Cup Series

The 10 drivers Bob Pockrass would like to see make a Tebow-like comeback

May 13

By Bob Pockrass
FOX Sports NASCAR Writer

Tim Tebow’s expected return to football with the Jacksonville Jaguars got me thinking of potential similar returns that would be fun to see in NASCAR.

Tebow was a college phenom and Heisman Trophy winner who spent three seasons in the NFL, then two more years in training camps before getting cut and moving to a broadcast and minor-league baseball career. Now, seven years later, he returns to the NFL, albeit not as a quarterback but as a tight end.

Which drivers would it be cool to see return to NASCAR Cup Series racing? And which drivers who had just a cup of coffee in Cup would it be cool to see get another chance.

I'll start with the five drivers whose return would be fun and interesting, and for this, I only considered drivers who have not raced in NASCAR since the end of the 2016 season. I did not include drivers who retired from full-time racing because of injury (Dale Earnhardt Jr, Kasey Kahne, etc.) because it wouldn’t seem right to root for their return.

Here's my list.

1. Carl Edwards

Edwards didn’t rule out a return, at least in a one-off, during an appearance on NASCAR Race Hub on FS1 last month. It certainly got people excited about the possibility of seeing him race again.

Abruptly retiring after the 2016 season, Edwards won 26 races in his Cup career and finished in the top-five in the standings six times, including his final two years. At 42 years old, he is the youngest driver on this list.

2. Tony Stewart

The three-time Cup champion and NASCAR Hall of Fame driver has been busy racing his sprint cars and with his other business ventures, not to mention trying out some drag racing vehicles.

NASCAR fans love "Smoke," and it would be cool for them to see him back. He had planned last year to run the Xfinity race on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course, but when that race ended up having no fans, he opted not to do it.

Winner of 49 Cup races, Stewart’s last full season came in 2016. He turns 50 years old next week (May 20).

3. Rusty Wallace

Wallace always seemed to regret a little bit his move to the television booth following the 2005 season. He’s now 64 years old and hasn’t raced in 16 years, but it would be fun to see him back in a car just for a race or two.

He earned 55 career Cup wins in his Hall of Fame career. A return would be a nod to those who helped with the incredible growth of the sport.

4. Greg Biffle

Biffle did win a truck race in 2019 for Kyle Busch Motorsports but has only competed in two NASCAR events since his last full-time Cup season in 2016.

Always considered one of the most talented racers, and obviously still possessing the ability to wheel a car or a truck, the 51-year-old Biffle would attract attention if he returned as his name always generates social media chatter.

5. Juan Pablo Montoya 

Montoya is still racing sports cars and there would have to be one condition put on Montoya’s return – he would have to come back with a team that didn’t care if he brought home just the steering wheel.

The driver’s M.O. of not being afraid to trade paint or force the issue would create drama. He also only drove primarily for Ganassi in Cup (he did two races for Penske in 2014) and seeing the 45-year-old in another team’s equipment would provide intrigue.

This next list is five drivers who would generate the most interest if they got another chance at Cup.

The criteria is this: They must be 28 years old or older and have a minimum of 30 Cup starts, but a maximum of 100.

1. Brett Moffitt

The Rookie of the Year in Cup in 2015, Moffitt has just seven Cup starts since that season. Since then, he has won 12 truck races, including the 2018 truck championship.

Whenever a rookie doesn’t get to build on his initial season, it always makes one wonder what could be next. The 28-year-old Moffitt has won enough to make people believe he deserves a shot.

2. Jeb Burton

Burton drove a Cup season in 2015 at BK Racing, an underfunded team that gave him experience but little else. Over the next five years, he competed in only 53 races and had not driven a full season of any kind until this year with a ride for Kaulig Racing in the Xfinity Series.

The 28-year-old Burton earned his first career Xfinity win last month at Talladega.

3. Justin Allgaier

Allgaier keeps getting overshadowed by the next young stud in the Xfinity Series but he continues to hold his own with 16 victories over the 12 years. He has finished in the top five in Xfinity points in seven of the last 12 seasons.

The 34-year-old Allgaier has 77 career Cup starts (includes two full seasons in 2014 and 2015), but it would be great to see what he could do in better equipment than he had during those years.

4. Andy Lally

The 2011 Rookie of the Year has made his living sports-car racing, where he has a solid fan base and an accomplished resume.

At 46 years old, he probably isn’t going to get another shot in NASCAR except on road courses. But with NASCAR increasing the number of road courses on the Cup schedule, it wouldn’t be so out there to put him in a car for a year and see what happens.

5. Johnny Sauter

Sauter’s biggest break in Cup lasted only 16 races at Richard Childress Racing in 2004. He added a year of running for Haas CNC Racing before establishing himself as a force in trucks, where he has 24 race wins and captured the title in 2016.

The 43-year-old Sauter is past his prime, or at least his truck results the last two years say that he is. But the fierce competitor in a good Cup car would be fun to see, because like the No. 5 on the earlier list, he’d race with few worries about upsetting anyone. 

Thinking Out Loud

When NASCAR didn’t award the free pass to Bubba Wallace during the race at Darlington, it followed its rules. Wallace was involved in the caution and the rule reads that no free pass is issued if in NASCAR’s judgment "the vehicle was involved in the primary incident or a deliberate action that created the caution." 

Wallace was involved because Kurt Busch got loose in front of Wallace and Wallace turned him.

The intent of the rule is so that a driver in the free pass position doesn’t try to bring out the caution by spinning someone. And the intent of the free pass is to get more people on the lead lap and avoid a car a lap down trying to race the leader back to the start-finish line.

Wallace had damage so yes, he was involved in the caution. But the interpretation should be that he certainly was an innocent bystander and should be able to get the free pass.

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They Said It

"In this sport, you get judged week to week. If we can go and run 10th next weekend, they're going to say, ‘OK, the 19 [car] is done. They're not that good anymore.'" – Martin Truex Jr.

Bob Pockrass has spent decades covering motorsports, including the past 30 Daytona 500s. He joined FOX Sports in 2019 following stints at ESPN, Sporting News, NASCAR Scene magazine and The (Daytona Beach) News-Journal. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @bobpockrass. Looking for more NASCAR content? Sign up for the FOX Sports NASCAR Newsletter with Bob Pockrass!

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