First opened in 1950, two years after the official formation of NASCAR, Darlington Raceway has provided some of the most memorable moments in Cup Series history, a history that not only includes some wild photo finishes but also the most lopsided win of all time.
From the early years of Darlington to the present day, some of the biggest names in NASCAR history have taken checkered flags at the 1.366-mile oval known as both “The Lady in Black” and “The Track Too Tough to Tame.”
Of the 15 drivers with the most victories at Darlington, only four are not members of the NASCAR Hall of Fame and two, Kevin Harvick and Denny Hamlin, who each have three victories, are current Cup Series drivers. The other two are Jimmie Johnson, who will undoubtedly be inducted in the future, and Harry Gant, who has been on the ballot but has somehow not yet gotten in. Johnson and Gant are also part of the three-win club at Darlington.
So who exactly is the all-time leader in NASCAR Cup Series wins at Darlington Raceway?
David Pearson owns the most NASCAR Cup Series victories at Darlington Raceway
Leading the way with 10 NASCAR Cup Series victories at Darlington Raceway is 2011 Hall of Fame inductee David Pearson.
Simply put, Pearson, a three-time Cup Series points champion, dominated at Darlington. Not only did he take the checkered flag 10 times in 47 starts, but he also had seven runner-up finishes, 24 top-five finishes, and 30 top 10s. He also holds the record for the most poles at the track with 12. Pearson’s final win at “The Lady in Black” came in 1980, which was also the 105th and final victory of his NASCAR Cup Series career.
Dale Earnhardt Sr. took nine checkered flags at ‘The Track Too Tough to Tame’
Just as Pearson’s dominant run at Darlington Raceway came to an end, Dale Earnhardt Sr.‘s domination of “The Track Too Tough to Tame” began. “The Intimidator” notched his first NASCAR Cup Series victory at Darlington in 1982 and claimed eight more wins on the track, his last coming in 1994. In 44 starts, Earnhardt had the eight victories, 19 top fives, and 24 top 10s.
Jeff Gordon had seven NASCAR Cup Series wins at Darlington Raceway
Just as Earnhardt’s dominant run at Darlington Raceway began soon after Pearson’s ended, Jeff Gordon‘s domination of the famed oval began just after Earnhardt’s ended. Gordon’s first NASCAR Cup Series victory at Darlington came in 1995, the first of three consecutive wins on the track and also the first of five victories in seven starts at Darlington from ’95 to ’98. In total, Gordon notched seven wins in 36 starts, his final victory coming in 2007.
Here’s the full list of the 15 drivers with the most NASCAR Cup Series victories at Darlington Raceway:
- David Pearson: 10
- Dale Earnhardt Sr.: 9
- Jeff Gordon: 7
- Bobby Allison: 5
- Bill Elliott: 5
- Darrell Waltrip: 5
- Cale Yarborough: 5
- Harry Gant: 4
- Buck Baker: 3
- Denny Hamlin: 3
- Kevin Harvick: 3
- Dale Jarrett: 3
- Jimmie Johnson: 3
- Richard Petty: 3
- Herb Thomas: 3
Stats courtesy of Racing Reference