Honoring NASCAR's 75 Greatest Drivers during diamond anniversary celebration

·27 min read

In honor of NASCAR’s 75th anniversary, NASCAR will celebrate the 75 Greatest Drivers throughout its history.

Naming the 75 Greatest Drivers is a continuation of the popular program established in 1998 recognizing the 50 Greatest Drivers for NASCAR’s golden anniversary. The 50 Greatest Drivers form the foundation of the 75 Greatest Drivers — there are 25 new names added to the list first established 25 years ago.

The names were revealed with roughly one addition per day, five per week leading up to Throwback Weekend at Darlington Raceway, where the entire group of 75 will be honored.

Scroll to continue with content
Ad

Read on to reacquaint yourself with the original 50 Greatest Drivers, plus the newest members of the elite list and celebrate all of their accomplishments on the track.

NEW ADDITIONS
(Listed by most recent addition first)

Jimmie Johnson: One of the sport‘s three seven-time Cup Series champions, Johnson etched his name into the ranks of NASCAR legends with 83 career wins — good for sixth on the all-time list. The first five of his championships came consecutively in a streak of unprecedented dominance from 2006-10. Johnson won the Daytona 500 twice (2006, 2013) and added four wins in each the Coca-Cola 600, Brickyard 400 and the NASCAR All-Star Race.

Matt Kenseth: A champion in the last season before NASCAR‘s playoff era, Kenseth was honored with election to the NASCAR Hall of Fame‘s Class of 2023. His credentials were among his generation‘s best, with 39 Cup Series victories that included two Daytona 500 triumphs (2009, 2012), plus his first Cup win in the Coca-Cola 600 in 2000.

Joey Logano: One of just two active drivers with multiple Cup Series championships, Logano found his way to the Cup Series as a teenaged prospect with plenty of promise. He‘s since made good on the expectations, with 32 Cup Series wins and the title in both 2018 and 2022. Logano is also a 30-time winner in the Xfinity Series, a figure that slots him in seventh place on that circuit‘s all-time win list.

Kevin Harvick: The recognition on the list of NASCAR’s 75 Greatest Drivers comes in Harvick’s final season of Cup Series competition. After being called up to the Cup Series ranks after the death of Dale Earnhardt, Harvick assembled a career of sustained excellence, with 60 Cup Series wins, the 2014 title and the 2007 Daytona 500. He was also the 2001 and 2006 champion in the Xfinity Series, where he won 47 times.

Kurt Busch: The first champion of the Cup Series’ playoff era, Busch established a long career with wins in 19 of his 22 seasons as a Cup regular. Among those 34 victories were a Daytona 500 triumph (2017) and a Coca-Cola 600 win (2010). Busch also added nine victories combined in the Xfinity and Craftsman Truck Series.

Kyle Busch: Known also by his nickname of “Rowdy,” the younger of the Busch brothers has amassed more than 200 NASCAR national-series victories and counting in his career. Kyle Busch has registered 62 Cup Series wins with two championships (2015, 2019), and ranks atop the record books as the all-time wins leader in both the Xfinity Series and Craftsman Truck Series. He has also won in each of his 19 full-time Cup Series seasons.

Sam Ard: A standout on the former Late Model Sportsman circuit, Ard continued his tradition of winning once the tour was elevated to a NASCAR national series in 1982. Ard scored 22 wins in three years of competition in what is now called the Xfinity Series, rolling to the championship in consecutive years in 1983-84. After a head injury at the close of the ’84 season ended his driving career, Ard remained in the sport as a team owner. Jeff Burton’s first victory came in an Ard Motorsports car.

Larry Phillips: A short-track terror in the bullrings of the Midwest, Missouri’s Larry Phillips won a record five national championships in what is now known as the NASCAR Advance Auto Parts Weekly Series. Full records documenting his success are incomplete, but Phillips won a remarkable 220 of his 289 NASCAR-sanctioned starts from 1989-96, a winning clip of 76.1 percent that included 13 track championships in three states.

Brad Keselowski: A veteran stalwart who recently branched into Cup Series team ownership, Keselowski makes the 75 Greatest list with a long record of success. The Michigan native made waves as an Xfinity Series prospect and that tour’s champion in 2010, then carried that momentum into Cup, where he has won 35 races and the 2012 title. His 39 Xfinity wins also rank fourth all-time in that series.

