In NASCAR Cup Series competition the #0 car has started 351 races and has 2 wins, 2 poles, 16 top 5s, 47 top 10s, and 153 DNFs.
In 2003, Gene Haas (now of Stewart-Haas racing) launched his own Cup series team with 3 time Truck Series Champion Jack Sprague behind the wheel. The team, with a Hendrick alliance, fielded the #0 Pontiac to promote Spraque’s longtime sponsor NetZero. After 18 starts and a best finish of 14th at the Daytona 500, Sprague was released from the team.
John Andretti replaced Sprague midway through 2003, but Andretti had a previous commitment with DEI to race in the Brickyard 400. Lacking a driver, The Haas team tapped Jason Leffler to drive the car in a one-race deal at Indianapolis. However, Leffler at the time was driving for Jim Smith’s #2 Truck team that received a substantial support from Dodge. Leffler’s drive in the NetZero Pontiac would breach his contract and result in his firing from from his truck team. After Andretti raced the following week at Watkins Glen, Leffler was hired by Haas to complete the season in #0. When Ward Burton was hired by Haas for the 2004 season, Burton replaced Leffler for the final 4 races of the 2003 season. Leffler was reassigned to drive the #00 Busch Series (XFINITY) car for Haas where he would earn his first win in NASCAR’s second-tier series. Ward drove the car for the 2004 season, but struggled. Andretti started the #0 car 3 times, Leffler 10 times, and Buron 38 times.
Mike Bliss replaced struggling the Ward Burton in the #0 for the final 2 races of the 2004 season where his 10th place finish at Darlington earned him the seat for the 2005 season. Bliss nearly won the 2005 All Star Open, but contact with Brian Vickers would cause him to finish 2nd. Bliss earned 2 top 10 finishes in 2005, but was released at the end of the year. For the 2006 season the car was renumbered #66.
From 1981-1992 Delma Cowart started #0 in a handful of races each season, mostly at the superspeedways of Daytona and Talladega. Cowart has a total of 20 starts in the number.
Jim Cook started only 7 Cup races in the number ZERO car, earning 1 win in 1960. Cook was also a car owner for dirt track driver J. Wvatt who piloted Cook’s ZERO car.
Darel Dieringer started 4 races in #0 in 1966 including 1 win at New York’s Starlite Speedway.
In NASCAR Cup Series competition the #00 car has started 291 races and has 2 wins, 5 poles, 17 top 5s, 41 top 10s, and 95 DNFs.
David Reutimann has the most starts in #00 with 140 including 2 wins. In his rookie year of 2007, the Michael Waltrip Racing team struggled to qualify for races, as did other Toyota teams, making only 26 of 36 races in the season.
Reutimann experienced one of the hardest crashes ever recorded at the 2007 Auto Club 500 at California Speedway. Because of the struggles, the team finished 39th in points and had a best finish of 13th. Sponsors Burger King and Dominos then pulled their sponsorship for 2008.
Reutimann opened 2008 in the #00 with backing from Aaron’s. After the first five races Reutimann moved to MWR’s #44 UPS Toyota. In 2009, Reutimann returned to #00 for his breakout year. Reutimann won a rain-shortened Coca-Cola 600 on May 25, 2009, giving Michael Waltrip Racing its first victory in a Sprint Cup race.
Reutiman showed consistency throughout the season and looked like they would make the Chase for the Sprint Cup before a few late summer problems left the team just outside the Chase grid. In 2010, Reutimann won his second career race at the 2010 LifeLock.com 400 at by dominating the day at Chicagoland Speedway. After struggling in 2011, MWR announced that Reutimann would not return to the team in 2012 and the car was renumbered #55.
Michael McDowell drove the MWR #00 for 20 races during the 2008 season when Reutimann drove the #44. During this time, McDowell experienced a spectacular crash while qualifying at Texas, but would walk away unharmed. After struggling to keep the car in the top 35 of owner points, McDowell was replaced by Mike Skinner for the final 4 races of the season.
In 2017 Derrike Cope started 2 races for the newly formed StarCom Racing. In 2018 the team will compete full time with driver Jeffrey Earnhardt behind the wheel.
In Sprint Cup Series competition the #1 car has started 1,419 races and has 19 wins, 34 poles, 162 top 5s, 389 top 10s, and 374 DNFs.
After driving for DEI in the Busch (XFINITY) Series and making 5 Cup starts in the DEI #14 in 1997, Steve Park was named Dale Earnhardt Inc.’s first full time driver piloting the #1 Pennzoil Chevy. In the third race of the year, at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Park failed to qualify. The following week, he broke his leg in an accident while testing at the Atlanta Motor Speedway. Two weeks later, the team hired 3 time Champion Darrell Waltrip to substitute for Park.
Park returned later in the season at the Brickyard 400 after recovering. In his 13 races that year Waltrip posted 2 top 10 finishes, better than Park’s best finish of 11th for 1998. In 1999, Park finished five times in the top ten and ranked fourteenth in points earned. In 2000, Park won his first two Pole awards, won his first race at his home track of Watkins Glen , and ranked eleventh in points.
In 2001, in the first race after the death of his car owner Dale Earnhardt, Park beat Bobby Labonte in a close finish to score a victory at Rockingham with a very emotional celebration.
Park’s career encountered difficulties at a Busch Series race at Darlington Speedway when he was injured in a bizarre crash under caution that left. The severity of the crash caused a massive brain injury as well as several broken ribs.
Kenny Wallace drove the car while Park recuperated with a best finish of second place at Rockingham. Wallace made a total of 17 starts between 2001 and the first 4 races of 2002.
Park returned to his #1 at Darlington in 2002, but his season was plagued my bad luck and crashes, the most spectacular of which came on the first lap at Pocono with teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr. During 2003, DEI let Park go midway into the season, and he was effectively “traded” to Richard Childress Racing for Jeff Green, who took over the #1 car from Park with Park taking over the #30 AOL car for Childress. Park scored 2 wins in his 152 starts in #1.
Following a fallout between Jeff Green and the #30 RCR team at Richmond in 2003, Green was hired to pilot the Pennzoil #1 while Park took over the #30.
Green only started 12 races in the #1 as Ron Fellows drove the car on the 2 road course races. Fellows, a friend of Dale Earnhardt’s, was contracted to drive #1 full time in 2002, but Earnhardt’s death nullified the contract.
John Andretti took over driving duties for 10 of the final 11 races of 2003, with Jason Keller making one start at Talladega as Andretti was already contracted to drive the #90 for RCR in that race. Andretti & Fellows returned to drive the #1 in 2004, but lack of consistent sponsorship caused the team to field cars part time. Andretti started 15 races in #1; Fellows started 3.
In 2004 & 2005, Busch Series Champion Martin Truex Jr. started 8 races in the DEI #1 before racing full time starting in 2006. On June 4, 2007, Truex scored his first career NEXTEL Cup victory in the #1 car at the Dover in a COT race. Truex also qualified to race in the Chase for the Nextel Cup that year. He was DEI’s only representative in the 2007 Chase for the Cup and his qualification is, to date, the last for a driver in a DEI car. At the end of 2009, Truex left the team for Michael Waltrip Racing.
After 2009 Jamie McMurry began driving the #1 car, now majority owned by McMurray’s former boss Chip Ganassi. Pro Shops was joined by McDonald’s as a primary sponsor. McMurray started the year of with a bang, winning the 2010 Daytona 500 for Ganassi in his first race in the #1 car.
McMurray returned to the winner’s circle by winning the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis , the first time that he had won multiple races in a season since joining the Cup Series full-time in 2003. He added a third win at the Bank of America 500 at Charlotte during the Chase.
