NASCAR Race Hub’s top 50 drivers of all time: 46-39

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NASCAR' Race Hub' unveils drivers 46 through 39 on their list of the top 50 drivers of all time, voted on by 21 crew members on the show.

MALE ANNOUNCER: Number 46 is Tim Richmond.

FEMALE ANNOUNCER: Yup.

MALE ANNOUNCER: There you go.

FEMALE ANNOUNCER: Tim Richmond. There you go. He won seven races in 1986.

MALE ANNOUNCER: And 13 career cup wins, including a Southern 500. Here's number 45.

FEMALE ANNOUNCER: 45. Richie Evans, guys. You know, this is one that Adam and I had a conversation about earlier today, so we'll definitely get into that.

MALE ANNOUNCER: And Sam Ard is number 44. The NASCAR [INAUDIBLE] Series Champion in '83 and '84. He had one cup start.

- It's interesting because there's so much that we factor in to the vote. I want to get your reaction to this group because they fit a real unique set when you break it down. Tim Richman, very small body of work. We know his career was cut short. And the other two, one cup start between them, Sam Ard, Richie Evans. What's your reaction there?

- Well, I didn't race against Tim Richmond, but I did see him race. I going to say that a lot. I think I'm too old. But really, I think, you know, I like-- I think Tim Richmond, I think you're right. The fact that he had a short career, but yet he was-- you think about the wins that he had, and he didn't win a championship, but at the same time, top fives, top tens. I mean, he was a competitor week in and week out. He was one of the toughest guys in his career that was cut short at that time.

- But if you're talking about pure stats, which is what you guys told us at the beginning of this show-- specifically you, Regan, you went off of- these three guys. I mean, you look at Richie Evans, no races in NASCAR.

- And I did not have Richie Evans [INAUDIBLE] my list. I did have him on the list. He was the only guy that didn't run in the Cup Series that I did put on my list because I'm familiar with his body of work and what he did throughout the years. I guess the part for me that I struggle with and that I have a very difficult time with is, OK, there are so many great race car drivers out there that don't make it to the Cup Series. Well, let's just picture if these cup drivers stayed in the smaller series and ran them for years and years and years, how much they would have stacked up wins and done those same things. And you might have a guy that only won five cup races, then all of a sudden can win 10 championships elsewhere. So I had a hard time voting those guys in or giving them as much as I probably should have.

- And now, Sam Ard wraps me back to the Jack Ingram topic. And pretty much the numbers are very close. Sam had 22 wins in the Xfinity Series, two championships. I'm tickled to death that Sam Ard is on there, but it makes me wrap back to why Jack Ingram is not in the top 50. I had the pleasure of working with Tim Richman. I know the numbers are not that great because such a short career. But I'm telling you, one of the most talented race car drivers I've ever been around, I believe.

- And see, I think that's the insight that makes it difficult for us to understand on some of these, is Shannon and I didn't race against anybody. We didn't compete with anybody. We had to go by the numbers. You raced against these guys. You know, and so I think that was a real difference maker when you go across the board of what it takes to put this list together and the diversity of all the voters. OK. We got to go on, right?

So let's go to number 43 and we'll continue the countdown. Number 43 is Neil Bonnett. Neil, 18 career cup wins. Also able to get to victory lane in the Southern 500.

FEMALE ANNOUNCER: 42 here, Adam, is Curtis Turner, 17 victories. That's how many times he went to victory lane in NASCAR.

MALE ANNOUNCER: Number 41 on our list, Alan Kulwicki, won the championship in 1992. As we know, his career was cut short. Only five career wins.

FEMALE ANNOUNCER: Only one guy has the name handsome. Handsome Harry Gant, number 40, on NASCAR Race Hub's top 50 drivers.

MALE ANNOUNCER: And number 39 is Ricky Rudd. Now this guy delivered at NASCAR's top level for many years. And prior to Jeff Gordon breaking his long-time record, was known as NASCAR's Iron Man for all of those starts he made consecutively. What do you think about that batch? Another group, when you look at their resume, that accomplished a lot of good things at kind of different time frames.

