NASCAR names Jeff Burton to 75 Greatest Drivers list

pure michigan 400

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In 1998, during its 50th anniversary season, NASCAR unveiled what it considered to be its 50 greatest drivers. The list included most of the stars from the organization’s early years, many of whom would eventually find their way into the NASCAR Hall of Fame when it opened in 2010.

Starting April 9, the sanctioning body will add 25 names to its “all-time” list as part of its 75th anniversary celebration. Five riders are scheduled to be named per week – most likely one per weekday – over the five weeks ending with the May 14 Goodyear 400 at Darlington (SC) Raceway.

The newest group of the sport’s greatest drivers is selected by a committee of former drivers, team owners, industry personnel, NASCAR executives and current and former members of the media. All 75 – the original Class 50 named 25 years ago and the 25 new ones – will be recognized at the Goodyear 400 pre-race ceremonies.

As NASCAR celebrated its 50th anniversary in 1998, company president Bill France called this group “the men who define our sport’s competition.” He added: “Their accomplishments are the benchmark by which much of our history is identified. Honoring them in this way, at the start of NASCAR’s 50th anniversary celebration, is a way to show our true appreciation for them and the invaluable contribution they have made over the past 50 years. These are the drivers who have made and are making NASCAR fans stand up and cheer. It’s the drivers who are the history of NASCAR.

The original “50 Greatest Drivers” came from the Modified Series, Xfinity and Cup. The Craftsman Truck series was too young to have had “greatest drivers”, but that should change with this new group.

Added Today: Jeff Burton

In 2013, Jeff Burton made his 1,000th NASCAR start in all three series. When asked that day in Phoenix which of the previous 999s he would remember the most, the affable Burton stopped short.

jeff burton, 1999 coca cola 600

Jeff Burton celebrates his 1999 Southern 500 win at Darlington.

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“I’ve done a terrible job of taking the time to enjoy (my career),” he said. “My personality is that I’m always on to the next thing. Winning my first Nationwide and Cup races were big races. Racing Kyle Busch in Las Vegas in a Nationwide car, a last-lap battle where I got on the outside and he spun out of turn four. It was fun… two guys running hard. If I had finished second or spun, it would still have been fun. These experiences are really cool. Winning (twice) at Darlington in adverse conditions, rain delays. Winning (three) Winston ‘No Bull’ races (so) three fans also won a million dollars. It was cool to be at Victory Lane with these fans making this money.

Burton then raced part of the season before retiring as a driver in 2014.

On Wednesday, Burton added another career win to his list of accomplishments when he was named to NASCAR’s “75 Greatest Drivers” list.

Burton’s career included no championships, but he won the Cup Series 21 times and the Xfinity Series 27 times. His best championship result was third in the Cup Series in 2000. He notched six of his Cup wins in 1999 for team owner Jack Roush and followed that season up with four wins in 2000.

Burton is one of 15 drivers to have won the Coca-Cola 600 more than once (1999, 2001). He also scored a big Southern 500 win at Darlington 1999 to end Jeff Gordon’s four-straight Southern 500 triumph streak.

NASCAR’s Top 50 Drivers

Selected in 1998

Bobby Allison
Davey Allison
Baker buddy
Geoff Bodine
Neil Bonnet
Byron red
jerry cook
Dale Earnhardt
Ralph Earnhardt
Bill Elliot
richie evans
red farmer
Tim Flock
A.J. Foyt
Harry Glove
Jeff Gordon
Ray Hendrick
Jack Ingram
Ernie Irvan
Bobby Isaac
Dale Shank
Ned Jarret
Alan Kulwicki
Terry Labonte
Fred Lorenz
Little Lund
Mark Martin
Hershel McGriff
Cotton Owens
Marvin Panch
Benny Parson
David Pearson
Lee Petty
Richard Small
Tim Richmond
Roberts Fireball
Ricky Rudd
Marshal Teague
Grass Thomas
Curtis Turner
Rusty Wallace
Darrell Waltrip
Joe Weatherley
Bob Welborn
White Rex
Glen Wood
Cale Yarborough
Lee Roy Yarbrough

The next 25

Selected in 2023

(To be released one per weekday by NASCAR, in no particular order.)

51 years old Tony Stewart

52 years old, Kasey Kahne

53 years old, Mike Stefanik

54, Randy Lajoie

55 years old, Kyle Larson

56, Greg Biffle

57 years old, Sterling Marlin

58 years old, Ryan Newman

59 Chase Elliot

60 years old, Ron Hornaday

61 years old, Jeff Burton

62, coming April 27

Mike Pryson covered auto racing for the Jackson (Mich.) Citizen Patriot and MLive Media Group from 1991 until joining Autoweek in 2011.

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