After more struggling in 2011-2012, McMurray finally broke back into victory lane at the fall 2013 Talladega race, his first victory in three seasons. McMurray also won the Sprint All-Star Race in 2014, but did not reach victory lane in a points paying event, missing the Chase. McMurray did not win a race in 2015, and failed to make it to the second round of The Chase after finishing 4th at Dover behind Dale Earnhardt Jr.
McMurray returned to the #1 in 2016, now completely owned by Ganassi and Felix Sabates. As the summer wound down, McMurray would heat up. He finished seventh at Kentucky in a fuel mileage race. A good 6th place at New Hampshire would allow him to slip further ahead of his competition for a spot in The Chase. However a spin at Indy, and Chris Buescher winning at Pocono didn’t help. He would then score three eight place finishes in row, at Watkins Glen, Bristol, and Michigan, allowing McMurray to slip past Ryan Newman in the chase standings. This would be good, as when Kyle Larson won at Michigan, McMurray would find himself 15 points in, ahead of Newman. McMurray would be eliminated in the first round of The Chase and eventually finish 13th in points. He has 252 starts in the number to date and will return in 2017.
Rick Mast has 181 starts in #1 from 1991-1996 with no wins. He started out the 1991 season by leading 14 laps in the Daytona 500 and finished fourth. At Talladega later that year Mast, 1 lap down in 10th, pushed fuel deficient Harry Gant to the win, almost warranting a penalty.
With less than 25 laps to go in the DieHard 500 , Mast was tapped by Buddy Baker entering the tri-oval and flipped over. He slid to a stop a few hundred feet beyond the start-finish line and soon climbed out of the car, much to the delight of the crowd. He was not injured, but half-jokingly said afterwards, “I’m okay but I need another pair of underwear”. In 1992 Mast won the pole for the Hooters 500, a historic race. He also won the pole at the inaugural Brickyard 400 in 1994. Mast almost won at Rockingham in 1994, but Dale Earnhardt was able to hold him off for the win and his 7th championship. This 2nd place finish was the highest of Mast’s career.
Paul Lewis started 71 races in #1 from 1960-1967, including his only career win at Maryville in 1967.
Donnie Allison drove car #1 to 4 wins in 61 starts from 1976-1982. However, Allison #1 is possibly most remembered for his involvement in a final-lap crash and subsequent fight with Cale Yarborough at the 1979 Daytona 500.
Sgt. George Green started the #1 car 51 times from 1961-1963 without earning a win. Green was fired when he was caught stealing $600 in “owner’s winnings” from Potter, so he reenlisted in the Army and was shipped to Germany for further training.
Lake Speed started the #1 car 35 times from 1983-1984 without a win.
In 1964 Billy Wade started Bud Moore’s #1 machine 32 times. That summer he won 4 consecutive races at Old Bridge Stadium, Bridgehampton. Islip Speedway, & Watkins Glen. These 4 wins would be the only wins of Wade’s career.
In 1990 Terry Labonte drove the #1 Oldsmobile in 29 races without reaching victory lane.
Between 1960 & 1981-1982 Buddy Baker started 29 races in #1 without a win.
Other notable drivers in #1:
Elton Hildreth, 20 starts
Morgan Shepherd, 19 starts
Brett Bodine, 14 starts
David Pearson, 10 starts, 1 win
Sterling Marlin, 10 starts
Bud Moore, 9 starts
Dale Jarrett, 8 starts
Kyle Petty, 6 starts
Jerry Nadeau, 5 starts
Davey Allison, 3 starts
AJ Foyt, 2 starts
Lloyd Dane, 1 start, 1 win
Eddie Gray, 1 start, 1 win
In Sprint Cup Series competition the #01 car has started 501 races and has 1 win, 7 poles, 13 top 5s, 45 top 10s, and 191 DNFs.
Joe Nemechek has the most starts in #01 with 112 from 2003-2006 and claims ownership of the only win the number has with his defeat of Ricky Rudd at Kansas in 2004. It was Nemechek’s 4th Cup win, each coming with a different team.
Earle Canavan started #01 in 64 races from 1981-1986 without a win.
Paul Dean Holt started 53 races in the #01 from 1967-1968.
Regan Smith started 41 races in the #01 from 2007-2008. In 2008, Smith won the AMP Energy 500 at Talladega , but was stripped of the win for violating the “Out-of-Bounds” rule on the final lap. This is only the 2nd time in the modern era of Cup Series history that a race winner has been stripped of a victory, the first being Ricky Rudd at Sonoma in 1991.
In 2001, the late Jason Leffler drove the #01 Cingular Wireless car for Chip Ganassi Racing. LEFturn made 30 starts that year.
Mark Martin started #01 a total of 25 times in his career. 24 of those starts came in the 2007 season, where he almost won the Daytona 500 . In 1983, Martin made 1 start driving the #01 Activision car.
In NASCAR Cup Series competition the #2 car has started 1,841 races and has 89 wins, 67 poles, 491 top 5s, 843 top 10s, and 424 DNFs.
Rusty Wallace has the most starts in car #2 with 522 starts in 1985 & 1991-2005 with 37 wins. Since 1980 Wallace, the ASA star, had made several appearances in NASCAR in the Penske #16 and other teams, but his first full times season was 1984 when he won Rookie of the Year driving #88 for Cliff Stewart. In 1985, his sophomore season of NASCAR, Wallace stayed with Stewart driving the #2 Alugard Pontiac . After one season in #2 Wallace left Stewart’s team to drive #27 for Raymond Beadle’s Blue Max Racing team. Wallace found success at Blue Max winning several races and the 1989 Winston Cup Championship.
In 1991, Rusty took the Miller sponsorship with him as he returned to Penske Racing, and he continued in the #2 Miller Genuine Draft Pontiac . Wallace and Penske visited victory lane twice in 1991 at Bristol & Pocono. While 1992 only carried him one win at Richmond, it was the first win for Rusty in a car which was his favorite, one affectionately known as “Midnight” after the win. “Midnight” would be raced for six seasons, carrying various race wins, before being retired in 1997.
Things then turned around for the Wallace and Penske, winning 25 races from 1993-1996. Even with earning 10 wins in a season in 1993, Rusty was unable to repeat his 1989 feat of winning the Winston Cup. After winning one race a piece over from 1997 to 1999, Wallace put together four wins and won nine pole awards in 2000, the highest total of his career.
In 2001 Rusty won his only race of the year at California on the 50th birthday of his fallen friend Dale Earnhardt. 2002 was a disappointment as he failed to win a race, marking the first year since 1985 that he did not score a win. For the 2003 season the team switched manufacturers from Ford to Dodge .
In 2004, Wallace returned to victory lane for the first time since 2001 at Martinsville , one of his historically strong racetracks. Wallace announced the 2005 season would be his last in NASCAR Nextel Cup, citing his son’s racing career and wanting to concentrate on his Busch Series team, Rusty Wallace Racing, for the departure. Although he wouldn’t win a race during his final season, Wallace qualified for the Chase for the Nextel Cup and finished eighth in series points.
In 2013 Rusty was inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame . After his driving career, Rusty has made a career as a Broadcaster for ESPN & NBC. In 2014 Rusty hopped back in the Penske #2 during preseason testing at Daytona to help the Keselowski team and to provide Wallace with an understanding of the Gen6 car for his broadcasting career.
