Over 21 years ago NASCAR consolidated the NASCAR Late Model Sportsman Division into a national touring series, now known as the NASCAR Nationwide Series. On February 13, 1982, the newly created division held its inaugural event – the Goody’s 300 – at Daytona International Speedway with Dale Earnhardt capturing the checkered flag.
Twenty-three champions and 136 different winners later, NASCAR’s No. 2 series will host its 1,000th race this Friday at Richmond International Raceway in the Virginia 529 College Savings 250. Richmond hosted the series’ second race, which Tommy Houston won.
The first 999 races have played host to some of the most exciting on-track action in motorsports with its unique blend of veteran drivers and those trying to earn a seat in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Many competitors who honed their driving skills in the NASCAR Nationwide Series have gone on to championship-winning careers in NASCAR’s premier series, including Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, Matt Kenseth and Brad Keselowski.
Below are just a few of the brightest highlights from the series’ first 999 races:
• October 31, 1982: Jack Ingram wins the first championship at Martinsville Speedway.
• October 28, 1984: Sam Ard wins his second of two championships, becoming the first two-time champion. Seven other drivers have since joined that list.
• July 2, 2010: The new NASCAR Nationwide Series car debuts at Daytona with Dale Earnhardt Jr. finding Victory Lane in the No. 3 Chevrolet carrying the Wrangler paint scheme made famous by his father.
• August 20, 2010: Kyle Busch wins the Food City 250 at Bristol Motor Speedway after winning the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series event two nights earlier. He would go on to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race the following evening to become the only driver to sweep all three national series events at a track in the same weekend.
• August 26, 2011: A little more than a year later, Busch returned to Bristol’s Victory Lane. This time the win marked his 50th triumph in the series surpassing Mark Martin as the all-time wins leader. Since then, Busch has added 10 more victories to his resume.