Non-Petty Record Setters
by Tom Jensen August 16, 2021
The NASCAR record book is dominated by Richard Petty, but “The King” isn’t the only Hall of Famer with his name written down.
If you take a cursory look at the NASCAR record book, you might think it was personally written by Richard Petty, a member if the inaugural NASCAR Hall of Fame Class of 2010.
After all, “The King,” as Petty is known, holds an astonishing number of NASCAR records:
- Most race victories, 200
- Most championships, 7 (tied with Dale Earnhardt and Jimmie Johnson)
- Most poles, 123
- Most victories in a season, 27
- Most consecutive victories, 10
- Most top-five finishes, 555
- Most top-10 finishes, 712
- Most starts 1,185
- Consecutive years with victories, 18
Without question, Petty’s resume is amazing and his place in NASCAR history is richly – and royally – earned.
But hard as it may be to believe, Petty isn’t the only name in the NASCAR history books. Here are seven records held by NASCAR Hall of Famers not named Petty. Some of these have stood for a very long time and most of them likely won’t get broken, at least not anytime soon.
Jeff Gordon (2019) ranks third all-time on the NASCAR victory list, having won 93 races, which propelled him to four premier series championships. But one of the most underappreciated facets of Gordon’s prodigious ability was his toughness. Gordon started 797 consecutive races from 1992 to 2015.
Fastest Qualifying Lap
In 1987, Bill Elliott (2015) qualified on the pole for the Winston 500 at Alabama International Motor Speedway (now Talladega Superspeedway) at a breathtaking 212.809 mph. But after Bobby Allison’s car went airborne during the race, NASCAR decided to slow the cars down in future races at Talladega and Daytona International Speedway, the two biggest and fastest ovals on the schedule.
Largest Margin of Victory
Attrition was so bad in the 1965 Southern 500 that only 15 of 44 cars were still running when the checkered flag fell at Darlington Raceway. Winner Ned Jarrett (2011) said he was praying that his overheating Ford would stay intact in the closing laps. Jarrett slowed so much that he feared he would be black-flagged by NASCAR for going too slow. Jarrett’s car held together and he took the checkered flag 14 laps ahead of fellow Hall of Famer Buck Baker (2013).
Bobby Allison (2011) was successful pretty much everywhere he raced. It didn’t matter what team Allison drove for, what brand of car he was in or which track he was at – he simply won and kept winning. The record book credits Allison with 84 race victories. In 1983, Allison drove for DiGard Racing and won the premier series championship at age 45, making him the sport’s oldest title winner. Allison’s title-winning Buick is on display at the NASCAR Hall of Fame’s exhibit, “Dale Jr.: Glory Road Champions.”
Consecutive Years with Poles
From his rookie season of 1993 to his final full season in 2015, Jeff Gordon won at least one pole in every one of his 23 full seasons behind the wheel of the No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet. Gordon ended his Hall of Fame career with 81 poles, third behind only Richard Petty and David Pearson (2011). Not coincidentally, Petty and Pearson are the only two premier series drivers who won more races than Gordon in his career.
Fastest Race Speed
In 1980, Buddy Baker (2020) set the Daytona 500 speed record at 177.602 mph in the fabled “Gray Ghost” Oldsmobile now on display in the NASCAR Hall of Fame’s Hall of Honor. But the fastest 500-mile race of all time occurred in 1997 at Talladega Superspeedway, where Mark Martin (2017) drove a Jack Roush (2019) Ford Thunderbird to victory at an average speed of 188.354 mph. Martin was able to set the record because the entire race was caution free.
Most Consecutive Poles
When you think of hard-charging drivers, the names Bobby Allison, Cale Yarborough (2012) and Bill Elliott certainly come to mind. Each of the three drivers scored an impressive five consecutive poles at one time or another in their respective careers. Allison did it first in 1972, followed by Yarborough in 1980 and Elliott in 1985.