NASCAR HISTORY HIGHLIGHTS BY YEAR

1947 - In 1947, NASCAR was first formed into a private corporation. Visionary Bill France saw the potential of a unified, organized racing series and he took a bold, decisive step by announcing the formation of the National Champ­ionship Stock Car Circuit (NCSCC). This new touring series for stock car jockeys was complete with a standard set of rules, points standings and prize money. By the end of the 1947 season, attend­ance at most of the NCSCC races exceeded capacity and France knew it was time for stock car racing to expand beyond its Southern roots. He held a big NCSCC convention in Daytona Beach, appointing technical and competition committees within all factions -- drivers, mechanics, and ­owners. Louis Jerome "Red" Vogt, ace-mechanic of the era, coined the name for the new organization: National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing.

1948 - 1948 was the year the first official NASCAR-sanctioned stock car racing event took place. Drivers -- including females Sara Christian, Louise Smith, and Ethel Flock -- hit the tracks in hopped-up pre-war coupes known as "Modifieds," competing in a total of 52 races. Red Byron wins the first NASCAR-sanctioned auto race in a 1939 Modified Ford owned by Raymond Parks and tuned by Red Vogt.  A crowd of 14,000 pays $2.50 each to watch the historic moment at the Daytona Beach-Road course.  In February, Louis Ossinski, an attorney and aide to Bill France, completes the paperwork for the new stock car racing organization. NASCAR becomes incorporated.  The 1948 NASCAR championship season was full of wrecks, drama, and flair. Tragedy struck on July 25 as Slick Davis becomes the first NASCAR ­driver to be fatally injured. The tragedy happens in an event at Greensboro, N.C.  On August 15,Al Keller spanks the 48-car field in a 200-mile NASCAR Modified race at Langhorne's circular one-mile dirt track. Runner-up Buck Barr finishes 18 laps behind Keller.  The following week, NASCAR is forced to ­cancel a number of ­scheduled events due to an outbreak of polio in North Carolina.   At the end of a very close title chase, Red Byron wins the season finale at Jacksonville, Fla. Byron, winner of 11 of the 52 NASCAR-sanctioned events, edges Fonty Flock by 32.75 points to capture the inau­gural championship. Flock is the top winner, taking the checkered flag 15 times, but he finishes 32.75 points behind Byron. Byron collects $1250 in points fund earnings.

1949 - The 1949 NASCAR Strictly Stock season came about when Bill France toyed with the idea of a circuit for late-model American cars. Prior to the war, nearly every stock car race was entirely comprised of late-model sedans. But after the war, a shortage of new, postwar automobiles had delayed any serious thought of racing late models.  In January, NASCAR President Bill France promotes a 100-mile race at the new Broward Speedway. The huge two-mile speedway consists of a paved circle used as taxiways at the Ft. Lauderdale-Davie Airport. NASCAR returned to Broward Speedway in February, and a second experimental Strictly Stock Late Model race is added to the three-event racing card at Broward Speedway.  The Strictly Stock division grew a great deal of interest.  Given the interest piqued by two late-model events earlier in the season, NASCAR's Bill France scales back on his promotions of Roadster events and schedules a 200-lap, 150-mile Strictly Stock race at Charlotte Speedway in mid June.  France announced plans to conduct a "Strictly Stock" championship. Held on June 19, 1949, the race was open to the fastest 33 cars in qualifications, à la the Indianapolis 500.  More than 13,000 spectators attend the inaugural Strictly Stock National Championship race at the 3/4-mile Charlotte Speedway. Glenn Dunnaway crosses the finish line first in a 1946 Ford, but is disqualified when NASCAR inspectors find illegal springs on the former moonshine car. Jim Roper is declared the official ­winner in a Lincoln. On October 2, Lee Petty records his first NASCAR Strictly Stock victory in the 100-mile race at Heidelberg Speedway near Pittsburgh. Sara Christian finishes fifth, the best finish ever for a female driver in NASCAR's premier stock car racing division.  Seven other Strictly Stock races were staged during the 1949 season and tremendous attendance figures attested to their booming success.  On October 16, Bob Flock captures the eighth and final 1949 Strictly Stock championship race at North Wilkesboro Speedway. Red Byron is crowned the first Strictly Stock champion, finishing 117.5-points ahead of runner-up Lee Petty.  After the season ended, Promoter Sam Nunis schedules a 150-mile Strictly Stock race at Atlanta's Lakewood Speedway with the National Stock Car Racing Association (NSCRA) as the sanctioning body. NASCAR's Bill France co-promotes the event, which attracts a crowd of 33,452. Tim Flock wins in an Oldsmobile.  As the decade of the 1940s drew to a close, NASCAR's ­festival of noise and color had achieved a new level of respectability within professional motorsports.  In December, NASCAR's public relations office releases the winner of the first Most Popular Driver poll. Curtis Turner garners the most votes by NASCAR racing fans, finishing ahead of Red Byron. Other awards, via a poll of fans, went to Byron (Best Strictly Stock Car Driver), Turner (Best Modified Driver), Sara Christian (Best Woman Driver), and Joe Wolf (Outstanding Mechanic). 