Martin Truex Jr.: Truex’s brilliance as a two-time Xfinity Series champion in 2004-05 foretold a stellar Cup Series career to come. He has delivered so far at NASCAR’s top level with 31 victories, eight of which arrived in his march to the Cup Series crown in 2017. His resume includes a pair of wins in the Coca-Cola 600 and one in the Southern 500.

Bobby Labonte: NASCAR’s Greatest Drivers list now has room for two Labontes. Younger brother Bobby earned his recognition as the 2000 Cup Series champion and a victor in 21 Cup races. That portfolio includes three crown-jewel triumphs — a Coca-Cola 600, a Southern 500 and a Brickyard 400. He is also a 10-time winner in the Xfinity Series, claiming that tour’s championship in 1991.

Dale Earnhardt Jr.: An ambassador for the sport behind the wheel, and as a broadcaster and historian, Dale Earnhardt Jr. joins his father on the list of NASCAR‘s 75 Greatest Drivers. Earnhardt won 26 times in his Cup Series tenure, using his knack for superspeedways to prevail twice in the Daytona 500 (2004, 2014) and collect six wins at Talladega. He also was a two-time champion in the Xfinity Series, winning titles in back-to-back years in 1998-99.

A graphic that displays Dale Earnhardt Jr. as part of the 75 Greatest Drivers list
A graphic that displays Dale Earnhardt Jr. as part of the 75 Greatest Drivers list

Jeff Burton: The Virginia native built his reputation not just with his on-track performance, but as a leading voice in the NASCAR garage. His racing cred had its own merit. After claiming Rookie of the Year honors in a crowded 1994 class, Burton went on to score 21 Cup Series victories that included two Coca-Cola 600 triumphs and a win in the Southern 500. He added 27 victories in Xfinity Series competition.

Ron Hornaday Jr.: A NASCAR Hall of Famer who made his home in the Craftsman Truck Series, Hornaday corralled a record four championships in the tailgate tour. The California native won 51 times in the Truck Series, including an unmatched run of five consecutive victories during the march to his last title in 2009.

Carl Edwards: The popular Missouri native was a 28-time winner in Cup Series competition, and he punctuated each triumph with a signature backflip from his winning car. Edwards also enjoyed several dominant years in the Xfinity Series, securing the 2007 championship and finishing as the circuit‘s runner-up on four occasions.

Chase Elliott: Following in his father’s [Bill] footsteps, Chase has put together quite the resume through a decade in NASCAR’s national series. After winning the Xfinity title in 2014, he moved up to Hendrick Motorsports carrying the banner of two iconic numbers in the No. 24 and No. 9. He’s tallied 18 wins, including the biggest one of his career when he took the checkered flag at Phoenix in 2020 to win his first Cup Series championship.

Denny Hamlin: After fulfilling his childhood goal of driving for Coach Joe Gibbs, Hamlin compiled a list of major accomplishments in his stock-car racing career. The Virginia native has three Daytona 500 triumphs among his 48 Cup Series victories and has added crown-jewel wins in the Southern 500 three times and the Coca-Cola 600 once.

Ryan Newman: The “Rocketman” earned his nickname with a reputation for scorching qualifying laps, posting 51 pole positions in his career — a mark that ranks ninth all-time in Cup Series history. Newman‘s 18 Cup wins had their own distinction, with the 2008 Daytona 500 and the 2013 Brickyard 400 on his list of accolades. He found five of those victories after starting in the No. 1 spot.

Sterling Marlin: The Tennessee campaigner found his greatest success on NASCAR‘s superspeedways, netting his first two Cup Series wins in the Daytona 500 in 1994-95. In total, Marlin gathered 10 wins at some of stock-car racing‘s fastest and most historic tracks, adding two wins each at Talladega and Darlington. He was also known for his longevity, making 748 Cup starts in 33 seasons.

Sterling Marlin NASCAR 75 Greatest Drivers graphic
Sterling Marlin NASCAR 75 Greatest Drivers graphic

Greg Biffle: All three NASCAR national series were ripe for winning for Biffle, who snared 19 Cup Series victories in 14-plus years in the sport‘s top division. He also won 20 times in the Xfinity Series and 17 times in Craftsman Trucks, notching the championship in each of those circuits on his way up the NASCAR ladder. Biffle drove nearly the entirety of his career for Hall of Famer Jack Roush, and two Darlington wins were among his career accomplishments.

