Hylton ran a partial schedule in 1978 before returning to run the entire calendar the next year, running three more full seasons before ending his full-time Cup Series career after 1981.

While Hylton never ran regularly on the Cup Series circuit after that, he continued to compete in select events for another 12 years. His final premier series start came in 1993 at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway.

James Hylton at speed during Daytona 500 practice in 2007. (NASCAR photo)

Hylton made a brief comeback in 2007 and nearly made the Daytona 500 driving the No. 58 Retirement Living TV Chevrolet for car owner J.C. Weaver.

In all, his Cup Series career consisted of two wins, 140 top-five finishes and 301 top-10 runs in 602 starts. He finished seconding the standings in ’66, ’67 and ’71.

He also made four NASCAR Xfinity Series starts and set the record for oldest driver to start a NASCAR national series event when he qualified for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway in 2011 at 76 years, 11 months and 12 days.

In his later years, Hylton competed with the ARCA Racing Series as an owner/driver, including running the full schedule in 2009 and each year from 2011 through ’13.

He never won an ARCA race, but competed in 175 events over a 28-year period. His final ARCA start before retiring from driving came in the season-ending race at Kansas Speedway in 2013 when he was 79.

As an owner, Hylton continued to field ARCA cars even after stepping out of the driver’s seat, always carrying his famed No. 48 on the door. He was one of the longest-tenured independent owners in the sport.

“The independent drivers in the ’60s and ’70s were the backbone of the sport,” Hylton reflected in 2006. “Most hung on until the big money came into play and one by one, they just faded away.”

He, his son and team mechanic Terry Strange survived a highway incident in July of 2017, when their truck and trailer slid off the road en route home from an ARCA race at Iowa Speedway.

The ARCA Racing Series was where Hylton felt at home, though.

“I love ARCA,” he said in 2006. “It reminds me of how NASCAR was back in the ’60s and ’70s. It is a community of competitors that are all working together.”

Arguably none worked harder at succeeding in that community than James Harvey Hylton.