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NASCAR Number History: 26-29

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Matt Smith

Dogleg Media is a motorsports channel focusing on history and stats. New uploads happen every Tuesday and Friday. Tune in to learn something new every single episode.

Numbers are a big part of our sport. They are the identifiers of drivers on the track. In NASCAR’s 75 years, there have been many numbers come and go. On any given weekend you will see 36-40 unique numbers on the track, and each of those numbers has a story to tell.

I set out to tell the stories of each of these numbers. Who won with the number first, who found victory lane the most in the number, and every other driver to grab a trophy in the number. I have a video series on this over at my YouTube channel Dogleg Media. Check it out here!

We go in numerical order, and the text form of the series has reached numbers 26-29. Be sure to check out the channel for all the other installments. With that out of the way, let’s dive in!

26

The 26 is a number that hasn’t seen a full time driver since 2014 with Cole Whitt behind the wheel. Let’s take a look at some of the major stats for the number.

  • Total Wins: 22
  • Different Winners: 8
  • Total Races: 1,109
  • Win %: 2

The first to win in the 26 would be a Hall of Famer. Curtis Turner would get the numbers first win in 1958 at Atlanta. Turner would collect 2 total wins in the 26.

The driver with the most wins in the number is another NASCAR Legend, Junior Johnson. Johnson would win 12 total times in the 26. The incredible part of this win total is that they would all come in the same season, winning 12 times in 1965, driving for his self owned team.

Johnson would make 35 total starts in the number, giving him a whopping 34% win rate with the number. Johnson would be inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame in 2010.

In terms of other winners, we have four drivers with one win in the number, they are listed below.

  • Fred Lorenzen: Lorenzen would win in 1962 at Augusta.
  • Bobby Isaac: Isaac would win the first win of his career in the 26, in 1964 at Daytona.
  • Darel Dieringer: Dieringer’s last win would come in the 26, in 1967 at North Wilkesboro, where he would lead every single lap of the race starting from the pole!
  • Brett Bodine: Bodine would collect the only Cup series win of his career in the 26, in 1990 at North Wilkesboro

Ricky Rudd would win twice in the number driving for King Racing from 1988-1989. Daniel Suarez would honor this paint scheme at the 2023 Throwback weekend at Darlington!

The last to win in the 26 would be Jamie McMurray. McMurray would pilot the Roush Fenway 26 from 2006-2009, and would collect 2 wins in that time.

The last win for the number would come in 2009 at Talladega, but his win at Daytona in 2007 was an instant classic, being a photo finish with Kyle Busch!

The last time the 26 saw the track would be in 2022 with Daniil Kvyat behind the wheel. He would make 3 starts that season, with the last for the number coming at the Charlotte Roval.

27

This one had a lot more winners than I thought. Let’s take a look at the stats for the 27.

  • Total Wins: 52
  • Different Winners: 9
  • Total Races: 1168
  • Win %: 4.4

The first to take the 27 to victory lane would be Jimmy Florian in 1950 at Dayton. This would be the only victory of Florian’s 26 race career.

The driver with the most wins would be Rusty Wallace. Many know Wallace for his time in the blue deuce for Roger Penske, but Wallace would win his only championship driving the 27.

Wallace would go to victory lane 18 times in the Blue Max racing 27, driving it from 1986-1990. He would win the 1989 Cup series championship behind a 6 win season. Wallace is a Hall of Famer, and was inducted in 2013.

Another driver to find a lot of success in the number would be fellow Hall of Famer Junior Johnson. Johnson would win 13 times in the 27 machine, including the 1960 Daytona 500.

There have been quite a few other winners in the 27, here are some of the others below.

  • Donnie Allison: Allison would collect 5 total wins in the 27, including the 1970 World 600.
  • Benny Parsons: Another Hall of Famer to win in the number, Parsons would win 5 times in the 27.
  • Cale Yarborough: A handful of Hall of Famers would win in the 27, Yarborough would also collect 5 wins in the number.
  • Tim Richmond: One of NASCAR’s what if’s, Richmond would grab 2 wins in the 27.
  • Jimmy Spencer: Spencer would grab 2 wins in the 27, both coming in 1994.

The last driver to take the 27 to victory lane would be Paul Menard, where he would win his only career Cup race at the 2011 Brickyard 400.

Menard would drive the Richard Childress 27 from 2011-2017, with his only win coming in his first season with the number.

There isn’t a current driver of the 27 either, as a matter of fact, none of the numbers discussed in this one have a current driver. The last time the number was ran was in 2022 with Loris Hezemans at the Charlotte Roval.

