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When you picture your favorite NASCAR drivers, how tall are they? When it comes to any competitive sports, we tend to think that being taller is an advantage. In many team sports, this is true, but it’s actually not the case in the world of motorsports, and especially NASCAR.
That may explain why the average height of NASCAR drivers is comfortably under 6 feet, but it doesn’t mean that there aren’t any tall drivers out there. Read on to find out which NASCAR drivers, both current and former, are among the tallest competitors out there.
Looking at NASCAR racers past and present, the following were the tallest NASCAR Drivers:
- 1. Buddy Baker — 6 feet 6 inches
- 2. Michael Waltrip — 6 feet 5 inches
- 3. Elliott Sadler — 6 feet 4 inches
- 4: Austin Cindric — 6 feet 3 inches
- 5=. Joey Logano — 6 feet 1 inch
- 5=. Kyle Busch — 6 feet 1 inch
Table of Tallest NASCAR Drivers:
|1||Buddy Baker||6 feet 6 inches|
|2||Michael Waltrip||6 feet 5 inches|
|3||Elliott Sadler||6 feet 4 inches|
|4||Joey Logano||6 feet 1 inch|
|5||Kyle Busch||6 feet 1 inch|
You can check out the shortest drivers in NASCAR here on the site as well.
Buddy Baker, also known by his real name of Elzie Wylie Baker Jr. had a motorsports career that spanned more than three decades. His large stature but friendly nature and demeanor earned him the nickname “Gentle Giant.”
His first NASCAR victory came at the National 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway, after which Baker gained a reputation for particular prowess on the circuit’s superspeedway tracks, especially Daytona and Talladega. At these two locations, he gained six of his 19 overall career victories.
Though Baker never managed to actually stand even taller by winning the Cup Series championship, he did achieve what is known as the Career Grand Slam.
This refers to winning all four of NASCAR’s most high-profile races, namely: the Coca-Cola 600, Southern 500, Daytona 500, and Aaron’s 499. It seems that, for Baker at least, height was not especially a big handicap. If it was, then that’s just lucky for the other racers.
Only an inch in height behind Baker is Michael Waltrip standing at 6 feet 5 inches (196cm). Waltrip hasn’t raced since 2017, but he has enjoyed victories and highlights since his earlier career in the 1980s, through the 1990s and 2000s.
As is quite common in NASCAR, he comes from a motorsporting family as the younger brother of Darrell Waltrip. Perhaps the biggest highlights in Waltrip’s career were winning the Daytona 500 twice in 2001 and 2003.
Less of a highlight in his career was his 1990 crash at Bristol Motor Speedway during the Budweiser 250. His Pontiac made contact with another driver, Robert Pressley, sending Waltrip through a gate and straight into the end of a wall, causing massive damage and essentially imploding the vehicle in on itself.
His older sibling, Darryl, rushed to the scene fearing that his younger brother had certainly perished or was at the very least critically injured. As it happens, Waltrip emerged from the wreckage barely scratched and only with superficial injuries.
Besides being among the tallest drivers in the sport, Elliott Sadler is also well known as one of only 36 drivers in total who have won at least one victory in all three of the big NASCAR series: Cup Series, Xfinity, and the Craftsman Truck Series.
Among these three, his greatest success was arguably in Xfinity, where he has enjoyed a total of 13 victories and 227 top-ten placements, compared to only 3 and 69 respectively in the Cup Series — not that that is anything to balk at!
Sadler raced in a number of different teams through his career, such as Wood Brothers Racing, Robert Yates Racing, Evernham/Petty Motorsports, KHI, Joe Gibbs and others. Despite his later success, Sadler’s story of getting into the big leagues was actually quite arduous.
He struggled to gain positive attention from NASCAR team owners in his early days, eventually running some Xfinity races as an independent in the mid-1990s, risking it all to try and make it.
Austin Cindric (6′ 3″)
In current NASCAR seasons Austin Cindric has been had and shoulders above the competition in terms of height, and in plenty of races as well.
From a recent Rookie Season he has made himself a mainstay of the the Team Penske Ford and is likely to retain that tallest driver title for some years to come, as well as add a few more useful NASCAR titles to it along the way!
