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NASCAR Number History: Numbers 16-20

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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.

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In NASCAR’s 75 year history, 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 those numbers stories, and I have learned a lot of awesome history researching this for NASCAR’s diamond anniversary. I put this in video form over on my YouTube channel, click here to go to the Number History playlist!

With that out of the way, let’s dive in to numbers 16-20, there’s a lot to unpack here!

Number 16: 33 total wins

Starting this out with the 16 machine. The 16 has had 7 different drivers take it to victory lane. The first of which would be a legend of our sport, Glen Wood.

The owner of the Wood Brothers Racing team would win 3 times in the 16, all coming in 1960, and all coming at Winston Salem.

The driver with the most wins would be a household name as well, Greg Biffle. The Biff would collect 19 total wins in the number, being the only number he would pilot until his first retirement from racing.

Biffle would get his first win in 2003, during his rookie season at the Pepsi 400 at Daytona. Biffle would win back to back Southern 500’s in the number in 2005 and 2006.

The other drivers to win in the 16 would be;

  • Joe Weatherly: 1 win
  • Darel Dieringer: 5 wins
  • Mark Donohue: 1 Win
  • Bobby Allison: 3 wins

The last driver to take the 16 car to victory lane would be A.J. Allmendinger.

Driving a partial schedule Allmendinger would collect Kaulig Racing’s first and only Cup series win to date at the inaugural race at the Indianapolis R.C.

Number 17: 72 wins

While there haven’t been many different drivers to win in the 17 car, 3 of the 5 are NASCAR Hall of Famers, and the other 2 are currently driving in NASCAR now.

The first to take the 17 to victory lane would be Hall Of Famer and 2nd in all time wins David Pearson.

Not only is Pearson the first to win in the 17, but he is also the driver with the most wins, claiming 30 total in his time with the number!

Another legend and one that many of us think of when we see the 17 is 2003 Champion Matt Kenseth.

Kenseth would win 24 races in his time in the number spanning from 1999-2012. Kenseth would win 2 Daytona 500’s in the number. His first career win would be a crown jewel as well, the 2000 Coca Cola 600.

Darrell Waltrip would also bring the 17 quite a few trophies, 15 to be exact.

Waltrip would pilot the 17 in his biggest career win, the 1989 Daytona 500, and if you haven’t seen the iconic dance he did in victory lane, you will thank us after seeing it.

Ricky Stenhouse would collect 2 wins in his time in the 17 machine, winning both races in 2017, 1 at Talladega, and the other at Daytona.

The last driver to take the 17 to victory lane is also the current driver of the number, Chris Buescher.

Buescher would win his first race for newly named Roush Fenway Keselowski racing with his win in the 2022 Bristol night race. This would be the last time the 17 has been to victory lane.

Number 18: 80 wins

This one will hurt for a lot of fans. The beloved 18 car is absent from the roster for the first time in recent memory. We will get to the driver we all know and love, but lets start from the beginning.

The first to win in the 18 would be Marvin Burke, in 1951 at Oakland. Fun fact about Marvin Burke, he is the only driver to win every race he ever entered, which was 1 start and 1 win.

Dale Jarrett would win 2 times in the 18, including his first ever Daytona 500 victory in 1993!

Of course there’s also Bobby Labonte, who would be the first driver to give the 18 car a championship, winning the title in 2000.

Labonte would win 21 times in the 18, including a Coca Cola 600, a Brickyard 400, and a Southern 500.

That brings us to the GOAT of the 18 car, Kyle Busch. Rowdy would come into his own, hitting the prime of his career in his 15 year stint in the 18 Toyota at Joe Gibbs.

Busch would win 2 titles in the number, 2015 and 2019. He would visit victory lane 56 times in the 18. Kyle is undoubtedly a future Hall of Famer, and he certainly left his mark on the 18.

Number 19: 21 wins

The 19 has only had 4 different drivers take it to victory lane. The first to do it would be John Rostek in 1960 at Phoenix.

Jeremy Mayfield would pilot the 19 to 2 victories driving for Evernham motorsports.

2006 would be the season of Infamy for Mayfield, where he would fail a drug test administered by NASCAR ultimately ending his time in the 19, and for the most part, his career.

Oh cousin Carl. The way he left us still hurts fans today. Carl Edwards would come to Gibbs to drive the 19 for 2 seasons. He would win 5 total races in his time there, with 2 crown jewels the Coca Cola 600 and the Southern 500.

Edwards would retire abruptly after the 2016 season where he would suffer heartbreak again as the championship would allude him after a late race wreck with Joey Logano would end his day. Fans still wonder what if when it comes to Carl Edwards.

The driver to last take the 19 to victory lane is also the driver with the most wins. He is also the current driver of the 19, Martin Truex Jr.

Truex has won 13 times in the 19. He would come to Joe Gibbs after his championship winning team, Furniture Row, would close its doors following the 2018 season.

Number 20: 58 wins

The number 20 is iconic mostly for one driver, and we will certainly get to him. A cool fact about the 20, every single full time driver since Tony Stewart in 1999 has earned at least 2 wins in the number.

The first to win in it would be Marvin Panch in 1961. This would be Panch’s only win in the number, but he made it count, winning the Daytona 500!

The driver with the most wins shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone here. It is of course Tony Stewart. Stewart would get his start in NASCAR in the 20 in 1999 for Joe Gibbs after winning the INDY car title.

Stewart would win 33 times in the 20. He would also win 2 championships in it, in 2002 and 2005. Smoke is a Hall of Famer, being inducted in 2020, and is one of the best to ever do it in our sport. That orange and black Home Depot 20 is one of the most recognizable and iconic schemes in history!

After Stewart, there would be 3 other drivers to grab wins in the 20 before our current driver. They are listed below;

  • Joey Logano: 2 wins
  • Matt Kenseth: 15 wins
  • Erik Jones: 2 wins

Our current driver is also the most recent to win in the 20, Christopher Bell. CBell has been on a tear recently, and has emerged as the top talent at a stacked Gibbs stable.

Bell would advance to the Championship Four last season on the back of 2 walk off wins in the cutoff race of the playoffs. He has won 5 times in the 20, most recently at the Bristol Dirt race in 2023. CBell has the potential to bring the 20 another championship, do you think he will?

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