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LASTCAR: Cup Series Year-By-Year (1949-2020)

LASTCAR: Cup Series Year-By-Year (1949-2020)

Автором Brock Beard

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LASTCAR: Cup Series Year-By-Year (1949-2020)

Автором Brock Beard

Длина:
264 pages
2 hours
Издатель:
Издано:
Jan 6, 2013
ISBN:
9781301243785
Формат:
Книге

Описание

LASTCAR.info’s Brock Beard pens his own history of the NASCAR Cup Series from the perspective of the series’ last-place finishers, providing detailed analysis of every season run from 1949 through today. Each article includes career snapshots of each and every LASTCAR Cup Series Champion, featuring more than one hundred pages of never-before-published statistics on some of the most important moments in LASTCAR history. Includes a full introduction by the author.

Издатель:
Издано:
Jan 6, 2013
ISBN:
9781301243785
Формат:
Книге

Об авторе

Brock Beard graduated with honors from the University of California at Irvine with four years on the UCI Men’s Crew and completion of the Humanities Honors Program. He holds a Juris Doctor from John F. Kennedy University with a Witkin Award in Constitutional Law. A racing enthusiast, Beard founded LASTCAR.info in 2009, a site dedicated to NASCAR’s last-place finishers and small teams. His work has been featured on NASCAR.com, SPEED Channel, RaceTalkRadio.com, Manifold Destiny with Mojo Nixon, and the PETM Podcast. Beard lives in Antioch, California.


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LASTCAR - Brock Beard

2020

INTRODUCTION

For as long as I can remember, I’ve always been a bit eccentric.

Certainly, the quirk that furrows the most brows is the fact that I’m a NASCAR fan. I am a sixth-generation northern Californian with a degree in English and another in law, and though I know next-to-nothing about fixing a car, I’ve absorbed NASCAR stats like a sponge for more than two decades. Whenever I’m asked why the sport appeals to me, I point to the same thing - a chance screening of Days of Thunder at the old El Campanil Theater in my hometown of Antioch, California. Say what you will about that film, but from that day, both my younger brother and I were hooked.

Now, as if I wasn’t weird enough already, I find myself as the writer behind LASTCAR.info, racing’s first website dedicated to last-place finishers.

This latest turn in my fandom began with one simple question. In the winter of 2008, a couple weeks after Jimmie Johnson secured his record-tying third consecutive NASCAR Cup Championship, my brother asked me who had the most last-place finishes in the sport’s history. An online search of the usual channels turned up nothing. And right then, I was curious - I had to know.

I started by clicking through the race results on racing-reference.info and tallying up on scratch paper who had the most last-place finishes since 43-car fields became the norm in 1998. As I clicked through the pages, I would call out when a lead change would occur, where one driver or the other would take over the title as the driver with the most 43rds. A couple hours later, I had my answer - Derrike Cope had the most: 13 finishes from 1998 through the 2008 season.

Though my brother was satisfied with the answer, I found out that I wasn’t. And it drove me to put together a formal statistical database. For nearly two months, I clicked through every single Cup Series results page on racing-reference, compiling my statistics from June 19, 1949 to the present day. Within days before the 2009 Daytona 500, I had completed my work, including separate statistics for NASCAR’s non-points races. But with the completion came the realization that my stats would need to be updated once the season started.

LASTCAR was born.

Since 2009, the site has grown to include updates for NASCAR’s two other top-tier divisions on a weekly basis. LASTCAR has been featured in Mark Aumann’s column on NASCAR.com and my updates are posted weekly on Jayski’s Silly Season Site. The website has been featured on at least three radio shows, including RaceTalkRadio.com, where I was a regular guest for five years. Readers like Rob Dostie, who has sent me his personal photographs of the race’s last-place finisher, helped me win a contest where I introduced Regan Smith into the 2012 NASCAR All-Star Race. And this year, I was fortunate to meet Robert Taylor, a motorsports artist who overcame Parkinson’s Disease to draw immaculate depictions of race cars, both past and present, both the well-known and obscure.

It’s been exciting to see so many people interested in last-place finishers, but the first question I receive is always the same: Why are you so interested in them?

