12 Days until the Daytona 500

In Sprint Cup Series competition the #12 car has started 1,299 races and has 56 wins, 89 poles, 277 top 5s, 468 top 10s, and 365 DNFs.

  • Ralph Moody  of the famous Holman-Moody team drove #12 a total of 42 times from 1956-1957 with 5 wins. Moody and his team would later win Championships with David Pearson and field Mario Andretti’s Daytona 500 winning car.
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Moody (right), 1957
  • Joe Weatherly  drove Moody’s #12 car 36 times from 1954-1960 with 3 wins. Weatherly also found much success driving #12 in the Convertible Division.
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Weatherly, 1960
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Weatherly driving his convertible on Daytona Beach, 1956
  • The Alabama Gang’s Bobby Allison  drove #12 in 170 races at various points throughout his career totaling 25 victories in the number. Starting in 1971 Allison piloted his #12 Coca-Cola machine to some impressive statistics. Out of 40 races entered in 1971, Allison won 10. 1972 was the first year of NASCAR’s modern era, and the tour was very similar to what we know today. Allison brought Coca-Cola and his #12 to driver for the race team of Junior Johnson. Out of the 31 total races that season Allison again won 10, and finished 2nd a staggering 12 times. From 1971-1972 he set a record of 39 straight races where he led at least one lap, an absurd statistic that will likely never be matched. Allison and Johnson did not always see eye to eye, and he took his number and sponsor to his own team again for the following year. In 1973 Bobby won 2 out of the 29 races he entered and drove a #12 machine in the Indianapolis 500.
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Bobby Allison, 1972
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Allison’s Indy 500 McLaren, 1973

1974 saw Allison begin to drive his #12 AMC Matador for Penske Racing  where he earned 2 more wins. In 1975 Allison would continue to drive for Penske in the #16 AMC . In 2003 Penske Racing and driver Ryan Newman ran a throwback paint scheme  referencing AMC & Allison’s early days at Penske.

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Allison, 1974
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Newman, 2003

Bobby left Penske in 1976 and had a Hall of Fame career in other number like #22 & #88, but he returned to his #12 car in 1988 . Bobby won his 3rd Daytona 500  and final race of his career in 1988, as his #12 car was pushed to the line by his son Davey. 12 races later Bobby’s career would end after a hard crash at Pocono . As a result, Bobby now has no memory of the final win of his career or of celebrating together with his son in victory lane at Daytona.

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Allison, 1988

 

 

  • Bobby’s Brother Donnie Allison  drove #12 a total of 24 times in 1967 & 1980-1981. Donnie never raced #12 in a full season, but had a very respectable career of his own. We will discuss Donnie more with 1 day before the Daytona 500.
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Donnie Allison, 1980

 

  • Another member of the Alabama Gang Neil Bonnett  has 102 starts in #12 from 1975-1986 with 3 wins. Bonnett, a former crew member of Bobby Allison’s, began piloting the #12 car part time for Allison family team  while Bobby was driving for Penske Racing. Bonnett’s talent would soon be discovered and he would get picked up by the JD Stacy team and later the Wood Brothers.

In 1984, Bonnett joined Junior Johnson’s team , becoming a teammate  to Darrell Waltrip. In 1985, Bonnett had one of his best seasons, finishing fourth in the points standings after 2 wins, while Waltrip went on to win his third championship. In 1986 Bonnett picked up one more win in the number.

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  • Mike Alexander  substitued in the #12 Stavola Bros. car for the remainder of the 1988 season after Bobby Allison’s career ending accident. When Allison fully recovered he decided to remain in the sport as an owner, refounding the Allison family #12 team as Bobby Allison Racing in 1990. Alexander was Bobby’s first driver in the new car, but was replaced after only 7 starts. Alexander has a total of 23 starts in the number.
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Alexander, 1990

 

  • Hut Stricklin, the last member of the Alabama Gang, was selected as Alexander’s replacement in Allison’s #12 and started 71 races from 1990-1992. In 1991 he finished 16th in the championship point standings as well as a career high 2nd place at Michigan International Speedway. In 1992 he qulalified for the Winston All Star Race after a 2nd place finish to Michael Waltrip in the Winston Open. With eight races left in the 1992 season, Hut left Allison’s team and, after a few races driving for Junie Donlavey, he picked up a ride for 1993 with Junior Johnson, driving the #27 McDonald’s Ford.
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Stricklin, 1991

 

  • Jimmy Spencer  drove the #12 for Allison for the remainder of the 1992 season and all of 1993 for 34 total starts.
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Spencer, 1993
  • Derrike Cope  started 72 races in #12 from 1994-1996 without a win. Due to financial issues Bobby Allison Racing would close down at the end of the 1996 season.
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Cope, 1995
  • In 1998, Michael Kranefuss (co-owner of the #37 Kmart/RC Cola Car) and Penske Racing announced a merger, with Jeremy Mayfield coming aboard to drive the No. 12 Mobil 1 Ford Taurus as a teammate to Rusty Wallace. The move turned out to be a success, and Mayfield became the next big star.
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Mayfield leading the pack, 2000

He won the pole at Texas, and at one point in the season, found himself in the points lead. At the Pocono 500  in June, he won his first Winston Cup series race. Mayfield’s breakout year in Winston Cup ended with a 7th place finish in the points. Mayfield struggled in 1999, as he did not win and dropped 4 spots in the points.

