History of No. 26: Junior Johnson leads parade of Hall of Famers

Junior Johnson won the 1965 Rebel 300 in this NO. 26 car.

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When it comes to the No. 26, three names stand out above the rest in NASCAR history. Brett Bodine, Jamie McMurray and Junior Johnson all found success with the number throughout their Sprint Cup careers.

And no driver found more success driving cars with the number on it than Johnson.

While Johnson ran most of his races in the No. 27 and No. 11, the NASCAR Hall of Fame member drove the No. 26 in 40 Premier Series races between 1963 and 1966. The hard-nosed driver scored 12 wins, 17 top fives and 18 top 10s with the No. 26.

The No. 26 made its NASCAR debut during the first running of the Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway on Sept. 4, 1950. Dick Linder’s No. 26 Oldsmobile started 62nd on the field, but finished 13th.

The number’s first win came in 1958 when Curtis Turner drove the No. 26 Holman-Moody Ford to Victory Lane at Atlanta on April 13. The 2016 NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee gave the number its second win one week later at the Charlotte dirt track.

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Two more NASCAR Hall of Fame members would score victories with the No. 26, including Fred Lorenzen in 1962 and Bobby Isaac in 1964. NASCAR Hall of Fame members Joe Weatherly, David Pearson, Wendell Scott and Bill Elliott also piloted the number.

From 1969 until 1973, Earl Brooks carried the No. 26 for 109 NASCAR Sprint Cup events, earning two top fives and 13 top 10s.

In 1986, the No. 26 would become synonymous with King Racing, the team owned by NHRA champion Kenny Bernstein. Joe Ruttman was the first driver to run the No. 26 Quaker State Buick, earning five top fives and 14 top 10s during that season. After Ruttman’s stint in the No. 26, Morgan Shepherd drove the car in 1987 before giving way to Ricky Rudd for the 1988 and 1989 seasons.

For the 1990 season, Brett Bodine joined King Racing as the driver of the No. 26 car. In his five seasons behind the wheel of the No. 26, the middle Bodine brother made 147 starts, scoring one win, 13 top fives and 43 top 10s.

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The number would not return to full-time NASCAR Premier Series competition until 1998, when Johnny Benson carried it for two full seasons. Jimmy Spencer was the next driver to take a turn with the No. 26 from 2000 until 2001.

From 2006 until 2009, Jamie McMurray piloted the No. 26 Ford at Roush Fenway Racing, making 144 starts and earning two wins, 11 top fives and 32 top 10s.

Most recently, Cole Whitt drove the No. 26 full time in 2014, while Jeb Burton, J.J. Yeley and Josh Wise drove the number during the 2015 Sprint Cup season.

While it is not one of the more prominent numbers in the sport, the No. 26 has scored 21 victories and has been driven by eight NASCAR Hall of Fame members. Not too shabby.

The No. 26 by the numbers

Races: 1,104

Wins: 21

Wins by driver: Junior Johnson, 12; Ricky Rudd, 2; Curtis Turner, 2; Jamie McMurray, 2; Brett Bodine, 1; Darel Dieringer, 1; Bobby Isaac, 1; Fred Lorenzen, 1.

Top fives: 116

Top 10s: 259

Poles: 36

Average finish: 21.47

Average start: 20.4

Laps led: 9,694

DNFs: 372

Drivers: 86


All stats provided by driveraverages.com