NASCAR Power Rankings: Junior Johnson and the Top 10 Drivers Ever at Bristol
As a driver, Junior Johnson was only able to visit Victory Lane at Bristol one time. His success as an owner is another story altogether. His cars were first to the checkered flag on the high-banked, half-mile track 21 times. In addition, Junior Johnson's cars also won the race at Bristol eight consecutive times at one point.
Here are the Top 10 drivers to race at Bristol in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. These drivers combined to claim the checkered flag for a total of 68 wins on a track where racing is compared to "flying a fighter jet in a gymnasium".
Darrell Waltrip: 12 Wins
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From the spring race in 1981 through the August race of 1984, Darrell Waltrip owned Bristol, stringing together seven consecutive wins. In all, Waltrip visited Victory Lane at the track 12 times during his career. No other driver has seriously challenged "Jaws'" record at the track.
Dale Earnhardt: Nine Wins
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Dale Earnhardt had great success on every track configuration he raced on, and Bristol is no exception. Earnhardt mastered short-track racing almost to the extent he did restrictor plate tracks. He won nine times on the Bristol half-mile and shares the honor of second most Cup wins there with two other drivers.
Rusty Wallace: Nine Wins
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Sharing honors with Earnhardt, Rusty Wallace also had a lot of success on short tracks such as Bristol. He too picked up nine of his career wins on the Tennessee track. In 1999, Wallace picked up one of his wins on the track while snapping Jeff Gordon's four-year Food City 500 winning streak, and in 2000, he picked up his 50th win on the track.
Cale Yarborough: Nine Wins
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In 1973, Cale Yarborough led all 500 laps of the Southeastern 500 to claim one of his nine victories at Bristol. He remains the only driver to have led every lap of a Sprint Cup race at Bristol. Winning 14.83 percent of all races he started, Yarborough has the third best winning percentage of drivers with over 500 starts, and his 83 wins ties him for fifth with Jeff Gordon for most wins in the series.
Kurt Busch: Five Wins
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Of active drivers, Kurt Busch is tied for most wins at Bristol with five. Arguably, his most memorable race at Bristol was not one where he crossed the finish line first, but when he suffered the ire of many fans because of Jimmy Spencer's suspension from the August race in 2003. Spencer and Busch had a run-in the week before, and Spencer settled it by punching Busch in the nose while the latter sat strapped in his car in the garage area at Michigan.
Jeff Gordon: Five Wins
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Sharing honors with Kurt Busch at five wins, Jeff Gordon has had at least one period where he was dominant at Bristol. Until the string was broken by Rusty Wallace, Gordon was the driver to beat on the track from 1995 to 1999.
David Pearson: Five Wins
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One driver who is no longer active also shares the honor of having five wins on the Bristol half-mile track. David Pearson loved short track racing and was able to experience a healthy measure of success on this track.
Bobby Allison: Four Wins
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Named one of NASCAR's 50 Greatest Drivers, the Alabama Gang's Bobby Allison picked up four of his 85 Cup victories on the Bristol oval. Voted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame in October of 2010, Allison will be inducted in May of 2011.
Kyle Busch: Four Wins
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Kyle Busch is not only one of the most successful drivers on the Bristol track; he stands a good chance of not only catching, but surpassing, Darrell Waltrip for most wins on the track. At the tender age of 25, "Shrub" has a long career ahead of him, and if his current rate of success continues, he will own the record not only on this track but other records as well.
Richard Petty: Three Wins
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With 200 Cup victories, it's hard to believe that Richard Petty only visited Victory Lane at Bristol three times. "The King" may not have dominated Bristol, but that doesn't detract at all from a Hall of Fame career.