1950 - In 1950, the "NASCAR Grand National Circuit" became the new title for the previous year's "Strictly Stock" racing division. Though only eight Strictly Stock races were staged in 1949, this newfangled late-model racing circuit was already a hot commodity. It became NASCAR's number-one series, replacing the Modifieds as the headlining attraction.  Automobile manufacturers began to take notice, and with accelerated research and mechanical development, were producing more powerful passenger cars with high-compression, lightweight V-8 engines for the public. The first manufacturer to really invest in NASCAR's Grand National Circuit was the Nash Motor Company. The company offered cash prizes as contingency money in a few races and promised to deliver a new Nash to the 1950 NASCAR Grand National champion. On February 5, Harold Kite drives a Lincoln to victory in the 200-mile NASCAR Grand National race at the Daytona Beach-Road course in his first start. Kite finishes 53 seconds ahead of runner-up Red Byron in the caution-free event.  Then on May 30, Bill Rexford passes Curtis Turner with 80 laps to go and wins the 200-mile NASCAR Grand National event at Canfield, Ohio. The 200-lap, 100-mile race, run opposite the Indianapolis 500, is called the "Poor Man's 500."  On June 25, Jimmy Florian scores the first NASCAR Grand National win for the Ford nameplate in the 100-mile race on the high banks of Dayton (Ohio) Speedway. Florian opts not to wear a shirt while driving in the searing-hot race.  Darlington Raceway officials officially title the 500-mile Labor Day race as the "Southern Five-Hundred." Harold Brasington also announces NASCAR will co-sanction the $25,000 race.  Raceway officials report the field will be limited to 45 cars.  In August, Twenty-one-year-old Fireball Roberts guns his Oldsmobile to victory in the 100-mile NASCAR Grand National event at Occoneechee Speedway in Hillsboro, N.C., making him NASCAR's youngest winner. Darlington Raceway officials announce that the inaugural Southern Five-Hundred field will be expanded from 45 to 75 cars.  Qualifying for the Southern 500 was a long drawn out affair.  On August 19, Curtis Turner qualifies his Oldsmobile at 82.034 mph to win the pole for the inaugural Southern Five-Hundred at Darlington Raceway. Fifteen days of qualifying will determine the 75-car field. The quickest five cars each day earn a starting berth.  On September 4, Darlington International Raceway became the first asphalt super speedway to host a NASCAR event. Johnny Mantz of Long Beach, Calif., drives a Plymouth to an overwhelming victory in the Labor Day Southern 500, nine laps ahead of runner-up Fireball Roberts. Mantz collects $10,510, the largest purse so far in stock car history.  At the end of October; the NASCAR season concluded and Lee Petty captures the NASCAR Grand National finale at Hillsboro, N.C., as 23-year-old Bill Rexford wraps up the national driving cham­pionship. Rexford edges Fireball Roberts by 110.5 points.  End of season awards saw NASCAR announces $23,024 in points fund money will be distributed to drivers in all stock car divisions based on final points standings. NASCAR Grand National champion Bill Rexford will receive $1375.