Kyle Larson: A chart-topping talent, Larson makes the 75 Greatest list as the 2021 Cup Series champion and a 20-time winner in NASCAR’s top circuit. The California native has excelled on dirt tracks and has managed to make the most of his time on pavement. He has won in all three NASCAR national series, and he added a title in what is now called the ARCA Menards Series East in 2012.

Randy LaJoie: LaJoie competed in all three NASCAR national tours, but found his greatest success in what is now called the Xfinity Series. His two Xfinity championships came in consecutive years (1996-97), and three of his 15 career wins came in the prestigious season opener at Daytona International Speedway. LaJoie also claimed the 1985 title in the former Busch North circuit.

Mike Stefanik: A versatile driver who made a name for himself as a Modified Tour standout, Stefanik became a NASCAR Hall of Famer in the 2021 class. The Rhode Island campaigner won seven championships in Modified competition and added two more in the former Busch North Series. He was also Rookie of the Year in the Craftsman Truck Series in 1999.

Kasey Kahne: The popular Washington native turned his promise as a top prospect into a 15-year Cup Series career that produced 18 victories. Kahne was named the series’ Rookie of the Year in 2004 and went on to notch three triumphs in the crown-jewel Coca-Cola 600.

Tony Stewart: A three-time Cup Series champion who has found stock-car success behind the wheel and as a team owner, Stewart joins the 75th-anniversary roster with 49 Cup wins — 15th on the all-time list. Stewart won Cup Series titles for Joe Gibbs in 2002 and 2005, then added the 2011 crown on a tiebreaker while driving for his own Stewart-Haas Racing team.

ORIGINAL 50

* Listed in alphabetical order

Bobby Allison: A longtime resident of Hueytown, Alabama, Allison has become one of NASCAR‘s most beloved former competitors. He is cherished by millions of fans who remember his long list of accomplishments, which include his 1983 championship season, three (1978, 1982, 1988) Daytona 500 victories, two NASCAR Modified Division championships in 1964 and 1965, two NASCAR Modified Special Division titles in 1962 and 1963 and a 1972 season when he won 10 races, had 12 second-place efforts, 11 poles and finished second to Richard Petty in the series championship standings.

Davey Allison: The son of NASCAR Hall of Famer Bobby Allison grew up more interested in football, but could not escape the racing bug. Allison continued the family‘s legacy, compiling two wins, five poles and nine top fives in his full-season debut to capture 1987 Cup Series Rookie of the Year. Allison won 19 races and 14 poles, including the 1992 Daytona 500, before his death in a helicopter accident in 1993.

Headshot of NASCAR Driver Davey Allison
Headshot of NASCAR Driver Davey Allison

Buck Baker: Baker established himself as one of NASCAR‘s early greats, becoming the first driver to win consecutive NASCAR Cup Series championships. That repeat performance in 1956-1957 was the meat of an incredible four-year span; in 1955 and 1958 Baker finished as the series championship runner-up. Baker also won races in NASCAR‘s Modified, Speedway and Grand American series, but his legend was made in NASCAR‘s Cup series.

Buddy Baker: In 1980, Buddy Baker won the Daytona 500 with an average race speed of 177.602 mph — a track record that still stands. In 1970, Baker became the first driver to eclipse the 200-mph mark on a closed course while testing at Talladega Superspeedway. Although he didn‘t win at the 2.66-mile superspeedway in 1970, Baker won there four times throughout his career. He had 19 wins in the Cup Series, then made a successful transition to the television booth.

Geoff Bodine: This 18-time Cup Series winner could do it all behind the wheel. His Cup victory? The iconic Daytona 500 in 1986. Bodine also won the 1982 Cup Rookie of the Year and previously set a Guinness Record with 55 wins in one season (1978 Modified). One of the best Modified racers of all time is also one of the best well-rounded drivers in sport history.

Neil Bonnett: Another 18-time Cup Series winner, Bonnett — a member of the famed Alabama Gang — won consecutive Coca-Cola 600s in 1982 and 83. His life was cut short in 1994 when he was killed in an accident at Daytona.

