The series returned to a road course at Wakins Glen. With only fifteen cars on the grid, the event had the atmosphere of a club race, but there was still plenty of competition, starting in qualifying where Curtis Turner crashed and could not continue. Fireball Roberts took the pole, but wasn’t a factor in a race that still saw a half-dozen lead changes. Buck Baker struggled with tires and handling all afternoon, finishing well back, while Junior Johnson’s day was ruined by engine trouble — the sole retirement of the day knocking Johnson out of 4th place. Red Byron took the lead with twenty miles to go and was a strong performer the rest of the way, keeping ahead of the field with superior reflexes to take the checkered flag.
15 cars started, 14 finished. Winner: Red Byron #22 Olds (1)
From one of the smallest races of the year, the Pioneer series moved on to one of the largest, with 32 cars taking the green for the one mile dirt oval at Langhorne. Fireball Roberts was on the pole for the second straight race, but he retired early with engine trouble. Joe Eubanks ran strongly all day and earned the win; with Buck Baker finishing 22nd, the championship standings narrowed. And by making the field (even if he didn’t finish the race), Donald Thomas because the final driver of the year to score his first points.
32 cars started, 23 finished. Winner: Joe Eubanks #82 Hudson (1)
The Pioneer series rolled into Darlington, South Carolina for 301 miles on the intermediate paved track. Though the purse for this spring race is smaller than the Southern 500 that will be hosted here in the summer, Darlington still turned out a fast field, with an anxious Fireball Roberts looking to convert on his third straight pole. Roberts would finish sixth, while it was Herb Thomas who claimed the victory, taking the lead as the lead pack shuffled in the final pit stops. Joe Eubanks finished second, just missing back-to-back victories. Buck Baker had more tire troubles and finished 19th, again opening the door for the rest of the field to claw closer in the championship.
26 cars started, 23 finished. Winner: Herb Thomas, #92 Hudson (1)
The season grinds on the half-mile paved oval at Hickory, North Carolina. Fonty Flock took the pole while Buck Bakers recent woes continued, and he failed to qualify. The race got off to a rocky start when recent winners Joe Eubanks and Herb Thomas took each other out, escalating their feud and bringing out an early yellow. That set the tone for a race full of duels and mechanical mayhem. where almost a third of the field failed to finish. When the literal smoke cleared, Brownie King had taken the win — the first win of the year for Chevy — and fourth place Fireball Roberts moved into second in the championship, now just 28 points behind Baker.
23 cars started, 15 finished. Winner: Brownie King #32 Chevy (1)
Back to the future, as Daytona magically evolves into a paved superspeedway, and the Pioneers series comes to town for a 250. Fireball Roberts claims another pole, ahead of a particularly fast field (with Brownie King’s set-up in second place getting some grumbles). And it was a hot field in more ways than one, with at least a half-dozen new and simmering feuds brewing up and down pit lane. But the race itself was a relatively measured affair, with Eddie Pagan coming out on top for his first race of the year, and Fireball Roberts finally capitalizing on his qualifying efforts with a second-place finish, enough to put him atop the championship when Baker faded in the closing laps.
29 cars started, 23 finished. Winner: Eddie Pagan #45 Ford (1)
Oglethorp Speedway Park’s half-mile dirt oval in Pooler, Georgia is the next stop on the Pioneer circuit. Ralph Moody claimed the pole, with Championship leaders Roberts, Baker, Turner, and Beam also in the small field of 19 starters. When race leader Herb Thomas retired with radiator troubles with about thirty laps to go, Buck Baker moved into first for a much-needed win (his fourth on the young year), moving back atop the points standings.
19 cars started, 17 finished. Winner: Buck Baker #87 Olds (4)
The middle part of the Pioneer series features bigger racers, and 27 cars took the green at Martinsville, going for a $6000 purse. Eddie Skinner scored the surprise pole, while the race stewards were active, sending Bill Rexford to the back of the field for a suspect set-up, and announcing sanctions against Jimmie Lewallen, docking him 104 points against past performance, dropping him five spots in the championship. There have been rumors all year of a rift in the Flock family, and it came to a head at mid-race distance, as Tim Flock knocked his brother Fonty out of the race. Tim kept that aggression goiung in the closing laps, with a furious charge from the middle of the pack to take his second win of the year, and leapfrog Fireball Roberts for second place in the championship.
27 cars started, 21 finished. Winner: Tim Flock #91 Hudson (2)
Standings after fourteen races — a bit less than one third of the season: