David Pearson, a three-time champion in what is now NASCAR’s Monster Energy Cup Series, died Monday at 83, the Wood Brothers Racing team confirmed to ESPN. Inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame in its second class in 2011, Pearson won 105 Cup races, second only to Richard Petty, Pearson’s chief rival in the 1960s and 1970s. Between 1963 and 1977, the two finished first and second in 63 races, with Pearson winning 33 of them.
"I have always been asked who my toughest competitor in my career was. The answer has always been David Pearson," Petty said Monday night in a statement. "David and I raced together throughout our careers and battled each other for wins — most of the time finishing first or second to each other.
"It wasn’t a rivalry, but more mutual respect. David is a Hall of Fame driver who made me better. He pushed me just as much as I pushed him on the track. We both became better for it."
Petty and Pearson remained friends after their racing days ended.
— ESPN.com —