Top Five Things We’ll Never See Again in NASCARby Jason Beck April 29, 2015 0 comments
Whether you like it or not, NASCAR racing has changed drastically in its first 67 years. Some changes are head scratchers, while others are certainly for the better. The five occurrences below are things that happened in the sport’s history that we are unlikely to ever see again.
1.) A driver lapping the field.
In the sport’s early days, it wasn’t uncommon for a race’s winner to trap the entire field a lap (or several laps) down. The most extreme instance of this was in the 1965 Southern 500 at Darlington, when NASCAR Hall of Famer Ned Jarrett’s margin of victory was 14 laps over the second place finisher. Closer competition, rules that favor cars regaining lost laps and more caution flags mean Geoff Bodine’s 1994 domination at North Wilkesboro will be the final time a lone car completes every lap of a race’s distance.
2.) A 50-year-old winner
Harry Gant is NASCAR’s oldest winner at 52 year’s old, and don’t expect anyone to win later in their career than his 1992 Michigan triumph. Though Mark Martin gave a valiant attempt at the record a few years ago, racers begin their careers at a younger age now and are thinking of retirement much sooner, as evidenced by Jeff Gordon’s final full-time season at only 42. It would be surprising to see anyone join Gant, Martin, Bobby Allison and Morgan Shepherd as drivers to win in their golden decade.
3.) A 13-win season
In 1998 Jeff Gordon set the modern-era record with 13 wins. Though it’s easy to say Richard Petty’s 27-win season in 1967 is a record that will never be broken; I think it’s unlikely that anyone will win 13 (more than 1/3 of the races) again. The cars are too equal, there are too many top-tier drivers in winning (ie. Hendrick) equipment and the new win-and-get-in championship rules encourage more regular-season risk.
4.) A single-car team championship
Until Rick Hendrick perfected the model in the early ‘90s, the multi-car team was a novelty. Today, a single car team winning a race is a shocking event – let alone a championship. It’s hard to believe, but Dale Earnhardt’s final championship season in 1994 was the last time a single-car team took the top honors. In the unlikely event a single-car team (Like Furniture Row Racing) wins a championship, remember, even they purchase their engines and chassis from a larger team.
5.) Another Dale Earnhardt
Sometimes I think we forget how rough around the edges the late Dale Earnhardt was. While his aggressive and questionable tactics earned him the nickname Intimidator, the same moves would be viewed as dirty today. While current drivers like Brad Keselowski, Kyle Busch and Kyle Larson drive with the same style, they are some of the least popular drivers in the sport. It seems the ‘bad boy’ image has gone out of fashion.
Photo “Harry Gant 1994” by James Phelps – originally posted to Flickr as Old School NASCAR- Harry Gant 1994. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons