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Cale Yarborough was the second NASCAR driver to appear on the cover of Sports Illustrated (the first was Curtis Turner on the Feb. 26, 1968 issue), after winning his second Daytona 500 on Feb. 20, 1977.  Yarborough, one of only two drivers in NASCAR history to win three consecutive championships (1976-78), turns 75 today.  (Eric Schweikardt/SI)

Cale Yarborough was the second NASCAR driver to appear on the cover of Sports Illustrated (the first was Curtis Turner on the Feb. 26, 1968 issue), after winning his second Daytona 500 on Feb. 20, 1977.  Yarborough, one of only two drivers in NASCAR history to win three consecutive championships (1976-78), turns 75 today.  (Eric Schweikardt/SI)

Dale Earnhardt Jr. grins for the camera as his father distractedly looks away in this shot from 1985. (Racing Photo Archives/Getty Images)

GALLERY: Classic Photos of Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. grins for the camera as his father distractedly looks away in this shot from 1985. (Racing Photo Archives/Getty Images)
GALLERY: Classic Photos of Dale Earnhardt Jr.

55 years ago today, the first Daytona 500 set a high bar for drama. Lee Petty and Johnny Beauchamp battled to the finish line in a race too close to call, although Beauchamp celebrated what he thought was a win. Days later, NASCAR officials discovered — after viewing a still of just-developed news reel footage — that Petty had actually nosed the finish line first and was declared the winner. (AP)

GALLERY: 10 Memorable Daytona 500 Moments

55 years ago today, the first Daytona 500 set a high bar for drama. Lee Petty and Johnny Beauchamp battled to the finish line in a race too close to call, although Beauchamp celebrated what he thought was a win. Days later, NASCAR officials discovered — after viewing a still of just-developed news reel footage — that Petty had actually nosed the finish line first and was declared the winner. (AP)
GALLERY: 10 Memorable Daytona 500 Moments

A six-year-old Jimmie Johnson relaxes between motocross races, circa 1982. (Courtesy of Jimmie Johnson)

GALLERY: Rare Photos of Jimmie Johnson

A six-year-old Jimmie Johnson relaxes between motocross races, circa 1982. (Courtesy of Jimmie Johnson)
GALLERY: Rare Photos of Jimmie Johnson

"The Intimidator" Dale Earnhardt sits in his car during qualifying for the NAPA 500 at the Atlanta Motor Speedway on Nov. 10, 1995. (George Tiedemann/SI)

"The Intimidator" Dale Earnhardt sits in his car during qualifying for the NAPA 500 at the Atlanta Motor Speedway on Nov. 10, 1995. (George Tiedemann/SI)

Repeated contact between Cale Yarborough and Donnie Allison and their subsequent crash in the final lap of the 1979 Daytona 500, won by Richard Petty, incensed Allison’s brother Bobby to the point where he got into a hair-raising fistfight with Yarborough. (AP)

GALLERY: Notorious NASCAR Cheating Episodes

Repeated contact between Cale Yarborough and Donnie Allison and their subsequent crash in the final lap of the 1979 Daytona 500, won by Richard Petty, incensed Allison’s brother Bobby to the point where he got into a hair-raising fistfight with Yarborough. (AP)
GALLERY: Notorious NASCAR Cheating Episodes

Denny Hamlin (11) hits the wall as he wrecks with A.J. Allmendinger and Dave Blaney (7), as Greg Biffle (16) drives past during the Sprint Cup race at Daytona International Speedway on July 6, 2013. (David Yeazell/AP)

GALLERY: Leading Off: Pictures of the Week

Denny Hamlin (11) hits the wall as he wrecks with A.J. Allmendinger and Dave Blaney (7), as Greg Biffle (16) drives past during the Sprint Cup race at Daytona International Speedway on July 6, 2013. (David Yeazell/AP)
GALLERY: Leading Off: Pictures of the Week

Cale Yarborough, driver of the #11 Holly Farms Chevrolet, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Winston Cup Firecracker 400 on July 4, 1976 at the Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, FL.  (ISC Archives via Getty Images)

Cale Yarborough, driver of the #11 Holly Farms Chevrolet, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Winston Cup Firecracker 400 on July 4, 1976 at the Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, FL.  (ISC Archives via Getty Images)

Bobby Allison and Dale Earnhardt chat before the 1980 NASCAR Firecracker 400 in Daytona, Fla. (Heinz Kluetmeier/SI)

