Countdown to Coke Zero 400 at Daytona: Pearson and Petty battle for win at 1974 Firecracker 400

Coke Zero 400 at Daytona / Headline Surfer
YouTube downloads: 1st video (by NascarAllOut): Highlights of the 1974 Firecracker 400 on the highbanks of Daytona International Speedway. 2nd video (by nascargavin8): Focus on the last two laps and the battle to the checkered flag by Richard Petty and David Pearson.

David Pearson, winner 1974 Firecracker 400 / Headline Surfer®DAYTONA BEACH -- It wasn't unusual for Indy racers like AJ Foyt and Johnny Rutherford to rub fenders at Daytona International Speedway in the 1970s, before the advent of restrictor-plate racing with speeds exceeding 200 mph and plenty of wrecks.

The 1974 Firecracker 400, the big July 4th weekend event at DIS in front of 60,000 spectators in the stands and infield run on a Thursday afternoon, was no different, won by David Pearson in a last lap duel with Richard Petty, by pulling the slingshot pass.

In fact, Rutherford, who won the first of his three Indianapolis 500 cham,pionships, was among the early drivers to crash on the high banks of Daytona. Rutherford won the Indy 500 again in 1976 and in 1980.

Foyt struggled midway through the Firecracker race, going a lap down as Petty, Pearson and Buddy Baker battled for the lead with speeds in excess of 200 mph.Donnie Allison and Bobby Allison also were among the leaders.

But ultimately the final two laps came down to Pearson in the Purolator Mercury and Petty in the STP Dodge, with the Siilver Fox out front before the white flag at that point.

Pettty got around Pearson off turn 1 on the last lap by going high. But coming off turn 4, Pearson pulled the sling shot move to take the checkered flag by less than a car length as two of NASCAR's giants crossed the finish line.

This was Pearson's third consecutive Firecracker 400 win in a row, the only driver to ever to do in the July race at Daytona. He also was the first to win a 4th Firecracker 400 in 1978, all while driving for the Wood Brothers.

Pearson's winning purse was $17,350.

Top 10 Finishers

1. David Pearson; 2. Richard Petty; 3. Buddy Baker; 3. Cale Yarborough; 5. Bobby Allison 6. Bobby Isaac; 7. Lennie Pond; 8. Jackie Rogers; 9. David Sisco;  9. Cecil Gordon; 10. J.D. McDuffie.

Did You Know?

During the race nine different drivers exchanged the lead 49 times, a race record that stood until it was broken with 57 between 25 different drivers in 2011.

FAST FACTS: First-ever recorded tie

Eight seconds behind the Pearson-Petty duel, Buddy Baker and Cale Yarborough appeared to have crossed the finish line at the same time. After two hours of deliberation, officials announced a dead heat for third place, the only tie recorded in NASCAR history. 
Source: Wuikipedia
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Short Bio

Henry Frederick is publisher of Headline Surfer®, the award-winning 24/7 internet news outlet covering the Daytona Beach-Sanford-Orlando metro area via since 2008. A longtime cops & courts reporter focused on breaking news & investigative reporting, Frederick is among the Sunshine State's most prolific daily news reporters, having amassed close to a hundred award-winning byline stories nearly evenly split in print and digital platforms. Frederick earned his Master of Arts in New Media Journalism with academic honors from Full Sail University in Winter Park in February 2019. He was a metro reporter with the Daytona Beach News-Journal for nearly a decade and then served as a city editor for the Taunton Daily Gazette in Taunton, Mass, while maintaining a residence in Central Florida. Prior to moving to Florida, Frederick was a metro reporter for the Rockland Journal-News in West Nyack, NY, for seven years. Headline Surfer was named the Sunshine State's top internet news site by the Florida Press Club in 2018.