Red Byron: In addition to winning NASCAR’s first race in 1948, Byron went on to win NASCAR‘s first season championship — in the NASCAR Modified Division. The following year he won the first-ever NASCAR Strictly Stock Division (now NASCAR Cup Series) title. The Strictly Stock Division schedule had eight races; Byron won two of them. Wounded in World War II, he drove with a special brace attached to the clutch pedal to assist his injured left leg — making his accomplishments even more impressive.

Jerry Cook: Cook made his name in modifieds, winning six NASCAR Modified championships, including four consecutively from 1974-1977. All the while, he was vying with another driver from his hometown of Rome, New York, nine-time champion and NASCAR Hall of Famer Richie Evans, for supremacy in NASCAR‘s open-wheel realm.

Dale Earnhardt: In only his second full season, 1980, Earnhardt nabbed his first championship. Earnhardt won consecutive titles on three separate occasions (1986-1987, 1990-1991 and 1993-1994) and had a total of seven in his career. Earnhardt‘s 76 victories rank eighth all time. In 1998, Earnhardt won his most coveted race — the Daytona 500. The scene was a memorable one, forever etched in the minds of race fans.

Headshot of NASCAR Driver Dale Earnhardt
Headshot of NASCAR Driver Dale Earnhardt

Ralph Earnhardt: The 1956 Sportsman champion won more than 350 NASCAR races, including 32 at 11 different tracks in 1956.

Bill Elliott: “Awesome Bill” has 44 NASCAR Cup Series wins, which rank 19th all time, and his 55 poles rank eighth. But, of course, his most prestigious accomplishment came in 1988 when he won the NASCAR Cup Series championship with six wins, 15 top fives and 22 top 10s in 29 races. All that, combined with an affable demeanor, endeared him to fans. Fans adored him — and that adoration led to a record 16 Most Popular Driver Awards.

Richie Evans: The recognized king of Modified racing, Evans captured nine NASCAR Modified titles in a 13-year span, including eight in a row from 1978-1985. In the first year of the current NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour format in 1985, Evans won 12 races, including a sweep of all four events at Thompson (Connecticut).

Red Farmer: While it’s unknown exactly how many wins Red Farmer accumulated, it’s somewhere north of 700. His passion for the sport is likewise immeasurable. But the record books do have a few things that are black-and-white and proof positive about this member of the Alabama Gang. He collected three consecutive championships in NASCAR‘s Late Model Sportsman division from 1969-71, long after he won the Modified title in 1956.

Tim Flock: In 187 starts, Flock had 39 victories, a total that ranks 21st on the all-time wins list. He won his first series title in 1952 while driving Ted Chester‘s Hudson Hornet, and his second in 1955 driving Carl Kiekhaefer‘s Chrysler. Flock dominated that season, posting 18 wins, 32 top fives and 18 poles in 39 races. Flock‘s 18 wins stood as a single-season victory record until Richard Petty surpassed it with 27 wins in 1967.

AJ Foyt: While NASCAR might not have been Foyt‘s primary endeavor, when he entered a Cup Series race, he elevated the profile of the sport … and the competition on the track. Foyt made 128 NASCAR Cup Series starts over 30 years, including at least three races every season from 1963-77. He won seven races — including the 1972 Daytona 500 — and finished in the top 10 36 times, a 28% rate. Foyt is the only driver to win the Daytona 500, the Indianapolis 500, the 24 Hours of Daytona and the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Harry Gant: This two-time Southern 500 winner (1984, 1991) is the oldest Cup Series driver to win a race and pole award. His most notable run of success came in 1991 when he earned the nickname “Mr. September” for winning four consecutive Cup Series races at the age of 51.

Jeff Gordon: The Rainbow Warrior took NASCAR by storm in the 1990s, becoming the youngest driver in the modern era to win a Cup Series title as a 24-year-old in 1995. He went on to win three more championships (1997, 1998, 2001). In 1998, Gordon led the Rainbow Warriors — named for his colorful No. 24 Chevrolet — to a modern era-record 13 wins. Overall, he won 93 races, which ranks third on the all-time wins list.

Headshot of NASCAR Driver Jeff Gordon
Headshot of NASCAR Driver Jeff Gordon

Ray Hendrick: Credited with more than 700 Modified and Late Model wins, Ray Hendrick was named one of NASCAR Modified‘s All-Time 10 Drivers. What else could we expect from a man nicknamed “Mr. Modified?”