GALLERY: Dale Earnhardt Classic Photos

Bobby Allison and Dale Earnhardt chat before the 1980 NASCAR Firecracker 400 in Daytona, Fla. (Heinz Kluetmeier/SI)
GALLERY: Dale Earnhardt Classic Photos

Bobby Allison (left, in helmet) famously fights with Cale Yarborough (right) as Allison’s brother, Donnie, swings his helmet at Yarborough after the 1979 Daytona 500. Donnie Allison was leading the race on the final lap when Yarborough spun both of them into the infield. They started fighting shortly thereafter, prompting Bobby Allison to pull over and join. The incident drew great publicity for NASCAR, with many considering the 1979 500 the most important race in stock car history. (AP)

GALLERY: Classic Photos From The Daytona 500

Bobby Allison (left, in helmet) famously fights with Cale Yarborough (right) as Allison’s brother, Donnie, swings his helmet at Yarborough after the 1979 Daytona 500. Donnie Allison was leading the race on the final lap when Yarborough spun both of them into the infield. They started fighting shortly thereafter, prompting Bobby Allison to pull over and join. The incident drew great publicity for NASCAR, with many considering the 1979 500 the most important race in stock car history. (AP)
GALLERY: Classic Photos From The Daytona 500

Kyle Larson’s car goes airborne during a multi-car wreck on the final lap of a NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Daytona International Speedway on Feb. 23. The wreck, which occurred one day before the Daytona 500, sent a tire, car parts and debris flying into the stands, injuring at least 33 fans, including two who were initially in critical condition. (David Graham/AP)

GALLERY: Pics of the Week

Kyle Larson’s car goes airborne during a multi-car wreck on the final lap of a NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Daytona International Speedway on Feb. 23. The wreck, which occurred one day before the Daytona 500, sent a tire, car parts and debris flying into the stands, injuring at least 33 fans, including two who were initially in critical condition. (David Graham/AP)
GALLERY: Pics of the Week

Richard Petty sits outside his No. 43 car at Daytona 500 qualifying in 1987. The King won Daytona a record seven times but finished third that year. (George Tiedemann/SI)

Gallery: Classic Photos of the Daytona 500

Richard Petty sits outside his No. 43 car at Daytona 500 qualifying in 1987. The King won Daytona a record seven times but finished third that year. (George Tiedemann/SI)Gallery: Classic Photos of the Daytona 500

Brad Keselowski clinched the Sprint Cup title at Homestead after five-time Cup champion Jimmie Johnson pulled out of the season-finale race because of a parts failure. The 28-year-old Keselowski claimed the first championship for longtime NASCAR owner Roger Penske and grabbed a title for car manufacturer Dodge, which is leaving the Sprint Cup series after the season. The championship was Keselowski’s first-career title. (Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

GALLERY: 2012 Sprint Cup Winners

Brad Keselowski clinched the Sprint Cup title at Homestead after five-time Cup champion Jimmie Johnson pulled out of the season-finale race because of a parts failure. The 28-year-old Keselowski claimed the first championship for longtime NASCAR owner Roger Penske and grabbed a title for car manufacturer Dodge, which is leaving the Sprint Cup series after the season. The championship was Keselowski’s first-career title. (Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
GALLERY: 2012 Sprint Cup Winners

Kasey Kahne, driver of the No. 5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet, races past the checkered flag to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series LENOX Industrial Tools 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on Sunday in Loudon, N.H. (Tom Pennington/Getty Images for NASCAR)

MARTIN: Wild cards, pit problems and other thoughts from Loudon
McCARTNEY: Who will nab the top seed in the Chase for the Cup?
GALLERY: Best Shots of Every 2012 Sprint Cup Winner | Standings

Kasey Kahne, driver of the No. 5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet, races past the checkered flag to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series LENOX Industrial Tools 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on Sunday in Loudon, N.H. (Tom Pennington/Getty Images for NASCAR)
MARTIN: Wild cards, pit problems and other thoughts from LoudonMcCARTNEY: Who will nab the top seed in the Chase for the Cup?GALLERY: Best Shots of Every 2012 Sprint Cup Winner | Standings

Mark Martin (55) and Jimmie Johnson (48) lead the field to the green flag to start the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series FedEx 400 at Dover International Speedway on Sunday.  (Photo by Todd Warshaw/Getty Images)

MARTIN: Johnson ties record with seventh win at Dover

Mark Martin (55) and Jimmie Johnson (48) lead the field to the green flag to start the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series FedEx 400 at Dover International Speedway on Sunday.  (Photo by Todd Warshaw/Getty Images)
MARTIN: Johnson ties record with seventh win at Dover