For the 2005 season, Penske hired 2004 Nextel Cup (Sprint Cup) Champion Kurt Busch to take over Wallace’s blue deuce. He quickly returned the team to victory lane by winning at Bristol . Kurt celebrated with by making a snow angel , a reference to the fact that it snowed at Bristol earlier in the week. It was his only win of 2006 as the 2 team finished 16th in the season points. Busch won six additional races with Penske’s #2, his last being the 2010 Coca-Cola 600 , and qualified for the Chase three times, with a best placing of 4th in the final standings. For the 2011 season Busch moved to the Penske #22 car. Busch earned 8 wins in his 180 starts in the #2.
Brad Keselowski moved from the Penske #12 to the #2 for in 2011. Brad initially struggled for the first half of 2011; however, they did win a fuel-milage race at Kansas. In an ironic twist, the team’s performance started to improve dramatically after Keselowski injured his leg during a testing crash at Road Atlanta. Keselowski and Crew Chief Paul Wolfe grabbed two more wins at Pocono and Bristol, and rallied to make the 2011 Chase field. However, the final 10 races would be an up and down affair for the team, and they were knocked out of contention after finishing 18th at Phoenix. Nonetheless, Keselowski managed a fifth place finish in the points.
2012 would be better still for the team, as Keselowski posted five wins at Bristol, Talladega, Kentucky, Chicagoland and Dover, with the last two being Keselowski’s first Chase wins. He would ultimately win Team Penske its first Sprint Cup title after a close battle with Jimmie Johnson.
After 1 win in 2014, Keselowski returned to dominant form in 2014 winning 6 races , second only to his Penske Racing teammate Joey Logano. The celebration for Keselowski’s win at Kentucky ended early when Brad cut his hand while unsuccessfully trying to open a bottle of champagne. In the Chase, Brad was able to advance to the “Eliminator Round” by earning a clutch win at Talladega , but would fail to make the final 4. Brad’s aggressive driving style caused controversy multiple times in the 2014 Chase for the Sprint Cup causing conflict with Matt Kenseth , Jeff Gordon , Denny Hamlin, and Tony Stewart.
In 2015 Keselowski punched his ticket into the Chase for the Sprint Cup early in the season with a win at Auto Club Speedway in California. It would be his only win of the year, but he would make headlines again at Martinsville where contact with Matt Kenseth would lead to Kenseth later intentionally wrecking Brad’s teammate Joey Logano.
Keselowski started his 2016 season on a high note, leading the most laps of the Sprint Unlimited at Daytona. A late-race caution kept him from winning the race. Keselowski recovered from a bad pit stop to finish 9th. Keselowski didn’t have any promising races at Daytona and Atlanta. However, he got his first Cup win of the season at Las Vegas, passing Kyle Busch with 6 laps to go. Keselowski also won the 10th race of the season, the GEICO 500 at Talladega.
Brad would have the best car all night and led the most laps to win the Coke Zero 400 and get his third win of the season. Following that, at Kentucky, he would get his 4th win of the season, and second consecutive win, after a lengthy last 70 laps trying to conserve fuel. Keselowski made it through the first round of the Chase, but in the second round he was eliminated. At Homestead, Keselowski would wreck hard in order to avoid hitting his Championship contending teammate- Joey Logano.
Keselowski scored 3 victories in 2017 including Atlanta, Martinsville (Spring), and the Talladega Playoff Race. These victories would propel Keselowski into the Championship 4 where he would finish 4th in points. Brad has 252 starts in #2 with 23 wins to date, and he will return to the #2 in 2018. Brad has already won The Clash at Daytona, the first non-points race of 2018.
Famous for #71, Dave Marcis started the #2 in 136 races from 1971-1978 without earning a win. Marcis drove the Penske AMC #2 in the early 1970s, and would later driveRod Osterland’s #2 through 1978 when he was replaced by a rookie driver from Kannapolis, NC. Former crew Harry Hyde once said of Marcis, “he had the talent to be a champion, if only he weren’t so stubborn.”
Bobby Allison drove #2 in 106 races from 1965-1969 & again in 1976 . Allison earned 7 wins in the number.
In 1979 Dale Earnhardt replaced Dave Marcis in Rod Osterland’s. Earning his first career win at Bristol, he defeated future stars Terry Labonte and Harry Gant to win Rookie of the year. In 1980, Dale earned his first at Daytona in the Busch Clash (The Sprint Unlimited). With wins at Atlanta, Bristol, Nashville, Martinsville, and Charlotte, Earnhardt won his first Winston Cup championship that year. To this day, Earnhardt is the first and only driver in NASCAR Winston Cup history to follow a Rookie of the Year title with a NASCAR Winston Cup Championship the next season. In 1981 , Osterland sold his team to J.D. Stacy. Earnhardt drove the #2 for half the season before leaving to drive the #3 for Richard Childress Racing. Earnhardt earned 6 wins in his 78 starts in #2.
Bill Blair started 78 races in #2 from 1949-1954 including all 3 of his career wins.
Ernie Irvan ran for Rookie of the Year in 1988 driving DK Ulrich’s #2 car. The underfunded team ran both Chevy’s and Pontiacs, as they received no factory support. After barely losing Rookie of the Year to Ken Bouchard, in 1989 Irvan returned before leaving to pilot the Morgan-McClure #4 in 1990. In his 54 starts Irvan never won in #2.
Gwyn Staley started 42 races in #2 from 1955-1956 with no wins.
Jim Paschal seems to have raced in just about every number, and he won in most of them. In his 31 starts in #2 he earned 1 win in 1962.
In 1982, the great Tim Richmond drove the #2 in 25 races for the JD Stacy team earning 2 wins.
When Richmond left Stacy’s team in favor of Blue Max Racing, Morgan Shepherd was hired to pilot the #2 for Stacy. In his 24 starts during the 1983-1984 seasons Shepherd earned no wins.
From 1961-1962 Tommy Irwin started 24 races in #2.
Other notable names in #2
Joe Ruttman, 16 starts
Possum Jones, 14 starts
Ron Hornaday Sr., 10 starts
Mark Martin, 7 starts
Donnie Allison, 7 starts
Richard Petty, 5 starts
Curtis Turner, 3 starts
Dick Trickle, 2 starts
Herb Thomas, 1 start, 1 win
In Sprint Cup Series competition the #02 car has started 294 races and has 0 wins, 5 poles, 24 top 5s, 60 top 10s, and 159 DNFs.
In NASCAR Cup Series competition the #3 car has started 1,281 races with 82 drivers and has 98 wins, 70 poles, 376 top 5s, 630 top 10s, and 294 DNFs.
Richard Childress had been driving part time for 7 years when, in 1976, he decided to begin driving full time in #3. Childress earned eleven top-10 finishes and finished eleventh in points that year. Over the next few years, he posted many top-10s and twice was among the highest top 10 points earners, but he never was in serious contention to win. In 1981, he decided to end his career before the season ended, and handed his #3 ride to the defending Winston Cup (Sprint Cup) champion, Dale Earnhardt, who brought his Wrangler sponsorship with him. Childress started the #3 a total of 172 times.
Dale Earnhardt has the most starts in #3 with 529 from 1981-2001 including 67 of his 76 career wins and 6 of his 7 Championships.
Midway through the 1981 season, Earnhardt’s car owner Rod Osterlund sold his #2 team to J. D. Stacy prompting Earnhardt to leave for Richard Childress Racing. Earnhardt finished 7th in points with no wins. Knowing his equipment was inferior to his driver’s talent; Childress encouraged Earnhardt to race for another team while Childress developed his own shop, insisted that Earnhardt return one day. Earnhardt joined car owner Bud Moore for the 1982 and 1983 seasons driving the #15 Wrangler Ford Thunderbird, but returned to RCR in 1984 to reclaim his #3 car. The second time around was much more successful, creating one of the best owner & driver combinations in the history of the sport.
