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South Carolina racer Cale Yarborough was the first driver in history to win three consecutive Cup Series championships.

Few racers in NASCAR history were tougher than Cale Yarborough, a member of the NASCAR Hall of Fame Class of 2012. And even fewer still were better racers.

In a NASCAR career that spanned from 1957 to 1988, Yarborough won 83 races, which ties for sixth on the all-time win list. Included in that impressive victory total were four Daytona 500 victories with three different teams, Wood Brothers Racing in 1968, Junior Johnson & Associates in 1977 and Ranier Racing in 1983-84. He also won five Southern 500s at Darlington Raceway.

Yarborough’s most notable accomplishment was becoming the first driver in NASCAR history to win three consecutive championships, a feat he performed in 1976-78 while driving for fellow Hall of Famer Junior Johnson (2010). In the 45 years since then, only Jimmie Johnson managed to equal and eventually surpass Yarborough’s consecutive championship record.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at a dozen Yarborough paint schemes from throughout his Hall of Fame career.

Driving a 1961 Ford owned by Julian Buesink, Cale Yarborough finished 10th in his Daytona 500 qualifying race and 48th in the Daytona 500 due to electrical issues. Photo courtesy of NASCAR Archives & Research Center via Getty Images

1962

After competing in a total of four Cup Series races from 1957-61, Cale Yarborough ran eight of 53 races in 1962, four for car owner Julian Buesink, three for Don Harrison and one for Wildcat Williams. Mechanical woes knocked Yarborough out of six races, and his best finish was 10th in his 100-mile Daytona 500 qualifying race. He also finished 13th in the spring race at Darlington, where he again drove for Buesink.

In the 1963 Daytona 500, Cale Yarborough finished a respectable 20th. Photo courtesy of NASCAR Archives & Research Center via Getty Images

1963

Turning 24 years old midway through the 1963 season, Yarborough competed in a then career-high 18 races for four owners. This time his luck was considerably better as he finished 16 races and only had a pair of DNFs. Yarborough posted his first career top-five finish in the Speedorama 200 at Rambi Raceway in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina in July. Before the year was out, he would add two more fifth-place finishes.

Wheeling this Herman Beam-owned Ford, Cale Yarborough finished 17th in the 1964 Daytona 500. Photo courtesy of NASCAR Archives & Research Center via Getty Images

1964

Running his most ambitious schedule to date, Yarborough competed in 24 of 62 Cup Series races. The first 18 were spent behind the wheel of Herman Beam’s No. 19 Ford, while Yarborough drove for the powerhouse Holman-Moody Racing Ford factory team in five of the final six races of the year. Yarborough’s best finishes of the year were a pair of fifth-place runs, both in May, at Savannah Speedway in Georgia and New Asheville Speedway in North Carolina.

Driving for car owner Jim Robbins, Cale Yarborough qualified for his first Indianapolis 500, but was involved in a crash and finished 28th. Photo courtesy of NASCAR Archives & Research Center via Getty Images

1966

After competing in 46 Cup Series races in 1965, Yarborough only raced 14 times in 1966, finishing second in the Daytona 500 and the next race, the Peach Blossom 500 at North Carolina Motor Speedway in Rockingham. With a lighter NASCAR schedule, Yarborough tried his hand at open-wheel racing, participating in the Indianapolis 500 for the first time.

After moving to the powerhouse Wood Brothers Racing team, Cale Yarborough won six races in 21 starts during the 1968 season. Photo courtesy of NASCAR Archives & Research Center via Getty Images

1968

Joining forces with Wood Brothers Racing allowed Yarborough to truly showcase his ability behind the wheel of the iconic No. 21 Wood Brothers Mercury. He swept the Daytona 500 and the Firecracker 400, the two annual events at Daytona International Speedway. Among his then career-high six victories, Yarborough also won the prestigious Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway in his home state of South Carolina. Despite entering just 21 of 49 races, Yarborough finished 17th in points.

