FIVE NASCAR MYTHS

Race fans know their sport. Or do they? There are some misnomers floating around the NASCAR world. Die-hard knowledgeable fans know the deep details that make the following statements false. Read carefully. Now think carefully. Check some history books. Do some research. And be careful how you use the word “NASCAR.”

1. Jimmie Johnson Is The Only Driver To Win Four Consecutive NASCAR Championships. Johnson is the only driver to win four consecutive CUP championships. Emphasis on the word “Cup.” NASCAR used in the wrong context can make a statement true or false. NASCAR Modified great Richie Evans won eight consecutive championships from 1978 to 1985. He was tragically killed during practice for the 1985 season’s final event at Martinsville. And the Modified Series is as much a part of NASCAR as the Cup Series is.


2. Richard Petty Has Won The Most NASCAR Races. A similar situation to the above championship reference. Petty has the most CUP Series wins with 200. Who has the most NASCAR wins? Tough to say. Records for the grassroots levels are incomplete at best from decades gone by. For instance Evans captured 52 checkered flags in 1979 alone, most of them NASCAR sanctioned. And he drove for close to 30 years. Geoff Bodine won 56 features in 1978, also in modifieds. At last count Ted Christopher has 108 wins in various divisions at Stafford Motor Speedway in Connecticut, all under NASCAR sanction. Christopher typically races three to four nights per week, has toured with several series, and has raced for over 25 seasons. Hard numbers are difficult to acquire, but evidence suggested there are drivers with more than 200 NASCAR sanctioned wins.

3. Cale Yarborough Finished Second To Richard Petty In His 200th Win. This is a great trivia question to win a bet with. We all know the scene from July 4, 1984. President Reagan was on hand for Daytona’s Firecracker 400 while Cale Yarborough and Petty banged doors heading for the finish. The details of that finish are important. Doug Heveron spun and flipped heading into turn one bringing out the yellow flag. NASCAR rules scored the race at the start/finish line. With so few laps remaining as Heveron crashed, the race was essentially over once the field crossed under the caution flag. Petty and Yarborough battled to an iconic finish and the remaining few laps were run behind the pace car. Yarborough, making a mental error, pulled onto pit road thinking the race was finished. Essentially his chances for victory were, but he still had to complete the remaining slow laps and be scored. He realized his mistake but not before Harry Gant moved up to second while Yarborough was in the pits. Gant was the second place finisher to Petty on his 200th victory.

4. Pit Passes Get You Close To Professional NASCAR drivers. The Cup Series’ stars are not hanging out on pit road before the race. Very few even go to their garage stall on race morning. They get a good night’s sleep in their motorhome, attend the driver’s meeting, some go to a church service, head to their hauler, change into their firesuit, appear at driver’s introductions, and get strapped in to their car which is on the grid. Fans with garage passes may catch up with their favorite personality if he is passing by. But fans with pit passes hoping for an autograph actually face long odds. Often the first time a driver visits his pit stall is on the race’s first stop.

5. Nationwide Series Began In 1982. Be careful how this one is phrased too. The Series in its current format began in 1982. Originally known as Sportsman cars, the teams and drivers were elevated from a weekly racing division to a touring series. Most current records and statistics reference from 1982 to present. But drivers synonymous with this tour have a long and rich history before then. NASCAR crowned a Late Model Sportsman Championship for many years prior to 1982; the difference was how points were tabulated. Jack Ingram, Tommy Houston, L.D. Ottinger, Tommy Ellis, and Sam Ard are some of the NASCAR greats that helped build the foundation for what we see today.

(Patrick Reynolds is a former NASCAR mechanic who co-hosts the One and Done auto racing radio talk show Tuesdays at 11am ET. Listen at www.wsicweb.com.)

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