The 1984 Talladega 500 was Earnhardt’s first win with RCR, the first of 6 wins between the 1984-1985 seasons. The 1986 season saw Earnhardt win his second career Winston Cup Championship and the first owner’s championship for RCR. He won five races (almost six ) and had ten Top 5 and sixteen Top 10 finishes. Earnhardt successfully defended his championship the following year, visiting victory lane eleven times and winning the championship by 489 points over Bill Elliott. In the process, Earnhardt set a NASCAR modern era record of four consecutive wins and won five of the first seven races. In the 1987 season, Earnhardt won The Winston (All Star Race). During this race, Earnhardt was briefly forced into the infield grass, but kept control of his car and returned to the track without giving up his lead. The maneuver is now referred to as the “Pass in the Grass,” even though Earnhardt did not pass anyone while he was off the track.
The 1988 season saw Earnhardt racing with a new sponsor, GM Goodwrench , which replaced Wrangler Jeans. During this season Earnhardt garnered a second nickname, “The Man in Black” , owing to the black paint scheme in which the No. 3 car was painted. He was also called “Darth Vader” more than once because of the black uniform and car, adding to his notoriety as a driver who would wreck any car he could not pass. He won three times in 1988, finishing third in the points standings behind Bill Elliott and Rusty Wallace.
The following year, Earnhardt won five times, but a late spin out at North Wilkesboro arguably cost him the 1989 championship, as Rusty Wallace edged out Earnhardt for the championship.
The 1990 season started for Earnhardt with victories in the Busch Clash and his heat of the Gatorade Twin 125s. Near the end of the Daytona 500, he had a four-second lead when the final caution flag came out with a handful of laps to go. When the green flag waved, Earnhardt was leading Derrike Cope. On the final lap, Earnhardt ran over a piece of metal in the final turn, cutting a tire. Cope, in an upset, won the race while Earnhardt finished fifth. The No. 3 Goodwrench Chevy team took the flat tire that cost them the win and hung it on the shop wall as a reminder of how close they’d come to winning the Daytona 500. Earnhardt went on to win nine races that season and won his fourth Winston Cup title, beating Mark Martin by 26 points. Earnhardt also became the first repeat winner of The Winston.
The 1991 season saw Earnhardt win his fifth Winston Cup Championship . He scored just four wins, but won the championship by 195 points over Ricky Rudd. Earnhardt’s only win of the 1992 season came at Charlotte, in the Coca-Cola 600, ending a 13-race win streak by Ford teams. Earnhardt finished a career-low 12th in the points. At the end of the year, longtime crew chief Kirk Shelmerdine left to become a driver. Andy Petree took over as crew chief.
In 1993 Earnhardt once again came close to a win at the Daytona 500, and dominated Speedweeks before finishing second to Dale Jarrett on a last-lap pass. Earnhardt scored six wins en route to his sixth Winston Cup title, including wins in the Coca-Cola 600 and The Winston at Charlotte, and the Pepsi 400 at Daytona. Earnhardt beat Rusty Wallace for the Championship by 80 points.
In 1994, Earnhardt achieved a feat that he himself had believed to be impossible – he scored his seventh Winston Cup championship, tying Richard Petty. Earnhardt was very consistent, scoring four wins, and after Ernie Irvan was sidelined due to a near-deadly crash at Michigan, won title by over 400 points over Mark Martin. He won five races in 1995, including his first road course victory at Sears Point . He also won the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, a win he called the biggest of his career.
3 For 1996, Larry McReynolds was named Earnhardt’s crew chief. In late July, in the DieHard 500 at Talladega , he was in the points lead and looking for his eighth title despite the departure of crew chief Andy Petree. Late in the race, Ernie Irvan lost control of his Ford Thunderbird, made contact with the Chevy of Sterling Marlin, and igniting a frightening crash that saw Earnhardt’s car hit the tri-oval wall nearly head-on at almost 200 miles per hour. After hitting the wall, Earnhardt’s car flipped and slid across the track, in front of race-traffic. His car was hit in the roof and windshield. This accident, as well as a similar accident that led to the death of Russell Phillips at Charlotte, led NASCAR to mandate the “Earnhardt Bar”, a metal brace located in the center of the windshield that reinforces the roof in case of a similar crash.
After a disappointing and winless 1997 season, 1998 saw Earnhardt finally win the Daytona 500 after being shut out in his previous 19 attempts. Afterwards, there was a large show of respect for Earnhardt, in which every crew member of every team lined pit road to shake his hand as he made his way to victory lane. Earnhardt then drove his car into the infield grass , starting a trend of post-race celebrations. He spun the car twice, throwing grass and leaving tire tracks in the shape of a #3 in the grass.
Earnhardt struggled in 1999, but after a neck surgery to repair damage from his 1996 accident at Talladega, Earnhardt showed a resurgence in 2000 Winning at Atlanta and Talladega . Earnhardt was in contention for his record setting 8th championship, but would ultimately finished 2nd to Bobby Labonte.
Going into 2001 Earnhardt and Childress agreed that they were prepared to compete for another championship. Tragically, on the final lap of the 2001 Daytona 500 Earnhardt was killed in crash while watching the cars he owned, Michael Waltrip and Dale Earnhardt Jr., finish 1-2 in the Great American Race. His death shocked the NASCAR community and the sports world. The next week, Kevin Harvick raced with Earnhardt’s team, now bearing #29. Earnhardt is remembered not only as a legendary competitor and champion of the sport, but as an innovator. Earnhardt revolutionized his self-branding and merchandise sales to grow his popularity and fan base, founded a state of the art race team with Dale Earnhardt Inc, and was constantly communicating with the NASCAR sanctioning body on the behalf of the drivers for rule changes and new ideas. In the aftermath of his death, NASCAR underwent a safety revolution resulting in much safer racing today. Earnhardt was 49.
In the 2 years between Earnhardt’s stints at RCR, Ricky Rudd drove the #3 for Childress. From 1982-1983 Rudd made 60 starts in the Piedmont Airlines #3 winning 2 races. Ironically, when Earnhardt returned to RCR, Rudd replaced Earnhardt in the Bud Moore #15. For one year both cars were sponsored by Wrangler Jeans.
Buddy Baker started 60 races in Ray Fox’s #3 from 1966-1969 with 2 wins. In 1964, Buddy’s father Buck Baker started the #3 car 22 times winning 2 races including the 1964 Southern 500.
From 1961-1964 Junior Johnson started 49 races in #3, winning 9 of them.
Dick Rathmann started 45 races in #3 from 1954-1955 and he won 3 of them. Rathmann was an early explorer of all forms of motorsports racing in NASCAR, USAC, The Indy 500, and Formula 1.
In 2014 Austin Dillon began driving the #3 car for his grandfather Richard Childress. Though Dillon had a quiet rookie year with no wins, he managed to run all 36 races without a single DNF, a feat unmatched by anyone else in the series. Dillon’s streak would come to an end in 2015 with 3 DNFs, one for electrical issues, one for an expired engine, and one for an accident. Dillon’s biggest highlight of the year was for a wreck that did not cause a DNF, as it happened after the finish line at Daytona in July. In 2017, Dillon found victory lane after a fuel milage victory at the Coke 600. Dillon would make the playoffs, but was eliminated in the 2nd round, finishing 11th in the final standings. Dillon has started #3 144 times with 1 win.
