Sam McQuagg, the 1965 NASCAR rookie of the year, died of cancer Saturday in Columbus, Ga. He was 73.
McQuagg made his Cup Series debut on Aug. 25, 1962, at Valdosta (Ga.) Speedway. He started ninth and finished 12th in the 13-car field.
He earned top rookie honors in 1965 with two top-five finishes and five top-10s in 14 starts.
McQuagg had one win in 62 career starts -- the Firecracker 400 on July 4, 1966, at Daytona International Speedway. His final race was the World 600 on May 26, 1974, at Charlotte Motor Speedway; he finished 32nd.
McQuagg ended his career with one win, nine top-five finishes and 21 top-10s.
McQuagg was inducted into the Jacksonville (Fla.) Speedway Hall of Fame and the Georgia Automobile Racing Hall of Fame Association.
He also was a major player in an incident in one of the wildest NASCAR races ever. McQuagg was leading the 1965 Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway, when Cale Yarborough tried to muscle past McQuagg for the lead. Yarborough flew over the guardrail, barrel-rolled six times and came to rest at the end of the parking lot. Uninjured, Yarborough waved to the crowd as he walked back to the pits. A video clip of the wreck was used on ABC's Wide World of Sports for several years.
Dodge eventually hired McQuagg to drive for its factory team. He was the first driver to use a spoiler -- and used the spoiler to win the Firecracker 400 at Daytona.
He is survived by his wife, Joy Baggett McQuagg, and three children, Sam McQuagg Jr., Mark McQuagg and Rita Renfroe, all of Columbus.
Visitation will be Monday from 6-8 p.m. ET at McMullen Mortuary. The funeral will be at 11 a.m. Tuesday at McMullen. - nascar.com
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