Can a NASCAR Driver Win the Championship Without Winning a Race?

Yes, it is possible for a NASCAR driver to win the championship without winning a race. This has happened twice in the history of the sport: in 1949 and in 1950. The first year of NASCAR’s Strictly Stock Series, Red Byron was crowned champion despite not winning a race. In the following year, Bill Rexford won the championship with only one win. However, it is important to note that this is a rare occurrence and since then, every championship-winning driver has won at least one race during the season.

When it comes to NASCAR, winning races is considered the ultimate goal for any driver. However, winning races doesn’t always guarantee a championship title. In some cases, drivers have won the championship without winning a single race. This has left many fans wondering whether it’s possible to achieve such a feat and how important it is in the history of NASCAR. In this article, we’ll explore the question of whether any NASCAR driver has won the championship without winning a race and discuss its importance in NASCAR history.

The NASCAR championship is awarded to the driver who accumulates the most points during a season. Points are awarded based on a driver’s finishing position in each race. The driver with the most points at the end of the season is crowned the champion. Winning a race is certainly a significant achievement in NASCAR, the question arises whether a driver can win the championship without winning any race.

Since the inception of NASCAR in 1949, there have been a few instances where drivers have won the championship without winning a race. This is a rare achievement that requires consistent performances in all races throughout the season. Winning a championship without winning a race is a clear indication of the driver’s ability to perform at a high level consistently and not just rely on individual race wins.

There are several reasons why a driver may win the championship without winning a race. It could be due to the driver’s ability to finish high in multiple races or consistently achieve top 10 finishes. It can also be because other drivers who dominate the races have consistent finishes outside the top 10.

Regardless of the reason, winning a championship without winning a race is an impressive feat. It requires talent, skill, and an understanding of how to score points consistently. It is a testament to the driver’s performance over the entire season rather than just a single race.

Now that we’ve established the importance of this question, let’s take a closer look at some drivers who have achieved this rare feat in NASCAR history.

The Odds

It’s not very often that a NASCAR driver wins a championship without crossing the finish line in first place throughout the season. In fact, the statistic is so rare that it has only occurred twice in the Cup Series so far.

The first time a driver won a championship without a race win was in 1949, when Red Byron came out on top. Byron, who was a former Army sergeant, only won two of the eight races he entered, but his consistent finishes and a points system advantage earned him enough points to be crowned the first NASCAR champion. He finished with five top five finishes, and he also led more than 300 laps over the year. But Byron’s achievement, while impressive, still came in the early days of the sport, long before aerodynamics and technology played a significant role.

The second and most recent time a driver clinched a championship without a win race was in 2016, when Jimmie Johnson won his seventh Cup Series championship. Johnson won his seventh title without winning a race until the final race of the season at Homestead-Miami Speedway, which he did not need to win to secure his championship. Johnson qualified for the championship race through points and finished seventh in the race.

While it might seem unusual that a driver can win the championship without winning a race, the truth is that it is incredibly difficult. Many factors must come together for a driver and his team to win a championship without a victory scoreboard. But it isn’t impossible, as Byron and Johnson have demonstrated.

Despite the rarity of a driver winning a championship without a race win, it’s worth noting that several drivers have come close over the years. Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished second in the 2013 Cup Series points standings without winning a race throughout the season. Other drivers, such as Mark Martin and Bobby Allison, have also been within reach of the championship without a win.

The bottom line is that winning a NASCAR championship without winning a race is a difficult feat to achieve, and it isn’t something that happens often. But it’s important to remember that it’s possible, and it takes a lot of skill, consistency, and strategy to make it happen.

Stories from the Past

NASCAR is an exciting sport that has seen many drivers achieve incredible feats on the track. Winning a championship is the dream of every NASCAR driver, but has anyone ever won the championship without winning a race? Surprisingly, the answer is yes, and here are the stories of two NASCAR champions who have achieved this remarkable feat.

Benny Parsons in 1973

Benny Parsons was a talented driver who had many top finishes in his career but had never managed to win a race. However, in 1973, he won the NASCAR championship without winning a race, making him the first driver to achieve this feat. Parsons competed in 28 races that year and finished in the top ten in 21 of them. He also had six second-place finishes, which helped him secure the championship title.

Parsons’ championship-winning season was a remarkable achievement that demonstrated his consistency and skill on the track. Despite never winning a race, he was able to outscore his rivals by being consistently good and finishing near the front of the pack. His success in 1973 is still celebrated by NASCAR fans today, and his name remains synonymous with success without winning a race.

Matt Kenseth in 2003

Matt Kenseth is another NASCAR champion who achieved the feat of winning the championship without winning a race. He accomplished this in 2003, a year in which he had 25 top-ten finishes but failed to win a race. Kenseth’s consistency and ability to finish near the front in most of his races helped him earn enough points to win the championship.

Kenseth’s 2003 championship-winning season was a testament to his skill and ability on the track. While he was never able to win a race that season, he demonstrated that he had the consistency and finesse necessary to outscore his rivals and claim the ultimate prize in NASCAR. His success that year is still celebrated by NASCAR fans, and he remains a driving force in the sport to this day.


