Which NASCAR Cup Series car number has been the most successful in BMS' first 60 years?
Quick, what number did legendary slugger Babe Ruth wear? Or what was the number on high-soaring Michael Jordan’s jersey? How about hockey phenom Wayne Gretzky? Or pro football’s G.O.A.T., Tom Brady?
Numbers and the athletes they represent are forever linked. Especially when the sports figure also happens to be highly successful, or in some cases the greatest to ever play a particular sport.
Ruth wore the 3 proudly on his New York Yankees’ uniform and any self-respecting fan of the NFL knows that the No. 12 jersey belongs to the gun-slinging, Super Bowl-winning Brady. The 23 will forever be red and black for Jordan’s Chicago Bulls and in the NHL, the 99 is sacred for “The Great One,” Gretzky.
The numbers game is the same in NASCAR. Drivers are associated with their car numbers more often than they are with sponsors, car owners, car manufacturers or heck, even their own last names sometimes. Fans don’t need to even say Kyle Busch, they will just refer to him as the 18. Kevin Harvick is the 4, Kyle Larson is the 5 and Joey Logano is the 22.
So, as Bristol Motor Speedway is celebrating its 60th anniversary in 2021 at the World’s Fastest Half-Mile, one may wonder… what car number is associated with the most wins at NASCAR’s most iconic track?
Some might immediately guess the No. 3 because Earnhardt, who won nine races at BMS, always seemed to be in contention for a victory. Others might think it is either the No. 17 or No. 88 because Darrell Waltrip, who was identified with those numbers for a good part of his career, earned a track record total of 12 victories on the challenging high-banked oval. Or, could it be the No. 18, which has been on the roof and door panel of the track’s most recent dominator, Kyle Busch.
All strong guesses for sure, but none of those numbers have garnered the most trips to Victory Lane over the first 121 races at Bristol Motor Speedway.
Drum roll please...That honor goes to the No. 11, which has visited Victory Lane most often thanks to the success of four drivers – Waltrip, Cale Yarborough, Ned Jarett and most recently Denny Hamlin. Of those drivers, three are NASCAR Cup Series champions and regularly piloted their No. 11 rides to wins at Bristol Motor Speedway. The No. 11's BMS win total is an impressive 20, with Yarborough’s 9 leading the way, followed by Waltrip with 8 in the 11, Hamiln’s two and Jarrett’s one.
Waltrip also won at Bristol in the 17 and the 88, and remains one of only two Cup Series drivers in Bristol history to visit its Victory Lane in three different car numbers (also Kurt Busch, 2, 41 and 97).
Next on the list is the No. 2 with 13 victory lane appearances. Rusty Wallace has seven, Brad Keselowski has three, Dale Earnhardt two and Kurt Busch has one for the beloved No. 2 car.
Thirty-two different car numbers have found success at BMS. Below is a breakdown of all of the winning Cup Series car numbers in BMS history.
Most NASCAR Cup Series victories by car number at Bristol Motor Speedway
Wins No. Driver(s)
20 11 Ned Jarrett 1, Cale Yarborough 9, Darrell Waltrip 8, Denny Hamlin 2
13 2 Dale Earnhardt 2, Rusty Wallace 7, Kurt Busch 1, Brad Keselowski 3
8 3 Charlie Glotzbach 1, Dale Earnhardt 7
8 17 David Pearson 4, Darrell Waltrip 2, Matt Kenseth 2
7 18 Kyle Busch
6 22 Fireball Roberts 1, Bobby Allison 2, Joey Logano 3
5 24 Jeff Gordon
4 28 Fred Lorenzen 3, Davey Allison 1
4 97 Kurt Busch
3 6 David Pearson 1, Mark Martin 2
3 27 Donnie Allison, Rusty Wallace 2
3 43 Richard Petty
3 88 Darrell Waltrip 2, Dale Jarrett 1
3 99 Paul Goldsmith 1, Carl Edwards 2
3 4 Ernie Irvan, Kevin Harvick 2
3 20 Tony Stewart, Matt Kenseth 2
3 5 Kyle Busch, Terry Labonte, Kasey Kahne
2 7 Alan Kulwicki 2
2 8 Joe Weatherly, Dale Earnhardt Jr.
