Ned Jarrett spent 13 years racing in NASCAR's highest level, which doesn't really seem all that long given everything he accomplished during that time. His two Grand National Series championships, 50 Cup wins, and 239 top-10 finishes earned him a spot in 12 motorsports and sports Halls of Fame, including, of course, the NASCAR Hall of Fame. And, he did all that while earning the nickname "Gentleman Ned Jarrett" for his calm demeanor and upstanding character.
Considering Jarrett's impressive stock car racing resume during the early days of NASCAR, it shouldn't be all that surprising that the Conover, North Carolina native has a record that will never been broken. Let's take a look at the race that still has NASCAR fans fired up after nearly 60 years.
1965 was a big year for Ned Jarrett, as he won 13 races on the way to his second championship. His most dominant win that year -- his 12th of the season -- came at Darlington Raceway. It sounds like a made-up statistic, but Jarrett actually won the Southern 500 by a whopping 14 laps, making him the current (and forever) holder of the record for largest margin of victory in NASCAR.
To put Jarrett's impressive performance into context, Jarrett beat runner-up Buck Baker by a little over 19 miles. Now, many point to the fact that just 15 of the 44 cars that started the race actually crossed the finish line as a way to somehow detract from Jarrett's accomplishment. Still, Jarrett's domination at Darlington is a NASCAR moment that will live on forever.
In a video put out by Ford Performance back in 2015 in honor of the 50-year anniversary of the historic Southern 500, a then 83-year-old Jarrett recalled his mindset heading into Darlington. As he puts it, he was ready to push his No. 11 Ford to its absolute limits.
"One of the goals that I had set for myself when I started Grand National Racing, which is what it was called back then, was to win the Southern 500 in Darlington," Jarrett said. "It was on a track that was built for speeds of about 70 or 80 miles an hour and here we were at that time running about 140-145 miles an hour, but that was one of the goals I set for myself."
It really is incredible to hear Jarrett describe what happened on September 6, 1965 at "The Track Too Tough to Tame." It's like he remembers that day in Darlington, South Carolina like it were yesterday.
"We ran good during the race and led some laps and then things began to turn our way in the last 100 miles or so," Jarrett continued. "I had no idea how far ahead we were, but I know the Ford officials that were there came down and camped in my pits, and they knew how much of a lead I had and they tried to get the crew to bring me in."
"We didn't have radio communications back then, so they just wrote on the black board for me to pit. I knew we didn't need to pit, but they knew the car was overheating, so I kept going because something told me stronger than the officials of Ford and my own pit crew that I needed to stay out there and keep going."
"Our goal was reached in a fashion that that record will never be broken. Today's races are too close for that to happen."
You heard it from the two-time champ himself. No NASCAR driver is coming close to touching the record he set at the 1965 Southern 500.
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