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Who Is NASCAR’s Modern Day Tim Richmond?

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In a day and age when NASCAR drivers were no-nonsense, rough around the edges, grizzly men from the South, Tim Richmond was a breath of fresh air. A wildman from the Midwest who happened to be incredible behind the wheel, Tim Richmond was the closest thing NASCAR had to a rockstar. His untimely death in 1989 made him one of NASCAR’s greatest “What-if?” stories. As eccentric of a character as Richmond was, is there any driver that can be considered the modern-day Tim Richmond?

  • For this article, we will focus on who Richmond was as a NASCAR driver both on and off the track. Not necessarily someone who had the same career arc as he did, but, someone who leaves a similar mark to Richmond’s on the sport.
  • Nowadays, with drivers having pristine public images, it’s tough to find drivers similar to Tim Richmond. However, some drivers harbor some similar characteristics to Richmond.
  • Fans look back on Tim Richmond with a great deal of intrigue and fondness. He was unlike any NASCAR driver seen before or since.

Noah Gragson

As far as personalities go, no one is quite as close to Tim Richmond as Noah Gragson is. Gragson even mimicked Richmond’s iconic mullet while racing in the Xfinity Series, and Gragson possesses a lot of self-confidence like Richmond did. It takes a lot of self-confidence to wear a bacon outfit through Downtown Chicago or show off a bowl cut on national TV.

Gragson’s act has even endeared some fans to him. He won the Most Popular Driver Award in the Truck Series in 2018 and the Xfinity Series in 2022. While Richmond never won a Most Popular Driver Award, his personality did endear many fans.

Gragson is not quite as successful as Richmond yet, and Gragson has quite a ways to go before he gets there. However, if he finds a way to succeed, he’s as close to Tim Richmond as NASCAR has ever seen since Richmond’s retirement.

Denny Hamlin

While Denny Hamlin exhibits a slightly different demeanor than Richmond, Hamlin also has an unmistakable cool factor that Richmond possesses. The fact that Denny Hamlin has Michael Jordan as a business partner elevates Hamlin’s coolness to a place that maybe Richmond couldn’t even top. Hamlin also commands a lot of media attention with his outspoken nature, which, while not exactly the same as Richmond, still yields a similar result of everyone having an opinion on them.

Hamlin also never shies away from the camera. He allowed an incredible amount of access to both himself and 23XI Racing during the filming of NASCAR Full Speed. If Richmond was around during this time, he would certainly be on screen as much as possible.

Hamlin fills that performance gap that Gragson hasn’t yet, but, Hamlin is also quite different in how he goes about things than Richmond was. Whereas Richmond was more flamboyant and popular, Hamlin is more of a villain figure who gets on many fans’ nerves. Regardless, there are aspects of Hamlin that can easily be compared to Richmond.

Austin Dillon

Regardless of his performance on the race track, one cannot deny that Austin Dillon is a character. He literally had his own reality TV show on USA, and it takes a certain, interesting personality to make that happen. With his cowboy hat, mustache, and outspoken personality, Dillon has a similar amount of character as Richmond did.

Dillon also shows his personality through his business dealings. He actually owns a Professional bull riding team, the Carolina Cowboys. That’s quite an interesting thing to be involved in.

Dillon doesn’t show his personality in all of the same ways that Richmond did, and Richmond is by far the more accomplished driver. Still, Dillon is a personality, and that does count for something.

There will never be anyone quite like Tim Richmond. He’s one of NASCAR’s most unique historical personalities, but, some drivers do share some of his elements.

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Joshua Lipowski

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