Jack Ingram: Ingram’s legendary status was cemented with five Xfinity Series championships. When the series was called Late Model Sportsman, Jack Ingram won three consecutive championships from 1972-1974. When the series was named the NASCAR Busch Series, he won titles in 1982 and 1985. In his 10 years of competition in what was called the NASCAR Busch Series, Ingram had 31 wins, a record that stood until Mark Martin broke it in 1997.

Ernie Irvan: The 1991 Daytona 500 winner, Irvan notched 15 career Cup Series wins and 22 poles. He was in contention for the 1994 Cup Series championship with three wins through 20 races, but a nasty wreck at Michigan sidelined him for the rest of the year and for all but three races in 1995.

Bobby Isaac: Isaac’s uncanny skill at qualifying a race car proves he’s one of the fastest drivers ever. His 49 career poles rank 10th all-time. Maybe more impressive: Isaac captured 19 poles in 1969, which still stands as the record for poles in a single season. Isaac began racing in NASCAR‘s Cup Series in 1961. In 1969, he finished sixth in the standings after posting 17 wins and those 19 poles.

Dale Jarrett: The 1999 Cup Series champion excelled under NASCAR’s brightest spotlights. He is a three-time Daytona 500 winner and two-time winner of the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. His 32 NASCAR Cup Series victories also include the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. With father Ned, the Jarretts are only the second father-son combination with NASCAR Cup Series championships after NASCAR Hall of Famers Lee and Richard Petty.

Headshot of NASCAR Driver Dale Jarrett
Headshot of NASCAR Driver Dale Jarrett

Ned Jarrett: “Gentleman” Ned Jarrett’s 50 career victories are tied for 13th all time with Junior Johnson. Jarrett had it all — hard-charging capabilities combined with the consistency essential to stock car success. The combination produced two NASCAR Cup Series championships. He also won a total of 28 races during the 1964 and 1965 seasons. In addition to his immense success in the NASCAR Cup Series, Jarrett also captured two championships in the Sportsman Division (1957 and 1958).

Junior Johnson: Johnson won 50 races in the NASCAR Cup Series, then surprised many by retiring from driving to become an owner. His tales of running moonshine through the hills of Wilkes County are among the earliest tales of NASCAR. As an owner, Johnson never missed a beat; through the years, his drivers won 132 races. There also were six series championships produced with Cale Yarborough (1976-78) and Darrell Waltrip (1981-82, ‘85).

Alan Kulwicki: A mechanical engineer by trade, Kulwicki‘s understanding of the inner-workings of a car helped him burst onto the scene as the 1986 NASCAR Rookie of the Year with his self-owned AK Racing team. His signature season was his championship-winning 1992 campaign, where Kulwicki overcame a 278-point deficit with six races remaining to capture the NASCAR Cup Series title. Kulwicki never got the chance to defend his title, dying in a plane crash in 1993.

Terry Labonte: Labonte is a two-nickname NASCAR star. Early in his career he was known as the “Iceman” for his coolness under pressure. But his demeanor belied his determination. Later in his career he became known as the sport‘s “Iron Man” due to a record 655 consecutive starts in NASCAR‘s Cup series, a record which stood until 2002. Two more items to consider when assessing the Labonte legacy: the two Cup championships he won in 1984 and 1996.

Fred Lorenzen: Lorenzen got his start as a mechanic with the famed Holman-Moody in 1960, but was elevated to lead driver by the end of the year. Lorenzen‘s best overall season came in 1963 as he finished with six wins, 21 top fives and 23 top 10s in 29 starts. Despite missing 26 races that season, he finished third in the standings. Lorenzen was an extremely popular driver with fans, to the point that he had several nicknames — “Golden Boy,” “Fearless Freddie” and “The Elmhurst Express.”

Tiny Lund: This three-time Grand American Series champion (1968, ‘70-71) is best known for his dramatic upset win in the 1963 Daytona 500. Lund was also the 1973 Grand National East champion and won 41 of 109 Grand American races in series history. His nickname of “Tiny” belied his 6-foot-5 frame.

Mark Martin: Martin saw success at every level of NASCAR. He came incredibly close to that elusive title many times — finishing second in the championship standings five times. In 1990, Martin finished 26 points behind NASCAR Hall of Famer Dale Earnhardt (2010), his closest run at the championship. He set career highs for wins (seven), top-five finishes (22) and laps led (1,730) in 1998. Over the course of his 31-year NASCAR Cup Series career, Martin compiled 40 wins and 61 runner-up finishes. Martin won 49 times in what is now the NASCAR Xfinity Series, holding the series wins record for 14 years.

