NASCAR in it's deep and historic histroy is no different then any other sport. We love our champions, remember them and honor them. The classes of drivers who can say I was a champion are small, those you can say they won multiple championships is even smaller. This year 50 year old Mark Martin who 3 years ago announced he was done racing full time, is once again trying to win that ever elusive NASCAR Championship.
While there are always drivers who didn't win championships there are always those names and teams that you go, wait they never won a championship, but were very well known and very beloved by the sport. Some drivers died in their prime though destined to be the next great champion. Others were great drivers who just came up against teams that for a short stretch dominated the sport in way that made you go wow and ended up unable to climb the mountain. So here is a little bit of NASCAR history of drivers who Didn't win a Championship, and you can decided just who was the best to NEVER win a Championship.
First on the list Edward Glenn "Fireball" Roberts. While his nickname came from his days as a pitcher, "Fireball" Roberts is often considered by Many to be NASCAR's first true superstar. Before his tragic and sudden death during a race in 1964, "Fireball" accumulated 33 Victories including the 1962 Daytona 500. However, while few doubted his abilities he ran mostly part time until 1956. However this might be the one of the few drivers to finish second, who could have won a championship. In 1949 his first full year he lost the championship by 3 points when rather in driving to get points, he drove for the win (which payed more then winning the championship in 1949).
It's hard to talk about NASCAR and not bring up our next driver as a fan favorite, Mr. Harry Gant. Harry Gant and his #33 Skoal Bandit were synonomous for 4 decades in the sport. While only aquiring 18 wins in NASCAR Harry was one of the most well known figures in the sport and a great ambassador. Often the guy with "bad luck" for diving a green car in the 60's and 70's which was called Taboo then, Gant finished second in points in 1984, and in the top 5 in points 6 times in his NASCAR Career. He also has 3 "sportsman" or what is better known now as the Nationwide Series Championships. He also has the honoro of being the 1985 IROC champion. Retiring in 1994 Gant never was able to get a Championship in NASCAR's top series.
Tragic loss of this next driver could very well top this list. David Carl "Davey" Allison, who died in a helecopter accident in 1993, was one of NASCAR's most Promising drivers in a decade. Consecutive 3rd place finishes in the 1991 and 92 seasons led many to belive that 1993 was going to be Davey's break out year. Much like "Fireball" Roberts, Allison was lost before his true greatness could shine through.
Another great Personallity in NASCAR, Buddy Baker also makes this list. While much more well known for his post NASCAR racing career Baker had 11 Career wins, and finished in the top 10 in points 3 times. Though for all the popularity few people don't realize that Buddy Baker has that 0 next to his name for Championships.
Mark Martin. While I mentioned him in the opening, it needs to be pointed out that Mark Martin is second only to Darrell Waltrip in second place finishes in the Championship points hunt. Beaten out by the likes of Dale Earnhardt, Jeff Gordon, aand Rusty Wallace. Mark is often critisized for not having the will to do whatever it takes to win a championship and may be looking at his last chance this year with Rick Hendrick.
Speaking of Hendrick Drivers, the most infamous might be Tim Richmond. While Dying of AIDS in 1987, Tim was a driver with tons of talent. While his highest points finish was 3rd in 1986 it should be noted he only started in 29 of the races that year, winning 7 times. The only thing some people say stopped Tim Richmond from setting records in NASCAR was ultimatly, Tim Richmond.
Now with 23 Career wins, 194 top 5's and 374 top tens and 18 times in the top 10 in points, one would think a Championship would be in there somewhere right? However, Ricky Rudd for all his great seasons kept hitting the hotter driver. 1991 Rudd has his best career season points wise and falls 195 points short of a dominating Dale Earnhardt. Again like many a great superstar within the sport and one of the most well known drivers on the circuit, Ricky Rudd has no championship to add to his collection.
So sound off and tell me who you think the best driver to never win a Championship is.