The truth is, I’ve always had a soft spot for the underdog, and racing showcases these competitors better than any other sport. Unlike ball sports, where multiple games occur simultaneously in different places, races feature relatively the same group of drivers every single week, all of them vying for the same prize en route to the championship. The drivers who contend for the win get featured the most for obvious reasons, but I’ve always felt that the rest of the field plays an important role with unique storylines of their own. Some are start-up drivers or teams trying to make names for themselves. Others are once-prominent teams struggling with sponsorship, or veteran drivers fighting to regain former glory. And still others, in recent years, are start-and-park operations, their drivers taking one for the team to get to the next race.

These storylines really speak to me on a personal level. In 2001, I was invited to join the rowing team at the University of California at Irvine. It was the opportunity of a lifetime to become a student-athlete for a Division 1 NCAA sport, but there was one huge problem - I had absolutely no prior athletic experience. Literally. The closest I ever got to a football field in high school was when I played Let’s Go Band on my trombone in the pep band.

Those first few weeks in Irvine, it was clear I was in over my head training alongside former football and basketball players, marathon runners, and the like. And I finished last a lot. Runs, weight training, rowing machine sprints, you name it. But my teammates were extremely supportive of me - at one point literally pushing me to the front of the pack during a run - and I trained relentlessly to earn the respect they gave me. In the end, I competed in all four of my years in Irvine, helping the team to four race wins.

But though I strived to become as strong and fast as I could, realistically my goal was to reach the middle of the pack, ensuring that I was pulling my share of the weigh. And I see this sense of perspective in NASCAR’s lesser-known drivers and teams. For some teams, that victory is a 22nd-place finish, but for others merely qualifying is a victory in and of itself. One of my favorite NASCAR moments of all time came on September 27, 1998, when Rich Bickle cried after he finished 4th at Martinsville, saying, This is winning to me.

Without a doubt, every driver who starts a race wants to win it, but sometimes, you have to be resourceful with what you’re given and understand what victory for you really is.

LASTCAR has had its share of controversy. Many drivers I’ve featured have extremely passionate fans. Although I do have a wry sense of humor, I try not to pick on any particular driver or team, and instead let the course of the race or season dictate the narrative. Unfortunately, for every race where there’s a winner, someone has to finish last. However, with the many uncertainties in the sport, theoretically, every entrant has just as much of a chance to be featured on my site as they would as the race winner on SportsCenter.

And it is this uncertainty that has kept me writing ever since.

LASTCAR CHAMPIONSHIP HISTORY

This article you have purchased is the first of what I hope to be several stat-heavy pieces on the history of NASCAR’s last-place finishers. Each article will focus on a different aspect of my statistics to complement the updates that will continue to be posted on LASTCAR. To start us off, I wanted to do a piece reviewing the last-place history of every Cup Series season.

A recurring feature at LASTCAR is that of the LASTCAR Championship, which goes to the driver who scores the most last-place finishes that season. In the event that more than one driver scores the most last-place finishes, the tiebreaker is based on the driver’s number of Bottom Fives that season. A Bottom Five is earned by a driver when he finishes in the final five positions of a race, such as positions 39 through 43 in today’s NASCAR Cup Series. Ties in Bottom Fives then go to Bottom Tens and so on in five-position intervals until a champion is crowned.

Five-position increments are used instead of one-position gaps for actual NASCAR Championship tiebreakers as I felt in today’s NASCAR, it would reduce the chance of a part-time driver scoring the title, as in full-time driver Jeff Gordon’s 1993 tiebreaker over Bob Schacht, where both drivers were tied for the most last-place finishes even though Gordon started all thirty races while Belmont started just three. As you will see, however, part-time racers were much more common in NASCAR’s early days, so many of the champions on this list still didn’t start the majority of the season’s races.

The other reason for this is that, if two drivers are tied for the most last-place finishes, but for one of them, the finishes were an anomaly to an otherwise stellar season, I felt the driver with the less consistent year should get the title instead. For example, if Joe Weatherly finished last one more time in 1963 to tie Curtis Crider for the most last-place finishes during the year Weatherly won his second championship, this still would have given 17th-place points man Crider the LASTCAR title. Thus, on paper, the intent is to give titles to regular competitors in NASCAR who are lesser-known in the sport, Jeff Gordon notwithstanding.