Headshot of NASCAR Driver Mark Martin
Headshot of NASCAR Driver Mark Martin

Hershel McGriff: McGriff’s first race was the 1950 Southern 500, in the NASCAR Cup Series’ sophomore season, at the age of 22. His final NASCAR race was at Tucson Speedway in the NASCAR Pro Series West — in 2018 at the age of 90. McGriff was one of the best drivers in what is now known as the ARCA Menards Series West. Competing in parts of 35 seasons, McGriff won 37 races, good for third on the all-time West Series wins list.

Cotton Owens: There are successful drivers and there are successful owners. But, rarely are there both. Owens was more than successful behind the wheel, winning nine times in NASCAR‘s Cup Series competition, including the 1957 Daytona Beach Road Course, which marked Pontiac‘s first NASCAR victory. He nearly won the 1959 championship, finishing second to NASCAR Hall of Famer Lee Petty.

Marvin Panch: The 1961 Daytona 500 winner won 17 Cup Series races and was the 1957 Cup Series runner-up to Buck Baker.

Benny Parsons: Parsons won 21 times in 526 career starts but finished among the top 10 283 times — a 54 percent ratio. Parsons could be called an everyman champion: winning enough to be called one of the sport‘s stars but nearly always finishing well when he wasn‘t able to reach Victory Lane. One of Parsons‘ biggest victories came in the 1975 Daytona 500. He was the first driver to qualify a stock car at more than 200 mph (200.176 mph) in 1982 at Talladega Superspeedway.

David Pearson: In a career that spanned 27 years, Pearson never once ran every single race in a given season. When he came close to running the full schedule, he won a championship — or came darn close. His 105 NASCAR Cup Series victories rank second all time, and he amassed that figure in only 574 races — a winning percentage of 18.29. In 1966, Pearson ran 42 of 49 races to win his first championship. In his 1968 championship winning campaign, he ran 48 of 49 races.

Richard Petty: Richard Petty is called “The King” for good reason. Petty has racked up most wins (200), most poles (123), tied for most championships (seven), most wins in a season (27), most Daytona 500 wins (seven), most consecutive wins (10) and most starts (1,185).

Headshot of NASCAR Driver RIchard Petty
Headshot of NASCAR Driver RIchard Petty

Lee Petty: Lee Petty’s career was a long list of “firsts” and “mosts.” It took a while — three whole days — for officials to declare Lee Petty the winner of the first Daytona 500. So in many ways, we have Petty to thank for the yearly spectacle that is “The Great American Race.” That‘s because he created the very first spectacle. But that first Daytona 500 is only one of many Petty accomplishments. Along with winning the first Daytona 500, Petty also was the first driver to capture three Cup Series championships.

Tim Richmond: One of NASCAR’s most distinct personalities, Richmond won 13 Cup races including the 1986 Southern 500. His star shone brightest in 1987, when he won seven races en route to finishing third in the series standings. He died in 1989 at the age of 34.

Fireball Roberts: Fireball Roberts was a star on and off the track. During his career, Roberts often came up big in the biggest events, winning the Daytona 500 in 1962 and the Southern 500 in 1958 and 1963. Overall, he won seven races at Daytona International Speedway, starting with the Firecracker 250 in the summer of 1959 — the year the speedway opened. In 1958 he ran only 10 races but won six of them — finishing 11th in the final NASCAR Cup Series standings.

Ricky Rudd: Known as the “Iron Man” for his then-record streak of 788 consecutive starts, Rudd won at least one race in 16 consecutive seasons, tied for the fourth-longest streak in Cup Series history. The 1977 Cup Series Rookie of the Year won 23 times in 906 starts — and his 906 starts are the second most in NASCAR history.

Headshot of NASCAR Driver Ricky Rudd
Headshot of NASCAR Driver Ricky Rudd

Marshall Teague: Teague won back-to-back races on Daytona Beach-Road Course and had seven Cup wins in 23 starts, a 30% winning percentage. He is known for bringing the Hudson and ‘Fabulous Hudson Hornet‘ to NASCAR.

