No. 41 – Kurt Busch: Will drive his own paint scheme from the 2003 season when he was part of one of the closest finishes in NASCAR history at Darlington Raceway, losing to Ricky Craven by 0.002 seconds. This year marks the 15th anniversary of the race.
Wood Brothers Racing announced Wednesday it will celebrate Cale Yarborough’s 1968 win in the Southern 500 in this year’s race at Darlington Raceway (Sept. 2 on NBCSN).
The paint scheme on Paul Menard‘s No. 21 Ford will be based on the 1968 Mercury Cyclone Yarborough drove to a win over David Pearson and Buddy Baker.
Yarborough’s win was his first of five in the Southern 500. The three-time Cup champion is from Timmonsville, South Carolina, located just 13 miles south of Darlington.
“He’s one of the original heroes of our sport,” team co-owner Eddie Wood said in a press release. “He got his first Southern 500 victory in our car and had a great career winning 83 races and three championships.”
Yarborough’s victory was the first of eight for the Wood Brothers at Darlington and the first of four in the Southern 500.
Details on the car include “396 Cubic Inches” lettering on the hood. At the time, NASCAR required teams to prominently post the engine size on the car.
Burton described a race in which he watched the finish from the cockpit: the 2003 Carolina Dodge Dealers 400 at Darlington Raceway in which Ricky Craven and Kurt Busch wrecked as they took the checkers.
“These guys, off turn 4 at Darlington. Just unbelievable contact, side-by-side,” Burton said. “And they kept wrecking. The race is over and they’re still wrecking. What I love about this race is the same thing we saw this past week. Both of these guys recognized they were part of an unbelievable experience.”
Kyle Busch factored into the last lap of the 2012 Finger Lakes 355 at the Glen, but he would not be part of the race to the checkers. With oil on the track from a blown engine by Bobby Labonte, Brad Keselowski ran into the back of Busch and sent him spinning. Keselowski and Marcos Ambrose battled to the checkers with Ambrose scoring his second Cup win.
Joey Gase is using his paint scheme for the Sept. 1 Xfinity race at Darlington Raceway to honor the racing career of his father, Bob Gase.
Through a fan vote last week, The Go Green Racing driver allowed his followers to choose between two paint schemes inspired by his father’s career when he raced at their home track of Hawkeye Downs Speedway in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
They could choose between a 2003 Purple & Black Modified scheme or a 1994 Blue & White Late Model.
“I couldn’t be happier to be running this scheme,” Gase said in a press release. “This is the scheme I think of the most when I think of my dads old racing days and I had a lot of fans reaching out to be saying the same.”
Gase is competing full-time this season. Through 13 races he is 20th in the standings.
His best finish is 16th at Bristol and Auto Club Speedway.
NASCAR fan prepares to attend 1,000th Cup race Sunday at Michigan
Then picture doing that activity religiously, 1,000 times from February 1963 to June 2018.
Joe Baumann is preparing fulfill that this weekend at Michigan International Speedway when he attends his 1,000th NASCAR Cup race.
Baumann, 79, is a native of Erie, Pennsylvania, and owner of a carpeting and flooring company, something his family has done since 1885.
But Baumann has made NASCAR his weekend business.
After getting out of the Navy in 1960, Baumann had his own brief racing career until life got in the way.
“I raced a couple of years in late models at our home track here in Erie,” Baumann told NBC Sports. “Went into drag racing a couple years after that. Started having a big family and that was the end of everything. I become a spectator because I figured there’s no way I can afford a family and the cost to race race cars.”
Baumann’s first time in the grandstands of a NASCAR Cup event came at the 1963 Daytona 500, when Tiny Lund won for the Wood Brothers.
“I loved what I saw when I got to Daytona,” Baumann said. “I’ll never forget it.”
Baumann has seen everything in the 998 races that have followed.
It’s documented in the couple hundred race programs that line his office and in the diary he decided to start keeping about a decade ago.
Baumann was there in 1969 when Talladega Superspeedway opened its doors for the first time.
He was also present in 1996 when North Wilkesboro Speedway said goodbye to NASCAR racing. He has “everything from the last race there,” including commemorative hats, unused tickets and the program.
Just a year before he experienced his “all-time No. 1” race.
You may have seen the highlights, but Baumann was sitting in Turn 3 of Bristol Motor Speedway the night of the 1995 Food City 500.
“Dale Earnhardt. Terry Labonte. Unfriggin’ believable,” declared Baumann, who was an Earnhardt fan. “I’ll never forget it. (Earnhardt) got black flagged at least twice, maybe three times for rough driving. They sent him to the back of the pack and oh my God, he was hell-bent to get back up front again. He did and it comes down to the last lap and they come off Turn 4 just slam banging each other, side by side and Earnhardt smashed him sideways.
“… I think the people went completely crazy. It was just phenomenal.
“That was tops.”
Baumann racked up races in the 70s, 80s and 90s while owning permanent seats at 10 tracks that hosted two races a year, including Bristol, Rockingham, North Wilkesboro, Atlanta and Talladega in addition to his visits to other tracks.
In 2004, he put a big dent in his total by attending all 36 Cup races, from Daytona to Homestead, with roughly 100 friends joining him over the course of the year.
At his peak, many race weekends saw Baumann and a group of six to 12 friends make the pilgrimage.
“Most of us worked six days a week, we’d leave Saturday night,” Baumann said. “We would leave Erie and drive straight to the track.”
One track, the one in South Carolina that’s Too Tough to Tame, really spoke to him.
Since 1964, when Buck Baker won in Baumann’s first visit to Darlington Raceway, he hasn’t missed a Southern 500.
“The people and the good-hearted racing, it was just amazing they could run 500 miles at that speed and then it had the full metal roof over the top of the whole front straightaway and that made it even worse on your ears probably,” Baumann said. “I thought, ‘I’m not going to miss one of these things.’ Back then tickets were like $10 or less and fuel was reasonable. We took a half a dozen guys, normally starting with a pickups truck, campers and things like that to go down. Motels in that day and age were few and far between. … Then my wife (Jackie, who passed away in 2015) got interested, so then her and I started going together. Next thing you know we got into motor homes and things like that. … It’s a great weekend now and everywhere we go it’s the same way. NASCAR people are just unbelievable.”
Baumann’s dedication to Darlington was rewarded last year when he was one of three people inducted into the track’s Fan Hall of Fame.
“That was pretty neat. They took care of me,” Baumann said. “The ring is like a Super Bowl ring.”
Baumann, who named his youngest daughter Allison after his favorite driver, Bobby Allison, and his youngest son Cale after Cale Yarborough, wanted his 1,000th race to come at Darlington.
But knee-replacement surgery last year shortened his schedule.
Instead, he’ll reach the 1,000 race mark Sunday with the FireKeepers Casino 400. The drive to Brooklyn, Michigan, is a much easier trip for the roughly 50 people who will camp with him for the weekend.
What festivities will there be to mark the occasion?
“My friends are full of surprises, believe me,” Baumann said. “Something’s going to happen.”