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Totally NASCAR's Top 10: Greatest NASCAR States

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Ryan McGee

 
   
 
Virginia native Hermie Sadler visits the set of Totally NASCAR on Thursday, while brother Elliott and fellow Virginian Ricky Rudd will check in with NASCAR This Morning on Sunday. And you can submit questions for them by clicking on the links to the shows. In 1997, the International Motorsports Hall of Fame at Talladega welcomed its annual class of six racers onto its hallowed walls. On the stage that day stood Richard Petty, Buddy Baker, and Dale Earnhardt on behalf of his late father and short track ace, Ralph Earnhardt. After listening to his credentials announced stat by amazing stat, The King strode to the podium and took a look at the two men sitting behind him. Petty, a native of Randleman, North Carolina, suddenly recognized a pattern. Baker had grown up in Charlotte and the Earnhardts were longtime residents of Kannapolis, which sits exactly halfway between Randleman and the big city. "Down here y'all like to talk about the Alabama Gang," His Royal Fastness said with a smile. "But I guess this here is the North Carolina Gang." The comments drew some laughs and a light round of applause, but the Alabama natives in attendance did little to mask their displeasure at the subtle jab toward their racing heritage. "Hell," said one man wearing a big Crimson Tide t-shirt. "Everybody knows we grow the best racers down here, not damn North Carolina." I didn't have the heart to tell the guy, but most of the Alabama Gang -- Bobby Allison, Donnie Allison, and Red Farmer weren't even born in Alabama. They had moved to 'Bama from Florida. Ever since that day I have wondered which of the 50 states can truly claim the title "Best Grower of NASCAR Talent". And now I am ready to reveal my list of the top ten, based on the Nextel Cup history and current lineup from each state. Keep in mind that this is based on the state a driver was born in, not his "racing hometown" . . . and no, Chad Little fans, Washington did not make the list:

10. (Tie) Alabama & Missouri

Alabama

Top five drivers: 1. Tim Flock 2. Davey Allison 3. Neil Bonnett 4. Hut Stricklin 5. Steve Grissom
Cup titles: 3 (Tim Flock '52 & '55, Red Byron '49)
Current drivers: 0

Missouri

Top five drivers: 1. Rusty Wallace 2. Ken Schrader 3. Lloyd Dane 4. Jamie McMurray 5. Kenny Wallace
Cup titles: 1 (Rusty Wallace 1989)
Current drivers: 4 (Jamie McMurray, Ken Schrader, Rusty Wallace, Kenny Wallace) They tie for opposite reasons. Alabama has history on its side, but no present. Missouri has little history, but four current competitors and a huge future in McMurray. Florida steals most of the Alabama Gang due to the birthplace rule, but Tim Flock sneaks in because he entered the world via Fort Payne, AL, not Georgia where he actually grew up.

9. Texas

Top five drivers: 1. Terry Labonte 2. Bobby Labonte 3. A.J. Foyt 4. Johnny Rutherford 5. Bobby Hillin Jr.
Cup titles: 3 (T. Labonte '84, '96, B. Labonte -- 2000)
Current drivers: 3 (The Labontes, Larry Foyt) The Lone Star State doesn't bring a lot of quantity to this fight, but packs a ton of quality into its top three. A.J. squeezed seven wins and ten poles out of only 128 Cup starts. Hillin owns one win, coming at Talladega in 1987.

8. Indiana

Top five drivers: 1. Tony Stewart 2. Ryan Newman 3. Charlie Glotzbach 4. Darel Dieringer 5. Larry Frank
Cup titles: 1 (Tony Stewart '02)
Current drivers: 3 (Tony Stewart, Ryan Newman, Tony Raines) Sorry, Hoosiers, you don't get to claim , but trust me, this is #8 with a bullet.

7. Kentucky

Top five drivers: 1. Darrell Waltrip 2. Michael Waltrip 3. Jeremy Mayfield 4. Tommy Thompson 5. The Green Brothers
Cup titles: 3 (Darrell Waltrip '81, '82, & '85)
Current drivers: 3 (Jeff Green, Jeremy Mayfield, Michael Waltrip) Five of the six guys listed here are from the same hometown — Owensboro.

