Top 10 List: Season Finale Stats
by Tom Jensen November 06, 2020
The end of the NASCAR calendar means it’s time for some seriously geeky season-finale stats.
The NASCAR season is one of the longest in sports, stretching from February to November, with 36 points races and a few exhibition events, too.
This year’s schedule will end November 8 at Phoenix Raceway, which will become the 21st track to host the final race of the premier series schedule.
So now that the end of the season is upon us, it’s time to take a deep dive into some of the statistical records and anomalies that have occurred in the final races of the premier series each year, dating all the way back to 1949.
So without further delay, here’s this week’s top-10 list:
10. First last race, North Wilkesboro Speedway, 1949
The inaugural eight-race NASCAR Strictly Stock Division (now premier series) season ended on October 16, 1949, with the running of the Wilkes 200 at North Wilkesboro Speedway, then a 0.500-mile dirt track in North Carolina’s moonshine country. Bob Flock won the 200-lapper and the $1,500 purse money that went with it. The only other driver to finish on the lead lap was Hall of Famer Lee Petty (2011).
9. First repeat driver, Buck Baker, 1956-57
Hall of Famer Buck Baker (2013) is NASCAR’s first repeat champion, so it’s fitting that Baker is also the first to win consecutive season-ending races, which he did in his two championship campaigns, with both year-end wins coming at North Carolina tracks. In 1956, Baker ended the year with a victory at Wilson Speedway. The following season, he closed out his title defense with another win, this one at Greensboro Fairgrounds.
Buck Baker’s championship-winning 1957 Chevrolet is on display at the NASCAR Hall of Fame as part of the “Dale Jr.: Glory Road Champions” exhibit.
8. First Repeat Track, Texas World Speedway, 1971-72
Here’s an odd fact: From 1949 to 1970, a period of 22 years, NASCAR never ended its premier series season at the same track two years in a row. During those 22 seasons, 17 different tracks from Florida to Southern California played host to the year-ending race. The first track to conduct the last race in consecutive seasons was Texas World Speedway in 1971 and ’72. Both of the Texas races were won by Hall of Famers: Richard Petty (2010) in ’71 and Buddy Baker (2020) in ’72. The track also hosted the final race in 1969, won by Bobby Isaac (2016).
7. Last wins in last races, 4
Four drivers, including two Hall of Famers, won the final race of their respective careers in the last race of the year. They Include Frank Mundy, who triumphed at Lakeview (Alabama) Speedway in 1951 and Hershel McGriff, the 1954 winner at North Wilkesboro Speedway. Ned Jarrett (2011) got his 50th and final victory at North Carolina’s Dog Track Speedway in 1965, while Bobby Labonte (2020) won his last race at Homestead-Miami Speedway in 2003.
Ned Jarrett’s 1965 fire suit is one of many uniforms on display at the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
6. West Coast Season Finales, 13
From 1974 to 1986, 13 consecutive NASCAR seasons ended in Southern California. The first seven season finales during that period took place at Ontario Motor Speedway, where in 1980 Hall of Famer Dale Earnhardt (2010) famously won his first of seven championships. Starting in 1981, NASCAR then ended the next six seasons on the Riverside International Raceway course.
The car Dale Earnhardt raced when he clinched his 1980 championship at Ontario Motor Speedway is featured in the NASCAR Hall of Fame’s “Dale Jr.: Glory Road Champions” exhibit.
5. Most season finales hosted, Homestead-Miami Speedway, 18
South Florida’s Homestead-Miami Speedway hosted every premier series finale from 2002-2019, a streak of 18 years in a row. A close second was Atlanta Motor Speedway with 16. Atlanta hosted season finales in 1960 and ’62, then every year from 1987 to 2000. From 1987 to 2019, the only three tracks where the premier series season ended were Homestead, Atlanta and in 2001 only, New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
4. Three-Peat, Greg Biffle, 2004-06
The only driver to win three consecutive season finales was Greg Biffle, who accomplished the feat at Homestead-Miami Speedway from 2004-06. All three of Biffle’s victories came driving Fords owned by Hall of Famer Jack Roush (2019). Biffle is also the last driver to win consecutive season finales.
3. Winning Streak, Jack Roush, 2004-2008
The only car owner with five consecutive victories in season finales is Hall of Famer Jack Roush (2019), who won three in a row with Greg Biffle from 2004-06, then again with Matt Kenseth in 2007 and Carl Edwards in 2008. From 2002-2010, Roush drivers won seven of nine final races, all at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
2. Most season-finale victories, Bobby Allison, 5
Hall of Famer Bobby Allison (2011) won the most final premier series races of the year of any driver, scoring victories at Asheville-Weaverville (North Carolina) Speedway in 1967; Langley (Virginia) Speedway in 1970; Ontario (California) Speedway in 1974 and ’78; and another Southern California track, Riverside International Raceway, in 1981. Hall of Famer Bobby Labonte (2020) won three season finales at Atlanta Motor Speedway in 1996, ’97 and ’99, and a fourth at Homestead-Miami Speedway in 2003.
An assortment of Bobby Allison artifacts are on display in Heritage Speedway on the top floor of the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
1. Latest date for last race, December 12
We’ll close with another wild stat: The 1971 premier series season ended on December 12, when Richard Petty (2010) won the Texas 500 at Texas World Speedway over his Petty Enterprises teammate and fellow Hall of Famer Buddy Baker (2020). In 72 seasons, that’s the latest date the premier series schedule concluded. The following year, at the behest of series sponsor R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., the schedule was cut back from 48 to 31 races.