Photo Credit: Fuel Curve

First round

(8) #05 David Sisco v. (1) #43 Richard Petty

(7) #24 Cecil Gordon v. (2) #11 Cale Yarborough

(6) #2 Dave Marcis v. (3) #21 David Pearson

(5) #72 Benny Parsons v. (4) #12 Bobby Allison

The first round got underway at Michigan, with Richard Petty taking an early series lead over competitor David Sisco thanks to a runner-up finish, as Cale Yarborough picked up a third-place finish to secure the win against Cecil Gordon. David Pearson scored the race win with Dave Marcis in seventh, while Benny Parsons suffered overheating issues to hand the win to Bobby Allison. The second race took the series to Darlington, with Yarborough becoming the only driver during the opening round to earn the series sweep. However, all other drivers down by one race would keep their title hopes alive as Sisco claimed an upset win with Petty crashing out in the early going, followed by Pearson who met the same fate after a wreck just under 80 laps later and Allison who fell out due to faulty steering. In the final race at Richmond, despite a short field of just 27 cars, Pearson and Allison did not show up to the event, allowing Marcis and Parsons to advance to the next round by default. Petty also took care of business in anticlimactic fashion by claiming the race win, while Sisco exited near the midway point due to overheating problems.


(6) #2 Dave Marcis v. (1) #43 Richard Petty

(5) #72 Benny Parsons v. (2) #11 Cale Yarborough

As the remaining four competitors took on Dover, Petty captured his second race win in a row, with Parsons nabbing a solid fourth-place finish to put the reigning champion Yarborough in jeopardy of being unable to defend his title. At North Wilkesboro for the second race of the round, however, Yarborough put any doubts about his playoff abilities to bed with a race win, while Petty moved on to the championship round for the third straight year thanks to a second-place finish to Marcis’ fifth. The Parsons/Yarborough battle moved to the paper clip of Martinsville Speedway, where both drivers would suffer terrible days as each ended early after engine failures. However, it would be Yarborough facing Petty for the title once again as his engine blew with just 79 laps to go after leading more than half of the event, whereas Parsons’ engine gave up the ghost with more than 200 laps to go.


(2) #11 Cale Yarborough v. (1) #43 Richard Petty

Same as it was in 1973, Yarborough and Petty would slug it out for the championship, this time starting at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Petty got the early jump over Yarborough after the latter’s engine blew out for the second week in a row, with Petty continuing on to a runner-up result. The tide would turn at Rockingham, however, as Yarborough nearly won the event after leading almost half the laps, instead settling for second place ahead of a respectable third-place run from Petty. This set up the winner-take-all season finale at Ontario Motor Speedway, which got off to a promising start for Petty as he led throughout the first three-quarters of the race. However, his championship hopes would go up in smoke with just 12 laps to go, as he was forced to retire after a heartbreaking engine failure. This paved the way for Yarborough to score back-to-back titles after bringing his car across the line in third.

Cale Yarborough’s stats for 1974 were an impressive 10 wins, 21 top-fives and 22 top-10s, as he finished second in the real-life standings to actual champion Richard Petty.

1974 Cup Series standings in real life: