A couple months ago, Splash ‘n Go started a series of articles on the top 10 race car numbers with wins in NASCAR’s three national series. We made it through the first nine numbers and then computer issues prevented us from doing the 10th and final week, which, coincidentally, is probably the one everyone wanted to see – the top position.
Before we unveil the top-winning race car number in NASCAR’s three top series, let’s remind everyone what second through 10th are: 2 – No. 43 (202 wins); 3 – No. 3 (158 wins); 4 – No. 2 (147 wins); 5 – No. 6 (137 wins); 6 – No. 21 (132 wins); 7 – No. 18 (130 wins); 8 – No. 17 (122 wins); 9 – No. 24 (121 wins); 10 – No. 22 (120 wins).
If you follow NASCAR and have a pretty good grasp of the sport’s history (before looking at the above chart), it should probably be pretty easy to deduce the winningest car number.
Of course, top honors go to the No. 11 – a number so steeped in NASCAR history that eight NASCAR Hall of Famers have taken turns behind the wheel of a No. 11 race car in NASCAR and won. And not only have they won, most of them have won many times – to the tune of 242 total wins.
Cale Yarborough (Class of 2012) leads the pack with 55 wins, followed by Ned Jarrett (Class of 2011) with 49 victories. Darrell Waltrip (Class of 2012) isn’t too far behind with 43. Unlike the previous three names who notched all their victories in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, Jack Ingram (Class of 2014) posted his 30 wins in the No. 11 in the NASCAR XFINITY Series. Junior Johnson (the inaugural Class of 2010) is next with 11 victories in NASCAR’s premier series with Bill Elliott (Class of 2015) close on his heels with seven, split between NASCAR’s top two series (six and one, respectively). Finishing off this legendary list are Terry Labonte (Class of 2016) and Bobby Allison (Class of 2011) with four and three wins, respectively.
Between these eight iconic drivers there are 202 total wins in the No. 11 (83.5%) – enough to tie the No. 43 car for second on the list. However, there are 40 more wins split between 11 different drivers. Current driver of the No. 11 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, Denny Hamlin, leads this pack with 26 wins.
Yarborough first visited Victory Lane in the No. 11 at Bristol Motor Speedway in 1973. That season he would go on to post four wins, all in the No. 11. The following season, he posted a personal-best at the time 10 victories. He swept the two races at Riverside International Raceway and Bristol.
However, it wasn’t until the 1976 season that he hit a stretch of success that wouldn’t be matched for 30 years. He won three consecutive titles in NASCAR’s premier series in 1976-79. In that three-year stretch he posted an impressive 28 wins (9, 9, 10). He last won in the No. 11 in the penultimate race of the 1980 season at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
All but one of Jarrett’s 50 wins in NASCAR’s premier series came while he was piloting the No. 11. And he claimed two championships in the car (1961, 1965). His best year behind the steering wheel of the No. 11 came in 1964 when he posted 15 victories. In 1965, he captured the green flag 13 times. His most successful track was Dog Track Speedway in Moyock, N.C. He visited the 0.33-mile track six times, winning four and finishing second in the other two races.
Waltrip and Johnson first teamed up together as driver-owner in the 1981 season. The partnership reaped immediate success with Waltrip winning three driver championships (1981, 1983, 1985) in the premier series, all while driving the Johnson-owned No. 11. Waltrip drove the No. 11 car for six seasons. He won 12 races in each of his first two years with Johnson, followed by win totals of six, seven, three and three in the last four seasons.
Ingram is sixth on the all-time wins list in the NASCAR XFINTY Series with 31 – 30 of them coming in the No. 11. He won the series championship in 1982 and 1985 on the strength of seven and five wins, respectively. His most successful season in terms of wins came in 1984, when he had eight. One of the wins that season, however, came in the No. 14.
Although Johnson never won any titles as a driver, he did win three as the owner of Darrell Waltrip’s No. 11 in the early 1980s. However, before then, he drove the No. 11 car in 1958-59, as well as two races in 1960. He won twice at three tracks (North Wilkesboro Speedway, Reading Fairgrounds, Wilson Speedway) during his short tenure inside the cockpit of the No. 11.
Elliott spent a majority of his career driving the No. 9 – and making it extremely popular. However, he stepped out of the No. 9 after the 1991 season. For the next three seasons, he drove the No. 11 Ford for Junior Johnson. During that time, he won six times in the premier series, winning twice at both Atlanta and Darlington Raceway. He also notched his lone win in the NASCAR XFINITY Series in 1993 while driving the No. 11.
Before Labonte found tremendous success and a championship in the No. 5 car, he drove the No. 11 for three seasons (1987-89). He won at least once in each of his three seasons in the car, winning twice at North Wilkesboro Speedway and twice in 1989.
Interestingly, Allison only drove the No. 11 four times in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series – his last two races of 1967 and the first two of 1968. Although he had limited seat time in the car, he made the most of it, winning three times and finishing second in his only start in the No. 11.
Hamlin burst onto the premier series scene in 2006 when he swept the two Pocono races. Since then, he has won 24 more times, all in the No. 11. His most successful season came in 2010, when he won eight races and finished second in the final standings. He’s won at 14 different tracks on the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series schedule, but his most successful track is Martinsville Speedway. He has five wins at the series’ shortest track.
Of the 10 remaining drivers with a win in one of NASCAR’s national series in the No. 11, only Geoff Bodine (four) and Buddy Baker (two) have multiple wins. All six of these wins came in the premier series. Three of Bodine’s win came in 1990, with another coming the following season. Baker’s wins came in back-to-back seasons (1971-72).
Here are the other eight drivers with a win in the No. 11 car, along with the series, season and track: Parnelli Jones (NSCS – 1957 – Kitsap County Airport); Mario Andretti (NSCS – 1967 – Daytona International Speedway); A.J. Foyt (NSCS – 1970 – Riverside); Paul Menard (NXS – 2006 – Milwaukee Mile); Elliott Sadler (NXS – 2014 – Talladega Superspeedway); Ron Hornaday Jr. (NCWTS – 2002 – Homestead-Miami Speedway); David Starr (NCWTS – 2006 – Martinsville); Todd Bodine (NCWTS – 2012 – Dover International Speedway).