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Will ANYONE Catch Dale Earnhardt’s 76 Wins Again?

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Joshua Lipowski

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What’s Happening?

One of the milestones that had marked the greatest drivers of the modern day is tying and/or passing arguably the greatest stock car driver of all time, Dale Earnhardt, on the all-time wins list. It’s been a jewel in the crown for drivers like Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson, but, times have changed. Winning at the sport’s highest level is tougher than ever, so, will anyone pass Dale Earnhardt for 8th on the all-time wins list?

  • As NASCAR has progressed, competition has increased, and the field has tightened up. More drivers are winning races, which means that the top talents in the sport are not winning as many races as they used to.
  • Reaching Dale Earnhardt’s mark of 76 victories takes winning a lot of races across multiple seasons. The years that drivers like Dale Earnhardt had are fewer and further between.

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How Tough It Is to Win in The Next-Gen Era

As time has gone on, the top drivers in NASCAR have won fewer and fewer races. Richard Petty (200) and David Pearson (105) each cross the century mark, but, that came in a much different era. Many of these wins came before the “Modern Era” when there were more races per season and competition was far less fierce.

The drivers following on the All-Time Wins list, who all primarily drove in the Modern Era, never came close to these marks: Jeff Gordon (93), Darrell Waltrip and Bobby Allison (84), Cale Yarborough and Jimmie Johnson (83), and Dale Earnhardt (76).

As we head into the current day, the winningest drives in NASCAR are 38-year-old Kyle Busch (63) and 43-year-old Denny Hamlin (52). In the Next-Gen era, it’s gotten even tougher to win as no driver has won more than 6 races in a season since 2022. Before 2022, the leading wins-getter in the Cup Series won 7 or more races in 12 of 19 seasons between 2003 and 2021.

What Will It Take for Drivers to Catch Dale Earnhardt?

If drivers are having a more difficult time winning races because of how competitive the Cup Series is, then what would it take for them to catch Dale Earnhardt? Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin are both the closest, but, what about other drivers? Using the current ceiling in the Next-Gen era of between 5 to 6 wins per season, here is how many seasons it would take current NASCAR stars to reach 76 wins if they average 5.5 wins per season along with how many 5+ win seasons they have accumulated

DriversAgeHow Many Seasons5+ Win Seasons So Far
Joey Logano 3482
Kyle Larson31101
William Byron26121
Christopher Bell 29130
Chase Elliott28112
Denny Hamlin4354
Kyle Busch3835

Long story short, each of these drivers would have to be the best they ever have throughout their entire career multiple times over to reach 76 wins by the end of their career. Only William Byron would not hit 40 years old by the time he reaches 76 wins at this pace, but, he would be very close at 39 years old.

The most likely driver is Kyle Busch, who has 63 wins, and he told Sirius XM that he ideally wants to retire by the time Brexton turns 15 (2030). If that theoretically happens, and Busch races between 6-7 more seasons, he’d need to likely win 2-3 races per season, and he’s only reached that mark in 2 of the last 4 seasons.

The closest driver currently to it will have a hard time reaching the milestone, and current drivers need to be ridiculously consistent and dominant in the most competitive era in NASCAR history. Dale Earnhardt and those above him may never have their records beat.

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Joshua Lipowski

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