NASCAR: 20-plus winners possible in 2011

Written by David Green.

By RICH FOLEY

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.train
    WRECKAGE—Morenci Fire Department member Taylor Schisler walks past the smoking wreckage of a semi-truck tractor on the north side of the Norfolk and Southern Railroad tracks on Ranger Highway. The truck trailer was on the south side of the tracks
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    SCULPTORS—Morenci third grade students Emersyn Thompson (left) and Marissa Lawrence turn spaghetti sticks into mini sculptures Friday during a class visit to Stair District Library. All Morenci Elementary School classes recently visited the library to experience the creative construction toys purchased through the “Sculptamania!” project, funded by a Disney Curiosity Creates grant. The grant is administered by the Association for Library Services to Children, a division of the American Library Association.
  • Funcolor
    LEONIE LEAHY was one of three local hair stylists who volunteered time Friday at the Morenci PTO Fun Night. Her customer, Aubrey Sandusky, looks up at her mother while her hair takes on a perfect match to her outfit. Leahy said she had a great time at the event—nothing but happy clients.
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    LEARNING THE ROPES—Kristy Castillo (left), co-owner of Mane Street Salon, works with Kendal Kuhn as Sierra Orner takes a phone call. The two Morenci Area High School juniors spent Friday at the salon as part of a job shadowing experience.
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    IN THE FIELD—2004 Morenci graduate Kayse Onweller works in a test plot of wheat in Texas. She’s part of Bayer CropScience’s North American wheat breeding program based in Nebraska, where she completed post-graduate work in plant breeding and genetics.
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    REFEREE Camden Miller raises the hand of Morenci Jr. Dawgs wrestler Ryder Ryan as his opponent leaves the mat in disappointment. Morenci’s youth wrestling program served as host for a tournament Saturday morning to raise money for the club. Additional photos are on the back page.
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    SHERWOOD STATE Bank opened its Fayette office at a grand opening Friday morning, drawing a large crowd to view the renovated building. Above, Burt Blue talks to teller Cindy Funk, while his wife, Jackie, looks around the new office. The Blues missed the opening and took a quick tour on Tuesday. Few traces remain of the former grocery store and theater, however, part of the original brick wall still shows in the hallway leading to the back of the building. The drive-through window should be ready for customers later in the month.
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    FROM THE LEFT, Landon Wilkins, Ryan White and Logan Blaker try out their artistic skills Saturday afternoon at the Morenci PTO’s first Date to Create event. More than 50 people showed up to create decorated planks of wood to hang from rope. The event served as a fund-raiser for miscellaneous PTO projects. Additional photos are on the back of this week’s Observer.

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