1951 - During the 1951 NASCAR Grand National season, car manufacturers became more actively involved in the sport of racing. Nash recruited and signed dynamic stars Curtis Turner and Johnny Mantz to drive Ambassadors in NASCAR Grand National competition, while Daytona winner Marshall Teague convinced Hudson to support his racing efforts by showing how winning on the NASCAR tracks would sell more Hudson cars to the public.  NASCAR announced that the NASCAR Grand National division will venture into the far west in 1951. Johnny Mantz, winner of the 500-mile race at Darlington, will be the Regional Director of NASCAR events in California. In April, Marshall Teague wins the first NASCAR Grand National event on the West Coast. Driving his Hudson Hornet, Teague leads all 200 laps at Carrell Speedway in Gardena, Calif. Frank Mundy drives a rental car to an 11th-place finish, winning $25. Mundy waited until after dark to return the car so the attendant wouldn't notice the bald tires.  On June 16, Driving a Studebaker, Frank Mundy wins the 100-mile NASCAR Grand National event on a Saturday night at Columbia Speedway in South Carolina. It is the first NASCAR Grand National event to be staged under the lights, Mundy's first career NASCAR Grand National victory, and the first win for the Studebaker nameplate.   A significant event in this formative year of NASCAR Grand National racing was Bill France's effort to convince the Detroit Junior Chamber of Commerce to book the Grand National Circuit at the Michigan State Fairgrounds. The timing was perfect as the Motor City was gearing up to celebrate its 250th anniversary in the summer of 1951.  Labor day weekend would see A record 82 cars start the 2nd annual Southern 500 at Darlington. Herb Thomas and Jesse James Taylor finish 1-2 in Hudson Hornets.  The following month A total of 106 cars compete in the NASCAR Modified and Sportsman race at Langhorne Speedway. Dick Eagan, driving in relief of Hully Bunn, is declared the winner after a crash halts the race after 83 laps. Don Black is critically injured in the massive pileup, which unfolds for more than one minute. On November 11, Tim Flock takes the lead on the 14th lap and breezes to victory in the 100-mile NASCAR Grand National event at Lakewood Speedway in Atlanta. It is the first official NASCAR race staged at the venerable one-mile oval. Two weeks later, Frank Mundy throttles his Studebaker to a win in the 150-lap NASCAR Grand National finale at Lakeview Speedway in Mobile, Ala. Bob Flock crashes his Oldsmobile in the early laps and suffers a broken neck. Herb Thomas wraps up the tightly contested NASCAR Grand National champion­ship chase by nosing out Fonty Flock by 146.2 points.  Perry Smith, owner of the Studebaker Frank Mundy drives, perishes in a private air crash near Greensburg, Ind. Smith was on a mercy mission, carrying an ill 80-year-old woman to a hospital when his Navion flew into icy weather and crashed into a rural countryside.

1952 - By the 1952 NASCAR Grand National season, NASCAR had taken its unique brand of automobile racing to the doorstep of the manufacturers' home base, and virtually every make of American car was represented in the starting grid.  On January 20, Tim Flock wins the 100-mile season opener at Palm Beach Speedway in West Palm Beach, Fla. Bernard Alvarez escapes injury when his Olds flips over and the roof caves in. NASCAR rules are amended to now require the use of steel roll bars on all race cars.  In February at the 1951 awards banquet, NASCAR distributes over $40,000 in points money at the annual Victory Dinner at the Princess Issena Hotel in Daytona Beach. Herb Thomas collects $2,264.50 for winning the 1951 NASCAR Grand National ­championship. Also a two-way radio is first used in NASCAR competition. Al Stevens, who operates a radio dispatch service in Maryland, drives in the 100-mile Modified and Sportsman race at Daytona while talking to pit boss Cotton Bennett. Stevens finishes 27th in the 118-car field and third in the Sportsman class. On July 1, The first NASCAR Grand National event staged outside the U.S. takes place at Stamford Park in Niagara Falls, Ontario. Buddy Shuman outruns Herb Thomas by two laps in the 100-mile race as Hudson Hornets finish first and second. In September, Fonty Flock, wearing bermuda shorts and a short-sleeve shirt, takes the lead just before the halfway point and motors to victory in the third annual Southern 500 at Darlington. Later that month in a race at Wilson NC, Herb Thomas averages only 35.398 mph, and takes almost three hours to complete the race. It is the slowest average speed in NASCAR Grand National history.  With its factory program running smoothly, Hudson ­domi­nated in 1952, capturing 27 of the 34 NASCAR Grand National races. No other make won more than three times. Tim Flock captured the championship in his Ted Chester-owned Hudson Hornet, winning eight races in 33 starts. Thomas ­finished a close runner-up to Flock in the title chase.  Tim Flock was featured in the Dec. 8 issue of Time magazine.