The LASTCAR Championship, as with the NASCAR title, does not include non-points races, such as the pole winners’ race at Daytona, the All-Star Race at Charlotte and Atlanta, and all other exhibition events and non-scored races. The Qualifying Races for the Daytona 500 are also excluded, except for those run as points races from 1959 through 1971.

As Greg Fielden pointed out in his excellent series Forty Years of Stock Car Racing - which was consulted for this project along with racing-reference.info and my own notes - race results from NASCAR’s early years are somewhat unreliable. For years, only the Top 20 received a share of the race’s purse, so only those drivers were entered on the officials’ pay sheets. Therefore, the identities of some of NASCAR’s first last-place finishers may be lost to history. Still, thanks to Fielden’s exhaustive work, including full race results for those early events, these statistics include every NASCAR Cup Series race ever run.

When all is said and done, what I have compiled here is a unique list of drivers. Some of them are household names in the NASCAR community, their features on LASTCAR merely a postscript to their legendary careers. But for many more of them, the drivers are lesser-known figures in the sport. Some of them were young talents who could never quite obtain a competitive ride. Others were veterans fighting to keep their own teams going in a rapidly-changing sport. Still others are names that few have uttered except those who knew them best. But all of these drivers were not simply drivers who finished last, but competitors who, in their own unique way, contributed to the growth of stock car racing.

In addition, I have also included several facts about other last-place finishers over the years, including the first last-place finishes earned by some of NASCAR’s most well-known drivers.

Thank you again for supporting LASTCAR and I hope you enjoy this unique look at stock car racing history.

Sincerely,

Brock Beard

Founder, LASTCAR

1949

LASTCAR CHAMPION

Glenn Dunaway

SEASON IN REVIEW

Gastonia, North Carolina driver Glenn Dunaway is a significant figure in LASTCAR history.

On June 19, 1949 at the Charlotte Speedway, a tiny dirt track in Charlotte, North Carolina, Dunaway was flagged the winner of NASCAR’s first-ever race after his 1947 Ford beat second-place Jim Roper by three laps. But Dunaway’s car #25 was disqualified hours later for running with altered rear springs, thus violating NASCAR’s rule that every car in the field remain strictly stock. Despite a legal challenge, Roper was credited with the victory, and Dunaway was kicked to the 33rd and final spot, becoming NASCAR’s first-ever last-place finisher.

Three weeks later at the first NASCAR event on the Daytona Beach-Roadcourse in Daytona Beach, Florida, Dunaway finished last once more, this time driving a 1949 Lincoln. This made Dunaway the first NASCAR driver to finish last in consecutive races and the first to trail the field at Daytona. The remaining six races of the brief 1949 season featured different last-place finishers, so Dunaway ended up with the first-ever LASTCAR Cup Championship, having competed in six of the season’s eight races.

Dunaway would compete another two seasons on the NASCAR tour, scoring a best career finish of 2nd at Canfield, Ohio in 1950. But NASCAR’s first two last-place finishes were the only ones of his 18-race career. He passed away on March 8, 1964.

OTHER LASTCAR HEADLINES

On October 2, Al Bonnell became the first NASCAR polesitter to finish last in the same race. His #19 1949 Oldsmobile was unable to complete a lap at the Heidelberg Raceway in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS

1st) Glenn Dunaway (2)

2nd) Al Bonnell, Fonty Flock, Sterling Long, Chuck Mahoney, Otis Martin, Frank Mundy (1)

1950

LASTCAR CHAMPION

Gayle Warren

SEASON IN REVIEW

Marion, Virginia driver Gayle Warren picked up his first LASTCAR Cup Championship in 1950, becoming the second driver to do so as the only repeat last-placer that season. Warren competed in ten of the season’s nineteen races.

Warren, competing in his first season on the tour, scored his first last-place finish in NASCAR’s return to the Charlotte Speedway on July 23, scene of Dunaway’s disqualification the year before. The second took place two races later at Dayton, Ohio on August 20. Both finishes occurred because of unlisted causes when Warren was driving a 1949 Olds 88 whose car number is not listed in either race’s results.

Warren competed in two more seasons through 1953, scoring 15 starts and a career-best finish of 5th at North Wilkesboro, North Carolina in 1950 behind the wheel of a #44 1950 Plymouth.

