36 Days until the Daytona 500

In Sprint Cup Series competition the #36 car has started 697 races and has 0 wins, 5 poles, 32 top 5s, 122 top 10s, and 234 DNFs.

  • The #36 has the most starts under the banner of MB2 Motorsports, so we’ll start there. In 1997, the newly founded team fielded Derrike Cope  in 31 starts.
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Cope, 1997

 

 

  • After a mostly disappointing first year MB2 replaced Cope with veteran driver Ernie Irvan  for the 1998 season. 1998 was Ernie’s second full time season after recovering from a nearly fatal crash at Michigan in 1994 which we will discuss in more detail on countdown day #28. Irvan was prone to injury throughout his career as demonstrated in 1998 when he was sidelined for 3 races by a crash at Talladega. Ricky Craven  filled in for Irvan until he returned. In 1999 M&M’s  replaced Skittles as the primary sponsor on the car. On August 20, exactly five years after his near fatal accident there, Irvan crashed at Michigan while driving his own #84 Federated Auto Parts Pontiac  in a practice session for the Busch Series race. Irvan was airlifted to the hospital and Dick Trickle drove his #36 in the Cup race that weekend.
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Ernie Irvan, 1998
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Irvan’s Talladega Crash, 1998

Two weeks later, on September 3, 1999, surrounded by his wife and two children, Irvan announced his retirement from driving at a tearful press conference in Darlington, SC. While he would fully recover before the end of the 1999 season, the reasoning for the retirement was to prevent future incidents and he had a family to support. Jerry Nadeau  finished the 1999 season in #36 with 12 starts. In 2 years Irvan totaled 51 starts in #36 including 16 top 10 finishes and 3 poles. After retirement Irvan’s shit-luck continued. His venture to become an owner of a Cup team failed to materialize, and a fire in 2000 destroyed the Irvan family’s house and all of Ernie’s trophies, though no one was injured. NASCAR later presented Ernie with replicas of all his lost trophies. In addition to being involved in the racing career of his son Jared Irvan Ernie promotes Race2Saftey, an organization he founded as an advocate for head-injury awareness.

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Jerry Nadeau, 1999
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Jared Irvan driving #28, another one of his father’s old numbers

 

  • In 2000 Kenny Schrader  was hired to drive the #36. In his first year of competition, Schrader had two top-tens and finished eighteenth in the standings. He posted five top-tens in 2001, but dropped to nineteenth in the standings.
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Schrader, 2000

 

During the Daytona 500, he was collected in a final-lap crash  where Dale Earnhardt lost his life. The image of Schrader peering into Earnhardt’s car, only to jump back and frantically signal for assistance, is etched  into the minds of many racing fans; his interview  with Jeanne Zelasko during Fox Sports’ postrace show was the first sign to many that something was terribly wrong  with the seven-time Winston Cup Champion, as he appeared visibly shaken and, upon being asked if Earnhardt was okay, stated “I don’t know, I’m not a doctor.” In 2002, Schrader did not finish in the top-ten in a single race, the first time that happened since 1984. Following that season, he departed MB2. Following Schrader, the team changed the team’s number to #01 to reflect the slogan of their new sponsor, “An Army of One.”

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Schrader involved in Earnhardt’s fatal crash, 2001

 

 

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Schrader speaks with Michael Waltrip in victory lane folowing the 2001 Daytona 500

 

  • MB2, Now known as Ginn Racing, brought back the number 36 part time in 2004 with driver Boris Said. Boris made 12 starts from 2004-2005.
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Said, 2005
  • The final start for #36 under the MB2/Ginn racing banner would be the 2006 Daytona 500 with Bill Elliott driving to a 19th place finish.

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  • In 2007 Bill Davis Racing fielded #36 with driver Jeremy Mayfield and chose the number to coincide with sponsor 360 OTC. The team struggled to qualify for races and frequently had poor finishes. After 13 starts Mayfield left the team for HAAS CNC Racing while Mike Skinner and Johnny Benson finished the season in #36
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Mayfield, 2007

 

  • Tommy Baldwin Racing  acquired #36 in 2009 and fielded several part time and one-off drivers like Scott Riggs, Mike Skinner, Patrick Carpentier, Michael McDowell, Robert Richardson Jr, Mike Bliss, Geoff Bodine, Casey Mears, Johnny Sauter, Steve Park, Ron Fellows, Stephen Leicht, Tony Raines, and Victor Gonzales Jr. Since 2011 the team  fielded basically full time drivers with Dave Blaney , J.J. Yeley , and Reed Sorenson. At the end of the 2014 Season TBR sold the rights to #36 to Jay Robinson racing and the team was discontinued.
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Dave Blaney, 2011
Daytona 500 - Practice
JJ Yeley, 2013
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Reed Sorenson, 2014
  • H.B. Bailey  fielded #36 in 68 races from 1966-1993
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HB Bailey
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Bailey, 1966
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Bailey, 1993

 

  • Tommy Irwin  started 99 races from 1958-1963 driving several different numbers. The car he drove most often was #36 which he raced 36 times.
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Irwin’s car being removed from Daytona’s Lake Loyd, February 12, 1960

 

  • Bobby Wawak  started #36 20 times from 1976-1977.
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Bobby Wawak, 1976

 

 

 

  • Other notable names in #36
    • Fonty Flock, 1 start
    • Joe Weatherly, 1 start
    • Butch Gilliland, 2 starts

 

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