Cale Yarborough was born in 1939 in South Carolina to a tobacco farmer and cotton gin operator. Before entering the world of racing, Yarborough was a football athlete. In 1957, he made his racing debut at the Southern 500. He quickly became one of the top racers, eventually winning 83 races, tying him with Jimmie Johnson.
Most notable in his career, were his three consecutive Cup championships from 1976-1978. Jimmie Johnson would eventually beat that and add two more consecutive wins. Yarborough was one of the best race car drivers of his time. He was inducted in the NASCAR Hall of Fame in 2011. Another big honor was getting a part of South Carolina Highway 403 re-named after him to Cale Yarborough Highway.
Terry Labonte- Two Cup Championships
Terry Labonte was a NASCAR racer for 27 years during which he won two Cup championships and 22 races. He set the record for the most years in between two Cup championship wins. Labonte was born into a family of racers, but unlike his two brothers, Bobby and Justin, Terry became one of the most popular drivers of his time.
In 1984, Terry starred as a guest in an episode of The Dukes of Hazzard, playing a pit crew member. He also starred as himself in the Burt Reynolds movie "Stroker Ace" the year prior. He also had some appearances in commercials for Denny’s.
Benny Parsons- 285 Top-Tens
Another North Carolina-born driver, Benny Parsons gained recognition after winning the 1973 NASCAR Winston Cup champion. That year, he had 21 top-ten finishes and 15 top-five finishes out of 28 races that season. After retiring in 1988, he became a top broadcaster and analyst in NASCAR for TBS, ABC, ESPN, NBC, and TNT.
In 2017, Parsons was inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame. Parsons had his fair share of health problems during the last few years of his life. Even though he had stopped smoking back in the late '70s, it seems that it had long-lasting effects on his breathing. Sadly, he passed in 2007 from lung cancer.
Ricky “The Rooster” Rudd- 788 Consecutive Starts
Virginia-born Ricky Rudd got his racing start as a teenager in go-karts and motocross. He made his NASCAR debut in 1975 at North Carolina Speedway. Two years later, he became a full-time driver. His 32-year career consisted of 23 wins at the NASCAR Cup Series. He retired in 2006 and was inducted into the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame in 2007.
One of Ricky Rudd’s most memorable NASCAR moments was in 1988 at the Budweiser At The Glen. He was able to pass the finish line before Rusty Wallace by inching closer to him although Wallace had gained speed in the final laps.
Mark Martin- 882 Races
Despite never having won a Cup championship, the Arkansas-born native has nonetheless been described by ESPN as one of the best drivers. He’s not the best there ever was, but with 40 wins, 51 pole positions, and a career that spanned more than 31 years, he is definitely deserving of a spot on our list. Plus, there’s that minor fact that he managed to make an earning of over $85 million by the time he retired.
In 2017, Martin received the honor of being inducted in the NASCAR Hall of Fame along with Richard Childress, Rick Hendrick, Raymond Parks, and Benny Parsons. Since retiring from racing, Martin has switched to the back end and now is the owner of several car dealerships in Arkansas.