Multi-Team NASCAR Champions
by Tom Jensen September 23, 2022
Winning one premier series championship is tough. Winning titles with two different teams is a real rarity.
Kyle Busch’s upcoming move to Richard Childress Racing is a good reminder of how difficult it is to become a NASCAR champion.
Since NASCAR launched the Strictly Stock Division (now premier series) in 1949, just 16 drivers have won more than one championship at the sport’s top level. Coincidentally, the most recent driver to become a two-time champ is Busch, who won titles driving for Joe Gibbs Racing in 2015 and 2019.
With Busch bound for RCR, a logical question to ask is, can he win another title for his new team?
And that, in turn, is a good reason to do a little research.
If you go through the NASCAR record books, just seven drivers have won premier series championships with two different teams. Spoiler alert: All seven are NASCAR Hall of Fame inductees.
1. Tim Flock – 1952, 1955
In 1952, Tim Flock (NASCAR Hall of Fame Class of 2014) won his first title in Ted Chester’s Hudson Hornet, occasionally accompanied by a live rhesus monkey named Jocko Flocko in the passenger’s seat. Three years later, Flock moved to Carl Kiekhaefer’s new super team and won a second championship in a Chrysler 300.
2. Buck Baker – 1956, 1957
The departure of Tim Flock from Carl Kiekhaefer’s team in early 1956 opened the door for Buck Baker (2013) to win the premier series title that year in a Kiekhaefer Chrysler. In 1957, Baker ran his own team and captured the crown as an owner-driver in his “Black Widow” Chevrolet, a replica of which is on display at the NASCAR Hall of Fame as part of our “Dale Jr.: Glory Road Champions” exhibit.
3. Ned Jarrett – 1961, 1965
Like Tim Flock and Buck Baker before him, Ned Jarrett (2011) earned two premier series championships in different brands of cars and for different team owners. In 1961, Jarrett drove a Chevrolet for B.G. Holloway. Four years later, he won another title, this one in a Ford owned by Bondy Long. The 1965 campaign would be Jarrett’s last full-time season behind the wheel.
4. David Pearson – 1966, 1968, 1969
David Pearson was NASCAR’s second three-time premier series champion – the first was fellow Class of 2011 inductee Lee Petty. Pearson earned his first title in 1966, when he drove a Dodge owned by another South Carolina native and Hall of Famer Cotton Owens (2013). He then won back-to-back titles driving Holman-Moody Racing Fords in 1968 and ’69.
5. Dale Earnhardt – 1980, 1986, 1987, 1990, 1991, 1993, 1994
After winning Rookie of the Year honors in 1979, Dale Earnhardt (2010) won his first championship in 1980 driving for Rod Osterlund. But when Osterlund sold his team the following year, Earnhardt moved on to drive for Richard Childress (2017) for the remainder of 1981. Earnhardt then drove for another Hall of Famer, Bud Moore (2013), in 1982-83, before reuniting with Childress for good in 1984. Earnhardt won six of his seven premier series championships with Richard Childress Racing. Earnhardt’s first and last championship cars are on display at the NASCAR Hall of Fame as part of our “Dale Jr.: Glory Road Champions” exhibit.
6. Terry Labonte – 1984, 1996
Texan Terry Labonte (2016) holds the record for longest time between premier series championships. His first came driving for Billy Hagan in 1984, a year that saw Labonte’s Hall of Fame crew chief Dale Inman (2012) win his record eighth title. Twelve years later, Labonte won a second title, this one driving for Rick Hendrick (2017).
7. Tony Stewart – 2002, 2005, 2011
Tony Stewart was already a two-time championship driver with Joe Gibbs Racing when he co-founded Stewart-Haas Racing in 2009. Stewart won his third title in 2011, this time as an owner-driver. After going winless in the 2011 regular season, Stewart caught lightning in a bottle and won five of the 10 playoff races to defeat Carl Edwards in a tiebreaker and capture his third title.