NASCAR’s 75 Greatest Drivers: Masters of Modifications

NASCAR is celebrating its seventy fifth anniversary all through the 2023 season.

In 1998, NASCAR had a board choose a listing of its 50 best drivers to rejoice its golden anniversary.

Likewise, we’re in enlargement We determined to compile our checklist of the 75 Best NASCAR Drivers in honor of this yr’s milestone. 17 of our writers participated within the choice of the 75 drivers, and we’ll launch 4 to seven drivers from that checklist every weekday for the following three weeks.

Much like the checklist in 1998, this checklist will not be a rating of the highest 75 drivers. As a substitute, we have damaged the checklist down into classes, with a brand new class launched every day (see full checklist beneath). Inside these classes, drivers are listed in alphabetical order.

NASCAR’s legacy is not simply restricted to the NASCAR Cup Sequence—and even one other Nationwide Sequence, for that matter. Among the best sports activities have made tweaks to their racing names.

Jerry Cook dinner

Not sufficient individuals are acquainted with the extremely gifted and interesting world of NASCAR Modified Racing. Some could know names like Richie Evans or Mike Stefanik, and even keep in mind that Ryan Brees was a powerhouse when he led the Mods.

Then there’s Evans’ fundamental rival within the ’70s.

Jerry Cook dinner, who hails from the identical hometown as Evans, was born in Rome, New York, in 1943. Cook dinner constructed his first modified automotive on the age of 13, ultimately hopping his personal when he was 18. Utica-Rome Freeway. The next season, Cook dinner took his skills to the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour in 1970.

With the intention to win a championship in a Whelen Modified Tour, a driver should have an unbelievable concentrate on endurance, because it typically takes over 100 begins in a season to win it. Cook dinner claimed his first title in 1971 and adopted it up with one other in 1972.

After a yr and not using a title, Cook dinner utterly dominated the tour from 1974-1978, profitable the championship each season till Evans ended his reign and commenced his path to 9 championships.

When Cook dinner retired in 1982, he had 342 wins and 6 titles to show in his 26-year profession.

He transitioned into a task with NASCAR as an official, and over that 34-year interval he oversaw the Busch North Sequence and Modified Tour, in addition to the Ok&N Professional Sequence. Moreover, he was the man who wrote the primary Craftsman Sequence rulebook in 1995.

Cook dinner joined Stefanik, longtime buddy, and Evans’ rival within the NASCAR Corridor of Fame. Garrett Cook dinner

Richie Evans

The nickname Goat is commonly given with reckless abandon.

Nonetheless, there isn’t any query of who the GOAT is for modified racing.

Richie Evans put Rome, New York, on the map whereas touring the Northeast, profitable modified races wherever they had been opponents.

He gained 9 titles, together with eight straight from 1978 by means of 1985. When it comes to racing, he has scored almost each main Asphalt Modifications race, a lot of them a number of occasions. He even gained the Elite Race of Champions 3 times.

Evans’ first modified victory got here in 1965. In 1973, he claimed his first modified title, and 5 years later started his historic eight-year run.

His fundamental rival throughout his heyday was Jerry Cook dinner, one other NASCAR Corridor of Famer
fame member. When Evans and Cook dinner routinely blended it up
Within the Northeast, each had a number of trailers. They typically ship a trailer to completely different tracks to attempt to trick their competitor into going to a special observe.

In 1985, having already clinched that season’s title, Evans was testing at Martinsville Speedway when his throttle appeared to hold in flip three. Evans died within the ensuing accident.

Evans was elected to the NASCAR Corridor of Fame in 2012. He was the primary driver from outdoors the NASCAR Cup Sequence to be inducted. – Mike Neff

Ray Hendrick

It’s not possible to incorporate the Modified Drivers part on this checklist with out highlighting the person often known as Mr. Mods.

Ray Hendrick and his iconic Flying 11 Chevrolet dominated racetracks up and down the East Coast all through the 60’s and 70’s.

Regardless of the title of Mr. Modified, Hendrick was virtually equally profitable within the NASCAR Late Mannequin Sportsman Sequence (a precursor to the NASCAR Xfinity Sequence). Between that and the modifications, Hendrick is estimated to have gained greater than 700 races. He’s the one individual with extra wins at Martinsville Speedway than Richard Petty, profitable there 20 occasions in simply 12 years.

Though often known as a prolific brief observe racer, he additionally gained Sports activities Late Mannequin races at Charlotte Motor Speedway and Talladega Superspeedway.

Hendrick chased the races with the largest racing baggage, not the championships. Consequently, he by no means gained a nationwide championship, is believed to have gained 5 titles on the observe at South Boston Speedway (4 in modifications, one in late fashions) and was a two-time Race of Champions winner in modifications.

