Today in History

Racing Back in Time with Cotton Owens

Today in History: Feb. 17, 1957
Cotton Owens picks up his first Cup victory, winning on the Beach & Road Course on Daytona Beach. Owens leads 30 of the 39 laps on the 4.1-mile course. Cotton Owens speeds to victory in the fastest NASCAR Grand National race run on the Daytona Beach road course. Owens, driving one of just five Pontiacs in the 57-car field, leads 30 of the 39 laps to win by 55 seconds over runner-up Johnny Beauchamp, and Fonty Flock is third. The race averages 101.541 mph.

Today in History: July 19, 1958
Jim Reed wins the only Cup Series race at quarter-mile Civic Stadium in Buffalo, N.Y. Nearly 8,000 fans watch the 100-lap race, which is over in less than 32 minutes. Second and third are Cotton Owens and Johnny Mackison, respectively, the only other cars on the lead lap.

Today in History: Aug. 2, 1958
Jack Smith wins the first Cup race at Bridgehampton (N.Y.) Raceway, a 2.85-mile road course. Starting from the pole, Smith leads all 35 laps and finishes 12 seconds ahead of second place Cotton Owens. Jim Reed is third.

Today in History: March 8, 1959
Curtis Turner wins his 13th and final Cup race on a dirt track, a 200-lap event on half-mile Concord (N.C.) Speedway. Cotton Owens finishes second a lap down, and Lee Petty is third another lap back. Turner will win one more Cup race in his career and will close out 17 seasons and 183 Cup races in 1968 with 17 wins.

Today in History: May 17, 1959
Tom Pistone wins a 150-lap race at Trenton (N.J.) Speedway for his first Cup victory. Pistone beats Cotton Owens by 11.8 seconds at the 1-mile track. They are the only drivers to finish on the lead lap. Lee Petty finishes third, a lap back.

Today in History: September 20, 1959
Richard Petty fails to finish a 110-lap race at Orange Speedway in Hillsborough, N.C. -- but still finishes in the top five. It isn't the only time in his NASCAR career this happens, but it is the first. Twelve of the 22 cars in the field fail to the finish (and Junior Johnson is disqualified), but Petty is scored third, 10 laps behind winner Lee Petty. Cotton Owens is second, one lap down. A broken axle ends Petty's day on the nine-tenths mile dirt track. Seven times in his career Petty fails to finish a race but finishes in the top five, including second twice.

Today in History: April 20, 1961
Cotton Owens takes the lead with four laps left and heads off NASCAR Hall of Famer Ned Jarrett to win a 200-lap main event at Columbia (S.C.) Speedway. Jarrett, who started on the pole, led the other 196 laps but faded to finish one lap down. Emanuel Zervakis took third on the half-mile dirt track.

Today in History: April 23, 1961
Richard Petty wins the Richmond 200 for the first of his record 13 victories at Richmond. Petty leads 182 of 200 laps and beats Cotton Owens by more than a lap. Buck Baker is third, seven laps back, and Ned Jarrett, who leads the first 18 laps, finishes fourth, 14 laps back. The Richmond track in 1961 is a half-mile dirt track.

Today in History: November 5, 1961
1961: Jack Smith wins the first race of the 1962 season -- even though it is November 1961. In fact, there will be another race the following week before the season shuts down until Daytona in February. On this day, Joe Weatherly finishes second and Cotton Owens third on the half-mile dirt track of Concord (N.C.) Speedway.

Today in History: March 17, 1962
Jack Smith wins the St. Patrick's Day 200, the first Cup race at Savannah (Ga.) Speedway. Cotton Owens is the only other driver to complete 200 laps on the half-mile dirt track, finishing three-quarters of a lap back. Joe Weatherly finishes third, two laps back.

Today in History: Sept. 20, 1964
Legendary owner-driver Cotton Owens finishes second in his final Cup start, a 150-mile race at Orange Speedway, a nine-tenths-mile dirt track in Hillsborough, N.C. Ned Jarrett wins the race by a lap, and Larry Thomas finishes third, five laps behind Jarrett. Owens finishes his driving career with nine wins and 10 poles in 160 starts over 15 seasons. As an owner, Owens wins 38 races and 33 poles along with the 1966 championship with David Pearson behind the wheel of his No. 6 Dodge.

Today in History: March 19, 1967
David Pearson outruns Cale Yarborough down the stretch to score his first win at Bristol International Speedway in the Southeastern 500. Pearson, driving a Cotton Owens-prepared Dodge, leads 70 of the 500 laps to beat Yarborough by seven seconds. Darel Dieringer finishes third, three laps down. The race is a costly one, attrition-wise -- only 11 of the 36 starters are running at the finish.