Counting down the top 10 moments in Nationwide
September 05, 2013, Taylor Starer, NASCAR.com
In honor of the Nationwide Series reaching its 1,000th race this weekend at Richmond International Raceway, it only seems appropriate to reflect on the moments that brought the Nationwide Series to this milestone.
Emerging from NASCAR's Sportsman division in 1950 as a short track division, the Nationwide Series has carried many titles. From being called the Late Model Sportsman series in 1968, to the NASCAR Busch Series in 1984, the series eventually advanced to featuring races on larger tracks.
Today, the Nationwide Series is known as the "minor league" of racing and a proving ground for drivers who wish to take the next step to the Sprint Cup Series. With a diverse blend of rookie and veteran drivers, the Nationwide Series has always brought thrill, excitement and suspense to spectators.
Over the last 32 years and 999 races, the Nationwide Series has seen its fair share of compelling triumphs. Here's a look into the past at the Nationwide Series' top 10 moments in history:
1982: Leave it to the late and great Dale Earnhardt to find his way to Victory Lane during the first race in what is now known as the Nationwide Series. Driving the No. 15 Wrangler Jeans Pontiac, Earnhardt started fifth and finished first, bringing home the trophy for the Goody's 300 on Feb. 13, 1982 at Daytona International Speedway.
1983: Becoming the first driver to win back-to-back championships in 1983 and 1984, Sam Ard set the bar high for fellow Nationwide Series drivers to match. In 30 years, Ard's four-race winning streak in 1983 has yet to be topped. His fourth win came on Oct. 8, 1983 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
2005: While on his way to his second consecutive series title, Martin Truex Jr. won the Nationwide Series' first points race that was held outside of the United States. Truex Jr. took home first at the inaugural race in Mexico City on March 6.
2007: Making his way into NASCAR from Formula One racing, Juan Pablo Montoya is internationally known for dabbling in a bit of everything. In 2007 Montoya became the first series driver of hispanic origin to win the seres after pushing teammate Scott Pruett aside for the win at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez in Mexico City on March 4.
2007: In what was known as one of the most controversial races, Kevin Harvick took the Aug. 8 Circuit Gilles Villeneuve inaugural race. The two-time series champion made history for two different reasons. For one, winning the first race ever featured at this location. But also, because Robby Gordon claimed to have won this race due to complications involving an on-circuit altercation with fellow driver, Marcos Ambrose.
2008: After 16 NASCAR starts, the "greatest thing since sliced bread," Joey Logano, toasted the Nationwide Series from Victory Lane at the Meijer 300 at Kentucky Speedway on June 14. This win made Logano the youngest winner in series history at just 18 years, 21 days old.
2010: Dale Earnhardt Jr. wins the Nationwide Series debut race at Daytona International Speedway on July 2. This race went down in history as the first race featuring the new NASCAR Nationwide Series models. Earnhardt Jr.'s No. 3 Wrangler Chevrolet carried the same paint scheme that his father made memorable early in his career.
2011: In 2011, Danica Patrick became the NASCAR Nationwide Series' Most Popular Driver as well as the second woman in series history to win a pole in 2012. A year prior, on March 5, Patrick earned the best finish by a woman in series history by finishing fourth at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
2011: A bizarre and interesting moment that many NASCAR fans will never forget, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Carl Edwards made history Aug. 6, 2011 at Iowa Speedway. While leading the final lap, Stenhouse Jr. blew an engine on Turn 4, but was rammed from behind by Edwards, who ended up pushing Stenhouse Jr. to the finish line for his incredible win. Later, Edwards said that he tried to avoid the collision, but couldn't because Stenhouse Jr.'s car slicked down the track with oil.
2011: On Aug. 26 2011 at the Food City 250 at Bristol Motor Speedway, Kyle Busch won his 50th race, breaking Mark Martin's record for series wins (49). Busch still holds the record for most wins in the Nationwide Series, as he notched his 60th victory on Aug. 23, 2013 at Bristol.