9 Days until the Daytona 500

Single digit days will have the history of the single digit car and the two digit equivalent. For example, today will feature both #9 and #09, so be sure to keep scrolling once you have reached the end of #9!

In Sprint Cup Series competition the #9 car has started 1,544 races with 103 drivers and has 53 wins, 71 poles, 229 top 5s, 469 top 10s, and 403 DNFs.

  • Bill Elliott has started 446 races with 38 wins in #9 from 1976-2003.
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Awesome Bill from Dawsonville

Driving a car owned by his father, George Elliott, Elliott made his first Winston Cup Series start at Rockingham in 1976 . He qualified 34th in a field of 36 cars; Elliott only lasted 32 laps that day before the oil pump failed in his Ford Torino, earning him $640. Elliott toiled for five years in the Winston Cup Series without corporate sponsorship, and along the way showed flashes that he could compete with the established veterans of the sport. In mid-1977, Elliott bought a Mercury Montego  from Bobby Allison, and the move paid off. He soon earned his first top-10 finish in the Southern 500. 

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Bill Elliott, 1976
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Elliott, 1977

 

In the fall of 1980, Elliott gained his first major sponsor in the form of $500 from Harry Melling  of Melling Racing in the 1980 National 500 at Charlotte. Melling would extend his contract and gave the team enough sponsorship to run a 12 race schedule in 1981. Melling bought the team from Elliott’s father George on December 1, 1981. In 1983 Elliott earned his first Winston Cup win in the Winston Western 500  at Riverside in the final race of the 1983 season.

 

 

 

Elliott also finished second four times including the Daytona 500 on his way to a third place finish in the championship standings that season. He gained full sponsorship from Coors  in 1984 to the tune of $400,000 and won three races: the Michigan 400, the Miller High Life 500, and the American 500; four poles and again finished third in the championship standings.

 

In 1985, Elliott earned 11 wins and 11 poles out of 28 races and also won the first Winston Million in the Southern 500 at Darlington. This earned him the nickname “Million Dollar Bill” , and “Awesome Bill From Dawsonville.” He won the Daytona 500 , the Winston 500 at Talladega and the Southern 500 to earn the Winston Million. The only major of the four he did not win was the Coca-Cola 600. This led to him becoming the second NASCAR driver to be featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated . Elliott finished second in the championship standings by 101 points, losing the Winston Cup Championship to Darrell Waltrip after a string of poor finishes in the last quarter of the season. Elliott also set an unprecedented NASCAR record of winning five consecutive pole qualifying sessions in that season.

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“Million Dollar Bill”, 1985
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September 1985

In 1986, Elliott won both Michigan races, four poles and finished fourth in the championship standings. He also won The Winston, held at Atlanta, the only year the race was run somewhere other than Charlotte. He won six races in 1987, including his second Daytona 500, and the Talladega 500, seven poles, and finished second in the final point standings. Elliott’s most lasting accomplishment that year was setting two NASCAR qualifying records, which stand to this day. At Daytona, he set the NASCAR speed record with an average speed of 210.364 mph. He broke his own record at Talladega with an average speed of 212.809 mph; the previous record he set in 1986 was 209.383 mph. In both races, he used a Ford Thunderbird which contained an engine built by his brother Ernie. However, at Talladega, Bobby Allison was spun and went airborne into the catch fence, tearing a large section away and injuring several fans. After this incident, NASCAR mandated the use of restrictor plates at Daytona and Talladega. As a result, Elliott’s speed records will likely never be broken. In 1988 Elliott won another six races, including the Southern 500 and the Pepsi Firecracker 400, six poles, and his only Winston Cup (Sprint Cup) Championship .

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Bill Elliott, 1988 Champion

Following his championship season, Elliott won two poles and three races and finished sixth in the championship standings. In 1990, Elliott won one race and two poles and finished fourth in the championship standings. In the 1990 race at Atlanta, Elliott’s rear tire changer Mike Rich was killed when Ricky Rudd lost control of his car, spun, and slammed the crew member between his car and Elliott’s. This resulted in NASCAR restricting the speed of cars on pit road. The year 1991 saw Elliott’s sponsorship change to Coors Light beer and the familiar red on the car was replaced with blue. Elliott won once in the Pepsi 400 and won two poles and finished eleventh in the championship standings during his last season with the Mellings before leaving to drive for Junior Johnson in #11.