Following his sweep of both Daytona races a year earlier, Cale Yarborough was taken out in a crash in the 1969 Daytona 500. Photo courtesy of NASCAR Archives & Research Center via Getty Images

1969

Sticking with the Wood Brother Racing team, Yarborough won a pair of races, capturing the Atlanta 500 at Atlanta International Raceway (now Atlanta Motor Speedway) and the Motor State 500 at Michigan International Speedway. The Michigan victory was an important one for the driver and the team as it came in the home state of Ford Motor Co., the automaker whose car the Wood Brothers campaigned exclusively.

Cale Yarborough drove this Woolco-sponsored Plymouth for car owner Ray Fox in the 1971 Daytona 500, where an engine failure left him with a 33rd place finish. Photo courtesy of NASCAR Archives & Research Center via Getty Images

1971

With Cup Series opportunities few and far between because of manufacturer cutbacks, Yarborough entered just four NASCAR races, instead running the full Indy Car schedule for the only time in his career. In his four NASCAR starts on the season, Yarborough’s lone completed race was his 50-lap Daytona 500 qualifier, where he finished seventh. His other three starts all ended in DNFs.

Driving Kar Kare-sponsored Chevrolets owned by Richard Howard and wrenched by Junior Johnson, Cale Yarborough ran the entire Cup Series schedule for the first time in his career in 1973. Photo courtesy of NASCAR Archives & Research Center via Getty Images

1973

Rejoining NASCAR after running just nine races in the prior two seasons combined, Yarborough won three NASCAR Cup races and finished a then career-best second in points behind fellow Hall of Famer Benny Parsons (Class of 2017). In an impressive display of driving, Yarborough won four times, finished the top five in 16 of the 28 races, and captured five pole positions. His signature victory came in the Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway.

Cale Yarborough drove the No. 11 Carling Beer Monte Carlo Chevrolet for owner Junior Johnson through the second half of the 1974 season. Photo courtesy of NASCAR Archives & Research Center via Getty Images

1974

Midway through the season, Hall of Famer Junior Johnson (Class of 2010) replaced Richard Howard as the team owner of the No 11 Chevrolet. Yarborough won a career-best 10 races that season, adding another Southern 500 victory to his resume as well as sweeping both races at Bristol Motor Speedway and the Riverside International Raceway road course in Southern California. Ending the year second in points for the second consecutive season, Yarborough finished in the top five in 70 percent of the races run that season.

At Talladega in the spring, Cale Yarborough took over the points lead with a second-place finish. Photo courtesy of NASCAR Archives & Research Center/CQ-Roll Call Group via Getty Images

1976

The first of a record three consecutive Cup Series championships for Yarborough and car owner Johnson came in 1976, behind the wheel of the No. 11 Holly Farms-sponsored Chevrolet. During a 30-race season, Yarborough won nine races, with 22 top-five and 23 top-10 finishes. Starting with the Capital City 400 at Richmond Fairgrounds Raceway (now Richmond Raceway), Yarborough went on a four-race winning streak, taking the checkered flag at Dover Downs International Speedway (now Dover Motor Speedway), Martinsville Speedway and North Wilkesboro Speedway, the latter being his team owner’s home track in North Carolina.

Switching to Oldsmobiles, Cale Yarborough won his third consecutive Cup Series championship in 1978. Photo courtesy of NASCAR Archives & Research Center/CQ-Roll Call Group via Getty Images

1978

For the second time in his career, Yarborough posted double-digit wins, taking the checkered flag 10 times in 30 races en route to his record-setting third consecutive Cup Series championship. In his three championship seasons driving for Johnson, Yarborough won at least nine races each year and a total of 28 victories in three seasons. During that period, he also finished in the top five 70 times in 90 races.

Driving for Junior Johnson, Cale Yarborough won 45 races from 1974-80. Photo courtesy of NASCAR Archives & Research Center via Getty Images

1980

In his final season driving for Junior Johnson & Associates, Yarborough won six races and finished second in points to Dale Earnhardt (Class of 2010). In the final five races of the season, Yarborough won twice and finished in the top three all five times. His Busch beer paint scheme was one of the most iconic designs of its day. The 1980 season marked the final time Yarborough ran the full Cup Series schedule.