NASCAR's Greatest Drivers for Each Car Number 76-99

Jim FolsomContributorJanuary 28, 2013

NASCAR's Greatest Drivers for Each Car Number 76-99

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    While you don't see a lot of drivers on the track with numbers over 75, sometimes you will see one or two near the front of the field. Just a couple seasons ago, we saw No. 99 tie for the Sprint Cup Championship on points before losing on a tiebreaker.

    We've seen the No. 88 car wheel into Victory Lane a few times over the years, including the Daytona 500 and Brickyard 400. So, there is no truth to the notion that larger numbers slow the car down.

    Let's look at the best drivers to ever run the biggest numbers, shall we?

No. 77: Sam Hornish Jr.

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    This was a close call between Sam Hornish Jr. and Robert Pressley.

    Pressley started in the No. 77 car 133 times and had three top-five finishes and seven top-10s. Hornish had 106 starts, two top-fives and eight top-10s.

    You could also throw Dave Blaney in there. He started 72 races and had one top-five and nine top-10s.

    Of those three, only one has his face on the Borg-Warner Trophy. That's a pretty good tiebreaker to me.

No. 78: Regan Smith

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    Smith had three times the number of starts in the No. 78 as anyone else. He started 120 races, which included one win, three top-fives and eight top-10s.

    Jim Paschal had three wins and 11 top-fives in his 32 starts, clearly the best stint the No. 78 has ever seen. But Smith won the Southern 500 in the car, which is one of the "big ones" in NASCAR.

No. 81: Kenny Wallace

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    Kenny Wallace had 104 starts in the No. 81 car that included 11 top-10 finishes. Both of those numbers far exceed any other driver. Kenny has parlayed his racing career into a very nice career as an analyst on TV. If his cars ran as fast as his mouth, maybe he would still be driving more often.

No. 83: Brian Vickers

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    Brian Vickers had 141 starts in the No. 83 and had one win, 11 top-fives and 34 top-10s. That is not bad.

    Lake Speed had 92 starts in that number, which included one win, six top-fives and 17 top-10s. I will give it to Vickers because he was in the car longer.

    An honorable mention goes to Worth McMillan, who had 49 starts that included one top-five and 15 top-10s.

No. 84: Dick Trickle

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    What is this: The third time Trickle has made this list, or is it the fourth? Way to go, Dick.

    Trickle had 28 starts in this number, second only to A.J. Allmendinger, and had six top-five finishes and nine top-10s, which are second to nobody. In fact, the rest of the field has only five top-fives put together.

No. 86: Buck Baker

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    This one was an interesting battle between a father and son. Buck Baker had 38 starts in the No. 86 car, including one win, 12 top-fives and 15 top-10s.

    His son, Buddy Baker, had 43 starts in the No. 86, including six top-fives and 11 top-10s.

    Neil Castles had 95 starts in the No. 86 car with nine top-fives and 31 top-10s.

    Since Buck was the only winner in the No. 86, he gets the call.

No. 87: Buck Baker

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    Guess who's back? Buck Baker. Why is he a Hall of Famer? Check these numbers out. In the No. 87 car, he made 417 starts, won 26 races, had 166 top-five finishes, 253 top-10 finishes and led 3,465 laps.

    Those numbers will get you a call from the Hall of Fame.

    Next in line was, you guessed it, his son, Buddy Baker, with 38 starts including nine top-fives and 14 top-10s.

No. 88: Dale Jarrett

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    Sorry Dale Jr. fans, but your man has a way to go before he unseats Dale Jarrett from atop the throne of greatest No. 88 drivers. Jarrett had 380 starts, including 28 wins, 129 top-fives, 188 top-10s, 6,074 laps led, a Daytona 500 win and a Brickyard 400 win. One day, the Hall will be calling D.J.

    Little E has made 178 starts with two wins, 29 top-fives and 61 top-10s.

    That pales in comparison to another Hall of Fame member, Darrell Waltrip, who in 161 starts in the No. 88 had 26 wins, 82 top-fives and 97 top-10s. Had D.W. won the 500 in the No. 88, he would have gotten the top spot.

    Buddy Baker and Ricky Rudd both did well in the No. 88 car too. Baker had 18 top-fives while Rudd had 14.