- I'm glad to see Ricky Rudd on the list and glad to see where he is. You know, Ricky Rudd's the guy that yes, he had the success, he had the wins, he was an Iron Man, but let's look at the fact that he won as an owner driver also and I think that's a big deal. Much like Alan Kulwicki, here's a guy that won a championship as an owner. I mean, he did a lot.

- Yeah, Alan Kulwicki was so far ahead of his time. He had that mechanical engineering degree and I think that paved the way for the way our sport is today. I've got to be honest, and they're going to probably take my Alabama game card away, I did not have Neil Bonnet on there. I know his career was cut short, 18 wins. He did have some big wins, but that's one I did not have on my top 50.

FEMALE ANNOUNCER: Why?

- This-- no big, big wins. I know he won a Coke 600 and a Southern 500, and then no championship. We keep wrapping it back to the same topic about the championships.

- Speaking of championships, one of the criteria I had when I voted, if you had won a cup championship, you were on the list. Automatically got in. Didn't necessarily get you in the top 32, but it got you on the list. The only champion that's not going to make it, it appears, is Bill Rexford. You look at Alan Kulwicki. He's a champion and he's outside the top 40. Are we surprised at all that a champion doesn't at least make it into the top 40?

- Yep, I'm surprised.

[LAUGHTER]

- Cause you were shaking your head when we announced these most recent drivers. And so is that why you're shaking your head? Like, why were you shaking your head?

- I think so. I mean, you know this goes back to what earlier-- I'm like, this was so hard. And even where you see the list that everybody's voted on, it's so hard to put it back. I was thinking about Harry again. I know you talked about championship, but thinking about the guys that have won championships, didn't make it into the top 40. I mean, you think they should? But then, there's other guys like Harry Gant. He didn't win a championship.

- Right.

- You know, you think about Neil. He didn't win a championship. He won two Coke 600 wins and one Southern 500. So that's where it mixes up and their link to their career, top five, top tens, what have they done? And you know, I mean, that's what makes it so difficult. But winning the championship, obviously, was a part of the stats, but it wasn't everything.

- Winning the championships is what got Alan Kulwicki even in conversation for the top 50, you know? I know his career was cut short, but only five wins in the Cup Series. No question. The only reason we're talking about him is that championship.

- So here's my question that I see out of this group. I see Tim Richmond and I see Alan Kulwicki, whose personalities, to me, were almost bigger than kind of some of the stuff that they did on the race track. Now I know you said it's stats, but for me personally voting, I could not take the human element out of it. It certainly didn't have me place people, but it had maybe a tiebreaker-type situation. Is that maybe the case with two of these guys?

- I don't know that it can be the case, though. Again, this is the 50 greatest drivers. It has nothing to do with human element. It has nothing to do with personality, what they did off the race track, how they acted, how they treated the media, anything like that. This is purely how were they on the race track, and what did they do while they were behind the wheel of that race car with a helmet on their head. So you know, for me, that didn't-- it doesn't affect this at all.

- And there are some guys that didn't win a championship, but yet they should be on the list. Because they won a lot of races, or they did a lot of top fives, a lot of top tens, a lot of different things in the cup series. You think of Harry again. Did not win a championship. But at the same time, he is a guy that, you know, in age, he was better than a lot that were a lot younger. So a lot that goes into play.

- Larry, you said it was Alan Kulwicki's championship in 1992 that got him in the conversation. Can we say the same thing about Tim Richmond and the season, he was able to put together in '86 when he won those seven races? I think that's the year that he made the statement that he's is good and kind of lived up the billing.

- Yeah, in the mid '80s, you knew when they unloaded that 25 car for Hendrick Motorsports with Tim Richmond that he was going to probably be the guy you would have to beat. And it did not matter what race track we were at it seemed like. It didn't matter if we were Riverside, a road course at Pocono, or anywhere in between, you knew that was going to be one of the guys you were going to have to beat.