NASCAR Legend Cale Yarborough Passes 

Cale Yarborough in 1968 (Photo: ISC Images & Archives via Getty Images)

Cale Yarborough, a three-time NASCAR Cup Series champion and four-time Daytona 500 winner, passed away Sunday. 

Yarborough was 84. 

Yarborough was inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame in 2012

“Cale Yarborough was one of the toughest competitors NASCAR has ever seen,” NASCAR Chairman & CEO Jim France said. “His combination of talent, grit and determination separated Cale from his peers, both on the track and in the record book. He was respected and admired by competitors and fans alike and was as comfortable behind the wheel of a tractor as he was behind the wheel of a stock car. On behalf of the France family and NASCAR, I offer my deepest condolences to the family and friends of Cale Yarborough.”

In addition to his four victories in NASCAR’s crown jewel Daytona 500 (1968, 1977, 1983, 1984), Yarborough won the Southern 500 at Darlington (S.C.) five times. Yarborough was a native of Sardis, South Carolina. The garage area at Darlington was dedicated to Yarborough in 2016. 

Yarborough won Cup Series championships in three consecutive years from 1976-78. He sits sixth on the NASCAR Cup Series all-time win list with 83 victories. 

Yarborough made his debut at the top level of NASCAR in the Southern 500 in 1957. He was penalized and removed from the event when it was found out he did not meet the minimum age requirement of 20 years old set by NASCAR then for the series. Yarborough got his first Cup Series victory in 1965. He connected with the legendary Wood Brothers racing team in 1968 and scored his first Daytona 500 victory. Later that season he got his first Southern 500 win.

Yarborough also made four starts in the Indianapolis 500, with a best career finish in the event of 10th in 1972. 

“Cale Yarborough was not just a NASCAR champion and Daytona 500 winner, he was one of the most versatile race car drivers our sport has seen,” said Indianapolis Motor Speedway President J. Douglas Boles. “He qualified for four Indianapolis 500s during one of the race’s most competitive eras and competed in a season of IndyCar Series racing – scoring two top-five finishes – in 1971 during the height of his driving career. The fans and drivers at IMS loved his competitive spirit, passion, and understanding and appreciation of what racing at Indianapolis means, whether as a driver or team owner. Our sport and our event have lost an icon.”

And Yarborough’s name is synonymous with one of the most iconic and legendary moments in NASCAR history. In 1979, during the first live flag-to-flag broadcast of the Daytona 500, Yarborough tangled with Donnie Allison in a last lap duel for victory in the Daytona. 500. The pair crashed while battling for the lead in the event. Yarborough ended up in a fight on the infield with Donnie Allison and his brother Bobby Allison.

“One Yarborough against two Allisons, that wasn’t even fair,” Yarborough would say years later. “But that’s the way it ended up. We were friends the next day and we’ve been friends ever since.”

Yarborough got his final Cup Series victory at Charlotte Motor Speedway in 1985 and ran his final Cup Series event at Atlanta Motor Speedway in 1988. He spent the next 11 years as a Cup Series team owner. John Andretti got Yarborough his only Cup Series victory as a team owner at Daytona International Speedway in July 1997. 


  1. Thank you Cale for making NASCAR racing so fun to watch. One of the Greats RIP

  2. The fight at Daytona elevated NASCAR
    RIP Cale

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