by Charlie Turner
Thanks for stopping by OnPitRow.com and the Bench Racing with Steve and Charlie blog. The best NASCAR and IndyCar news and opinion, exclusive pictures and video. I'm Charlie Turner. Follow me on Twitter @onpitrowDecember 11, 2009 10:36 pm UTC No Comments
But is he still?
Or should he be?
Earnhardt Jr’s best season was 2004 when he won six Cup races and had 16 top fives and 21 top tens while winning his second Most Popular Driver title.
But in the the five seasons since, he has just three wins, 36 top fives and 63 top tens. A popular theory is that NASCAR gets a fever when Junior gets a chill.
From 2005 through today, Jimmie Johnson has won 33 times in Cup and finished top five 77 times. Four straight championships too. But J J is most definitely not NASCAR’s most popular. But shouldn’t he be the face of the sport?
Or should Tony Stewart – newly minted owner driver – be the man? 18 wins and 69 top fives and he was the last guy not named Johnson to win a Cup title. Tony’s plenty popular. But is he the face of NASCAR?
Jeff Gordon? Kyle Busch or Mark Martin?
Nah. Dale Earnhardt Jr is still the man for the fans. At least for enough of them. At least for now.
NASCAR Photo credit: Beth Anne Heisler – OnPitRow.com
by Charlie Turner
Thanks for stopping by OnPitRow.com and the Bench Racing with Steve and Charlie blog. The best NASCAR and IndyCar news and opinion, exclusive pictures and video. I'm Charlie Turner. Follow me on Twitter @onpitrowMarch 22, 2009 12:00 pm UTC 6 Comments
This is toss up between one of NASCAR’s 50 Greatest Drivers and a 21 race winner who won NASCSAR’s most popular driver award in 1959. Younger fans may have to check out Racer’s Reunion for some background to vote on this first round match in the NASCAR 64 Greatest Drivers Tournament at Bench Racing with Steve and Charlie.
Marvin Panch raced in NASCAR is the 50s and 60s, going up against both Lee and Richard Petty. His best season was ’57 when he won six times and had 27 top tens in 42 starts. He won 17 times in Winston Cup including the ’61 Daytona 500. Panch was selected one of NASCAR’s 50 Greatest Drivers in 1998.
Jack Smith started racing against local bootleggers and raced in the first NASCAR’s first race at Charlotte Speedway in ’49. Smith won 21 times and had 142 top tens in 264 races over a 15 year career. Was famous for flipping his car several times and rolling into a parking lot at Darlington in ’54. He’s the one who won NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver award.
Their names maybe a bit obscure compared to Earnhardt and Petty, but these guys won plenty of races. Might be a tougher match -up than most. Leave your comments for us.
by Charlie Turner
Thanks for stopping by OnPitRow.com and the Bench Racing with Steve and Charlie blog. The best NASCAR and IndyCar news and opinion, exclusive pictures and video. I'm Charlie Turner. Follow me on Twitter @onpitrowMarch 22, 2009 11:00 am UTC 9 Comments
Oh boy. We have a sure fire hall-of-famer and three time champion going against the most popular driver in NASCAR today. This one ought to create some buzz in the NASCAR 64 Greatest Drivers Tournament at Bench Racing with Steve and Charlie.
Dale Earnhardt Jr came out of the shadows of his famous father and and grandfather. And he came out winning by winning back-to-back Busch Series titles and dominating the restrictor plate tracks for several years including a Daytona 500 in ’04. Junior has 18 wins, 86 top fives and 137 top tens in 331 career Cup Series starts. He’s also been NASCAR’s most popular driver six straight years.
Cale Yarborough was the first driver to win three consecutive Cup Series championships -’76 – ’78. His 83 victories (562 starts) are fifth best all-time and 69 poles are third best. Was the Series runner-up three times and was Daytona 500 winner four times. Holds the record for most overall poles at Daytona with 12. Named one of NASCAR’s 50 Greatest Drivers.
Good luck Junior fans. This was a tough first round draw for your boy. I have nothing against tournament upsets, but this one will take a bunch of fan votes, I think. Leave your choice in the comments.