Editor’s Note: This article on car models in NASCAR is posted in collaboration with an outside sponsorship client. The opinions and information contained within do not necessarily represent Frontstretch and its staff.
Ever since it was started by moonshine runners in the late 1940s, NASCAR has grown into one of the world’s biggest automotive racing divisions. Manufacturers have battled it out in numerous races yearly ever since the sport’s first years on dirt, with the mantra “win on Sunday, sell on Monday” fueling their interest.
Throughout the years, we have seen a lot of great racers and incredible car models on track. It might be true that the race depends on the driver more than the car, but it doesn’t mean that the car isn’t important.
In fact, the car makes a big difference, and here, you’re going to see a list of the best, most successful ones to ever race within the hectic tracks of NASCAR competition.
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1: Chevy Monte Carlo
The Chevy Monte Carlo is a car in a class all its own. A fan favorite throughout its tenure in the sport, featured at times from 1971 to 2007, its 396 career wins are nearly double that of any other car model. It was driven by some of the most familiar names in NASCAR history, like Dale Earnhardt Sr. and Jeff Gordon, who both experienced a lot of success with it. Gordon won all four of his championships running a Monte Carlo from 1995 to 2001.
The Monte Carlo is accountable for 80% of the 31 manufacturer’s championships won by Chevy, a NASCAR record.
2: Ford Galaxie
The Ford Galaxie was one of the most beloved car models to grace the sport, first appearing in the 1960s. Legendary auto racing Hall of Famers such as Dan Gurney, Ned Jarrett, and Fred Lorenzen won in the model, dominant during its time in the sport.
These cars were known for their 427-c.i.d overhead cam V8s as opposed to the Hemi V8s other manufacturers were using at the time. In all, the Galaxie totaled up 199 wins and helped Jarrett to two Cup championships, making it one of the most prized cars from this era.
3: Ford Thunderbird
The Thunderbird was not only one of the most sought-out cars on the street, it was also a killer in NASCAR competitions with a total of 184 wins. The T-bird clocked 212.81 miles an hour while being driven by Bill Elliott at Talladega Superspeedway, which is a world record to this day.
Elliott also drove the car during his record 1985 Winston Million season, earning 11 victories including at three crown jewel events: the Daytona 500, Winston 500 and Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway.
4: Chevy Impala
The Impala was one of the most popular cars of its time. It was first used in the early 1960s and last used at the Cup level in 2012. It has a total of 152 wins through the years and is more recognizable by today’s race fan, driven by Jimmie Johnson, both Earnhardts and Jeff Gordon, to name a few.
But the Impala is also a part of classic NASCAR history, too. There was a point well over 50 years ago where you could buy the same exact model as the one used for the NASCAR races, known as the Z11 kit, which featured body panels made of aluminum coupled with a 427 V8 engine.
5: Toyota Camry
In 2007, Toyota Racing Division (TRD) decided they wanted to dip their toes into the top levels of NASCAR. The experiment came after several years of running the sport’s Craftsman Truck Series, experiencing varying levels of success.
The first year was turbulent, veteran drivers like Michael Waltrip and Dale Jarrett suddenly struggling to qualify with their model. But a partnership with Joe Gibbs Racing turned their fortunes around; now, 15 years into their NASCAR experiment, Toyota’s earned 148 wins and three championships with the Camry.
6: Ford Fusion
In 2006, Ford had to part ways with their well known Taurus, and they came up with the Fusion as a replacement. There was a big transition, but it gave them a good run up to 2018, gathering 108 wins, including two Daytona 500 victories from Matt Kenseth. In 2013, it was also the car that marked Ford’s 1,000th win in NASCAR.
7: Ford Taurus
The Taurus was the successor for the legend known as the Thunderbird. The original Taurus featured four doors, and Ford had to ask NASCAR for permission to use such cars since prior to that day, they were only using two door coupes.
The Taurus was then modified into a two-door version, making it the start of an era in the late 1990s where the race cars no longer looked even close to what they were when coming out of the showroom. The Taurus, however, collected 100 wins and multiple championships from Roush Racing (Matt Kenseth, Kurt Busch) until being replaced by the Fusion.
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