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Historic Moments

NASCAR Car Numbers

What’s in a car number? For NASCAR fans, a lot of history and some big surprises.

If you love NASCAR statistics and trivia, you’ve come to the right place, because this edition of the NASCAR Hall of Fame’s Curators’ Corner has some eye-opening trivia related to car numbers dating back decades in the sport’s history. All of these numbers are accurate through the end of the 2020 NASCAR premier series season.

Fifty-five of Cale Yarborough’s 83 career race victories came behind the wheel of the No. 11. Photo courtesy of NASCAR Archives & Research Center/CQ-Roll Call Group via Getty Images

Most Wins by One Car Number

The big winner here is No. 11, which by the end of 2020 had won a record 224 premier series races. Among the Hall of Famers to post big numbers in the No. 11 are Cale Yarborough (2012), who leads all drivers with 55 victories with this number, and Ned Jarrett (2011), a 49-time winner in the No. 11. Darrell Waltrip (2012) added another 43 wins in the No. 11, while fittingly enough, Junior Johnson (2010) won 11 times.

David Pearson was the most successful of the 16 drivers who won races in the Wood Brothers Racing No. 21. Photo courtesy of NASCAR Archives & Research Center via Getty Images

Most Drivers To Win With One Number

Wood Brothers Racing, NASCAR’s oldest continually operating team, was formed in 1950 by Glen Wood (2012), who employed his brother Leonard (2013) as chief mechanic and engine builder. Sixteen different drivers found Victory Lane in various incarnations of the Wood Brothers Racing No. 21 Fords and Mercurys. Three other drivers won races in the 1950s in non-Wood Brothers No. 21 entries, bringing the total number of winners in the No. 21 to 19. All told, the No. 21 has won 92 premier series races, topped by David Pearson’s (2011) 43 victories and 13 more for Cale Yarborough (2012).

Team owner Carl Kiekhaefer employed a fleet of Chryslers with triple-digits numbers for Buck Baker (left) and the team’s other drivers in 1955-56. Photo courtesy of NASCAR Archives & Research Center/CQ-Roll Call Group via Getty Images

Most Wins With Different Numbers In One Season

Here’s a crazy stat for you: In his first championship season of 1956, Buck Baker (2013) drove race cars with 10 different numbers: 87, 300, 301, 500B, 300C, 502, 300b, 00, 31, 501. Amazingly, Baker won races that season with seven different numbers. The triple-digit cars all belonged to Carl Kiekhaefer, who dominated NASCAR in 1955 and ’56 before suddenly leaving NASCAR for good.

Bobby Allison won races with 11 different numbers, including the No. 12, which he drove to 25 of his 84 career victories. Photo courtesy of NASCAR Archives & Research Center via Getty Images

Most Career Wins With Different Numbers

During his Hall of Fame career, Buck Baker (2013) won races in 13 different car numbers. Close behind Baker were Bobby Allison (2011) and Jim Paschal, who each won races in cars with 11 different numbers. Paschal won 25 races in his career, yet his victories came in cars with 11 different numbers, which is both impressive and surprising.

In 1955, Jim Paschal won three races in the No. 78 Oldsmobile. Photo courtesy of NASCAR Archives & Research Center via Getty Images

Four In A Row

Drivers who won races in cars with consecutive numbers include Buck Baker (2013), who won in the No. 86, 87, 88 and 89, and Jim Paschal, who won in the No. 41, 42, 43 and 44.

Kyle (from left), Lee and Richard Petty all won premier series races driving the No. 42. Photo courtesy of NASCAR Archives & Research Center/CQ-Roll Call Group via Getty Images

Family Affair

Petty family patriarch Lee Petty (2011), his son Richard (2010) and grandson Kyle all won multiple premier series races in cars carrying the No. 42. Lee won 53 races in the No. 42, Kyle was victorious six times and Richard won twice. The Pettys are believed to be the only family to have three generations win premier series races with the same car number.

Driver Disparities

Richard Petty (2010) won 192 races in the No. 43, while Jim Paschal and Bobby Hamilton won twice each. As for the No. 24, Jeff Gordon (2019) won 93 races with that number, while the only other driver to win in the No. 24 is William Byron, who won his first race last year. Also in the Hendrick Motorsports camp, Jimmie Johnson won 83 times in the No. 48, while the late James Hylton won just twice with that number.

In 1963, Johnny Rutherford became the first rookie to win a Daytona 500 qualifying race. Photo courtesy of NASCAR Archives & Research Center/CQ-Roll Call Group via Getty Images

Unlucky Number

In 649 races, the No. 13 has just one victory. It came in 1963, when Johnny Rutherford won a 100-mile Daytona 500 qualifying race in a Chevrolet owned and prepared by Smokey Yunick.

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Tom Jensen

Tom Jensen

Tom is the Curatorial Affairs Manager of the NASCAR Hall of Fame and a veteran of more than 20 years in the NASCAR media industry.

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