NASCAR: Five Ways History Can Be Made In 2017
The 2017 NASCAR season is just a couple of weeks away from officially getting underway with the Daytona 500. As fans gear up for the season, they should also keep an eye on the history side of things.
Records are made to be broken, or at least that is how the saying goes. While not every record or historical list in NASCAR is meant to be broken or toppled, there are a few things that could happen in 2017 that would re-write some history. Let’s be honest, I don’t foresee any drivers challenging Jeff Gordon for the record of most races won in a single season (12) in the modern era.
However, that doesn’t mean that we won’t potentially see a couple of records fall. Here is a quick look at five historical things that could happen during the 2017 season. Be sure to comment below and let us know which of the five you think is most likely to happen and which of the five you don’t think is going to happen.
Jimmie Johnson: All-Time Wins List
Coming into the 2017 NASCAR season, Jimmie Johnson has won 80 times in the Cup Series and that is good for 7th-place on the all-time wins list. When the 2017 season is over, Johnson could easily find himself 4th on that list, further solidifying his stance as one of the greatest drivers in the history of the sport.
Below is a quick look at what is happening around Johnson on the all-time wins list.
- 3rd – Jeff Gordon (93)
- 4th – Bobby Allison (85)
- 5th – Darrell Waltrip (84)
- 6th – Cale Yarborough (83)
- 7th – Jimmie Johnson (80)
- 8th – Dale Earnhardt (76)
- 9th – Rusty Wallace (55)
Johnson won five times in 2016 and if he does that again in 2017, he will finish the year tied on the list for 4th with Allison. Should Johnson win six times this season, he will finish the season with 86 wins for his career, be 4th on the all-time list and sit only seven wins behind Jeff Gordon.
I wonder how Gordon fans will feel in a couple of seasons when Johnson is closing in on win No. 93 for his career?
Chase Elliott: Winning In The No. 24 Machine
You can count on one hand the number of drivers who have won in the Cup Series behind the wheel of the No. 24 machine. Heck, you can also count that number on one finger because only one driver has won in the No. 24 and that was Jeff Gordon.
In 2017, Chase Elliott could change all of that.
Elliott came close to winning a couple of times in 2016 but as a rookie he simply wasn’t able to get the job done. In 2017, Elliott is expected to win and put the No. 24 machine back into the playoffs. Should Elliott win this season, he will be the first driver not named Gordon to do so with that number. 93 times Gordon brought the NO. 24 machine to victory lane and this season Elliott will look to make it 94 for the number and one for himself.
Kurt Busch: Longest Time Between Championships
Kurt Busch and the No. 41 team are setting themselves up to make a run at history this season in the NASCAR Cup Series. Busch and SHR moved from Chevy to Ford during the off-season but for Busch the move is a familiar one as he used to race for Team Ford.
In fact, when Busch won his NASCAR championship back in 2004, he did so in a Ford. 2004 also happens to be the last time that Ford won a title in the NASCAR Cup Series.
As Busch returns to the manufacturer that brought him his first and only title, he also looks to take down the record of another NASCAR legend, two-time champion Terry Labonte. Labonte holds the record for most years in between championships (12). Labonte won his first title in 1984 and his second in 1996.
Should Busch win a title this season, it will be 13 years between title for him and a new record as a result. After a long championship-drought for Ford and a tumultuous off-season for SHR, I am sure that both would welcome Busch winning his second championship in 2017.
Dale Earnhardt Jr: Most Restrictor-Plate Wins
When your name is Jeff Gordon, you hold a lot of records and milestones in the world of NASCAR. When your name is Dale Earnhardt Jr. and you want to be on top of the mountain when it comes to restrictor-plate tracks, you have to go through Gordon to get there.
Jeff Gordon has won a NASCAR-record 12 times on restrictor-plate tracks. Entering 2017, Earnhardt Jr. has won 10 times on such tracks. Two more wins for Earnhardt Jr. this season will tie him with Gordon and three would put him on top of the mountain by himself.
The tough part here is that Earnhardt Jr. has not won a race since 2015. Earnhardt did not win in the first half of the 2016 season and then he missed the second half of the season due to medical issues. If Earnhardt is going to break the record this season he is going to have to win and win more than most people are predicting.
Then again, if he is going to win in 2017, why wouldn’t it be at Daytona or Talladega given his success there in the past?
Jimmie Johnson: Eight Championships
This right here is the mecca of all records in the world of NASCAR. Sure, 200 wins for Richard Petty is nice and all but when it comes to sports success is measured in championships. Petty has seven of them along with Dale Earnhardt Sr. and Jimmie Johnson.
It’s hard not to say that Johnson is one of the three greatest drivers to ever race in the sport given his seven titles. Heck, no other driver has won five and only one other driver in the history of the sport has even won four (Jeff Gordon).
Should Johnson win his eighth title in 2017, he will without question be known as the greatest driver of all-time. From there Johnson will of course look to win a 9th title and along the way he will continue to pat his stats inside of the win column. If Johnson finishes his NASCAR career with eight titles and more than 93 wins, there will be no legitimate argument saying that he isn’t the greatest of all-time.
Heck with eight titles, he might not even need to pass Gordon on the all-time wins list, that would just be the icing on the cake (especially if he got to 100 wins).