In 2016, Dillon quietly put together a steady and consistent year, earning 4 top 5s, 13 top 10s, and 2 poles. Dillon’s most notable top-5 came at the Spring Talladega race where he managed to place 3rd with a beat up, taped together car. Dillon’s consistency would earn him a spot in The Chase, despite not having earned a win. He would advance to the Round of 12 before being eliminated. Dillon has 108 starts in #3 to date, and will return in 2017.
Like Rathmann, Paul Goldsmith also raced everything he could get his hands on like motorcycles, the Indy 500, and NASCAR . He made 29 Cup starts from 1956-1958 & 1969 earning a total of 5 wins.
In NASCAR Cup Series competition the #4 car has started 1,583 races and has 59 wins, 60 poles, 295 top 5s, 555 top 10s, and 448 DNFs.
From 1952-1954 Slick Smith started the #4 car 26 times with no wins.
Rex White drove #4 to victory lane 26 times between 1959-1964 in 168 starts. Due in part to his suffering from polio as a child, Rex stood only 5 foot 4 inches tall and 135 lbs. In 1960 Richard Petty, Junior Johnson, Lee Petty, and three other drivers were disqualified for not making a proper entrance to pit road at the World 600, propelling White to the points lead. This, along with his 6 wins and 35 top 5s in 40 races, enabled Rex to be crowned the 1960 Grand National (Sprint Cup) Champion. In 2015, White was inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame for his accomplishments. At age 86, Rex White is currently NASCAR’s oldest living champion .
North Carolina native “Big John” Sears has the most starts in #4 with 289 from 1966-1973. In a time before sponsorship was ubiquitous, Sears would help pay the bills by advertising upcoming races on the sides of his car, which was typically salmon colored. Big John never won a race, though he did finish in the top 5 a total of 127 times in his 317 career races. The best points finish for Sears is fifth which he achieved back-to-back in 1967 and 1968. He retired after a dismal 1973 season in which he was plagued with engine and mechanical failures.
From 1976-1978 Gary Myers started 30 Winston Cup races in #4 without earning a win.
Connie Saylor started #4 a total of 20 times from 1980-1983. Originally starting the number as an independent driver competing in one-off events, Saylor’s final start in the number is historic for being the first start of Morgan-McClure Motorsports at Talladega in 1983. After this race, Saylor would be replaced by Mark Martin who made 6 starts in the MMM #4 in ’83.
Tommy Ellis took over the MMM #4 for the 1984 season making 20 starts, while Joe Ruttman made 3 starts. The following year, Ruttman started the car 16 times for a career total of 20 starts in the number.
In 1986 Rick Wilson began driving the #4 Oldsmobile, now with financial backing from Kodak film. This sponsor/team combination would prove to be one of the longest lasting and iconic partnerships in the sport. Wilson brought consistency to the team, and the #4 became a frequent finisher in the top 15. Wilson got the team its first pole position at Bristol Motor Speedway in 1988, its first full season on the circuit. When Wilson announced he was leaving the team in 1989, the team was eighth in points. Rick Wilson started 93 races in the #4 car without a win.
For the 1990 season, the team hired Phil Parsons, but after three races, Parsons was released in favor of Ernie Irvan . Midway through the season the team switched from Oldsmobile to Chevrolet in order to get more manufacturer support. Their first race after the switch was at Bristol, and Irvan picked up his first career victory , as well as the first victory for MMM. The next season, Irvan won the Daytona 500 and The Bud at the Glen . When the checkered flag fell at the end of the season, the team was fifth in points. The next season, Irvan won three races over a two month stretch, at Sears Point International Raceway, the Pepsi 400 at the Daytona International Speedway, and at Talladega Superspeedway.
In 1993, Irvan won the pole twice, as well as a victory at Talladega. When Davey Allison died in an aircraft accident, Robert Yates asked Irvan to take his place. Irvan wanted out of his contract with MMM, and it ensued into an ugly lawsuit. Irvan was able to get out, but there were hurt feelings on both sides. Irvan drove #4 in 105 races and visited victory lane 7 times with the team.
For the 1994 season, the team hired Sterling Marlin to drive. In his first race in the team, Marlin won the Daytona 500 beating out, ironically, Irvan.
Marlin won the 1995 Daytona 500 as well, in addition to two more races at Darlington Speedway and Talladega. In 1996, Marlin won two races, at Talladega and the Pepsi 400 at Daytona. After the team went winless with Marlin in 1997, finishing 25th in points, the team and driver decided to part ways. Marlin won a total of 6 races in his 125 starts in the MMM #4.
In 1998, Bobby Hamilton was signed on to drive the #4 car for MMM after being replaced by John Andretti in the Petty #43. In their eighth race together, he won from the pole at Martinsville . This would be the last trip to victory lane for the MMM team. He ended the season tenth in the points. He had another ten top-ten finishes the following season, but after falling to 30th in points in 2000, he left for Andy Petree Racing. Hamilton earned 1 win in his 101 starts in #4.
During his time at MMM, Hamilton founded his Truck Series team for which he chose to run #4. Hamilton raced occasionally in the Truck Series until 2003 when he took his team full time with Square-D providing sponsorship. After a strong season in 2003, Hamilton won the Championship in 2004 becoming the first owner/driver to win a major NASCAR title since Alan Kulwicki. As his team continued to expand, Hamilton switched to #04 in 2005. In 2006, a diagnosis of head and neck cancer would end his racing career and eventually take his life in 2007. Hamilton was 49.
2001 was a the beginning of the end for MMM. The team struggled to keep a driver behind the wheel for a full season as Robby Gordon, Kevin Lepage, and Bobby Hamilton Jr. all made starts. Mike Skinner drove the car for the full 2002 season with little success.
In 2003 the team switched to Pontiac , but back to Chevrolet in 2004 as Pontiac left the sport.
The team began rotating drivers as Skinner, Lepage, Johnny Sauter, Stacy Compton, PJ Jones,Johnny Miller, Jimmy Spencer, Mike Wallace, John Andretti, Todd Bodine, Ward Burton and Scott Wimmer all made starts from 2003-2006. After losing the Kodak sponsorship in 2004, the #4 car gained sponsorship from Lucas Oil & State Water Heaters.
The team’s final season was 2007 in which Ward Burton drove the car in 16 events. Scott Wimmer attempted to qualify the car at a one-off race at Bristol in 2009 . Wimmer made the event, and finished 29th.
Since 2009, legal problems have prevented Morgan-McClure from actively competing. Larry McClure was charged with federal income tax fraud for not reporting $269,000 for cars used in the ARCA series. He was also forced to pay back $60,000 to Kodak for falsifying an invoice. McClure spent eighteen months in jail and works at a family car dealership. MMM returned to Sprint Cup at Bristol in August 2010, but Lepage failed to qualify for the race. The team has not attempted another race. The team closed its doors in 2012. Mike Skinner Started 50 races in #4, Lepage 35 races, Mike Wallace 30 races, Jimmy Spencer 25 races, Scott Wimmer 24 races, and Ward Burton 19 races.
In 2010 Kasey Kahne announced that he would drive for Hendrick Motorsports in 2012. Essentially, that left Kahne as a free agent for only the 2011 season. The struggling Team Red Bull hired Kahne for just the 2011 season after he was released from RPM. Kahne used the #4 for his Red Bull Toyota, a homage to the number he used in Sprint Cars. At Phoenix in late 2011, Kahne earned an upset win. In victory lane Kahne was very emotional as he dedicated the win to his Grandparents. The team would close its doors only a few weeks later. This win is Kasey’s only win in a Toyota, allowing Kahne to be the only active driver to have won in a Ford, Dodge, Toyota, and Chevrolet. Kahne started 36 races in #4 with 1 win.
