NASCAR: 20-plus winners possible in 2011

Written by David Green.


Observer Motorsports Writer

If you’ve got a favorite NASCAR Cup driver, the odds are good that he’s already won a race in 2011. If he hasn’t, there are 14 chances left in what could be a record-breaking year.  

This year has already seen 14 different winners and with drivers including Tony Stewart, Greg Biffle, Jamie McMurray, Mark Martin, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Clint Bowyer, Kasey Kahne, Brian Vickers and Joey Logano, among others, still looking for that first 2011 win,  that total could easily hit 20 or more.

The current record for most winners in a season is 19, first set in 1956, then tied in 1958, 1961 and finally in 2001. In the old days, the schedule was quite a bit longer than now, with 56 races in 1956, 51 in 1958,  and 52 in 1961. The mark was tied in 2001 in a 36-race season, the same number scheduled for 2011. 

The other side of this year’s diversity in winners was the 1974 season, when only five drivers combined to win all 30 races, a record for fewest winners that will probably stand for all time. In fact, NASCAR’s first season, 1949, which consisted of only eight races, still had six different winners.

Amazingly in 1974, three drivers combined for 27 of the 30 victories, with Richard Petty and Cale Yarborough winning 10 times each and David Pearson taking the checkers seven times. Bobby Allison won twice, while Canadian rookie Earl Ross won one time. Ross was running a part-time schedule as Yarborough’s teammate, giving car owner Junior Johnson a 11-10 lead in team victories over Petty Enterprises.

Although eight of the 2001 winners are still running full time in 2011, only two (Jeff Gordon and Kevin Harvick) have won so far this year.

  • Front.poles
    MOVING EAST—Utility workers continue their slow progress east along U.S. 20 south of Morenci. New electrical poles are put in place before wiring is moved into place.
  • Front.cowboy
    A PERFORMER named Biligbaatar, a member of the AnDa Union troupe from Inner Mongolia, dances at Stair District Library last week during a visit to the Midwest. The nine-member group blends a variety of traditions from Inner and Outer Mongolia. The music is described as drawing from “all the Mongol tribes that Genghis Khan unified.” The group considers itself music gatherers whose goal is to preserve traditional sounds of Mongolia. Biligbaatar grew up among traditional herders who live in yurts. Additional photos are on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.base Ball
    UMPIRE Thomas Henthorn tosses the bat between team captains Mikayla Price and Chuck Piskoti of Flint’s Lumber City Base Ball Club. Following the 1860 rules, after the bat was grabbed by the captains, captains’ hands advanced to the top of the bat—one hand on top of the other. The captain whose hand ended up on top decided who would bat first. Additional photos of Sunday’s game appear on page 12 of this week’s Observer. The contest was organized in conjunction with Stair District Library’s Hometown Teams exhibit that runs through Nov. 20.
    VALUE OF ATHLETICS—Morenci graduate John Bancroft (center) takes a turn at the microphone during a chat session at the opening of the Hometown Teams exhibit at Stair District Library. Clockwise to his left is John Dillon, Jed Hall, Jim Bauer, Joe Farquhar, George Hollstein, George Vereecke and Mike McDowell. Thomas Henthorn (at the podium) kicked off the conversation. Henthorn, a University of Michigan–Flint professor, will return to Morenci this Sunday to lead a game of vintage base ball at the school softball field.
  • Front.cross
    HUDSON RUNNER Jacob Morgan looks toward the top of the hill with dismay during the tough finish at Harrison Lake State Park. Fayette runner Jacob Garrow focuses on the summit, also, during the Eagle Invitational cross country run Saturday morning. Continuing rain and drizzle made the course even more challenging. Results of the race are in this week’s Observer.
  • Front.bear
    HOLDEN HUTCHISON gives a hug to a black bear cub—the product of a taxidermist’s skills—at the Michigan DNR’s Great Youth Jamboree. The event on Sunday marked the fourth year of the Jamboree. Additional photos are on page 12.
  • Front.hose Testing
    HOSE safety—The FireCatt hose testing company from Troy put Morenci Fire Department hose to the test Monday morning when Mill Street was closed to traffic. The company also checks nozzles and ladders for wear in an effort to keep fire fighters safe while on calls.

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