71 Days until the Daytona 500

In Sprint Cup Series competition the #71 car has started 1,109 races and has  44 wins, 70 poles, 182 top 5s, 304 top 10s, and 386 DNFs.

 

  • Dave Marcis claims over half of the total starts #71 has in the Sprint Cup Series with 589 from 1971-2002 including all 5 of his career wins.

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Marcis’ career is notable in the history of the NASCAR Winston Cup Series. While he is best known as the last of the non-factory supported independent owner drivers, he is also known as one of the top drivers of the 1970s. During his career, he drove for series championship car owners Nord Krauskopf and Rod Osterlund. Marcis retired in second place on the all-time starts list with 883 behind Richard Petty. Ricky Rudd and Terry Labonte have since passed him on the list.  He finished 8 times in the Top 10 season long driver’s points.

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Marcis after his win in a 125 Qualifying race at Daytona, 1976 

 

Marcis opted to field his own teams following his sudden departure from Osterland Racing after the 1978 season. Marcis was replaced by future seven time champion Dale Earnhardt, who would begin his rookie campaign the following year. Former crew Harry Hyde once said of Marcis, “he had the talent to be a champion, if only he weren’t so stubborn.”

Marcis experienced moderate success as an owner driver during the 1980s. The highlight of Marcis’ career as an owner-driver was winning at the old Richmond Fairgrounds in 1982 driving a very un-raceable looking 81 Chevy Malibu.  Marcis was a lap down, but made up the lap when the race leader Joe Ruttman spun out and Marcis passed him. All three drivers that were ahead of Marcis pitted and he assumed the lead as it began to rain.  The race was called complete as darkness set in, and Marcis was declared the winner. Marcis described the win, “I wasn’t praying for rain, but I told the guys when I got out of the car that if the good Lord wanted to help an independent, this was his chance. It was one of my greatest moments in racing,” Marcis said. “I had even built my own engine for that race.” From that point Marcis’ team gradually became less competitive as more well-funded teams found their way into the series. Marcis was occasionally known to moonlight for other car owners such as Larry Hedrick. Often Marcis would still field his own car, with Jim Sauter behind the wheel for 7 starts.

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Millikan (50) spins in front of Marcis (71), Richmond 1982.

In the early 1990s Marcis was frequently the test driver for the Richard Childress GM Goodwrench #3 of his friend Dale Earnhardt during the prime of his career. This agreement with Childress was made by Marcis to help fund his own race team, but backfired because he rarely had the time to test his own equipment. Marcis finished out his career in the 2002 Daytona 500, setting a record for most Daytona 500s run with 33.

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Dave Marcis’ final start, the 2002 Daytona 500.

Marcis was famous for wearing his trusty wing-tipped boots in every race. In 2002, when Marcis retired, Goodyear had a pair of Marcis’ boot bronzed.

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  • From 1967-1972 Bobby Isaac drove the #71 in 198 races including 35 of his 37 career wins.
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Bobby Isaac, 1969.

Isaac currently holds the NASCAR record for most poles in a single season, with 20 in 1969.  That year he also won an astounding 17 races, which places him 4th in the record books for most wins in a season. The other 4 of the top-5 spots are all help by Richard Petty.

Isaac won the championship in 1970 driving the #71 Dodge Charger Daytona sponsored by K&K Insurance.  Isaac won 11 races in his championship season.

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Isaac, 1970

Isaac and legendary crew chief Harry Hyde took the car to Talladega in November of 1970 and set a closed-course speed record with a 201.104 mph lap at Talladega that stood until 1983.

Isaac also made his mark outside of NASCAR. In September 1971, he went to the Bonneville Salt Flats inUtah and set 28 world speed records, some of which still stand to this day.

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Isaac at the Bonneville Salt Flats, 1971

According to Isaac a strange “voice” in the car told him to retire from the Talladega race in 1973 because it threatened he would be killed. (Earlier in the race, another driver named Larry Smith died in an accident.)

 

  • Buddy Baker made 37 starts from 1972-1974 including 3 wins in the #71.

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  • Andy Lally was the most frequent guest star in the rotating cast of drivers in the TRG Motorsports #71 from 2009-2011. He started 37 races in the car during this time.
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Andy Lally

 

  • Bobby Labonte made 26 starts in the TRG #71 from 2009-2010.  Labonte, received high praise after spinning the car in final practice for the 2010 Daytona 500 and miraculously not hitting anything.
  • David Gilliland made 25 starts in the TRG Motorports #71 in the 2009.
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Gilliland
  • Other notable names in #71
    • Bill Poor, 30 starts
    • Bob Baron, 29 starts
    • Mike Alexander, 19 starts
    • Neil Bonnet, 11 starts
    • Lennie Pond, 7 starts
    • Cotten Ownes, 6 starts
    • Landon Cassill, 5 starts
    • Mike Bliss, 4 starts
    • Hermie Sadler, 4 starts
    • Dick Trickle, 4 starts
    • Fireball Roberts, 1 start, 1 win
    • Kerry Earnhardt, 1 start
    • Tim Flock, 1 start
    • Brendan Gaughan, 1 start
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