2 12 Bobby Allison
2 29 Dick Hutcherson, Kevin Harvick
2 72 Bobby Johns, Benny Parsons
2 48 Jimmie Johnson
2 19 Carl Edwards
1 9 Bill Elliott
1 21 Elliott Sadler
1 26 Junior Johnson
1 31 Jeff Burton
1 42 Jim Paschal
1 44 Terry Labonte
1 46 Jack Smith
1 41 Kurt Busch
NASCAR Cup Series winners by car number at Bristol in numeric order
2 Dale Earnhardt, Rusty Wallace, Kurt Busch, Brad Keselowski
3 Dale Earnhardt, Charlie Glotzbatch
4 Ernie Irvan, Kevin Harvick
5 Terry Labonte, Kyle Busch, Kasey Kahne
6 David Pearson, Mark Martin
7 Alan Kulwicki
8 Joe Weatherly, Dale Earnhardt Jr.
9 Bill Elliott
11 Ned Jarrett, Cale Yarborough, Darrell Waltrip, Denny Hamlin
12 Bobby Allison
17 David Pearson, Darrell Waltrip, Matt Kenseth
18 Kyle Busch
19 Carl Edwards
20 Tony Stewart, Matt Kenseth
21 Elliott Sadler
22 Fireball Roberts, Bobby Allison, Joey Logano
24 Jeff Gordon
26 Junior Johnson
27 Donnie Allison, Rusty Wallace
28 Fred Lorenzen, Davey Allison
29 Dick Hutcherson, Kevin Harvick
31 Jeff Burton
41 Kurt Busch
42 Jim Paschal
43 Richard Petty
44 Terry Labonte
46 Jack Smith
48 Jimmie Johnson
72 Bobby Johns, Benny Parsons
88 Darrell Waltrip, Dale Jarrett
97 Kurt Busch
99 Paul Goldsmith, Carl Edwards
Special Cup event car number winners at Bristol
NASCAR All-Star Race at Bristol 2020
9 Chase Elliott
NASCAR All-Star Open Race at Bristol 2020
21 Matt DiBenedetto
NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs
No. Driver Year
4 Kevin Harvick 2020
NASCAR Cup Series Dirt Race
No. Driver Year
22 Joey Logano 2021
NASCAR Cup Series car numbers with no Bristol wins
Looking ahead to next month’s Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race, which Cup Series numbers could make victory lane appearances for the first time in BMS history? Kurt Busch in the No. 1 car? Aric Almirola in the 10? What about Chase Briscoe in the 14, or Bubba Wallace in the 23? Maybe it’s Daytona 500 winner Michael McDowell in the 34, or perhaps it will be self-admitted Bristol lover Ricky Stenhouse Jr. in the 47. Those are certainly all good picks, don’t you think?
Aside from keeping up with all of the numbers speeding around the .533-mile oval that’s been called the “Holy Grail of Short Tracks,” fans who attend this year’s Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race can expect to witness plenty of magical moments unfolding as NASCAR’s best drivers compete in close quarters in pursuit of a coveted victory at The Last Great Colosseum – NASCAR Playoff style – and only the strongest will survive 500 laps of mayhem on the high-banked bullring.
In the Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race (Sept. 18, 7:30 p.m., NBCSN, PRN Radio), you’ll get to see all of your favorite Cup Series drivers racing hard to advance in the NASCAR Playoffs, including Bristol dominator Kyle Busch, Food City Dirt Race winner Joey Logano, three-time Bristol winner Brad Keselowski, defending Night Race winner Kevin Harvick, Bristol All-Star Race winner and defending series champ Chase Elliott, and five-time season winner Kyle Larson, who is still looking for his first BMS Cup victory.
In the Food City 300, NASCAR Xfinity Series favorites Austin Cindric, A.J. Allmendinger, Noah Gragson, Harrison Burton and Justin Allgaier will be trying to lock in their Playoff positions in the season’s final regular season race (Sept. 17, 7:30 p.m., NBCSN, PRN Radio). Meanwhile, headliners John Hunter Nemechek, Ben Rhodes and defending champ Sheldon Creed will battle for an elimination Playoff race victory Thursday night in the UNOH 200 presented by Ohio Logistics Camping World Truck Series race (Sept. 16, 9 p.m., FS1, MRN Radio). The rising stars in the ARCA Menards Series also will take on the challenging half-mile in the Bush’s Beans 200 as part of a Thursday night doubleheader (Sept. 16, 6:30 p.m., FS1, MRN Radio).
For ticket information to the Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race weekend, please visit the Bristol Motor Speedway website by clicking here, or call (866) 415-4158.