After 13 years in the RCR #29, Kevin Harvick moved to Stewart-Haas Racing in 2014 to drive the #4 car. Harvick won in just his second start with SHR at Phoenix International Raceway.
The team then won again at Darlington Raceway in April, leading 239 of 374 laps and using fresher tires to pass Dale Earnhardt, Jr. with two laps to go. Harvick’s two wins earned him a spot in the Chase for the Sprint Cup. He advanced into the second round with two top 5’s, then won at Charlotte in October to earn a spot in the third round. Harvick finished the season strong, winning the penultimate race of the year at Phoenix to remain in title contention, then winning the final race of the year at Homestead-Miami Speedway to clinch his first Sprint Cup Championship.
Harvick started 2015 with 8 straight top-2 finishes, including 2 wins at Las Vegas and Pheonix. The first race of the Chase took place at Chicagoland. Harvick finished 42nd after getting a flat tire and spinning into the wall due to contact with Jimmie Johnson a few laps earlier on a restart. A confrontation did take place, after Harvick met with Johnson and punched him in the chest. After picking up another win at the Dover Chase race, Harvick would end his 4-race win streak at Pheonix after finishing 2nd. Harvick was one position away from defending his title at Homestead, but a second place finish wasn’t enough to beat Kyle Busch.
In 2016, Harvick would again win at Phoenix after narrowly edging Carl Edwards on the final lap. Harvick would also win at Bristol in the late-summer where Kevin invited his boss Tony Stewart to join him in celebrating.
Harvick would score 2 more wins in the Chase at New Hampshire and Kanasas, but finishes of 7th at Talladega, 20th at Martinsville, and 6th at Texas would prevent Harvick from entering the Homestead Final 4.
2017 meant a manfuacturer change for SHR and Harvick. Despite this, Harvick continued his winning ways. Harvick’s first win of 2017 came at Sonoma, his first road coarse win in the Cup series. This win was part of a weekend sweep, as he also won the K&N West race the prior day.
Harvick would find victory lane again in The Playoff Race at Texas Motor Speedway. I was the first victory for Harvick at Texas, and leaves only Pocono, Kentucky, and The Glen as tracks at which Harvick has yet to win. This win would propel him into the Championship 4 at Homestead. With a 4th place finish in the race, Harvick would finish 3rd in season points.
Harvick has started 144 races in #4 with 14 wins. He will return in 2018.
Other notable drivers in #4:
Bill Myers, 17 starts, 1 win
John Soares, 7 starts, 1 win
Lennie Pond, 4 starts
Elmo Langley, 3 starts
Jim Paschal, 3 starts
Hershel McGriff, 2 starts
Joe Nemechek, 2 starts
Bill Rexford, 1 start
Bob Welborn, 1 start, 1 win
Al Keller, 1 start, 1 win
Lake Speed, 1 start
Rich Bickle, 1 start
Cotton Owens, 1 start
In Sprint Cup Series competition the #04 car has started 121 races and has 0 wins, 0 poles, 7 top 5s, 20 top 10s, and 67 DNFs.
From 1969-1970 Ken Meisenhelder started 34 races in his #04 Oldsmobile.
Hershel McGriff started #04 32 times from 1972-1993, most notably for Petty Enterprises in the 1970s. McGriff is a West Coast late model driver who only ran one full season in Cup, but consistently made starts at the West Coast tracks.
In NASCAR Cup Series competition the #5 car has started 1,564 races with 123 drivers and has 45 wins, 60 poles, 296 top 5s, 575 top 10s, and 375 DNFs.
Hendrick Motorsports debuted in 1984 under the banner “All Star Racing” with five employees, rented equipments, two cars, with the highest-paid person’s wages at only $500/week. Initially, the team had planned to field a car for seven-time Cup champion Richard Petty with funding from country music business mogul C.K. Spurlock, but the deal failed to materialize. Afterwards, Hendrick attempted to hire Dale Earnhardt, but did not. As a result, the team fielded the No. 5 Chevy Monte Carlo, driven by Geoff Bodine in 1984.
After a slow start to the season, Hendrick informed Bodine and crew chief Harry Hyde that he planned to shut down the team due to funding trouble. Instead, Bodine and the team won at Martinsville Speedway, leading to sponsorship from Levi Garrett; on March 30, 2014, the 30-year anniversary of the win, Hendrick stated, “We owe Martinsville so much. If we hadn’t won that race, then literally the next Monday we were going to shut it down.” The team won two more times and finished ninth in points.
Levi Garrett came on board to sponsor the #5 Chevy in 1985. Despite not winning a race that year, Bodine improved to fifth in points. Hendrick moved to a multi-car team full-time in 1986, with Bodine and Tim Richmond as drivers. Bodine won twice in the #5 including that Daytona 500 and posted an eighth place finish in points. His younger brother, Brett, raced as a teammate in the World 600 that year. Bodine went winless again in 1987, finishing thirteenth in points. Bodine won one race each of the next two years before leaving for Junior Johnson in 1990. Bodine started 174 races in #5 with 7 wins.
In 1990 Ricky Rudd took Bodine’s place, winning at Watkins Glen and finishing seventh in points.
At the season finale in Atlanta, Rudd’s car spun out on pit road striking and killing a member of Bill Elliott’s team. This incident directly led to implementation of new pit road safety rules for the 1991 season, though they would be altered after a few races & resemble the rules still in use today.
For 1991, the team received sponsorship from Tide as part of the car’s merger with Darrell Waltrip’s old team. Winning one race that year, Rudd finished a career high second in points. On the final lap of that year’s race at Sears Point Raceway, second-place Rudd spun out leader Davey Allison on the last turn and went on to win. NASCAR penalized the team for rough driving and awarded Allison the win. This incident is often referred to as one of the most drastic overreactions and penalties levied by the NASCAR sanctioning body against a driver. Never before had NASCAR taken a win from the driver that took the checkered flag first, though it has happened since.
Rudd won once each of the next two years, and then left to form his own team, taking Tide with him. Rudd started 117 races in #5 with 4 wins.
Terry Labonte has the most starts in the #5 car with 368 from 1994-2004, including 17 wins and the 1996 Winston Cup (Sprint Cup) Championship.
When Ricky Rudd left Hendrick Motorsports at the end of the 1993 season, Rick Hendrick hired 1984 Cup Champion Terry Labonte to fill the seat of the #5 car. Labonte won three races each in 1994 and 1995 including a legendary finish at Bristol in 1995 where Terry won the race as Dale Earnhardt wrecked him.
He defeated teammate Jeff Gordon for the 1996 Winston Cup championship by 37 points. Terry won the Championship at Atlanta in a race that his brother Bobby won, and the Texas brothers got to celebrate together .
Labonte won one race each of the next three seasons, and he almost won 2 in 1999 before a Bristol rematch with Dale Earnhardt left Terry wrecked on the backstretch just half a lap from the checkered flag.
The 2000 season was a very difficult year for the team as two long streaks that defined Labonte’s career came to an end. In the Pepsi 400, Labonte crashed his car and broke his leg. After an accident at New Hampshire damaged his inner ear, Labonte was not capable of driving, and he ended up missing two races, bringing his Ironman streak of most consecutive races to an abrupt end.
Todd Bodine and Ron Hornaday Jr. subbed for Labonte. His six-year winning streak was also broken as he failed to visit victory lane that year. At the end of the 2000 season Labonte’s team switched to Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes brand for its primary sponsorship. After a couple of low-key years, Labonte finished tenth in the points in 2003. He also revisited victory lane after a four-year drought, winning the 2003 Southern 500 at Darlington, his final career win.
