Car Number Histories: No. 6
By Mark Aumann, Turner Sports Interactive
February 9, 2004
ATLANTA -- When it comes to the No. 6, David Pearson's 1966 championship season is unmatched, although Mark Martin came close several times.
Pearson was almost unstoppable in 1966, winning 15 times, including sweeping both races at Hickory, Winston-Salem and Richmond. In 42 starts, he was running at the end 34 times. And of those 34, he finished out of the top 10 just once. In fact, he was in the top-five 26 times, including thirds in the Daytona 500 and Southern 500.
Martin finished second in the points four times, but his best season may have been in 1998, when he won seven races and posted 26 top-10s in 33 starts. He won the inaugural race at Las Vegas, followed that up with victories at Texas, California, Michigan, Bristol, Dover and Charlotte. In addition, he won three poles.
In the early days of the sport, Marshall Teague was one of the best. He was 14th at Daytona in 1949, ran three races in 1950, including 63rd in the first Southern 500.
In 1951, he won five of the 15 races he entered, including the beach course at Daytona and west coast starts at Phoenix and Gardena. Teague won again at Daytona in 1952, plus a victory at Jacksonville.
He retired as an active driver that season, but came out of retirement in 1959 in an effort to start the inaugural Daytona 500. Instead, he was killed in a crash while practicing for the race.
Al Bonnell also used the No. 6 in 1949, finishing ninth at Langhorne. Herb Thomas won at Jacksonville in 1951 in two starts in the numeral. Bobby Myers wound up 52nd in the 1952 Southern 500.
Jimmie Lewallen was behind the wheel of a No. 6 Oldsmobile when he finished 13th in the 1953 Southern 500. Then Ralph Liguori and Ben Gregory shared the numeral for the next two seasons, with Liguori using it on the east coast and Gregory out west. Liguori won a pole at Martinsville and was third at Wilson in 23 starts in 1954, while Gregory was fourth at Oakland.
In 1955, Liguori made eight starts, finishing seventh twice. Gregory was seventh at Phoenix in his only appearance. Danny Letner won at Tucson in three events.
Liguori, Pat Grogan and Ed Negre all shared the numeral in 1956. Ligouri's best was a sixth at Wilson, while Negre was fifth at Portland and Grogan 47th in the Southern 500.
Then Cotton Owens acquired the No. 6 beginning in 1957 and began a long association as driver and owner.
Owens won on the beach course at Daytona and was second in the 1957 Southern 500, two of his six top-10s that season. In 1958, Owens won at Rochester and posted 17 top-10 finishes in 29 starts.
He wound up second behind Lee Petty in 1959, winning at Richmond and earning 22 top-10s in 29 appearances. He won again in 1960, at Spartanburg, but cut back to 14 starts. Eddie Gray used the numeral out west, finishing 10th at Phoenix.
Owens drove his own car 14 times in 1961, winning at Columbia twice, Hillsboro and Spartanburg. In addition, he put Ralph Earnhardt behind the wheel for seven races, and Earnhardt posted five top-10s, including a second at Charlotte. Out west, Bob Ross was second at Sacramento in a No. 6 Oldsmobile.
He ran 16 more events in 1962, including eight top-10s. Then Owens put a young Pearson in the car for three more, including a fourth-place finish in the 1962 Southern 500.
Owens then turned the ride over to Pearson full-time in 1963. Pearson won two poles and finished second three times, finishing eighth in the points. He improved to third in 1964 with eight victories and an amazing 42 top-10s in 61 races.
Pearson ran just 15 races in 1965, winning at Columbia and Richmond. He began the 1967 season with two wins before taking the No. 17 ride midway through the season.
Bobby Allison, Sam McQuagg and Darel Dieringer finished out the 1967 season for Owens, with Allison winning at Birmingham in nine events and McQuagg posting a pair of fourths in his six starts.
