81 Days until the Daytona 500

In Sprint Cup Series competition the #81 car has started 298 races and has 1 win, 3 poles, 6 top 5s, 38 top 10s, and 141 DNFs

 

  • In 1994 Kenny Wallace joined FILMAR Racing to drive the #8 Busch Series (XFINITY). The team found success in the Busch Series and made occassional starts in the Cup series with Kenny piloting the #81 car in 1994 & 1995. For the 1996 season the FILMAR #81 would become a full time Cup team with Kenny behind the wheel and financial backing from Square D.
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Kenny Wallace, 1996

In 1996 Wallace finished 28th in points with two top 10 finishes. In 1997 he managed to win 2 poles at Martinsville and Bristol, but fell to 32nd in the point standings. In 1998 Wallace managed 7 top 10s, but still finished a disappointing 31st in the points. Square D, announced that for the 1999 season the would move to Andy Petree Racing, taking Kenny Wallace with them. The team was then sold, ceased fielding Cup cars to focus on the Busch Series, and struggled financially under many owners before shutting down in 2001. Kenny Wallace has the most starts in the car #81 with 104.

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Kenny Wallace’s “Lightning” scheme, 1998
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Kenny Wallace’s “Reverse” scheme, 1998

 

  • From 1958-1959 Harvey Hege started 22 of his 25 career races in #81.

 

  • West Coast Racer Danny Graves started a career total of 9 NASCAR Cup Series races. In 1957, all 7 of his starts would come in #81 including a win in a 100-mile Dash at the California State Fairgrounds. It would be the only win of Grave’s career and the only win in #81 so far. Graves started 2 more races in the 1958 season.

 

  • Chet Phillip started the #81 car 21 times from 1986-1987. Chet made a total of 24 starts in his career.

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  • In 2013 Elliott Sadler was driving for Joe Gibbs Racing in the Nationwide (XFINITY) Series.  He qualified the Joe Gibbs R&D Car in the Spring Kansas Cup race, sporting the #81 (the reverse of the Kyle Busch #18). Sadler would attempt to qualify the car again at Talladega, but DNQ’d due to rain.
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Elliott Sadler at Kansas, 2013
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Elliott Sadler at Talladega before the DNQ, 2013

 

  • When John Andretti was released from the Richard Petty #43 midway though the 2003 season DEI announced that they would field an extra car for Andretti at the Brickyard 400 in car #81. After the announcement, Andretti was hired as the interim driver for the #0 NetZero car for Haas racing.
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John Andretti, 2003

After running a few races with Haas, Andretti drove the #81 for DEI at Indy, but this left no driver for the #0 car. Jason Leffler was named as a last minute replacement, and this would breach Leffer’s contract with his Truck series team. The ordeal would eventually lead to Leffler being fired and taking over the #0 for the remainder of the season.

This left Andretti without a ride. He quickly was picked up by DEI to drive the #1 Penzoil car for the remainder of the season, despite a last place finish in his one-off race in #81.

 

  • During this time DEI also used the #81 part timein the Busch (XFINITY) Series for Dale Earnhardt Jr., Tony Stewart, and Martin Truex Jr. would all make starts in the car. Earnhardt Jr. would win in the car at Bristol in 2004. Tony Stewart nearly won at Kansas in 2004, but, after leading 115 laps, would wreck off the nose of eventual winner Joe Nemechek.

 

 

 

  • Other Notable names in #81
    • Scott Riggs, 4 starts
    • LeeRoy Yarbrough, 3 starts
    • JJ Yeley, 2 starts
    • Dick Trickle, 1 start
    • Terry Labonte, 1 start

 

 

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