by JamesJ, Special To NASCAR commentary and driver pictures, 2012 NASCAR schedule, video, Bench Racing With Steve and Charlie
Sundays of my youth consisted of NASCAR racing and cold bottles of Mountain Dew. Thirty years later not much has changed for me. However, nearly everything has changed in NASCAR.January 2, 2010 10:55 am UTC No Comments
Over the next several weeks we’ll be featuring car numbers in NASCAR history. We started with #50 and are working our way down the line. With each car number we’ll take a brief look at a couple stats related to the featured car number, but we’ll primarily spotlight either a driver, sponsor, car owner, manufacturer or other significant subject closely tied to the car number of the day.
Going into this series I knew that some of the car numbers would take some hard searching for a driver or car owner to spotlight. Yet others would be full of history and difficult to narrow it down to only one driver or owner. And then there’s the #43. It’s the car number that has ran more races than any other car number in NASCAR Cup competition with 1,735 races. It’s a car number that will always be associated with a sponsor (STP) and a driver, Richard Petty. No, the hard part would be determining how to put such a small spotlight on a driver so rich in NASCAR history.
Stats for all cars running the #43:
- Number of Races: 1,735
- Number of Wins: 198
- Number of Top 5s: 560
- Number of Top 10s: 771
- Number of Poles: 120
Check out current NASCAR race statistics here at On Pit Row!
Spotlight Subject: Driver Richard Petty
So how do I spotlight a driver who has been so dominant in the series and has long ago achieved iconic status, often referred to simply as “The King.” Just some of his career stats are amazing, such as his all time record of 200 wins. (Second place on that list is David Pearson at 105 wins, and the closest active driver is Jeff Gordon with 82 wins.) Richard also has 555 top fives, 712 top tens, and 123 poles. He has seven Cup championships and a total of 10 wins at Daytona, 7 of which are Daytona 500 wins! How do you narrow the focus down to just one thing with The King?
Remember Jimmie Johnson’s 2007 season with four consecutive wins and ten wins overall. I remember that many fans and media writers didn’t believe a ten race season was possible in today’s NASCAR. And with the level of competition in the Cup garage today, I don’t think most would have expected a 4 race win streak either. So, I thought I’d take a look at Richard Petty’s history of streaks. The King would not disappoint when it came to streaks for winning races and streaks of sitting on the pole. Nor would he disappoint with the number of wins in a season. Eight times he had seasons with 10 or more wins, two of them had 21 or more as a matter of fact. But none of this should have been surprising I guess when one considers that in 35 years of racing (in which he logged 1,184 races) he had an average start of 9.5 and an average finish of 11.3. The mid sixties and early seventies were truly Richard’s time. It was in this period of his career that he would truly dominate in regular style, and often in streaks.
Richard Petty Streaks!
In reviewing his record at Racing-Reference.info, I decided to define a streak as three in a row or more. Here’s what I came up with. Between 1966 and 1971, four times he had streaks of 3 poles in a row; once he had a streak of 4 poles in a row; and once more he had a streak of 5 poles in a row. Note, these are all separate streaks!
When it came to wins, it was even more impressive. Between 1962 and 1975 he recorded the 13 race win streaks below, again each are separate streaks.
- 1962 – 3 races
- 1963 – 3 races
- 1966 – 3 races
- 1967 – 3 races
- 1967 – 10 races
- 1968 – 3 races
- 1970 – 3 races
- 1971 – 3 races
- 1971 – 3 races
- 1971 – 5 races
- 1971 – 3 races
- 1974 – 3 races
- 1975 – 3 races
As you might could tell from the list above, 1967 was a record setting year for Richard Petty. In this year he had 27 Winston Cup victories. To put into perspective just how dominant he was in this year I’d like you to consider that our current Cup schedule is made up of 36 races. Starting at the Columbia 200 in 1967 and going 36 races until North Wilkesboro’s Wilkes 400, Richard would start on the pole 18 times, and on the outside pole 11 times. That means 29 out of the 36 races he started on the front row; and he would never start worse than 7th during this stretch. His three worst finishes were a 7th, 11th and a 17th (engine failure). All other finishes were top fours with 25 of them being wins and 5 of them being runner-up finishes. Only twice did he go two races without a win, and he closed that 36 race stretch out with 10 in a row!
I don’t think I ever want to hear a fan gripe about Jimmie Johnson or Jeff Gordon winning too many times during the season again! Can you imagine being a fan of someone other than Richard Petty during that 36 race stretch? People have joked before that track promoters have had the trophy already engraved with a drivers name even before the race was won, but in 1967 I would have believed it. And the name would have been, Richard “The King” Petty.