Buddy Baker was 25th at Riverside in 1968 before switching to the No. 3. Open-wheel star Al Unser was fourth in the 1968 Daytona 500. Then Charlie Glotzbach took over for 19 races, including a win at Charlotte.
Glotzbach made six starts in 1969, winning a pole at Atlanta and finishing second in the Daytona 500. Baker returned for 12 more races, including a pole at College Station.
Baker won the 1970 Southern 500, one of his 17 starts in the No. 6 that season. Sam Posey made his lone NASCAR appearance at Riverside, finishing 28th.
In 1971, Pete Hamilton drove a No. 6 Plymouth, winning one of the Daytona 500 qualifying races and ending up 28th in the main event. That same season, Jerry Oliver began a two-year stint with the numeral, running three races at Riverside, with a best of fifth.
Glotzbach returned in 1972 on a limited basis. But he made the most of his efforts, with a second in the Daytona 500 and third at Charlotte.
Dick Brooks and Peter Gregg shared the No. 6 in 1973, with Brooks running third in the Daytona 500 and the road course expert finishing 37th at Charlotte in his only NASCAR race.
The No. 6 then went through a series of one-offs and limited appearances for the better part of a decade.
D.K. Ulrich and Eddie Bierschwale were the only ones to make more than 25 starts in cars bearing the numeral during that time, with Ulrich posting three top-10 finishes. Bobby Isaac was sixth at Riverside in 1976. Ferrel Harris made two starts in 1978, running ninth in the Daytona 500 and seventh at Talladega. Joe Ruttman was seventh at Charlotte in 1981.
Other drivers who added their names to the roster of the No. 6 during that era included Joey Arrington, Neil Castles, Harry Gant, Jim Hurtubise, Rick Newsom, Tom Sneva, Sonny Easley, Connie Saylor, Dick Whalen, Claude Ballot-Lena, Marty Robbins, Tim Richmond, Bob Senneker, Stan Barrett, Randy Becker, Dr. Bob Jarvis, Al Loquasto, Terry Herman, Jim Sauter, Clark Dwyer, Morgan Shepherd, Jimmy Ingalls, Doug Heveron, Trevor Boys, Rick Knoop, Joe Booher, Bobby Baker and Ron Esau.
Martin gave a hint of what was to come in 1983, when he drove the No. 6 twice, finishing 21st at Nashville.
Instead of his famous No. 43, Richard Petty drove a No. 6 Chevrolet in the 1986 Southern 500, finishing 38th. Ernie Irvan made three starts in 1987, with a best of 15th at Martinsville.
Martin moved over from the No. 12 starting in 1988 and posted 10 top-10s and a 15th-place finish in the points that season.
From 1989 until 2001, Martin never finished below eighth in the standings, winning at least one race in all but one season during that span. He won six poles in 1989 and visited Victory Lane at Rockingham.
In 1990, Martin won at Richmond, Michigan and North Wilkesboro, the first of his four runner-up points finishes. He won five more poles and the season-finale at Atlanta in 1991.
Martin captured Martinsville and Charlotte in 1992, won five races in 1993: including consecutive victories at Watkins Glen, Michigan, Bristol and the Southern 500 at Darlington.
In 1994, Martin repeated at the Glen and Atlanta, earning him second in the standings, then won four more times in 1995, including Talladega, Watkins Glen, North Wilkesboro and Charlotte.
He was winless in 1996, but bounced back the next season with four victories, including wins at Sears Point, Dover, Michigan and Talladega. He also won three poles.
After his stellar 1998, Martin won two more races in 1999 and posted 26 top-10s, 19 of those in the top five. The next season, he visited Victory Lane at Martinsville, one of his 20 top-10s.
But he went winless in 2001, dropping to 12th overall, although he won poles at Richmond and Bristol.
However, Martin came back with a flourish in 2002. He had 22 top-10s, including a win in the Coca-Cola 600, which left him 38 points behind eventual champion Tony Stewart.
Martin was second at Pocono in 2003, his best finish in 36 starts. He had 10 top-10s and ended up 17th in the final standings.