A familiar face to many modern NASCAR fans, Joey Logano is not just a NASCAR legend, but also one of its tallest drivers, standing at 6 feet 2 inches (188cm). In true motorsports fashion, Logano began his career very early, at age 6 to be precise. The year was 1996, and Logano was a quarter midget racer in his home state of Connecticut, but it only took him until 1997 to win his first Eastern Grand National Championship.
Since those early days, Logano has gone on to have one of the most storied and successful driver records of any driver ever. He has picked up an amazing 32 wins on the Cup Series circuit, as well as two Championship titles in 2018 and 2022.
In the Xfinity Series he has added a further 30 victories on that, with more than 400 top-ten placements in the Cup and Xfinity Series as well.
Kyle Busch may be the “shortest” in our list of tall drivers, but as one of the most successful NASCAR stars ever, he likely won’t worry about this one. He has many other records under his belt, including the most race victories in a single season across the main three NASCAR series.
In the Cup Series, he’s racked up a total of 63 wins and 370 top-ten finishes, not to mention 102 more wins and 265 top-ten finishes in the Xfinity Series, and a further 64 and 138 respectively in the Craftsman Truck Series.
His unique driving style has earned him some rather special nicknames in the field: “Rowdy” or “Wild Thing”. Besides these, people also refer to him as “the Candy Man” because of his long-standing association with Mars, and even “Shrub” since he’s the younger brother of another NASCAR star, Kurt Busch — ‘small bush’ (Busch) = shrub, get it?
Challenges Faced by Taller NASCAR Drivers:
In the demanding world of NASCAR, taller drivers face unique challenges not immediately obvious to fans. First and foremost, NASCAR cockpits are compact. Designed with an emphasis on aerodynamics, these spaces don’t allow for much wiggle room, leading to potential discomfort for taller competitors.
Seating adjustments are often required to accommodate longer limbs, ensuring that the driver can comfortably reach the steering and pedals. tHe weight-to-power ratio is crucial in racing. While the difference might be marginal, a taller driver might contribute additional weight to the vehicle, potentially affecting its performance.
This added weight could require tuning adjustments to optimize car handling. Beyond the physical, there’s the psychological challenge: standing out can lead to undue attention and pressure, where a driver’s height becomes more of a talking point than their skill.
Benefits of Being a Taller NASCAR Driver:
Contrary to the challenges, height offers specific advantages in NASCAR. Taller drivers, often having longer limbs, might possess quicker reflexes in particular scenarios. Rapidly turning the steering wheel, swiftly shifting gears, or modulating the pedals could be more intuitive with the added leverage of lengthier arms and legs.
from a psychological perspective, a taller stature can be imposing, potentially giving drivers an edge in face-to-face interactions or disputes on the track. It could foster a sense of confidence or dominance, even if just perceived, in competitive situations.
Finally, visibility might be marginally better for taller drivers, granting them a slightly more elevated view over the dashboard, assisting in gauging the proximity of other racers.
It’s worth noting, however, that car adjustments ensure all drivers have optimal visibility, but that subtle height advantage might still offer some benefit.
As we touched on in the introduction, height is not necessarily an advantage in NASCAR. Some might assume that a taller driver might have the advantage of a more commanding view of the track, but this really isn’t the case in NASCAR because of the way the car is designed.
First of all, the interior of a NASCAR isn’t exactly what one would call “spacious” by any stretch of the imagination. Drivers are strapped in place and the cockpit isn’t exactly large, making it a little more cramped for taller drivers.
The world of NASCAR, while focused on speed, strategy, and skill, also intertwines with the physical attributes of its racers. Taller drivers, albeit a minority in the sport, bring a unique blend of challenges and advantages to the racetrack.
While they may grapple with fitting comfortably within the confines of their cockpits or countering the minutiae of weight distribution, their stature might grant them psychological edges or subtle benefits in visibility and reflexes.
Ultimately, success in NASCAR boils down to a driver’s talent, training, and tenacity. As proven by the tall drivers who’ve made significant marks in the sport, height is merely a number.