RICHMOND, VA. (AP) - NASCAR will mark a milestone at Richmond International Raceway on Friday night when the Nationwide Series waves the green flag on the 1,000th race in series history.
In the 999 races since Dale Earnhardt took the checkered flag for the inaugural race, the Goody’s 300 at Daytona on Feb. 13, 1982, there have been 23 champions and 136 race winners.
Jack Ingram was the first series champion, and Elliott Sadler will commemorate his title Friday night with a tribute paint scheme on his No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota. The paint scheme will honor the No. 11 Pontiac driven by Ingram and Ingram’s upcoming enshrinement into the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
“The NASCAR Nationwide Series always has been a perfect blend of young and veteran drivers, providing some of the most compelling and entertaining racing in motorsports,” said NASCAR President Mike Helton. “We are very pleased with the progress the series has made over the last 32 years and continues to make in terms of competition, technology and providing a truly memorable experience for its legions of fans.”
A look at some of the other milestones in series history:
_ Sam Ard became the first driver to win two titles in the series on Oct. 28, 1984, at Martinsville. Since then, seven others have joined Ard: Jack Ingram, Larry Pearson, Randy LaJoie, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kevin Harvick, Martin Truex Jr. and Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
_ Jeff Gordon captured a series-record 11th pole of the season in late October 1992 at Rockingham Speedway, the most poles by one driver in one season.
_ Nationwide Insurance became the title sponsor in 2008, renaming NASCAR’s No. 2 series the NASCAR Nationwide Series.
_ Kyle Busch won his 50th series victory at Bristol Motor Speedway to surpass Mark Martin as the all-time wins leader on Aug. 26, 2011. Busch currently has 60 series wins.
_ Kenny Wallace passed Jason Keller as the all-time series’ starts leader with 521 on November 12, 2011. Wallace’s tally of race starts currently sits at 541.
_ Stenhouse became only the sixth driver in the series to claim back-to-back titles in 2012, following Ard, Pearson, LaJoie, Earnhardt Jr. and Truex.