In 2000, Elliott sold his #94 team to Ray Evernham  and began driving the #9 Dodge Intrepid in the following year.

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Elliott peels the 4 away from his #94 car, returning to #9

The team found success in his first race in the #9 Dodge, as Elliott won the pole for the 2001 Daytona 500  and finished in the top 5, bringing home a 5th place finish. Bill finished his first season with Ray Evernham Racing with two poles and a win at the Pennzoil Freedom 400 at Homestead from the pole. This was his first win in over seven years. In 2002 he won four poles and went to victory lane twice. His wins included the Pennsylvania 500, and one week later one of the most dominant victories in the history of the Brickyard 400  at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

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Elliott, 2001

His last win, in what became his final full-time season, came in 2003 at Rockingham . A week later Elliott came within a lap of winning his final race as a full-time driver in the 2003 Ford 400  at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Elliott led 189 of 267 laps and was on his way to victory, but a cut tire on the final lap gave the win to Bobby Labonte, his last win to date. He still finished the race and maintained his ninth-place position in the final points standings, his best finish since an eight-place finish in the 1997 standings. A few weeks later, Elliott announced that he was relinquishing the #9 car to Kasey Kahne and switching to a part-time schedule driving R&D cars for Evernham.

 

 

  • Elliott was replaced by rookie driver Kasey Kahne, a successful open-wheel racer just starting to gain respect in the Busch Series, who left a development contract with Ford to sign with Evernham’s Dodge team for 2004. Kahne showed promise during his first season earning three second-place finishes through the first eleven races and five on the season, including close finishes with Matt Kenseth  and Elliott Sadler. Kahne earned four pole positions and 14 top ten finishes to score a thirteenth place finish in points, winning the Rookie of the Year honors. In 2005, he won the spring Richmond  race, but finished a disappointing 23rd in the final point standings. In 2006, Kahne won six races, including the prestigious Coca-Cola 600. He also made his first Chase for the Nextel Cup, finishing 8th in the standings at the end of the season. His six wins were a series high in 2006 and he also tied for the most pole awards. In 2007, it was announced that Budweiser  would sponsor the #9 car beginning in 2008.
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Kasey Kahne, 2005

 

In 2009, Kahne scored his first road course victory at the Toyota/Save Mart 350  and won again at Atlanta, earning him a berth in the Chase. However, early misfortune at Loudon put the #9 team, now owned by Richard Petty Motorsports, out of contention for the championship, finishing 10th in points. 2010 would start the #9 team off on a high note by winning the 2nd Gatorade Duel in a photo finish. However, the team was plagued by inconsistency and was knocked out of Chase contention before Richmond. With a lack of results, Kahne departed the team before Martinsville and drove Red Bull Racing’s #83 Toyota. Kahne was replaced by Aric Almirola for the remaining 5 races, who had a best finish of 4th at Homestead. Kahne started the #9 car 247 times with 11 wins. Almirola made 5 starts.

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Kahne, 2009

 

 

  • Marcos Ambrose  took over driving duties at the beginning of the 2011 season with Stanley Black & Decker moving over from the 19 team.
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Ambrose, 2014

Ambrose had a break out year in the No. 9 Ford and drove to his first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victory at Watkins Glen  International in August. He finished the season with a career high, at the time, twelve top tens, and nineteenth in points. Ambrose returned in 2012, and once again won at Watkins Glen, but only had eight top tens. However, he did pick up one spot in points to eighteenth. He failed to win or finish in the top five in 2013 , but finished in the top ten on six occasions. He dropped to twenty-second in points. Despite another strong performace at Watkins Glen, in September 2014, Marcos  announced he would not return to RPM for 2015, and would depart from NASCAR to return to Australia and the V8 Supercar Series for Team Penske. Shortly after beginning the Super car season, Ambrose  announced that he would be stepping away from full time racing.