The Richmond, Virginia native has by no means tried a full NASCAR Cup Sequence season. He competed in solely 17 races from 1956 to 1974, however scored two top-fives and 6 top-10s in these begins.

Hendrick died in 1990 on the age of 61 after a four-year battle with most cancers. However his son Roy continued the Flying 11’s legacy, profitable observe titles all through Virginia and even profitable at their house observe Southside Speedway simply hours after his father’s loss of life.

Hendrick was one of many drivers named to NASCAR’s 50 Best Drivers checklist in 1998 and stays solely one among 14 entrants on that checklist but to be inducted into the NASCAR Corridor of Fame. – Michael Massey

Mike Stefanik

For a lot of youthful racing followers, the very first thing they’ll consider if you point out Mike Stefanik’s identify is Scowl Seen ‘Around the World from UNOH Battle on the Seashore at Daytona in 2013.

However there was a lot extra to Stefanek than that. Early in life, he was a troublesome buyer and a contender to beat every time he confirmed up.

He has 74 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour profession victories, probably the most since Modifieds turned a touring sequence in 1985. The subsequent highest driver in complete wins is Reggie Ruggiero with a relatively 44.

He’s additionally a seven-time (1989, 1991, 1997-1998, 2001-2002 and 2006) Touring Sequence Champion with quite a lot of sturdy gamers.

Stefanik is the one driver to win a number of NASCAR sequence championships in the identical yr. In 1997 and 1998, Stefanik gained the Modified Championship and the Busch North Sequence title in Burnham Boilers sponsored automobiles. The revised titles coincided with years of labor on the sequence. He gained 10 of 23 races in 1997 and 13 of twenty-two in 1998. The 1998 season noticed Stefanik fall out of the highest 5 solely twice all season. At North Bush, he beats veterans like Jerry Marquez, Brad Layton, Andy Santeri and Dave Dionne.

Stefanik quietly retired after the 2014 season and has spent his time working for his personal firm in Coventry, RI. He died of accidents in a single-engine aircraft crash in 2019 close to Windfall, abandoning a legacy of excellence. – Phil Alloy

enlargementNASCAR’s 75 Best Drivers

Dale Earnhardt
Jeff Gordon
Jimmy Johnson
David Pearson
Richard Petty

Bobby Allison
Ned Jarrett
Rusty Wallace
Darrell Waltrip
Cal Yarborough

The tenth technology
Greg Biffle
Carl Edwards
Denny Hamlin
Casey Kahne
Ryan Newman

Heroes of the 2000s and past
Brad Keselowski
Kyle Larson
Joey Logano
Martin Truex Jr

subsequent technology
Buddy Baker
Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Chase Elliott
Dale Jarrett

Buck Baker
Reed Byron
me my house
Herb Thomas
Curtis Turner

Kurt Busch
Kyle Bush
Fonty Flock
Tim Fluke
Bobby Labonte
Terry Labonte

Masters of modifications
Jerry Cook dinner
Richie Evans
Ray Hendrick
Mike Stefanik

Backside chain hoist
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Distinctive longevity
??? (3 February)

He left early
??? (6 February)

Stars of the sixties and seventies
??? (7 February)

Stars of the eighties and nineties
??? (8 February)

Stars from 1949-1960
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Cranes of all trades
??? (10 February)

What does Mike Neff not do? The author, radio contributor, and racetrack announcer coordinates native brief observe protection for the location, accessing Saturday Night time specials across the nation whereas monitoring future racing stars within the sport. Submit-race columnist Thinkin’ Out Loud (Monday) additionally sits down with Cup crew chiefs to speak store each Friday with Tech Speak. Mike proclaims a number of reveals annually for the Good Guys Rod and Customized Affiliation. It additionally seems in every single place from PRN Pit Reporters and Press Field with Alan Smothers to SIRIUS XM Radio. He has marketed at tracks everywhere in the Southeast, beginning at Millbridge Speedway. Additionally marketed at East Lincoln Speedway, Harmony Speedway, Tri-County Speedway, Caraway Speedway, and Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Phil Alloway has three main roles in Frontstretch. It’s the admin of the location’s free e-mail publication which is printed Monday by means of Friday and typically on weekends. He retains TV anchors sincere with weekly editions of Sofa Potato Tuesday and serves as the location’s sports activities automotive racing editor.

Outdoors Frontstretch, Phil is the press officer for Lebanon Valley Motorbike Street in West Lebanon, New York. It covers all of the motion on the excessive banked filth observe from common modified DIRTcar races to occasional hits from touring sequence just like the Tremendous DIRTcar sequence.

Michael Massey is a author at Frontstretch. A local of Richmond, Virginia, Massey has been a NASCAR fan since childhood, when he frequented the races at Richmond Worldwide Raceway. Massey is a fan of brief observe racing and travels to the areas in his space. Outdoors of motorsports, the Virginia Tech grad might be seen cheering for his beloved Hockey.

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