After slipping to twenty-sixth in points in 2004, Labonte announced his semi-retirement. He would drive a limited schedule in #44 for two years before leaving the team after the 2006 season.
In 2005 Kyle Busch took over the #5 car at Hendrick. Busch easily won the 2005 rookie of the year battle and made history when he took the checkered flag in the Sony HD 500 at California Speedway for his first win, becoming the youngest driver to ever win a Cup Series race at the age of 20 years, 4 months, and 2 days.
Busch would win later that year at Phoenix. In 2006, Kyle won once and qualified for the Chase for the Nextel Cup, ultimately finishing tenth in points. In 2007, Busch grabbed a win at the Food City 500, the inaugural race for the Car of Tomorrow.
On June 13, 2007 Hendrick announced that Kyle Busch would not return to drive the No. 5 car in 2008. Kyle earned 4 wins in his 108 starts in the Hendrick #5.
Casey Mears would drive the #5 in 2008, moving over from the Hendrick #25 team that was becoming the #88 of Earnhardt Jr. After going winless in all of his 36 starts of 2008, Mears was released by Hendrick.
Mark Martin was hired away from DEI to replace Mears in 2009. He scored a win with Hendrick Motorsports at Phoenix on April 18, 2009. He became the third oldest winner and fourth driver over the age of 50 to win a Sprint Cup Series race. The win was also the 36th victory and 400th top 10 of Martin’s career.
On September 18, 2009 Hendrick announced that Martin had extended his contract through the 2011 season and would race full-time with GoDaddy.com as a primary sponsor. Lance McGrew took over as crew chief for the #5 in 2011 as Gustafson moved to Jeff Gordon’s team. Farmers Insurance Group and Quaker State joined as sponsors of the team for a few races.
Martin struggled through most of the season with McGrew, not showing signs of his earlier Hendrick success. Teammate Jimmie Johnson drove the #5 car in the All-Star Race to promote a discount deal with Lowe’s, and Martin drove the #25 .
In 2012 Martin retired from full time driving and began racing part time for Michael Waltrip Racing. Martin made 108 starts in #5 with 5 wins.
Kasey Kahne, along with his crew chief Kenny Francis were picked up from Red Bull Racing Team to run the #5 in 2012. Farmers and Quaker State returned, with Farmers increasing its sponsorship to 22 races.
GoDaddy.com left for Tommy Baldwin Racing, but Time Warner Cable and Great Clips signed on as replacements. After a poor start to the season, Kahne rebounded immensely and picked up wins at the Coca-Cola 600 and the first Loudon race.
Kahne would make the 2012 Chase and finish a career-best 4th in standings. Kahne again qualified for the Chase in 2013. However, it did not appear that Kahne would qualify for the 2014 Chase, until a win at Atlanta in September locked him into the Chase field.
2015 proved to be a disappointing season for Kahne by failing, for the first time since joining Hendrick Motorsports, to make the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. He also failed to win a Sprint Cup Series points paying race for the first time since the 2010 season. Kahne finished the year 18th place in the overall NASCAR Sprint Cup Series points standings.
In 2016 Kahne started all 36 races and failed to lead a single lap, despite completing the most laps in the series. He finished 17th in the overall standings.
In July 2017, Kahne returned to Victory Lane at the Brantley Gilbert Big Machine Brickyard 400, surviving a crash-laden race that took out many contending cars, including holding off Brad Keselowski on an overtime restart that ended under caution. It was Kahne’s 18th win in the Cup Series and first in 102 races.
On August 7, Hendrick Motorsports announced Kahne would not be returning to the team for the 2018 season, and two days later, William Byron was announced as Kahne’s replacement in the renumbered #24. Kahne started 216 races in the #5, second only to Texas Terry. 2018 will mark the first season since 1983 that Hendrick Motorsports has not fielded the #5 car. Assuming that Hendrick retains the rights to the number, 2018 will be the first season since 1948 that does not feature car #5 at any races.
Neil Bonnett drove the #5 for Jim Stacy in 44 starts from 1977-1979 including 2 wins, both in 1977.
From 1963-1964 Billy Wade started the #5 car 30 times for 5 top 5 finishes, but no wins.
Tiny Lund started #5 a total of 20 times from 1959-1964, with 18 of those starts coming in 1960. Lund never won a races in the number.
Buddy Arrington made 19 starts in #5 during the 1970 season and one more in 1971 for a career total of 20 in the number Arrington did not win in #5.
Morgan Shepherd drove the #5 for 18 starts in 1981 including his first career win at Martinsville.
Cotton Owens drove the #6 before he retired in 1961 to become a car owner and put David Pearson in his #6 car. From time to time Owens would field a second car, the number 5, and drive it himself just to prove that he could beat Pearson. In his 11 starts in the number Owens earned 3 wins including his final win in 1964.
In NASCAR Cup Series competition the #6 car has started 1,617 races with 110 drivers and has 83 wins, 83 poles, 440 top 5s, 693 top 10s, and 390 DNFs.
Mark Martin has the most starts in #6 with 619 in 1983 & from 1988-2006. Martin’s first start in #6 would come in 1983 when he drove 2 races for DK Ulrich. 5 years later, the #6 car began as Roush Racing’s original foray into NASCAR, debuting at the 1988 Daytona 500 as the #6 Stroh’s Light Ford. With then-short-track-driver Mark Martin at the wheel and future NASCAR vice president Robin Pemberton as crew chief, the team finished 41st after experiencing an engine failure after 19 laps. However, performance quickly improved, with Martin winning a pole position later in the season and achieving ten top ten finishes. With a year of experience under their belt, Roush and Martin went on a tear in 1989, winning six poles, earning eighteen top-10 finishes and winning for the first time atNorth Carolina Speedway . The team finished third place in championship points.
Garnering new sponsorship from Folgers in 1990, Martin won three each of races and pole positions, as well as finishing in the top 10 in all but six races. Martin held the points lead for a majority of the season, but lost momentum in the final races. In the end, the team lost the championship to Dale Earnhardt by 26 points. Interestingly, Martin would have won the championship had he not been docked 46 points in the second race of the season following a rules violation. Regardless, the team hoped to carry the momentum into 1991. Disappointingly, Martin finished sixth in points, and didn’t win until the season finale at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
In 1992, Valvoline joined to sponsor the car, but the team’s position in points still did not improve. Finally, they recaptured the magic of before in 1993, as Martin notched five victories and finished third in points. 1994 found Martin and the 6 team finishing once again runner-up to Earnhardt in points. In 1995, Martin defeated former teammate Wally Dallenbach, Jr. to win at Watkins Glen . However, the team’s performance slumped sharply in 1996, as Martin did not visit victory lane. He would win again 1997, with an additional four victories and finishing third in championship points. In 1998, Martin and team 6 had their most dominant season yet, winning seven times, but finished second in points yet again, this time to Jeff Gordon. The 1998 season was marked with a black spot when Martin’s father Julian died in an aviation accident. Although 1999 saw Martin winning only twice, he finished in the top-10 in 26 out of 34 races.
In addition, throughout the 2000 season Martin served as co-owner/mentor of rookie driver Matt Kenseth. After winning only one race in 2000 , primary sponsor Valvoline left for MB2 Motorsports, and Pfizer/Viagra became the team’s new financial backer. However, Martin again failed to win, and ended up 12th in points, his lowest finish since 1988. The team won only once in 2002, but was narrowly defeated by Tony Stewart for the championship. 2003 was another season of lackluster performance for the team, as once again they didn’t visit victory lane, and finished 17th in the final standings.