In 2000, he won the Pocono 500  and California 500 . Midway through the season, Kranefuss sold his share of the team to Penske. Mayfield then suffered a concussion while practicing for the Brickyard 400. He missed two races recuperating from his injury and finished 24th in points.

In 2001, Mayfield posted seven top-10 finishes, but rumors circulated around the garage that he and Rusty Wallace  feuded several times and didn’t see head to head as teammates, and he burned bridges with Roger Penske. He sat out the rest of the season after signing a new deal with Ray Evernham’s team. Rusty Wallace’s little brother Mike Wallace  took over, and came close to winning at Phoenix  before settling for second place to Jeff Burton. Mayfield started #12 a total of 127 times with 3 wins. Mike Wallace drove #12 in 8 races.

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Mike Wallace, 2001

 

  • Ryan Newman  was driving a part time third entry for Penske Racing, but with Mayfield’s departure his Alltel Wireless team took over the No. 12 car in 2002, although Mobil 1  stayed on as primary sponsor for several races per season.
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Newman’s Ford, 2002

In his rookie year Newman waged a spirited battle with Jimmie Johnson for NASCAR Rookie of the Year honors. At the Winston (All Star Race) Newman got into trouble early by making contact with Elliott Sadler  who threw his helmet at Newman in response. Newman would go on to win  the event after a close battle with Earnhardt Jr., and the fall event at New Hampshire , as well as six poles. Although he didn’t win as many races as Johnson (one versus Johnson’s three) and finished behind him in the points (sixth place, seven points behind fifth-place Johnson), he finished ahead of Johnson to win Winston Cup Rookie of the Year.

After the switch to Dodge in 2003, Newman crashed hard in the Daytona 500 . He won eight races and eleven poles to earn the nickname “Rocket Man,” and finished 6th in points.

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Newman’s Dodge, 2003

 

In 2004, Newman won twice, earned nine pole positions, qualified for the inaugural Chase for the Nextel Cup, and finished seventh in points. Newman finished 2005 with eight pole positions, but only one win. He qualified for the Chase for the Cup for a second year in a row and ended up sixth in the final standings. He failed to win a race and missed the Chase in both 2006 and 2007. However, he found himself back in the winners circle early in 2008, taking victory in the 50th running of the Daytona 500  (the No. 2 of Kurt Busch finished second) to open the season, claiming Penske’s first Daytona 500 win. After the No. 12 team won the Daytona 500 in 2008, it struggled and Ryan Newman announced during the summer that he would leave to drive the No. 39 Chevrolet for Stewart-Haas Racing. Newman has the most starts of anyone in #12 with 252 and 13 wins.

  • When the Alltel Company was absorbed by Verizon Wireless they breached Sprint’s ‘direct competitor policy’ and were forced to leave the sport as a sponsor. Penske hired David Stremme  to race the #12 car in a largely unbranded fashion for 2009, but he did not produce results and was fired toward the end of the season.
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Stemme, 2009
  • Brad Keselowski, who had recently signed with Penske when he was unable to procure a seat at Hendrick Motorsports, took over the car toward the end of the 2009 season. He then ran the No. 12 full-time in 2010 again in an unbranded fashion, although FloTV and AAA  sponsored several races. Most notably, Brad was crashed hard at Atlanta  off the front bumper of Carl Edwards, believed to be payback for an incident at Talladega  the previous year. Keselowski moved to the No. 2 car following the season to replace Kurt Busch, who moved to the new No. 22.
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Keselowski, 2010
  • Since 2012 #12 car has become a part time R&D Car for Team Penske and has been driven by Sam Hornish Jr., Juan Pablo Montoya, and Ryan Blaney. The car was not fielded in at all in 2015 or 2016, but Penske still owns the rights to car #12.

Other notable names in #12

  • LeeRoy Yarbrough, 14 starts
  • Harry Gant, 10 starts
  • Jim Paschal, 10 starts
  • Tim Richmond, 8 starts
  • Dan Gurney, 3 starts
  • Tiny Lund, 2 starts
  • Fireball Roberts, 1 start
  • Glen Wood, 1 start
  • Eli Vukovich, 1 start
  • David Pearson, 1 start
  • Buddy Baker, 1 start
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