 

  • Roy Tyner  made 224 of his 311 Cup series starts in the #9 car including the Inaugural Daytona 500 in 1959 . In addition to being a driver, Tyner eventually became a NASCAR owner. Tyner ran his own business doing auto body repair after his driving career ended. He also worked as a show car driver for Junior Johnson’s Budweiser race team. Tyner’s death was caused by a fatal gunshot to the head while he was in the show truck that was later set on fire. Local police ruled the death a suicide, but many believe foul play was involved. The case is still a mystery to this day, but has now been ruled a homicide by an unknown assailant.
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Roy Tyner
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Tyner, 1959

 

  • Lake Speed  drove the #9 car in 103 races for the Melling team between 1995-1998.
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Lake Speed
  • Jerry Nadeau  replaced Speed and drove #9 in 38 starts from 1998-1999.
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Nadeau, 1998
  • Stacy Compton drove #9 for 30 starts between the 1999-2000 seasons. In 2001 Melling gave the #9 up to Evernham Motorsports and former driver Bill Elliott. In exchange, Evernham provided technical assistance and Dodge Intrepids to the Melling car, now #92.
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Compton, 2000
  • Tony Bettenhausen Jr.  was an Indy Car driver and USAC Stock Car driver who tried his hand at NASCAR for 25 starts in 1974. Bettenhausen’s father also a racer, was killed during practice for the 1961 Indy 500.
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Bettenhausen Jr., 1974

 

  • Herb Thomas’ Hudson Hornet only wore #9 twice, winning one of those races in 1952. Also in 1952 Herb’s brother Donald Thomas won at Atlanta’s Lakewood Speedway. At age 20, he was the youngest Cup winner until Kyle Busch. Donald started the #9 Hudson Hornet 17 times.
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Thomas typically started #92, but his car bore the #9 & #6 occassionally

 

  • Sam Hornish Jr.  will drove the #9 for RPM in 2015 in what can only be kindly described as a difficult season. Hornish managed 3 top 10s at Talladega and the 2 road course races. Hornish was replaced by Brian Scott for 2016 and the car was renumbered to #44.
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Hornish, 2015

Other notable names in #9

  • Joe Weatherly, 19 starts
  • Chad Little, 15 starts
  • Phil Parsons, 5 starts
  • Tim Flock, 4 starts
  • Tiny Lund, 5 starts
  • Smokey Yunick, 1 starts
  • Cale Yarborough, 1 start

 

In Sprint Cup Series competition the #09 car has started 260 races and has 1 win, 0 poles, 5 top 5s, 34 top 10s, and 154 DNFs. The car number has not made a start since 2011.

  • Larry Manning  has the most starts in #09 with 25 from 1963-1964. Manning earned 1 top 5 finish in the number.
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Manning

 

  • Sterling Marlin  started James Finch’s Pheonix Racing #09 in 16 races between 2007-2009.
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Marlin

 

  • Mike Bliss  made 15 starts in the Pheonix Racing car from 2009-2010.
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Mike Bliss, 2009

 

  • From 2003-2007 Mike Wallace  made 14 starts in #09 including a top 5 at the 2007 Daytona 500 .
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Mike Wallace (09), 2006

 

  • Nelson Oswald  started 14 races in #09 from 1978-1980. No pictures were found.

 

  • Bobby Labonte  stared the #09 car 14 times for Finch in 2010.
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Labonte, 2010

 

  • Johnny Sauter  drove the Finch #09 in 13 races from 2004-2005.
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Sauter, 2005

 

  • Landon Cassill  drove the Pheonix #09 in 13 races in 2010-2011.
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Cassill, 2011

 

  • Famous for #39, Friday Hassler  started #09 8 times in 1966 including 1 top 5.
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Hassler with his signature #39

 

  • Geoff Bodine  started #09 for finch a total of 7 times from 2001-2002 including a third place finish in the 2002 Daytona 500.
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Geoff Bodine, 2002

 

  • In 2009 Brad Keselowski  earned the only win the #09 has ever scored by driving James Finch’s car to a controversial victory at Talladega  after a last lap encounter with Carl Edwards. Keselowski made a total of 5 starts in the number.
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Keselowski, 2009

Other notable names in #09

  • Roy Mayne 11 starts
  • Wayne Gillette, 11 starts
  • Joe Ruttman, 7 starts
  • Bobby Hamilton Jr., 6 starts
  • Aric Almirola, 5 starts
  • Bill Elliott, 4 starts
  • Bobby Allison, 4 starts
  • Dick Trickle, 4 starts
  • Johnny Benson Jr, 4 starts
  • Elmo Langley, 2 starts
  • Scott Pruett, 2 starts
  • Ron Fellows, 2 starts
  • Wendell Scott, 1 start
  • Buckshot Jones, 1 start
  • Bobby Hamilton, 1 start
  • David Gilliland, 1 start
  • Jeremy Mayfield, 1 start
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