The Frontstretch: That's History! NASCAR's Checkered (Flag) Past, One Story at a Time: Not Just Useless; Championship Useless by Amy Henderson -- Thursday November 17, 2005

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This is it. NASCAR will crown three new champions this weekend, and we will have two and a half months to gloat or complain about it. All this focus on the championship battles put me in the mood for some good old-fashioned useless facts. So without further adieu, I give you Useless, the championship edition.

Did you know:

  • That the last Cup series champion to start off the season with a win in the Daytona 500 was Jeff Gordon in 1997? Not to mention, Tony Stewart finished dead last in the season opener in 2002 before going on to win the title.
  • That the last time an independently owned (that is, not owned by a Nextel Cup team owner) NASCAR Busch Series champion was ppc racing’s Jeff Green in 2000. Incidentally, Green’s margin of victory was the largest in series history.
  • That the only driver in the Craftsman Truck Series to be named most popular driver in his championship year was Greg Biffle in 2000? Eight Busch Series drivers have won both awards in one season since 1982, with the most recent being 2004 champ Martin Truex Jr.
  • That should Jimmie Johnson finish second in points, he’ll become the fifth driver under the current points per race system to score three or more runner-up finishes? Johnson would also be the only driver to finish second for three consecutive years. Incidentally, every driver with exactly three runner-up finishes during that time has also won at least one championship. Only Mark Martin has more than three second place finishes (4) without a title.
  • That although Tommy Houston and Mark Martin hold the respective records for Busch Series starts and wins prior to 2005, neither has won a championship in that series?
  • That there have been two sets of sibling champions in NASCAR’s top three series? Terry and Bobby Labonte are both Cup champs, while Mark and Jeff Green both have Busch Series champion trophies as part of their home décor.
  • That the last three Cup champions have won the title in their fourth full seasons in the Cup ranks? The only eligible driver heading to Homestead in his fourth full year is Jimmie Johnson.
  • That the last time a driver led the points heading into the final Cup race of the season and didn’t win the title was in 1979, when Darrell Waltrip led eventual champ Richard Petty by two points heading into the last race?

The last tidbit bodes well for Tony Stewart, while the one just previous favors Jimmie Johnson. However the Chase ends, there will be more statistics and stories for the record books and the rocking chairs. That’s history.

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11/18/2005 05:50 PM
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DAVID & JEFF NOT MARK & JEFF GREEN WHERE BUSCH CHAMPS

 

Contact Amy Henderson

Recent articles from Amy Henderson:

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Want to know more about Amy or see an archive of all of her articles? Check out her bio page for more information.