slug across the finish line at only 30 MPH, while his ride was hardly in racing condition.
“For a minute, I thought I was going to become the first driver to win the Dayton 500 backwards,” Pearson said following the race.
I challenge you to find a better Daytona 500 finish than that.