Herb Thomas: Thomas was truly one of NASCAR‘s first superstars. He was the first to win two NASCAR Cup Series championships (1951,1953). He finished second in the points standings in 1952 and 1954 giving the North Carolina veteran top-two championship finishes in four consecutive seasons. He finished outside the top two in the championship only once (fifth in 1955) between 1951 and 1956. Thomas won the 1951 championship driving self-owned cars.

Curtis Turner: Called by some the “Babe Ruth of stock car racing,” Turner was among the fastest and most colorful competitors in the early years of NASCAR Cup Series racing. Although many of Turner‘s 17 victories came on short tracks and dirt ovals — much of his career pre-dated NASCAR‘s superspeedway era — he won the 1956 Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway and the first American 500 at Rockingham Speedway in 1965. He also won 38 of 79 races in which he competed in the NASCAR Convertible Division.

Rusty Wallace: Wallace competed at weekly tracks in Missouri before moving to Midwest-based touring series in which he was identified as a racing star of the future. Wallace‘s first NASCAR Cup race resulted in his first top-five finish: second at Atlanta Motor Speedway in 1980 driving for Roger Penske. He came to the series full time in 1984 and won Rookie of the Year honors. Moving to drag racer Raymond Beadle‘s Blue Max Racing in 1986, Wallace won his first of 55 races, capturing the checkered flag at Bristol Motor Speedway. He won the 1989 series championship and his 55 victories rank 11th all time.

Darrell Waltrip: Waltrip is tied with Bobby Allison for fourth all-time in series victories with 84. His 59 poles rank fifth all-time in NASCAR Cup Series history. He competed from 1972-2000, another highlight being his 1989 Daytona 500 victory in a Rick Hendrick-owned Chevrolet. Waltrip‘s first series title came in 1981, when he finished with 12 wins and 21 top fives in 31 races. In his second championship season, 1982, he finished with 12 wins and 20 top 10’s in 30 races. In his third championship season, 1985, Waltrip finished with three wins and 21 top 10s in 28 races.

Headshot of NASCAR Driver Darrell Waltrip
Headshot of NASCAR Driver Darrell Waltrip

Joe Weatherly: Weatherly won two championships and 25 races in NASCAR’s Cup Series. But that’s only part of his story, which is long on versatility. A decade earlier in 1952-1953, he won 101 races in the NASCAR Modified division, capturing that championship in 1953. He even tried his hand in NASCAR‘s short-lived Convertible Division from 1956-1959 winning 12 times. Weatherly was one of the first drivers who attracted fans to NASCAR as much for his personality as his racing ability, thus his nickname “The Clown Prince of Stock Car Racing.”

Bob Welborn: Welborn was a three-time Convertible Division champion (1956-58) and won 19 Convertible races in 111 starts. He won nine Cup races in 183 starts and won the pole for the inaugural Daytona 500.

Rex White: White was a short-track specialist in an era in which those tracks dominated the schedule. Of his 28 career wins in the NASCAR Cup Series, only two came on tracks longer than a mile in length. White won six times during his 1960 championship season posting 35 top 10s in 40 starts. He finished in the top 10 six of his nine years in the series including a runner-up finish in 1961. He was the fourth driver to win a Cup Series championship in his own equipment.

Glen Wood: Wood, of course, is best known for his collaboration with brothers Leonard and Delano in Wood Brothers Racing. Glen Wood laid the foundation for the famed Wood Brothers racing team as a driver in the NASCAR Cup Series. Competing on a semi-regular basis, mostly at tracks close to his southern Virginia home, Wood won four times — all at Bowman-Gray Stadium. His best season was 1960 during which Wood won three times in just nine races.

Cale Yarborough: His string of three consecutive Cup Series championships was unprecedented and unmatched. Not until 2008, when Jimmie Johnson was crowned champion for the third straight year, was Yarborough’s achievement equaled. During his three-year dominance, Yarborough won 28 races — nine in 1976, nine in 1977 and 10 in 1978. His final championship points margin in those three years was never fewer than 195 points and was as much as 474 in 1978. Yarborough totaled 83 victories in his 31-year career, ranks tied for sixth all-time.

LeeRoy Yarbrough: A 14-time Cup Series winner, Yarbrough was the first driver to win the Daytona 500, Coca-Cola 600 and Southern 500 in same season (1969).