28

The 28 has some incredible history behind it. Tragedy and triumph are a part of this numbers story, and 6 different Hall of Famers have won in this number.

  • Total Wins: 76
  • Different Winners: 9
  • Total Races: 1037
  • Win %: 7.3

The first to win in the 28 would be Fred Lorenzen. Lorenzen is also the driver with the most wins in the number with 25 total wins.

The first for the number would come in 1961 at Martinsville. He would also win the 1965 Daytona 500 in the number. He is one of NASCAR’s 75 greatest drivers.

We can’t talk about the 28 without talking about Davey Allison. He is the son of NASCAR legend Bobby Allison, and was slated to be one of NASCAR’s up and coming stars.

Allison would collect 19 wins in the 28 in his short Cup series career, including the 1992 Daytona 500. He would win the Rookie of the Year award in 1987, winning 2 races in his first season.

Tragedy struck in 1993, when Allison would pass away in a helicopter crash while traveling to Talladega to watch friend Neil Bonnet and his son David test for David’s Xfinity series debut. This tragedy would come months after 1992 Cup Champion Alan Kulwicki would die in an aviation accident.

Davey is one of NASCAR’s greatest what if’s, he would be posthumously inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame in 2019.

Then there is Ernie Irvan, we go from tragedy to triumph. Irvan would win 8 times in the 28, and was the successor to Davey Allison in the number.

During a practice session at Michigan in 1994 Irvan would blow a tire and hit the concrete barrier at 170 MPH. Irvan would be diagnosed with a Basilar Skull fracture, the same injury that took Dale Earnhardt’s life in 2001, and doctors gave Irvan a mere 10% chance of surviving the night.

He would defy all odds, and just a little over a year since his scary crash and injury, Irvan would compete in a Cup series race, making his return at the fall North Wilkesboro race in 1995, driving the 88 car, as Dale Jarrett had taken the 28 ride in 1995 due to his Injury.

Irvan would return to the 28 car in 1996, and would find victory lane just 15 races into the season at New Hampshire. His comeback is one of the greatest in NASCAR History, and deserves to be celebrated and talked about.

We have a laundry list of other winners, so let’s spotlight them below.

  • Dan Gurney: Gurney would win in Formula 1 and NASCAR, with 1 of his NASCAR victories coming in the 28
  • Buddy Baker: Another Hall of Famer to win in the 28, Baker would win 5 times in the 28, including the 1980 Daytona 500.
  • Bobby Allison: The father of Davey Allison would also grab wins in the 28 machine. Bobby would match Baker in wins in the number with 5.
  • Cale Yarborough: Yarborough is another Hall of Famer to take the 28 to victory lane, and he would visit it 9 times in the number.
  • Dale Jarrett: Jarrett would spend a lot of time at Robert Yates, but only one season in the 28, driving for an injured Irvan, Dale would get one win in the number.

The most recent to win in the 28 would be Ricky Rudd. The numbers last win would come in 2002 at Sonoma, this would be the last win of Rudd’s career as well. Rudd would win 3 total times in the 28.

The last time the number would see the track would be in 2021, with Joey Gase running a pretty awesome throwback scheme. I would love to see a team bring this iconic number back.

29

We finish this one off with another iconic number, only this time it’s iconic because of one man. Let’s look at the stats one final time.

  • Total Wins: 40
  • Different Winners: 3
  • Total Races: 924
  • Win%: 4.2

The first to win in the 29 would be Nelson Stacy. The numbers first win would come in 1961 at Darlington, which was that season’s Southern 500. Stacy would win 4 times in the 29.

The only other driver to win in the number outside of the winningest and most recent driver would be Dick Hutcherson. Hutcherson would win 13 times in the 29, which is honestly very successful.

Of course that brings us to the winningest driver of the 29, and it’s pretty obvious. The driver who would take over after the tragic death of Dale Earnhardt would become the numbers winningest driver, Kevin Harvick.

Harvick would win 23 total times in the 29, including the 2007 Daytona 500. Harvick would win in just his 3rd career start, 4 races after Earnhardt’s passing, in a photo finish with Jeff Gordon at Atlanta.

Harvick is also the most recent to win in the number, with the numbers last win coming in 2013 at Phoenix. Harvick is hanging it up after the 2023 season, he is a Champion of our sport and is certainly a future Hall of Famer.

The number hasn’t been on track for a points race since 2013 with Kevin Harvick at Homestead. However. we were treated to seeing the 29 one final time, at North Wilkesboro for the All Star Race, in an all time great All Star Scheme.

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