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Retro Racing: Brother tandems rather common in NASCAR

March 04, 2011, Mark Aumann,

Busch brothers join longer list of siblings who sought top of the standings

Has any brother combination finished the season first and second in the points, as Kyle and Kurt Busch are currently? The answer is no, but several sets of racing brothers have come close, as well as two trios of siblings.

Heading into this weekend's race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, the Busch brothers return home as the only two drivers to score top-10 finishes in each of the first two races. If past history holds true, Kyle's chances of making it three in a row are pretty good, since he's had four top-10s and a win in his seven Vegas starts. Kurt on the other hand has an average finish of 21.9 at Vegas, with two top-10s in 10 visits.

Sets of brothers have been the norm rather than the exception since NASCAR started the Strictly Stock Series in 1949. The Flock brothers -- and sister Ethel Mobley -- of Fort Payne, Ala., were one of the first and most successful brother combinations ever. Oldest brother Carl worked as a bootlegger for cousin Peachtree Williams, and by 1931, the entire Flock family had moved to Atlanta.

Bob and Fontell (Fonty) made their racing debuts in 1939, driving Ford coupes in a 100-mile race at Atlanta's Lakewood Speedway. After the war, the two joined Bill France's National Championship Stock Car circuit -- the forerunner of NASCAR -- and raced all over the southeast. By 1948, younger brother Tim had joined up. And when France unveiled the new NASCAR Strictly Stock class, the Flocks dominated the standings, with Bob finishing third, Fonty fifth and Tim eighth.

In 1951, Fonty finished second and Tim third to Herb Thomas, still the closest any two brothers have come to sweeping the first two positions in the standings. Herb's brother Donald wound up 20th that season. When Tim won the championship the following season, Fonty finished fourth, with Herb Thomas was second and Donald Thomas ninth.

The Flock brothers would finish near the top of the standings again in 1953 and 1955, but it wouldn't be until 1967 that a new set of siblings would make a mark at NASCAR's highest level. Bobby and Donnie Allison were Miami natives who relocated to Hueytown, Ala. in the 1960s. While Bobby would go on to win 84 races (an 85th win remains under dispute) and the 1983 championship, Donnie never ran a full season despite 10 career victories.

In 1967, Bobby finished fourth in the points, while Donnie ran enough races to claim 16th. Seven years later, Bobby once again was fourth and Donnie 17th.

Of the brother combinations that scored at least one top-10 and one top-20 finish in the standings, Darrell and Michael Waltrip were successful at it six times between 1986 and 1994. The Owensboro, Ky., natives were born 16 years apart, and Darrell was already a three-time champion by the time Michael burst onto the scene full-time in 1986.

Like the Flocks several decades earlier, the Bodines of Chemung, N.Y., placed three brothers in NASCAR's premier series by the early 1990s. Geoff was first, followed by Brett. Those two finished together in the top 20 three times between 1988 and 1991. Then in 1994, Geoff finished 17th, Brett 19th and Todd 20th, the only time since 1949 that three brothers have shared the top 20.

Terry and Bobby Labonte of Corpus Christi, Texas were consistent winners and the only brother combination to date to have each won championships. Beginning in 1995, when younger brother Bobby joined the circuit, the two were consistent top-10 finishers, with Terry leading the way early on. When he won the title in 1996, Bobby finished 11th.

But the tables were turned starting in 1998, when Bobby finished sixth and Terry ninth. Bobby finished second and Terry 12th in 1999, and Terry was 17th when Bobby won the 2000 championship. In both of those seasons, they were joined in the standings by a pair of Virginians named Jeff and Ward Burton.

Even though Ward was six years older and would go on to win the 2002 Daytona 500, Jeff broke into Cup a year earlier and eventually had the more successful career. In 1999, Jeff finished fifth and Ward ninth. A year later, Jeff finished third and Ward 10th. And in 2001, Jeff wound up 10th and Ward 14th.

But the most successful brother tandem may just be reaching their primes. With Kurt turning 33 in August and Kyle 26 in May, it's possible the Busch brothers will be a major factor in championships for years to come. Since Kyle joined the circuit full-time in 2005, at least one of the two has finished in the top 10.

In 2007, Kyle finished fifth and Kurt seventh, the only time so far that both have shared the top 10 at the end of the season.