70's Were Memorable for Pearson
The decade of the 1970’s were good for David Pearson, especially at Michigan International Speedway. The South Carolina native put together masterful driving performances in the Irish Hills, making him the most successful driver of the decade and in track history.
His nine Cup victories and 10 poles at MIS are the most in MIS history, records that won’t be touched for quite some time. Seven of those victories came in the 70’s and one in 1969.
But his win on August 20, 1978, might be his most memorable.
With three NASCAR wins at other tracks in 1978, Pearson was dealt a hot hand heading into the Champion Spark Plug 400 weekend at MIS. With 12 consecutive top-five finishes at MIS entering the race, including seven wins and three second-place showings, Pearson was destined to do something great that weekend.
In an exciting race, which featured 35 lead changes, Pearson would win his final race at MIS in a classic finish which saw him pass young, up-and-comer Darrell Waltrip on the final lap. It would also be Pearson’s last victory of the 1978 campaign in which he finished 16th in the final point standings in just 22 starts (30 races on the ’78 schedule).
“Michigan was the best speedway I ever won on,” Pearson would say. “It was big enough that you could draft and wide enough that if you got in trouble you could correct it before you hit the wall. It was a special place for me and my Wood Brothers team.”
Pearson’s career at MIS is unmatched with nine wins and 20 top-10 showings in 29 Cup appearances at the two-mile oval. Amazingly enough, Pearson’s victory total came in just a 22-race span over 9 years (1969-1978).
Pearson’s track record ninth victory in 1978 was just one of the great stories in MIS’ history. To celebrate 40 years of racing and look ahead to the next 40 years, MIS will highlight a different decade each week, celebrating past champions, great race moments and track history that put the Irish Hills track on the NASCAR racing map.
The speedway is also looking for race fans’ recollections of the speedway.
“With a month remaining, the excitement is really starting to build for our LifeLock 400 weekend and the start of our 40th anniversary season,” track President Roger Curtis said. “We have a lot of fun initiatives planned for the anniversary and hope race fans will take the opportunity to buy a seat for the race and start building their own memories at Michigan International Speedway.”
If race fans have a moment they’d like to share – on-track or off – send them to contacts@MISpeedway.com today. Yours could be featured on the speedway’s Web site. Please be sure to include photos and contact information where you can be reached.
The LifeLock 400 weekend, which will also feature the ARCA RE/MAX Series on June 13 and NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Cool City Customs 200 on June 14, will kick off the speedway’s 40th season of racing in the Irish Hills in 2008. With a month to go, tickets remain for the LifeLock 400. Many more memories are sure to be experienced.
To order tickets, pit passes, camping or hospitality packages, call the MIS Ticket Hotline at 800-354-1010 or visit MISpeedway.com.