Tony Stewart joins a legend

March, 26, 2012

Tony Stewart appreciates the history and lore of auto racing; just look at his idolization of and relationship with A.J. Foyt. So he probably knows who Elzie Wylie Baker is.

But others might not, and that's OK. If you're a new fan to NASCAR, that might be a new name to you. Others probably know him better as Buck Baker.

Baker, who died in 2002, drove 26 seasons in what is now the Sprint Cup Series. He was the first driver to win back-to-back championships, in 1956 and '57. He won a title in 1957 as an owner/driver after winning one in 1956 driving for Carl Kiekhaefer.

Stewart, with his 46th win on Sunday, tied Baker for 14th on the all-time list. Stewart likely is not done and is well on his way to becoming the 13th driver to win 50.

Stewart now has won 13 races as an owner/driver, matching Baker and Junior Johnson for sixth all time.

Baker is a NASCAR legend, and while Stewart is still writing his story, he's already in great company.

Trivia break: When was the last rain-shortened race prior to Sunday?

Seven Out Of 15 Ain't Bad

Dating back to last season, Tony Stewart now has won seven of the past 15 Sprint Cup Series races. In that stretch, he both won a title and replaced his crew chief.

Over the past 15 seasons, only three other drivers have won at least seven races in a 15-race stretch. Check out the chart.

Jeff Gordon did it multiple times in 1998 and won eight of 15 races in his stretch that year.

Trivia break: Gordon won four straight in 1998. Who is the only driver to replicate that feat since?

Yellow's Just Not In

Some people might have called Sunday's race a little boring, but I called it nearly historic.

There were no cautions in the race until the rains came around Lap 125 and eventually caused the race to be called.

Part of that might have been due to the multiple lines and width of the track. Part of it might have been the desire to get to halfway to make it an official race. Either way, we were on a historic pace.

The last time there was a caution-free race was in 2002 at Talladega, a Dale Earnhardt Jr. win, and it's happened just five times since the start of the 1985 season.

Unbelievably, three of the past four times we've had a caution-free race, it's come at Talladega, as races there in 1997 and 2001, as well as 2002, went the distance without a caution.

The last time we had a caution-free race at an intermediate track came at the track most similar to California on the schedule, at Michigan in 1999.

Trivia break: Who won the caution-free race at Michigan in 1999? Hint: He's now one of my co-workers.

Trivia Break Answers

1. The last rain-shortened race was in June 2009 at New Hampshire.
2. Jimmie Johnson won four straight in 2007.
3. Now-ESPN analyst Dale Jarrett won the caution-free race at Michigan.

Matt Willis | email

ESPN Staff Writer
Matt Willis has been a studio researcher at ESPN since 2006, working on "NASCAR Now" and "SportsCenter," among other shows. He graduated from Ithaca College in 2006 with a degree in journalism. While there, he worked on ICTV, on shows such as "Ya Think You Know Sports?" and "Sports Final." He also was a member of the IC Comedy Club and figures about half of the jokes he makes in his column are actually funny.



You must be signed in to post a comment

Already have an account?