Stats & Info: Richard Petty
Gaining on History
Hendrick teammates Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson are each chasing milestones this weekend. Gordon is looking to join Hall of Famers Richard Petty and David Pearson as the only drivers to reach 90 wins, and Johnson is seeking his 70th Cup Series win – a mark only seven drivers in series history have reached.
The duo should be near the front on Sunday, as Gordon looked strong in practice this week (finishing third, third and second) and Johnson is a three-time winner at New Hampshire.
Johnson’s career average finish at Loudon trails only Denny Hamlin among drivers with at least five starts
Spread the Wealth
There have been 12 different winners in the last 12 New Hampshire races, a streak that dates back to 2008. That’s one shy of the Cup Series record for the longest streak without a repeat winner at a track, set at Texas Motor Speedway from 1998 to 2007.
King for a Day
Last week at Daytona, Aric Almirola avoided 16- and 26-car wrecks to become the first Cuban-American to win a Sprint Cup Series race. Almirola snapped a 545-race winless streak in the No. 43 car that Richard Petty made famous.
May, 23, 2012
By Matt Willis, ESPN Stats & Info | ESPN.com
ISC Images & Archives/Getty ImagesBuck Baker is the first driver to win back-to-back Cup titles in 1956 and 1957.
Each of the first three classes were armed with big-name superstars: Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt in the first, David Pearson and Bobby Allison in the second, and Darrell Waltrip and Cale Yarborough in the third.
NASCAR has recognized its big-name superstars from the 1970s and 1980s, along with influential owners and crew chiefs, not to mention the founders of the sport. But overlooked have been the pioneer drivers that set the framework for the sport in the early days, the 1950s and early 60s.
Their biggest drawback? Not driving in the era where races were widely televised, and not being able to be there to give induction speeches in person.
Their stats speak for themselves. There’s Herb Thomas and Tim Flock, the only drivers in Cup Series history to make at least 100 starts, and win more than 20 percent of them. Thomas has a 21.1 win percentage, Flock a 20.6. Both won a pair of titles and rank within top 20 all-time in wins, but both did the bulk of their winning in the early 1950s.
Also up for induction is Buck Baker, the first driver to win back-to-back Cup titles (1956-57), along with Joe Weatherly, who also won back-to-back titles (1962-63), but died following a racing accident at Riverside in 1964.
Straying from the pioneers, a recent name, but perhaps a longshot given that it’s his first year on the ballot, is Rusty Wallace. Among the drivers in the top dozen all-time in Cup wins, everyone who is retired is in the NASCAR Hall of Fame with the exception of Wallace.
But to show I’m not entirely biased towards the NASCAR driving pioneers, based on who is in the Hall of Fame already amongst car owners, Junior Johnson, Bud Moore and Glen Wood, two of the most-successful owners are also for up induction this year.
Only four owners have won more than five Cup championships, two are already in, Richard/Lee Petty for Petty Enterprises, and Junior Johnson. The other two are Rick Hendrick and Richard Childress, both of whom are nominees once again. Those two are also the owners of two of the five teams with at least 100 Cup wins.
NASCAR’s first few classes honored those who became household names as NASCAR rose to national prominence. But this one should star the trend of honoring those who laid the framework of the sport years before.