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Talon64's Motorsports Corner writes:
"NASCAR: Best Cup driver(s) (statistically) without a win"
Posted by Talon64 on April 6, 2011
Viewed 1190 times

   

178 different drivers have won at least one race in the 2288 Cup race that have been held since 1949. But 2685 drivers have run at least one race in Cup and failed to win.

Equipment, results in a short or long period of time and other subjective factors makes it tough to peg one guy as the best of all time never to win. But statistics always help to get an idea of who the candidates are, so here's the top drivers to never win a Cup race in a number of statistical categories:

Runner-up finishes:

1. GC Spencer (7)
2. Jimmie Lewallen (5)
3. Neil Castles (4)
4. Tommy Irwin (4)
5. Ted Musgrave (4)
6. Possum Jones (3)
7. Joe Ruttman (3)
8. John Sears (3)
9. Kenny Wallace (3)
10. Don White (3)

Top 5?s:

1. GC Spencer (55)
2. Neil Castles (51)
3. John Sears (48)
4. Cecil Gordon (29)
5. Jimmie Lewallen (28)
6. Tommy Irwin (23)
7. Ted Musgrave (20)
8. Joe Ruttman (19)
9. Larry Thomas (18)
10. JT Putney (16)

Top 10?s:

1. Neil Castles (178)
2. GC Spencer (138)
3. John Sears (127)
4. Cecil Gordon (111)
5. JD McDuffie (106)
6. Buddy Arrington (103)
7. Jabe Thomas (77)
8. Richard Childress (76)
9. Clyde Lynn (73)
10. Ron Tyner (71)

Poles:

1. Mike Skinner (6)
2. Ted Musgrave (5)
3. Todd Bodine (5)
4. Rick Mast (4)
5. Scott Riggs (3)
6. Joe Ruttman (3)
7. Kenny Wallace (3)
8. Loy Allen Jr. (3)
9. Kenny Irwin Jr. (3)
10. Banjo Matthews (3)

Laps Led:

1. Mike Skinner (1,027)
2. Joe Ruttman (807)
3. Banjo Matthews (527)
4. Rick Mast (478)
5. Hut Stricklin (476)
6. Tommy Irwin (350)
7. Todd Bodine (276)
8. Dave Blaney (266)
9. Ted Musgrave (266)
10. Jeff Green (265)

Starts:

1. JD McDuffie (653)
2. Buddy Arrington (560)
3. Neil Castles (498)
4. Jimmy Means (455)
5. Cecil Gordon (449)
6. GC Spencer (415)
7. Frank Warren (396)
8. Henley Gray (374)
9. Dave Blaney (368)
10. Rick Mast (364)

GC Spencer is right at the top in runner-up finishes, top 5's and top 10's. His best season was 1967 when he had 3 runner-up finishes, 14 top 5's and 25 top 10's in 47 starts to finish 4th in the standings, all career highs.

Neil Castles joins Spencer as the only driver in the top 3 in runner-ups, top 5's and top 10's. His best season was 1969 when he had 2 runner-ups, 14 top 5's and 30 top 10's in 52 starts to finish 4th in the standings, all career highs.

But Mike Skinner, one of the greatest Truck Series drivers of all time, is the only non-winner to lead over 1000 laps in a career and should've won at Atlanta in 2000; led 191 laps and was leading with 20 laps to go until his engine blew. No other non-winner in Cup probably deserves a win as much as Skinner. His best season was 1999 when he finished 10th in points with 5 top 5's, 14 top 10's, 2 poles and was 8th in laps led with 465.

It's interesting how many former/current Truck drivers are among the leaders in the following lists. You have Skinner, then there's Ted Musgrave who had 16 top 5's, 40 top 10's and 5 poles in 145 starts with Roush Racing in the mid-90's. In a season filled with surprise pole winners Todd Bodine led the bunch with 3 in 2001, 3rd most overall. But his best finish was 1994, 2 top 5's, 7 top 10's and 20th in the standings.

The sentimental favorite of non-winners would have to be JD McDuffie, who has the most starts by a non-winner at 653. JD was an independent from his 1st start as a 24 year old in 1963 to his tragic last start in 1991 as a 52 year old when he died in a crash at Watkins Glen. McDuffie finished top 10 in points twice (1971 & 1973) and his best finish was 3rd at Albany-Saratoga Speedway in 1971.

But one guy not mentioned yet but needs to be is Dick Trickle. The guy's a short track legend who won 1000+ races easy in his career but by the time he tried racing in NASCAR full time he was already 47 years old. But he still managed to win ROTY, the oldest ever to do so. His best Cup finish was 3rd five times, most recently at Dover in 1990 when he won his only career pole and led a career-high 63 laps. He did go on to win 2 Nationwide races in 1997 and 1998, becoming the oldest winner ever in the series at the age of 58.

If I had to make a short list for the best Cup drivers never to win a race it would be GC Spencer, Mike Skinner, JD McDuffie and Dick Trickle. And if I had to pick one out of the bunch it'd Mike Skinner, mostly because there's no reason that he should be mentioned in this blog based on the 2000 Atlanta race he should've won. But any of them deserve to be considered as the best.


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