53 Days until the Daytona 500

Number 53 has been raced 204 times in the Sprint Cup Series  by 54 different drivers. The number has earned 1 win, no poles, 6 top 5s, 27 top 10s, and 121 DNFs. That’s right, #53 has failed to finish 60% of the races it has started. Only 2 drivers have made more than 10 starts in the number.

  • Jimmy Helms  raced the car 60 times from 1965-1966, the majority of his 88 career starts.  Helms earned 4 top-10 finishes in the number, the best being a 6th at Langley Field in 1965.  1965 was also his best year in points, coming home 18th.
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Jimmy Helms
  • Slick Johnson  would drive #53 21 times from 1980-1981. Slick scored 5 of his 7 career top 10s in #53, and finished runner up to Tim Richmond in a non-points consolation race for Daytona 500 non-qualifiers at Daytona International Speedway in 1982.
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Slick Johnson

In 1990, Slick lost his life in turn 4 of the ARCA Daytona 200. He died of a Basilar skull fracture, the same cause of death of Dale Earnhardt, Kenny Irwin Jr, JD McDuffie, Adam Petty, Neil Bonnett, and many other racing drivers. NASCAR and ARCA would not require a head and neck restraint system until after the death of Blasie Alexander in October 2001.

  • In 1993 & 1994 Ritchie Petty , son of Maurice Petty and nephew of Richard Petty, would drive the #53 in a total of 4 races in 11 attempts. The #53 car was owned by Maurice Petty, not by the racing giant Petty Enterprises that was still active during this time. These 4 starts would be the only starts of Ritchie’s career.

RITCHIEPETTY

 

  • Bob Burdick  made only 9 starts in #53 from 1960-1962, but he claims the only win in the number at the 1961 Atlanta 500.
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Bob Burdick
  • Former Champ Car driver Andrew Ranger  is now a regular in the NASCAR Pinty’s Canadian Series and since 2006 has won 19 races and 2 championships in #27, but occasionally he will also drive #53 in K&N East, ARCA, Truck Series, and XFINITY Series races.  He has 4 ARCA wins in the number.
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Ranger’s XFINITY Series car, 2013

 

  • Herbie the Love Bug  is #53. In 2005 Herbie starred in a NASCAR related movie alongside Lindsay Lohan in “Herbie: Fully Loaded.”

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  • Other Notable Names in #53
    • Bud Moore, 5 Starts.
    • Elmo Langley, 4 Starts.
    • Tiny Lund, 2 Starts.
    • Joe Weatherly, 1 Start.
    • Curtis Crider, 1 Start.
    • Bobby Isaac, 1 Start.

 

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