Darlington Throwback Honoring Two of the Best
Due to some unforeseen circumstances on July 30, 1979, Jimmie Johnson will be paying tribute to two NASCAR legends with this year’s Darlington throwback. The striking blue and yellow No. 48 will certainly stand out under the lights at Darlington, just like the two winningest drivers at “The Track too Tough to Tame” who piloted the original scheme way back in 1979.
The deal had already been inked: Sunday, August 5, 1979 would be Lowe’s rookie race in NASCAR with a rookie driver by the name of Earnhardt. But the week before in Pocono, Dale had an unscheduled meeting with a steel wall thanks to a blown tire. The impact broke both of his collarbones.
Team owner Rod Osterlund needed a fill in driver, and as luck would have it one of the best in the business just happened to be available: David Pearson. After parting ways with the Wood Brothers earlier that year, the “Silver Fox” was a driver for hire.
Despite missing a number of races, Pearson didn’t miss a beat. His first race back was the Talladega 500, where he qualified the No. 2 Lowe’s Oldsmobile on the outside of the front row, led 17 laps, and finished second behind fellow Hall of Famer Darrell Waltrip.
Lowe’s was only on the car for Talladega, but Pearson would run the next three races for Osterlund while Earnhardt recovered. In his final race before Dale’s return, Pearson drove the blue and yellow No. 2 to victory in the Darlington Southern 500, his ninth of his record ten wins at the “Lady in Black” and his third and final in the Southern 500.
Dale Earnhardt would spend his entire career chasing Pearson’s record, and he came ever so close with his nine Darlington wins, three of which came in the Southern 500.
Jimmie Johnson hopes the blue and yellow will give his No. 48 some luck as he looks to capture his own third triumph in the Southern 500 this Labor Day weekend.