6. Florida

Top five drivers: 1. Bobby Allison 2. Fireball Roberts 3. LeeRoy Yarbrough 4. Marshall Teague 5. Red Farmer
Cup titles: 1 (Bobby Allison '83)
Current drivers: 1 (Joe Nemechek) Florida gets big help from the birthplace rule, shoplifting three members of the Alabama Gang -- the Allisons and Sportsman Division legend Red Farmer.

5. Wisconsin

Top five drivers: 1. Alan Kulwicki 2. Matt Kenseth 3. Dave Marcis 4. Dick Trickle 5. Jim Sauter
Cup titles: 2 (Alan Kulwicki '92, Matt Kenseth '03)
Current drivers: 4 (Matt Kenseth, Ted Musgrave, Johnny Sauter, Scott Wimmer) Pass the cheese! Big bonus points thanks to a very bright future in the hands of Kenseth, Sauter, and Wimmer. If Trickle's 1,000-plus career short-track wins counted, Wisconsin would be number one.

4. Virginia

Top five drivers: 1. Curtis Turner 2. Joe Weatherly 3. Ricky Rudd 4. Glen Wood 5. Jeff Burton
Cup titles: 2 (Joe Weatherly '62 & '63)
Current drivers: 5 (Jeff Burton, Ward Burton, Ricky Rudd, Elliott Sadler, Hermie Sadler) Curtis Turner and Ricky Rudd are the greatest NASCAR drivers north of Junior Johnson's house to never win a Cup title.

3. South Carolina

Top five drivers: 1. David Pearson 2. Cale Yarborough 3. Rex White 4. Cotton Owens 5. Johnny Allen
Cup titles: 7 (David Pearson '66, '68, & '69, Cale Yarborough '77, '78, & '79, Rex White '60)
Current drivers: 0 Second only to that other Carolina when it comes to strength shared by its top three drivers. The only reason the Palmetto State isn't ranked higher is because of that big goose egg by "current drivers."

2. California

Top five drivers: 1. 2. Marvin Panch 3. Ernie Irvan 4. Dan Gurney 5. Dick Rathmann
Cup titles: 4 (Jeff Gordon '95, '98, '99, '01)
Current drivers: 5 (Jeff Gordon, Robby Gordon, Kevin Harvick, Jimmie Johnson, Casey Mears) Panch, Gurney, and Rathmann kicked butt in the '50s and '60s, Irvan kicked it in the '80s and early '90s, Gordon is the most dominant driver of his era, and the future is nailed down for a long time to come.

1. North Carolina

Top five drivers: 1. Richard Petty 2. Dale Earnhardt 3. Junior Johnson 4. Lee Petty 5 (tie). Herb Thomas, Ned Jarrett
Cup titles: 26 (R. Petty 7, Dale Earnhardt 7, Lee Petty '54, '58, & '59, Herb Thomas '51 & '53, Buck Baker '56 & '57, N. Jarrett '61 & '65, Bobby Isaac '70, '99)
Current drivers: 5 (Dale Earnhardt Jr., Dale Jarrett, Kyle Petty, Scott Riggs, Brian Vickers) The King had good reason to brag back in 1997. The North Carolina Gang is second to none in wins, Cups won, and Hall of Famers born. The next ten years looks pretty good as well with Dale Junior behind the wheel. Just imagine if Adam Petty was still around.

Close but DNQ

Tennessee

Top five drivers: 1. Sterling Marlin 2. Bobby Hamilton 3. Joe Lee Johnson 4. G.C. Spencer 5. Coo Coo Marlin
Cup titles: 0
Current drivers: 1 (Sterling Marlin)

New York

1. Bill Rexford 2. Geoffrey Bodine 3. Steve Park 4. Jim Reed 5 (tie). Jim Hurtubise and Brett Bodine
Cup titles: 1 (Bill Rexford '50)
Current drivers: 0

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