OTHER LASTCAR HEADLINES

Louise Smith, the First Lady of Racing, also became NASCAR’s first female driver to finish last. She scored her first last-place finish after her #94 Smith Auto Parts ‘49 Ford was taken out in an opening-lap crash at the season opener on the Daytona Beach-Roadcourse on February 5.

Also of note in the 1950 season was the last-place finish of Joe Merola in the Poor Man’s 500 at Canfield, Ohio on May 30. Merola’s #12 was a 1948 Tucker Torpedo, the only recorded NASCAR start for the ill-fated manufacturer.

On September 4, Roscoe Thompson finished last in the inaugural Southern 500 at the Darlington Raceway in Darlington, South Carolina when his 1949 Oldsmobile fell out after 24 laps. Although race winner Johnny Mantz did become NASCAR’s only driver to win from the 43rd starting position, contrary to popular perception, that was not the last starting spot - 75 cars started the race.

On October 15 at Winchester, Indiana, Dick Linder became the first NASCAR driver to finish last after leading a lap. Linder’s #25 1950 Oldsmobile led the opening three laps before he fell out of the event.

On October 29, future NASCAR legend Curtis Turner picked up his first last-place finish, losing the engine on his #41 Eanes Motor Co. 1950 Oldsmobile after the opening lap of the season finale at the Occoneechee Speedway in Hillsboro, North Carolina.

CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS

1st) Gayle Warren (2)

2nd) Bob Apperson, Bill Blair, Dick Burns, Hugh Darragh, Buddy Helms, Harland Holmes, Lee Hough, Tex Keene, Dick Linder, Joe Merola, Frank Mundy, Charles Muscatel, Leon Sales, Louise Smith, Roscoe Thompson, Curtis Turner, Felix Wilkes (1)

1951

LASTCAR CHAMPION

Lloyd Moore

SEASON IN REVIEW

Fewsburg, New York driver Lloyd Moore picked up his first LASTCAR Cup Championship in 1951. Moore competed in twenty-two of the season’s forty-one races.

Moore finished sixth in his first-ever NASCAR start at the Heidelberg (Pennylvania) Raceway, the penultimate race of the Strictly Stock division’s inaugural 1949 season. He won his first race the following year, taking the checkers at the Winchester Speedway on October 15, 1950. In 1951, he would remain with team owner Julian Buesink, who the year before was the championship car owner for teammate Bill Rexford. All three of Moore’s last-place finishes would come in Buesink’s #59 Fords and Oldsmobiles.

The first came on May 30, during the Poor Man’s 500 at the Canfield (Ohio) Speedway, where his 1949 Oldsmobile dropped out early from the 38-car contest. The next came eight rounds later at the Asheville-Weaverville Speedway, where his run in the 200-lap race ended with issues for his 1950 Ford. The last occurred just two races later on August 1, when his Ford encountered mechanical issues in the 200-lap event at New York’s Altamont-Schenectady Fairgrounds.

In previous installments, Frank Rebel Mundy was credited with the 1951 LASTCAR Cup Championship, having forced Moore to a Bottom Ten tiebreaker of 10-8. However, on August 29, 2016, new information revealed that Mundy scored just two of his original three last-place finishes that year. Four drivers were now ranked behind Mundy in the September 23 race at the Charlotte Speedway, including last-place finisher Eddie Anderson in his Nash. Thus, Moore is credited with the championship without a tiebreaker.

Moore ran more races in 1951 than any other season, but finished just eleventh in the final standings. He ran ten more races, the last of which coming in the 1955 Southern 500 at Darlington, where his Julian Buesink-prepared #95 Ford finished 24th in a field of 69. Moore passed away on May 18, 2008.

OTHER LASTCAR HEADLINES

As the longest NASCAR season to that point, 1951 saw several future stars of NASCAR score their first last-place finishes. On April 29, Glenn Fireball Roberts finished last at North Wilkesboro, North Carolina when his #11 Sam Rice 1950 Oldsmobile 88 slipped a fuel line after three laps. Marshall Teague and his 1951 Fabulous Hudson Hornet #6 pulled out after eleven laps of the June 10 race at Columbus, Georgia when a rock broke through his windshield and injured his hand. Future series champion Tim Flock trailed the field in Macon, Georgia on September 8, falling from the outside-pole in his #91 Black Phantom 1951 Oldsmobile 88.

CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS

11st) Lloyd Moore (3)

2nd) Frank Mundy (2)

3rd) Eddie Anderson, Len Brown, Woody Brown, Hal Cole, Leland Colvin, Jim Delaney, Ray Duhigg, Don Eggett, Bud Erb, Mike Ernest, Wimpy Ervin, Lou Figaro, Pat Flaherty, Tim Flock, Jimmy Florian, Curtis Hunt, Harold Kite, Mike Klapak, Dawsom Lechlider, Irv Leitch, Bill Majot, Dell Pearson, Andy Pierce, Ray Pruitt, Fireball Roberts, George Seeger, Jack Smith, John Soares, Bill Stickler, Marshall Teague, Donald Thomas, Curtis Turner, Jack Wade, J.C. White, Cliff Woodson (1)

1952

LASTCAR CHAMPION

Joe Staton

SEASON IN REVIEW

Greenville, South Carolina driver Joe J.O. Staton scored his first LASTCAR Cup Championship in 1952, his only year on the NASCAR Cup tour. Staton scored three last-place finishes in his seven starts during the thirty-four-race season.

Staton’s three finishes came while driving the #94, a team which campaigned cars from three manufacturers: Nash, Ford, and Oldsmobile. The team was owned by female racer and NASCAR legend Louise Smith. Smith raced alongside Staton at Macon, Georgia on April 27 and at Langhorne, Pennsylvania on May 4, but both drivers finished in the back of the pack. With the exception of Smith’s fifteenth and final career start at Morristown, New Jersey on July 11, Smith stopped competing in NASCAR and turned over driving duties to Staton.

Unfortunately, in Staton’s first run by himself at Darlington, South Carolina on May 10, his #94 1951 Nash suffered a tire problem after only ten laps and scored his first last-place finish. His second finish came three races later in the rain-shortened event in Augusta, Georgia where his #94 Smith Auto Parts 1951 Ford overheated after eleven laps. Staton’s third finish came in his final career start at North Wilkesboro, North Carolina on October 26, where another overheating problem parked his #94 Ford.

Despite these struggles, Staton’s best career finish was an 8th-place run at the Playland Park Speedway in South Bend, Indiana on July 20. His seven NASCAR starts in 1952 were the only seven of Staton’s career.

OTHER LASTCAR HEADLINES

1952 also saw future Cup champion Buck Baker score his first two last-place finishes in consecutive races. The first came September 7 at Macon, Georgia, where his #89 B.A. Pless 1952 Hudson Hornet broke a right-rear axle after eleven laps. The second came during the tragic September 14 race at Langhorne, Pennsylvania where Baker’s #87 1951 Ford had a heating problem after 26 laps. Late in the Langhorne event, Larry Mann became the first NASCAR driver to be killed during a race when is #43 Green Hornet 1951 Hudson crashed after 211 laps.

CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS

1st) Joe Staton (3)

2nd) Buck Baker, Perk Brown, Harold Mays (2)

3rd) Bruce Atchley, Ed Benedict, Ted Chamberlain, Allan Clarke, Gene Darragh, Ray Erickson, Fonty Flock, Shorty Gibbs, Joe Gillow, Jack Hauher, Jack Holloway, Larry Mann, Dick Martin, Cotton Owens, Jim Paschal, Hank Pollard, Smokey Purser, Jack Reynolds, Robbie Robinson, Marshall Teague, Johnny Thompson, Roscoe Thompson, Curtis Turner, Robert Weisemeyer, Larry Wimbish (1)

1953

LASTCAR CHAMPION

Donald Thomas

SEASON IN REVIEW

Olivia, North Carolina driver Donald Thomas picked up his first LASTCAR Cup Series Championship in 1953. Thomas finished last in three of his seventeen starts that thirty-seven-race season and edged Dick Rathman in the tiebreaker based on Bottom Fives, 6-4.

Thomas, just twenty years old, was already competing in his fourth season on the NASCAR tour. He scored his only career victory the year before at the Lakewood Speedway in Atlanta, Georgia on November 16, 1952 driving a #9 Fabulous

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