2004 brought improved performance, with a victory at Dover International Speedway and a 4th place finish in points. Prior to beginning the 2005 season, Martin stated that 2005 would be his last year in full-time Cup competition. The team conducted a Salute to You farewell tour to his fanshighlighting many of Martin’s career accomplishments . Martin finished fourth in points and went tovictory lane once , along with achieving 19 top ten finishes and winning the All Star Race . Due to contract issues, Roush was left without a driver for car 6 in 2006. After learning of the situation, Martin announced his return to car 6 for one more year. The team extended the Salute to You tour after modifying its paint schemes to reflect the team’s new sponsor, Automobile Association of America . Martin went winless, but had 7 top 5’s and 15 top 10’s en route to a 9th place points finish in his final year for Roush.
Todd Kluever was originally scheduled to drive the 6 car in 2007, running several races in the #06 Cup car in anticipation, but due to lackluster performance in the Busch Series, Roush Racing decided to put Truck Series driver David Ragan in the car full-time.
He had three top-tens and finished 23rd in points. The following season, he had fourteen top-ten finishes and finished 13th in the points standings. AAA left the #6 team after the 2008 season for Penske Racing, with UPS becoming the sponsor for Ragan’s car for 2009. Ragan only had two top-ten finishes and finished 27th. 2011 started off on a mixed not when the team almost won the Daytona 500 , only to be penalized for an early lane change. The team then won at Daytona in July, their first since 2005. Despite the victory, UPS left the 6 team and moved to an associate sponsor for the #99 team.
Jack Roush announced that RFR would not field the 6 team in 2012, forcing the team to reassign or lay off nearly 100 employees. Ragan earned 1 win in his 180 starts in #6. In 2012 the #6 was fielded in 4 races for Ricky Stenhouse Jr., now driver of the Roush #17.
In 2015 Trevor Bayne began driving the #6 for Roush Racing. His move from the Wood Brother’s #21 car to the #6 was prompted by the ending of a long-standing technical alliance between Roush and the Wood Bros. who now are allied with Penske Racing. Bayne started all 36 races in 2015 earning only 2 top 10 finishes.
In 2016 Bayne earned 2 top-5 finishes at Bristol (April) and Daytona (July), his only career top-5 finishes other than his Daytona 500 win. Bayne started all 36 races and finished 22nd in points
In 2017 Bayne posted 6 top-10. Bayne had a fantastic race going at Indianapolis, making it up to third place in the closing laps. However, in a series of overtime restarts, Bayne would get turned by Michael McDowell and end the day in 20th position.
Bayne has started 108 races in #6 and will return in 2018.
Cotton Ownes started 103 races in #6 from 1953-1961 including 6 wins. Owen’s career high point finish was 1959 where he finished runner up to champion Lee Petty. In 1962 he retired as a driver to become a car owner for the talented David Pearson. He came out of retirement in 1964 to prove that he could beat Pearson. He beat Pearson in his final career win at Richmond, and two races later he finished second in his final career race to Ned Jarrett. Cotton was fortunate to have some of the biggest names in the sport drive his cars over the years. Drivers for Cotton Owens included many legends: David Pearson, Buddy Baker, Pete Hamilton, Marty Robbins, Ralph Earnhardt, Bobby Isaac, Junior Johnson, Benny Parsons, Fireball Roberts, Mario Andretti, Charlie Glotzbach, and Al Unser. In all, a total of 25 drivers climbed behind the wheel of Owens’ cars in 291 races, earning 32 victories.
David Pearson drove #6 for Cotton Owens in 165 races from 1962-1967 with 27 wins, including a staggering 15 wins in the 1966 season, Pearson’s first ever full time season and first of 3 Grand National (Spring Cup) Championships. In 1967 Pearson quit Owen’s team to drive for Holman-Moody after there was a misunderstanding about who would drive the teams tow truck.
DK Ulrich was an owner/driver who fielded his #6 car in just about every Cup race from 1982-1987, but only drove about half of them. Ulrich would also sign other names to fill the seat for a few races at a time. In 1986 Richard Petty started 1 race for Ulrich in the World 600 after Petty wrecked his #43 car in a practice session. Ulrich started 63 races in #6 as a driver.
USAC driver Ralph Liguori ventured into NASCAR from 1954-1956 starting 40 races in #6.
Buddy Baker started the Cotton Owens #6 in 34 races from 1967-1970 for 1 win. In 1970 Baker won the Southern 500 at Darlington, becoming the first father & son pairing to win a NASCAR race in the same venue. Buck won the race in 1953.
Charlie Glotzbach started 27 races in #6 from 1968-1972. He won the fall race at Charlotte in 1968 for his only win in the number.
Eddie Bierschwale started 26 races for DK Ulrich in 1985, but never finished in the top 10 or lead a lap with 11 DNFs.
Marshal Teague competed in all 23 of his career starts in the #6 1949-1952 earning 7 wins. Teague approached the Hudson Motor Car Company by traveling to Michigan and visiting the automaker’s factory without an appointment. By the end of his visit, Hudson virtually assured Teague of corporate support and cars, with the relationship formalized shortly after his visit. This is generally regarded as the first stock car racing team backed by a Detroit auto manufacturer. During the 1951 and 1952 racing seasons, Teague was a member of the Hudson Motors team and driving what were called the “Fabulous Hudson Hornet” stock cars. When combined with the cars light weight and low center of gravity, the Hornet allowed Teague and the other Hudson drivers to dominate stock car racing from 1951 through 1954, consistently beating out other drivers in cars powered by larger, more modern engines. Smokey Yunick and Teague won 27 of 34 events in major stock car events. In 1953, Teague dropped out of NASCAR following a dispute with NASCAR founder William France Sr. and went to the AAA and USAC racing circuits. Teague was also the inspiration for Doc Hudson in the film Cars.
Teague died while attempting a closed course speed record in a reconfigured Indy car at the newly opened Daytona International Speedway. He was conducting test sessions in preparation for the April debut of the United States Auto Club championship with Indy-style roadsters. On February 9, 1959, Teague set an unofficial closed course speed record of 171.821 mph. Teague was attempting to go even faster on February 11, 1959, eleven days before the first Daytona 500. His car spun and flipped through the third turn and Teague was thrown, seat and all, from his car. He died nearly instantly. He was 37.
Pete Hamilton started 20 races in the Cotton Owned #6 in 1971 including 1 win in his Daytona Qualifying race.
Other notable names in #6
Bobby Allison, 9 starts, 1 win
Ralph Earnhardt, 7 starts
Joe Eubanks, 6 starts, 1 win
Joe Ruttman, 6 starts
Junior Johnson, 4 starts
Ernie Irvan, 3 starts
Danny Letner, 3 startsm 1 win
Herb Thomas, 2 starts, 1 win
Bobby Isaac, 2 starts
Dr. Bob Javis, 1 start
Harry Gant, 1 start
Fireball Roberts, 1 start
In NASCAR Cup Series competition the #06 car has started 322 races with 37 drivers and has 1 win, 0 poles, 46 top 5s, 115 top 10s, and 146 DNFs.
Neil Castles started 231 races from 1967-1975. Castles was an “also-ran” of the old days who once found himself having an uncharacteristically good day. He had lapped Curtis Turner, but the flagman apparently did not believe it, for he kept giving Castles the move-over flag to let Turner around him. As Castles told the story: “The starter kept doing this, and I was getting real mad, so I just picked up my gun and when I come by the stand the next time I took aim and shot that flag out of his hand.” Castles did not win any races in his career.
From 1964-1967 Cale Yarborough started the #06 car 20 times including 1 win in 1965 at Valdosta. It was his first career win.