NASCAR Xfinity: Sam Ard passes away
Photo courtesy of ISC Archives/Getty Images
By AMANDA VINCENT
Sam Ard, a two-time champion in the NASCAR national series now known as the Xfinity Series, died in the early hours of April 2, 2017, at the age of 78 in South Carolina.
“With a heavy heart we lost Dad at 12:24 am on April 2, 2017; he passed away,” Ard’s son Robert Ard announced on Facebook Sunday. “I know that he is in great hands. Dad ran a great race in life like he did on the race track. I want to thank everyone for the loving support and prayers.”
Ard raced in what is now the Xfinity Series for only three seasons (1982-1984), the first three years the series was in existence, but in that brief amount of time, he claimed two championships (1983 and 1984) and won 22 races in 92-career starts. Injuries suffered at the end of the 1984 season forced him into retirement.
Ard put together a string of four straight wins in 1983, an Xfinity Series record that still stands. His 10-win mark in 1983 was a series record until current driver Kyle Busch recorded 13 wins in 2010.
After retiring from driving, Ard continued in the series as a car owner, fielding cars in 152 races and winning three times — twice with Jimmy Hensley as driver and one race with Jeff Burton behind the wheel.
“For many years, Sam Ard’s persona was that of a tough-as-nails racer,” a statement released by NASCAR on Sunday read. “No matter the track or the competition, he battled to the end. That fighter’s mentality lasted throughout his life, and far behind the confines of a race car. Sam battled on and off the track with the same ferocity that earned him two championships in what is today the NASCAR Xfinity Series, as well as countless victories in the Late Model Sportsman Series. NASCAR extends in deepest condolences to Sam’s family and friends. He will be dearly missed, and his memory cherished.”
Later in life, Ard sufered from Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases for many years. As a result of health costs, his family also dealt with financial hardships. Also, Ard found difficulty in working steady jobs after his brian injury suffered in his career-ending crash. Those hardships pushed Ard into selling his championship rings and grandfather clock trophies from Martinsville (Va.) Speedway.
Ard was a five-time winner at Martinsville, and it was there that he made his lone start in the Cup Series, then known as the Winston Cup Series. A steering problem retired him from the race after the first lap.