Welcome to the second installment of Sportscasting’s 10-episode series, “The 101 Greatest NASCAR Cup Series Drivers by Car Number.”
The goal here is quite simple. As we have done in the past with our “101 Greatest NFL by Uniform Number” series, we’re doing the same here when we list the top drivers driving numbers 00, 0 and 1-99 in NASCAR’s premier series.
We started with a list of 11 for Nos. 00-9, and we continue here with the next 10 for Nos. 10-19. Enjoying.
No. 10: Ricky Rudd
The easy call to start this part of the list is Ricky Rudd, who owns exactly half of the 12 wins for the No. 10 in the NASCAR Cup Series.
The 1977 Rookie of the Year took six different numbers to Victory Lane over his 32-year career, and his six wins in the No. 10 are equal to his six in the No. 15 at the top of his personal list. Rudd made 196 starts in the number 10, the most of any dozen numbers he drove, and recorded 31 top-fives and 69 top-10s.
No. 11: Cale Yarborough
Slot No. 11 is arguably the hardest of all 101 on this list. But that makes sense, as it is the most winning track in NASCAR Cup Series history. Look who didn’t get a nod here.
Darrell Waltrip won 43 races and three Cup Series titles. Denny Hamlin has over 600 stars, the most of any driver, and has won 48 checkered flags. Ned Jarrett took 49 wins with it and won a couple of championships.
However, we ended up going with Cale Yarborough. The South Carolina native has won 55 times in the No. 11 in 237 starts, giving him a 23.2% win rate. More than half of those wins, 28 to be exact, came from 1976 to 1978, a period in which he won three consecutive Cup Series titles.
Yarborough also took its second of four Daytona 500 wins during this period. The NASCAR Hall of Famer finished in the top five in exactly two-thirds of his starts in the #11.
No. 12: Bobby Allison
With that out of the way, let’s get back to another easy conversation at number 12. Ryan Newman came in a distant second, but the clear pick here is three-time Daytona 500 champion, Bobby Allison.
Not only does Allison have more No. 12 wins than Newman, 25 to 13, but he also won more in fewer starts. While Newman took 13 wins in 252 starts, Allison’s 25 checkered flags were earned in 170, giving him a 14.7% win rate.
In those 170 starts in the No. 12, one of three numbers in which he started 100 or more races, the 1983 Cup Series champion recorded 89 top-fives and 111 top-10s.
No. 13: Casey Mears
No. 13 is a tough decision with no clear frontrunner. If we were only going for wins it would be pretty easy as only one driver took the unlucky number to Victory Lane in a Cup Series race, namely Johnny Rutherford.
But it was only a Daytona 500 qualifier in 1963, and it was one of only two times he ever used the #13. But it’s kind of sweet that it was Rutherford’s first-ever start in the Cup Series. He finished ninth in the actual Daytona 500 that year.
But many others are more closely associated with the No. 13, namely Casey Mears, who wins slightly by default because the California native has raced it more than anyone else—227 to be exact—which accounts for nearly 35% of its history.
No. 14: Fonty Flock
Some probably think Tony Stewart deserves the number 14 slot. And there is certainly an argument as the 2011 Cup Series champion has the most wins with the number at 16. But those 16 checkered flags were in 262 starts, giving him a 6.1% win rate.
And that’s why we give the nod to Fonty Flock. While he wasn’t the most famous driver even in his own family, Fonty, Tim and Bob Flock’s brother and NASCAR’s second female driver, Ethel Mobley, drove the No. 14 to a fitting 14 wins.
And he did in just 103 starts for a win rate of 13.6%.
No. 15: Bobby Allison
Remember how we told you that Bobby Allison started 100 or more races with three different numbers? Well, the number 15 was actually not one of them as he just came up short with 92.
Nevertheless, the seven-time Most Popular Driver Award winner made the most of those 92 starts, winning 14 times with 44 top-fives and 62 top-10s. Allison is the only double-digit driver in the number 15, the next closest is Ricky Rudd with six.
Some may not know that Dale Earnhardt Sr. won three Cup Series races in the number 15, finishing fifth on the number with Benny Parsons, Geoff Bodine and Clint Bowyer.
No. 16: Greg Biffle
The simple call at number 16 is Greg Biffle.
Before the Washington native’s victory at the 2003 Daytona summer race, the No. 16 hadn’t seen Victory Lane in nearly 28 years. If you haven’t heard his name enough, Bobby Allison was the last to take a checkered flag with the song in Darlington in 1975.
Biffle won all 19 of his Cup Series races in the number 16 and made 504 of his 515 starts in the number. The six others who won the number 16 together accounted for 14 victories. Darel Dieringer is in second place with five wins.
No. 17: David Pearson
Slot #17 had several great options to choose from. There was Darrell Waltrip and his 15 wins in 344 starts. And there was Matt Kenseth and his 24 wins in 471 starts.
But alongside Bobby Allison as a two-time member of the overall list is David Pearson, who took 30 checkered flags in the No. 17. And he won those 30 races in just 140 starts, giving him an incredible 21.4% win rate. Of the 107 top-10s the Hall of Famer recorded with the song, 100 were also top-five.
The crazy thing is that of all the songs Pearson has used during his storied career, we still haven’t gotten to the song where he won the most. Yet he has still come in twice already. This man was that good.
No. 18: Kyle Busch
Before Joe Gibbs Racing took over full-time, the number 18 went to Victory Lane only once in the NASCAR Cup Series, a 1951 Oakland win by Marvin Burke.
Dale Jarrett eventually broke the streak and recorded a few wins in the song before Bobby Labonte took over and took it to Victory Lane 21 times.
But the easy pick here is Kyle Busch, who took over the No. 18 in 2008 and has since won 56 checkered flags and two Cup Series titles. He has also recorded 300 top-10s and over 200 top-fives.
No. 19: Martin Truex Jr.
Although it is one of the 25 most used numbers in NASCAR Cup Series history, the number 19 hasn’t been on Victory Lane as often as you might think. In fact, it has only visited Victory Lane 20 times over the years.
If this list had been drawn up before 2019, Carl Edwards’ five wins might have been enough to give him this slot. But Martin Truex Jr. took over the No. 19 that season and won seven races. He has now won a dozen races with the number, easily the most of all time.
Jeremy Mayfield and John Rostek are the only other drivers to win in the number 19.
Statistics courtesy of Racing reference
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