Daytona 500 Winning Teams
by Tom Jensen February 06, 2021
The Great American Race remains the most coveted trophy in motorsports, one every NASCAR team wants to win.
The Daytona 500 is the one race every NASCAR organization goes to extraordinary lengths to win.
Given that the 500 is the first points-paying race of the premier series season, race teams have all winter to prepare their Daytona cars, and they pull out all the stops to field the most competitive cars they can. It’s no surprise, therefore, that crews spend more time – often considerably more time – on their Daytona 500 cars than any others.
And when it comes to the Great American Race, some teams have stood out over the years. Following are the eight teams to win the Daytona 500 at least three times:
Ranier Racing, 3
Team owner Harry Ranier always fielded stout cars at Daytona. Buddy Baker (2020) ran the fastest Daytona 500 in 1980, averaging 177.602 mph in Ranier’s “Gray Ghost” Oldsmobile. Cale Yarborough (2012) went back-to-back for Ranier in 1983-84, winning the ’83 race in a Pontiac Lemans that was a converted show car. Waddell Wilson (2020) was the crew chief for all three of Ranier’s wins, and the Gray Ghost and Yarborough’s ’84 Chevrolet are on display in the NASCAR Hall of Fame’s Hall of Honor.
Dale Earnhardt Inc., 3
Not only was Dale Earnhardt (2010) a seven-time premier series championship driver, he was a successful team owner as well. Michael Waltrip broke a 0-467 start to his career with a victory in the 2001 Daytona 500 and won the Great American Race again in 2003. Both of Waltrip’s victories came in Dale Earnhardt Inc. Chevrolets. Unfortunately the 2001 race will always be remembered as the one where Earnhardt perished in a last-lap crash. In 2004, Dale Earnhardt Jr. (2021) won his first of two Daytona 500s and the only one with DEI.
Richard Childress Racing, 3
Each Daytona 500 victory for team owner Richard Childress (2017) came with a different driver in a different decade. The first was with Dale Earnhardt (2010) in 1998, when “The Intimidator” ended 20 years of frustration by finally winning NASCAR’s biggest race. In 2007, Kevin Harvick made a remarkable last-lap charge in his RCR Chevrolet to edge Mark Martin (2017) at the start-finish line. And in 2018, Childress’ grandson Austin Dillon led only one lap, the last lap, and put the RCR Chevy Camaro in Victory Lane.
Robert Yates Racing, 3
One of the specialties at Robert Yates Racing was building powerful restrictor-plate motors that the team raced in its Fords at Daytona International Speedway and Talladega Superspeedway. Davey Allison (2019) gave Robert Yates (2018) and his squad the first of its three Daytona 500 triumphs in 1992, while Dale Jarrett (2014) scored his and the team’s second and third 500 victories in 1996 and 2000. In all three races, Yates horsepower was a key ingredient for victory.
Joe Gibbs Racing, 4
The first premier series race victory for team owner Joe Gibbs (2020) came in the 1993 Daytona 500. That year Dale Jarrett (2014) famously held off Dale Earnhardt (2010) as Jarrett’s father Ned (2011) called the “Dale and Dale Show” live on CBS television. JGR driver Denny Hamlin has won three of the last five Daytona 500s, triumphing in 2016, ’19 and ’20. Gibbs called Hamlin’s ’19 win the biggest sports victory of his career, as it came just weeks following the untimely passing of Gibbs’ older son, J.D., after a lengthy illness.
Wood Brothers Racing, 5
NASCAR’s oldest continuously operating team holds an impressive record: Its five Daytona 500 victories came with five different drivers over a 48-year period. The Wood Brothers first won NASCAR’s biggest race in 1963, when Tiny Lund subbed for an injured Marvin Panch, who Lund had dragged out from beneath a burning car after Panch crashed in a sports car race. Five years later, Cale Yarborough (2012) won the 500 from the pole. Open-wheel star A.J. Foyt delivered victory No. 3 in dominant fashion in 1972. One of the most famous races in NASCAR history came in the 1976 Daytona 500 when David Pearson (2011) won for the Wood Brothers after a last-lap crash with Richard Petty (2010). Last but certainly not least, Trevor Bayne scored a stunning upset in 2011, winning the Daytona 500 in only his second premier series start and one day after he turned 20. And, Glen (2012) and Leonard (2013) Wood were again on hand to celebrate.
Hendrick Motorsports, 8
It should be no surprise that the team that owns a record 13 premier series championships also ranks near the top for Daytona 500 victories. Rick Hendrick’s (2017) outfit earned its first Harley J. Earl trophy in 1986 with Geoff Bodine. Three years later, Darrell Waltrip (2012) won his only Daytona 500 in his 17th start, the same number on his Hendrick-owned, Tide-sponsored Chevrolet. Jeff Gordon (2019) followed with wins in the Great American Race in 1997, ’99 and 2005. Jimmie Johnson added victories in 2006 and ’13, while Dale Earnhardt Jr. (2021) earned his second 500 victory, and his only one with the Hendrick team, in 2014.
Petty Enterprises, 9
The success of Petty Enterprises in the Daytona 500 extends back to the very first running of the Great American Race in 1959, when family patriarch Lee Petty (2011) won the inaugural 500 in a photo finish that took three days to become official. Richard Petty (2010), Lee’s son, won NASCAR’s biggest race a record seven times, in 1964, ’66, ’71, ’73, ’74, ’79 and ’81. The ninth Petty Enterprises Daytona 500 victory came in 1970, with New Englander Pete Hamilton driving a winged Plymouth Superbird with Maurice Petty (2014) as his crew chief.
The NASCAR Hall of Fame is open Wednesday through Monday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The Hall will host a Daytona 500 Race Viewing Party February 14. To purchase tickets, go to nascarhall.com/tickets.