Winning a championship without winning a race is a remarkable achievement that requires skill, consistency, and luck. Benny Parsons and Matt Kenseth are two NASCAR champions who have demonstrated that it is possible to achieve this feat and that it is one of the greatest accomplishments in the sport. These drivers have shown that being consistently good and finishing near the front of the pack can be just as valuable as crossing the finish line first. Their success has inspired many NASCAR drivers over the years, and their stories will always be remembered as part of the sport’s rich history.

Has any NASCAR driver won the championship without winning a race?

Yes, it is possible for a NASCAR driver to win the championship without winning a race. While it is uncommon, it has happened in the history of the sport. Winning the championship is all about consistency and accumulating points throughout the season.

There are a few factors to consider when looking at how a driver can win the title without a win. These factors include:

Consistency is Key

Consistency is perhaps the most important aspect of winning a championship in NASCAR. A driver who finishes in the top five or top ten consistently throughout the season will accumulate points and put them in a good position heading into the playoffs.

Winning a race is not necessary to ensure a good finishing position in the championship standings. While a win does come with extra playoff points, it is not the only way to earn them. A driver who consistently finishes in the top positions in every race will accumulate enough playoff points to put them in contention for the championship.

The Importance of Playoff Points

Playoff points are awarded to drivers who win races throughout the season. These points are then added to their total heading into the playoffs. The more playoff points a driver has, the better position they will be in once the playoffs begin.

A driver who has accumulated playoff points throughout the season will have a distinct advantage over a driver who may have won a race or two, but has not accumulated as many playoff points. This is why consistency is so important in NASCAR.

The Role of Strategy

Another factor that can come into play when a driver is hoping to win the championship without winning a race is strategy. NASCAR racing is a strategic sport, and a driver and their team will need to make decisions throughout the race that will increase their chances of finishing in a good position.

A driver who may not be the fastest on the track, but has a team that can make the right pit stops and make the right decisions, can still finish in a top position and accumulate valuable points towards the championship.

Determination and Grit

Finally, a driver who wants to win the championship without winning a race will need to have determination and grit. Winning a championship in NASCAR is not an easy feat, and it takes hard work, dedication, and a willingness to push through even when things get tough.

There will be times when a driver has a bad race, or they are struggling to find their groove on the track. It is during these times that determination and grit will come into play. A driver who can push through the difficult times and keep their eyes on the prize will have a better chance of winning the championship.


Winning a race is not necessary to win the championship in NASCAR. A driver who is consistent throughout the season, accumulates playoff points, has a strong strategy, and has determination and grit can win the championship without ever crossing the finish line first.

It is important for drivers and their teams to focus on these factors if they want to win the championship without a race victory. While winning a race is always the goal, it is important to remember that consistency and strategy are just as important.

Current Possibilities

The NASCAR Cup Series is one of the most competitive racing championships in the world. Winning a race is critical to make it to the playoffs and ultimately compete for the championship. However, it is not necessarily a prerequisite to win a race to win the championship. In the past, there have been instances where a driver has won the NASCAR Cup Series championship without winning a single race. So, who are the current NASCAR drivers who could win the championship without a race win?

Kyle Larson

The first driver who comes to mind is Kyle Larson. After being suspended for most of 2020, Larson signed with Hendrick Motorsports and has already made a significant impact in 2021. Larson finished in the top 5 in seven of the first eleven races of the season. While he has shown impressive speed and consistency, he is yet to visit the victory lane. Nevertheless, Larson is a strong contender to win the championship without winning a race this year.

Matt DiBenedetto

Matt DiBenedetto has been consistently improving his results since joining the Wood Brothers Racing team. While he is yet to win a race, DiBenedetto has demonstrated his ability to stay competitive on various track types. His best finish so far was second place at Las Vegas in 2020. Despite not qualifying for the playoffs last season, DiBenedetto finished 13th in the championship standings. He can be a dark-horse candidate to win the championship without a race win.

Michael McDowell

Michael McDowell shocked the world by winning the 2021 Daytona 500 earlier this year. While he is not a regular contender for race wins, McDowell remains in the top 20 of the championship standings after eleven races. With consistent finishes and the potential for more upsets, McDowell could be a surprise champion without winning any additional races in 2021.

Chris Buescher

Chris Buescher has been a consistent presence in the NASCAR Cup Series since 2015. Although he has only won one race in his career, he has finished in the top 10 of the championship standings twice. In 2021, Buescher has shown some flashes of speed, including a third-place finish at Darlington. He could sneak into the playoffs and make a title run without a race win.

Tyler Reddick

Tyler Reddick was a two-time Xfinity Series champion before moving up to the Cup Series in 2019. He has shown tremendous speed, finishing as the runner-up in three races last season. In 2021, Reddick was in contention to win at the Homestead-Miami Speedway but was ultimately passed by William Byron. Despite his lack of victories, Reddick is talented enough to make it to the playoffs and compete for the championship.

In conclusion, while winning a race is essential in the NASCAR Cup Series, it is not a requirement to become the champion. These five drivers have shown the potential to win the championship without a race win. With the playoffs and the championship still months away, however, anything can happen in NASCAR.