The 2000 Winston Cup Series drew attention for the number of big names taking part in the Daytona 500 and the other races. Both Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Matt Kenseth entered the season as rookies and joined a stacked list of competitors. Jeff Gordon, on the other hand, got behind the wheel of his No. 24 car in pursuit of his fourth Cup Series championship. Ultimately, Bobby Labonte hoisted the trophy at the end of the season and secured the $3 million check.
Entering 2020, none of the top seven drivers from the 2000 season are still active. The majority retired while one tragically died during a race. While several NASCAR seasons have featured big names atop the points leaderboard, 2000 drew attention for the number of future Hall of Famers. Here's where the top seven drivers from the 2000 season are in 2020.
Labonte, the winner of the 2000 Cup Series championship, retired from the Cup Series following the 2016 season. However, he competed in the Whelen Euro Elite 1 Series from 2017-19, becoming the first American to ever do so. Labonte most recently joined FOX as a NASCAR analyst for the studio coverage. In January 2020, the 32-time NASCAR race winner was inducted into the Hall of Fame.prevnext
Dale Earnhardt, who finished second overall in the 2000 Cup Series, only competed in one more race. He entered the 2001 season seeking a record-breaking eighth championship. Instead, he tragically died at the age of 49 during the season-opening Daytona 500. He collided with Ken Schrader after contacting Sterling Marlin and hit the wall head-on. Halifax Medical Center officially pronounced his death at 5:16 p.m. ET on Feb. 18, 2001.prevnext
Jeff Burton finished the 2000 season third overall in the rankings behind Labonte and Earnhardt. The veteran driver continued racing full-time until the end of the 2013 season. He returned to the Cup Series on a part-time basis in 2014 while making his transition to television. Burton currently works as a NASCAR analyst for NBC Sports while his son, Harrison Burton, shines in the Xfinity Series. He was recently a nominee for the 2021 Hall of Fame class but lost out to coworker Dale Earnhardt Jr.prevnext
Dale Jarrett entered the 2000 season as the defending Winston Cup champion but he was unable to capture a second consecutive title. He finished fourth overall. Jarrett continued racing until the 2008 season but retired after the All-Star race. He made the transition to commentary, joining ABC/ESPN. Jarrett was later inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2014.prevnext
Following his fifth-place finish in 2000, Ricky Rudd continued racing for several seasons. He ultimately retired from full-time racing at the end of the 2007 season, ending 33 years in the Cup Series. He never secured a Cup Series championship but finished second overall in 1991, just behind Earnhardt. The Rooster built a reputation for being an "ironman" during his NASCAR career, starting 788 consecutive races from 1981- 2005. Now that he is retired, he serves as a Hall of Fame voter and occasionally takes part in a go-kart league in North Carolina.prevnext
Tony Stewart, who finished the 2000 season sixth overall, was only in the second season of his career when Labonte hoisted the trophy. He went on to become one of the most decorated drivers in recent NASCAR history. During his career, he secured three championship wins (2002, 2005, 2011) and collected 49 Cup Series wins in 18 years. He was inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame in January 2020. Stewart currently co-owns Stewart-Haas Racing, which boasts top drivers in Kevin Harvick, Cole Custer, Aric Almirola, Clint Bowyer and Chase Briscoe.prevnext
Like Rudd, Rusty Wallace spent more than two decades in the NASCAR Cup Series. He competed on a full-time basis until the 2005 season when he walked away with 55 wins and the 1989 Cup Series championship to his name. This solidified his status as a member of the 2013 Hall of Fame class. He worked as a commentator for ESPN starting in 2006 and continued in 2007. Now Wallace owns and operates eight car dealerships in East Tennessee.prev