Who has most NASCAR wins in the Bristol night race?

Jake Nichol September 14, 2021
Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

The NASCAR Cup Series heads to Bristol, Tennessee this weekend for the famed short track night race. Who is the most successful driver of all in the event, and who has the most wins in the current field?

Hall of famers top Bristol night race wins

The three most successful Cup Series drivers in the Bristol night race are members of the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

Darrell Waltrip has the most victories in the event – the three-time champion winning seven times.

Waltrip also holds the record for the most wins at Bristol outright of any Cup driver – having won the spring race five times to bring his total to 12.

In the night race, his first win came in 1979.

He would follow this with a hat-trick of wins from 1981-1983.

Waltrip would not win the Bristol night race again until 1986, drawing him level on five with Cale Yarborough.

NASCAR 21: Ignition | Trailer

NASCAR 21: Ignition | Trailer

He eclipsed Yarborough in 1989, before adding a seventh triumph in 1992.

That 1992 win was the penultimate career win for Waltrip – taking his 84th and final chequered flag next time out in the Southern 500.

Yarborough was the first driver to win the Bristol night race three times in a row.

Between 1974 and 1978, only Richard Petty in ’75 denied Yarborough in the event.

For good measure, he added a fifth win in 1980 before Waltrip would top him for overall wins nine years later.

The only other driver to be a Bristol night race winner on more than three occasions is Dale Earnhardt Sr.

The #3 won in 1985 before doubling up in 1987. He joined the three-time club in 1988.

He would have to wait 11 years before winning again – taking his final short track win in 1999.

The three-time winners’ club in Bristol’s night race

Three drivers have taken three wins apiece in the Bristol night race – one of them a current driver.

Rusty Wallace took the flag in 1994, 1996, and 2000 before Matt Kenseth won in 2005, 2006 and 2013.

Kyle Busch’s spot on the list is an historic one. The #18 defended his race win in 2010 – with this weekend the first time Busch achieved some unique.

Busch became the first driver in NASCAR history to complete the trifecta.

He won the races in all three of NASCAR’s top series on the same track, over the same weekend.

Photo by Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images for NASCAR

He started with the Truck race, and followed it with what is now the XFinity Series event.

In the Cup race, he won despite a flat tyre on the final lap. It sort of sums up his domination of that weekend.

Just for good measure, he repeated the exact same thing in 2017.

Clutch of two-time Bristol night race winners

11 drivers have achieved two wins at the 0.5-mile short track – four of them current drivers (more on them in a bit).

Fred Lorenzen and David Pearson both took their two wins in the 1960s.

Petty, Bobby Allison, Terry Labonte, Mark Martin, and Carl Edwards are the other two time winners.

Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

Martin’s second win in 1998 came two weeks after his father, step-mother and half-sister were killed in a plane crash.

What about current drivers?

Busch is the most successful of the current crop as outlined above, but brother Kurt has also tasted success.

His first win came in 2003. He would not win again until 2018.

That 15 year wait is the longest anyone has had to wait for a second win.

Joey Logano (2014, 2015), and Denny Hamlin (2012, 2019) are also in the two-time winners club.

Kevin Harvick is the defending race winner going into Saturday night’s event.

The #4 recorded his first win in 2016, before taking a second in ’20.

Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images

Despite winning nine races in the 2020 season, Harvick has not won since last September at Bristol.

Elsewhere, Brad Keselowski is the only other active driver to have scored the win.

The #2 posted the win in 2011 on his way to a fifth place finish in the standings.

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Jake can usually be found writing about or watching anything to do with motorsport – from Formula 1 to NASCAR to British Truck Racing. His work as a motorsport journalist has been published by the likes of Autosport, Motorsport.com and Motorsport News – all highly respected names. Away from racing he is a keen amateur astronomer, podcast listener and enjoys long walks in the park with his three dogs.