No. 89: Buck Baker

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    He's baaack. Buck had 25 starts in the No. 89 and won twice with nine top-fives and 16 top-10s.

    Buddy had 10 starts with three top-10s himself in the No. 89.

    Joe Lee Johnson had 14 starts, which included one win, three top-fives and four top-10s.

    Buddy Shuman had eight starts, including one win, two top-fives and three top-10s.

No. 90: Dick Brooks

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    Dick Trickle did not quite make the list in the No. 90. That honor goes to Dick Brooks. Brooks started 175 races in the No. 90 and had 25 top-fives, 86 top-10s and led 401 laps.

    Trickle had 77 starts with two top-fives and three top-10s.

    Jody Ridley had 95 starts with one win, six top-fives, 47 top-10s and 34 laps led. This was a close call. But 86 top-10s and 401 laps led were enough to put Brooks over the top.

No. 91: Tim Flock

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    Flock had 90 starts, including an astonishing 16 wins and 52 top-fives. He also had 64 top-10s and led 2,195 laps in the No. 91 car. He was by far the best who has ever had the number.

    He was from a famous racing family that included his two brothers, Fonty and Bob. Tim was the best of the three.

No. 92: Herb Thomas

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    If you ever watched the animated movie Cars, you will remember the "Fabulous Hudson Hornet." What you may not have known is that car was actually driven by Herb Thomas, and it did have a number. That number was 92.

    Thomas had 200 starts in the No. 92, which included an amazing 42 wins, 111 top-fives and 141 top-10s. He led 4,877 laps in the No. 92. Truly a deserving Hall of Fame inductee.

No. 94: Bill Elliott

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    Bill Elliott has had quite a career. Nobody noticed, probably because everyone remembers his best work in the No. 9 car, but "Awesome Bill" started 185 races in the No. 95 and scored 13 top-fives, 45 top-10s and led 837 laps.

    Sterling Marlin had 59 starts, including nine top-fives and 23 top-10s.

No. 95: Darrell Waltrip

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    You probably thought we would not see D.W. when he failed to beat out Jarrett in the No. 88 car. Not so fast...

    Waltrip had 35 starts in the No. 95 with nine top-fives, 18 top-10s and 110 laps led.

    Bob Duell had 27 starts with four top-fives and eight top-10s.

No. 96: Richard Childress

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    One of NASCAR's most successful car owners, Childress actually did drive back in the day.

    He had 108 starts with three top-fives, and 20 top-10s while piloting the No. 96 car.

    Ray Elder had 27 starts, including two wins, nine top-fives and 15 top-10s.

No. 97: Kurt Busch

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    Kurt Busch had quite a good run in the No. 97 car. In 184 starts, he had 14 wins, 43 top-five finishes, 79 top-10s and led 3,474 laps.

    Bill Amick had 33 starts in the car with one win, 14 top-fives and 20 top-10s. He led 30 laps in the No. 97.

    Red Farmer had 23 starts with two top-fives, two top-10s and seven laps led.

    Henley Gray had 119 starts with four top-fives and 34 top-10s.

No. 98: LeeRoy Yarbrough

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    LeeRoy Yarbrough won the 1969 Daytona 500 in one of the most exciting races in 500 history.

    There is proof that there doesn't need to be a 27-car freight train on every lap for the race to be a good one. There is a good chance I was at this race, but I was only five years old at the time, so I don't remember. But I do remember that racing was good back in those days.

    In 62 starts, Yarbrough had 10 wins in the No. 98. He also had 32 top-fives and 42 top-10s with 2,222 laps led. He is by far the best of the No. 98 drivers.

No. 99: Carl Edwards

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    This was a tight one.

    We have Carl Edwards, who has 301 starts with 19 wins, 92 top-fives and 157 top-10s with 4,191 laps led.

    We also have Jeff Burton with 293 starts, 17 wins, 87 top-fives, and 142 top-10s with 4,714 laps led.

    Folks, it does not get much closer than that.

    In the end, I decided to go with Edwards because he is still in the car and therefore will add to those numbers, and soon there won't be much of a debate.

    So, there it is. That is all of NASCAR's numbers. If you are an aspiring driver, you may notice that some of these numbers are not represented. So, there are spots reserved for you. Go out and get one!