· Even though it’s been 50 years since Ned Jarrett captured Ford’s first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship, he remains the manufacturer’s all-time win leader with 43.
· Jarrett won the 1965 championship after posting 13 victories and 42 top-five finishes in 54 starts.
· Jarrett was recognized for his contributions to motorsports with the Spirit of Ford Award in 2003, which is the highest honor in Ford Performance.
The numbers and accomplishments tell the story.
There have been 79 drivers who have won a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race under the Ford nameplate, but no one has more victories than Ned Jarrett.
There have been a total of eight series championships for Ford since NASCAR began competition in 1949, but Ned Jarrett captured the first in 1965.
When it comes to NASCAR’s Ford history, Ned Jarrett is at the head of the pack.
“When I learned that I had won the championship and was the first one to win it in a Ford it made me extremely proud,” said Jarrett, who drove a Ford Galaxie to that initial championship. “I grew up in a Ford family. My dad had a farm and a sawmill, and had a Ford car and had Ford trucks. When tractors came out he bought a Ford tractor, so I was pretty well married to Ford. I grew up in them and when I learned I was the first driver to win a championship I was beside myself. I felt better after learning that than I did about winning the championship to start with. It’s just a great feeling.”
The championship, which was Jarrett’s second overall, came in dominating fashion as he won 13 times and posted 42 top-five finishes in 54 starts. His marquee victory was undoubtedly the Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway in which he won by a record 14 laps.
“I was honestly surprised when I learned that I was the driver that had won the most races in a Ford,” said Jarrett, who has 43 Ford wins – three more than second-place Bill Elliott. “I was very proud of that record as well. It’s hard to put into words how something like that makes you feel, especially when you were a Ford guy growing up.”
Jarrett was recognized with the Spirit of Ford Award in 2003, which is the highest honor in Ford Performance. The award goes to someone who has made significant contributions on and off the track to the sport of auto racing.”