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Former NASCAR driver Blackburn dies at 69

COLUMBIA, Tenn. -- James Ronald "Bunkie" Blackburn, a
former NASCAR driver who once won a race at Daytona International
Speedway, has died. He was 69.

Blackburn died Tuesday at his home, Oakes & Nichols Funeral Home
in Columbia announced. His cause of death was not available
Thursday night.

Blackburn drove in the Grand National and NASCAR circuits from
the late 1950s to the early 1970s, driving for teams run by Smokey
Yunick and Petty Enterprises.

He had four top fives and 14 top 10s in the Grand National
series, The Daily Herald in Columbia reported. Blackburn ran 71
races at 26 different tracks in his career.

His top finish was in 1968, when he won the Permatex 300 at
Daytona from the pole. He also won poles at Talladega and Bristol
and was inducted into the Pure Darlington Record Club in 1964 after
posting a record qualifying time. He finished in the top 10 twice
in the Daytona Firecracker 400.

Blackburn grew up surrounded by racing -- his father owned and
operated a dirt track in his hometown of Fayetteville, N.C.

Blackburn also competed throughout the Middle Tennessee area on
dirt tracks and at Nashville Speedway against drivers like Darrell
Waltrip, who lives in Franklin, and Coo Coo Marlin, the late father
of current Nextel Cup driver Sterling Marlin, also of Columbia.

He retired from racing after an injury and went to work for
General Electric in Columbia for 20 years before retiring.