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NASCAR Number History: What I learned Researching 1-5

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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 to 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 learn more about those stories, and have already learned so much about the history of our sport. You can check out the first installment below.

I learned some surprising history on each of these numbers, let’s break down some of the interesting facts that I learned, and some history from viewers as well that I missed.

1 Car’s History

The number 1 has competed in 1639 races and counting with current driver Ross Chastain. The number 1 has 24 total victories in the Cup Series. The drivers who have the most wins in the number only have 4 wins total, and that crown is shared between 3 drivers. Billy Wade, Donnie Allison and Jamie McMurray all have 4 total wins.

It was honestly surprising that the most wins in the number 1 was only 4. With Ross Chastain currently having 2 wins in the number in only a season and a half, chances are he will become the winningest driver ever in the number 1.

Could it even be this season that he passes the current holders?

2 Car’s History

The 2 car has seen much more success in the Cup series with some pretty big names to pilot it. With 2,043 races and counting, the 2 car has found victory lane 101 times.

While many NASCAR fans who recently joined the sport remember this number with Brad Keselowski, it is Rusty Wallace who has the most wins in the 2, with 37 total wins. Brad K was close to passing Rusty’s total with 34 wins, and brought Roger Penske their first Championship in 2012.

In my research I forgot about Dale Earnhardt piloting the number, grabbing his first of 7 championships with it, and the viewers let me know about it.

Austin Cindric is the current driver of the 2 and most recent to win, with his Rookie Season win of the Daytona 500 in 2022. Cindric has shown promise, how many more wins can he earn the 2 car?

3 Car’s History

Well this one is pretty obvious right? I mean come on, its the Intimidator. With 6 championships and 67 wins, there is nobody even close to Earnhardt’s success in the number. The 3 has 101 total wins in the cup series, 2 out of 3 of those wins came with Earnhardt behind the wheel.

I think we are all blinded by Earnhardt’s success in the number that we forget some other legends found victory lane in it as well. Junior Johnson, David Pearson, Fireball Roberts, Buck Baker, and Ricky Rudd are some other legends of the sport to also find victory lane in the 3.

Austin Dillon is the current driver of the 3, and has 4 wins of his own in the number, none bigger than his Daytona 500 victory in 2018, 20 years after Dale Earnhardt would finally grab his Daytona 500 trophy.

4 Car’s History

Here’s one that I forgot quite a few drivers, and the viewers let me hear it. The 4 car has 82 total victories in the Cup series, and I certainly highlighted the winningest driver in the 4, the current driver Kevin Harvick with 37 total victories and a championship as well.

I certainly was too fixated on Harvick’s accomplishments in the number, because I forgot all about a couple Daytona 500 winners in Ernie Irvan and Sterling Marlin.

I am also ashamed to say I forgot the Kodak car, a staple to me growing up playing the NASCAR video games…

With this being Harvick’s farewell season, does he add on to his 37 wins, and then who do you think will be the next to win in the 4?

5 Car’s History

The 5 car also has some surprising history. It was the number that basically saved Hendrick Motorsports with Geoff Bodine’s walkoff win at Martinsville. The surprising part is that even though the number has seen victory lane 60 times, it is Larson who leads all drivers in wins with 15, also winning the 2021 Championship.

Terry Labonte would also make the number home, winning 12 times and bringing home the 1996 Cup Series Championship. The Kellogg’s colors were a staple, and a paint scheme that fans yearn to be made into a throwback at Darlington.

Some other big names have won in the number, including Kyle Busch who would get his Cup Series start in the number, Mark Martin who would have a career resurgence at Hendrick, and Kasey Khane who would get his last win in the 5.

The 5 car is definitely in good hands, and that 15 number will certainly grow before Larson is done with it.

NASCAR Number history is fun and chaotic. It will change every single weekend, but those who have piloted numbers in the past are cemented forever. How many more times will we see a number 1-5 win this season alone? Larson won the next race after I posted this video, changing the history.

This wouldn’t be the first time my Number History series would be changed the next week, as a certain driver of the 8 car would do it the very next week.

What is your favorite memory or driver from this first list of numbers? Who did I miss? Learning is the name of the game, and what better time to learn than now!

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