When a driver wins a Sprint Cup race these days by, say, 1.4 seconds, that’s a healthy margin.
But when was the last time you saw a NASCAR driver win a race by 14 LAPS?
That’s what NASCAR Hall of Famer Ned Jarrett did in his 1965 Southern 500 win at Darlington Raceway, earning his 12th win (of 13) of the season en route to his second career and Ford’s first-ever Grand National championship that season.
Jarrett didn’t just dominate the ’65 Southern 500, he was in a whole other stratosphere.
Think of it this way: Jarrett’s 14 lap victory margin – a NASCAR record, by the way – around the 1.366-mile egg-shaped oval equaled a 19.124 mile advantage over runner-up Buck Baker.
Jarrett was helped by the fact just 15 of the 44 cars that started the 364-lap race reached the finish line.
“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 in a Ford video that recalls that day. “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.”
What makes Jarrett’s massive winning margin all the more surprising is that Fred Lorenzen and Darel Dieringer combined to lead 256 of the first 325 laps.
Both drivers suffered engine issues, allowing Jarrett to shoot to the front and never looked back.
“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 said. “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.”
Here’s the whole Jarrett interview video: