Every day leading into the 2019 GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway, the 100th race in track history, contributing writer Mark McCarter counts down the top 100 Talladega drivers of all time. Today: 40-31.
40. Tim Richmond. The “what could have been” for Richmond echoes at Talladega as strongly as anywhere, with an average finish of 8.5 when he was running at the end.
39. Joe Nemechek. “Front Row Joe” earned his nickname at Talladega. He won four poles in Cup racing, and five in Xfinity, where he was a two-time winner.
38. Harry Gant. When he finished on fumes in 1991, Gant became the track’s oldest winner, at 51. But he was Hard-Luck Harry, with 12 DNF’s in 32 starts.
37. Elliott Sadler. Three Cup poles, but too often found himself leaving Talladega behind a tow-truck. Xfinity, with two wins and seven top 10s in 10 races, was a different story.
36. James Hylton. He blew away the field — all but runner-up Ramo Stott were at least five laps behind — for his only Talladega win, in ’72. And he had nine other top 10s.
35. Denny Hamlin. Feast or famine for 2014 winner — 10 top 10s and seven finishes in the 30s.
34. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. His 2017 win was no fluke. His bold style has put him in the top 10 in seven of 11 starts.
33. Martin Truex Jr. Does he earn “best active driver without a plate win” title, with a pair of top 5s? He does have three Xfinity trophies in four tries.
32. Bobby Isaac. He claimed to hear voices in his head telling him to get out of the car in 1973. But he was five times a pole-sitter and five times in the top 10 in his eight starts before heeding the voices.
31. Kyle Busch. He’s always among the best drivers anywhere he goes, but ’Dega has been fickle. One win, but he’s had six DNF’s and 10 of 27 times has been 30th or worse.