**NOW UPDATED THROUGH 2018**
LASTCAR.info’s Brock Beard presents a NASCAR track guide unlike any other - a track-by-track breakdown of the last-place finishers at each speedway on the current Cup Series circuit, the exhibition races, and some tracks no longer on the schedule! If you’ve ever wanted to know who had the most last-place finishes at Daytona International Speedway, or at the old Riverside International Raceway, this is the book for you!
NORTH WILKESBORO SPEEDWAY
North Wilkesboro, North Carolina - 0.625-mile oval
THE INAUGURAL LAST-PLACE FINISHER
The unusually-banked bullring in Wilkes County, North Carolina is almost as old as the Cup Series itself. On October 16, 1949, the track was a half-mile dirt oval which held the season finale for NASCAR's first year. Bob Flock was flagged the winner while Red Byron was crowned the sport's first champion. Finishing last in the 22-car field was Frank "Rebel" Mundy from Atlanta, Georgia. Mundy's #2 1949 Ford fell out of the race after 38 of 200 laps due to reasons not recorded in the official results. Mundy went on to run 52 Cup races through 1956, scoring three series victories in 1951, including the first by a Studebaker in Cup Series competition. Ironically, that same year Mundy became a LASTCAR Cup Series Champion with three last-place finishes.
THE FINAL LAST-PLACE FINISHER
The final race run on the old short track, now in its five-eighths of a mile configuration, was the Tyson Holly Farms 400 run on September 29, 1996. The final checkered flag went to Jeff Gordon, who as a rookie three years earlier swept both the track's last-place finishes in 1993. Finishing last was Derrike Cope of Spanaway, Washington, the surprise winner of the 1990 Daytona 500 who was driving for Bobby Allison in the veteran's final year of car ownership. Cope's #12 Badcock Ford qualified a strong 7th, and though he finished under power, the short track carnage left him 31 laps down in last place. It was the second-straight year that every car in the event finished the race It was Cope's 13th of 26 last-place finishes in Cup and his third of the season, securing him his first of three LASTCAR Cup Series Championships.
North Wilkesboro Speedway still stands today, and even hosted a handful of races in 2010 and 2011, the first racing events held at the track since 1996. Grassroots efforts such as "Save The Speedway" are still actively seeking the preservation of the track.
FIRST-TIME LAST-PLACE FINISHERS
Much like Martinsville, North Wilkesboro has a long list of first-time last-placers, including an even greater number of big names. Included are the sport's first superstar, Glenn "Fireball" Roberts, its first three-time champion, Lee Petty, the sport's iron man, Ricky Rudd, and the four-time Cup champion and three-time Daytona 500 winner Jeff Gordon. Gordon, also the 1993 LASTCAR Cup Champion, is the last of three drivers to sweep both North Wilkesboro last-place finishes the same season, joining G.C. Spencer (1970) and John Kennedy (1978). 1991 Daytona 500 champion Ernie Irvan is on this list as well, plus Nationwide Series veteran Tommy Houston, Blackie Pitt, NASCAR's first Rookie of the Year and 1954 LASTCAR Cup Champion, and Rob Moroso, the first rookie to claim that title posthumously.
About the Author
I am a freelance writer and statistician who has followed NASCAR - and its underdogs - since 1991. My website is LASTCAR, which since 2009 has been dedicated to providing statistical analysis on the last-place finishers of NASCAR races.