1953 - The 1953 NASCAR Grand National season was a history-maker. In January NASCAR started it procedure of drivers being required to mail entry blanks to NASCAR headquarters and speedway promoters to earn championship points. Many promoters have complained that they don't know who will compete and have been unable to properly promote their events. As a lead up to the Daytona Beach course race, NASCAR  conducts its fourth annual Victory Dinner at the Princess Issena Hotel in Daytona Beach. Lee Petty is named Most Popular Driver, the first time the award has been given out since 1949.  In the race Fonty Flock runs out of fuel on the final lap as Bill Blair drives to victory in the NASCAR Grand National event on the Beach-Road course in Daytona. It is the first NASCAR Grand National race to be determined by a last-lap pass. Exciting racing continued as in April Dick Passwater scores an upset victory in the 150-lap race at Charlotte Speedway. Five different drivers lead in the final 25 laps, and Passwater takes the lead with just three laps to go. In May Tim Flock with riding companion "Jocko Flocko," prevails in a 100-mile NASCAR Grand National event at Hickory, N.C. Jocko, a rhesus monkey, has a driver's uniform and a custom-made seat. It is the first time a NASCAR Grand National winner has a copilot. On July 4 at a Grand National event at Spartan­burg, S.C., title contender Tim Flock is run over by a car as he takes a nap in the infield. Flock's injuries will keep him out of action for several weeks. At Darlington, Buck Baker takes the lead with 10 laps remaining to win the Southern 500. It is the most competitive event in NASCAR Grand National history, with four drivers swapping the lead a record 35 times. In November, Herb Thomas wraps up the NASCAR Grand National championship with a 14th-place finish in the 100-mile finale at Atlanta's Lakewood Speedway. Thomas becomes the first driver to win two titles.  Thomas also established a new NASCAR record by winning 12 races in a single season and finished comfortably ahead of Lee Petty in the final standings. On the automobile front, Hudsons won 22 of the 37 NASCAR Grand National races. Hudson's prowess on NASCAR's speedways made the other manufacturers take notice, and by the mid 1950s, GM, Ford, and Chrysler were developing more powerful vehicles for highway use.  Later that year NASCAR announces it will have both owner and driver points standings in 1954. Team owners have complained that some drivers have failed to split the points fund money, which has always been awarded to the drivers. Points money for the owners and drivers will be identical.  They also discloses plans for a 2.5-mile superspeedway in Daytona Beach. France estimates the facility will cost $1,674,000 to build and could open as early as 1955. 

1954 - The 1954 NASCAR Grand National campaign was another one for the record books. Lee Petty was handed the win at the Daytona Beach and Road course after Tim Flock was disqualified.  In March Dick Rathmann comes from last to first to win the 125-mile race at Oakland Speedway in California. The track consists of dirt corners and paved straightaways. During preparations for the Indy 500, ASCAR president Bill France is escorted out of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway garage area. AAA chief stewart Harry McQuinn says, "We have a long-standing disagreement with NASCAR on what constitutes good racing." On June 13 The first NASCAR Grand National road course event is held on at an airport in Linden, N.J. Al Keller wins the race in a Jaguar XK-120. A total of 20 ­foreign cars compete.  It is the first time a foreign made car has won a NASCAR race.  It would be 54 years before another foreign make visited victory lane. In July, Flame-proof coveralls are made available to NASCAR drivers for $9.25 each by Treesdale Laboratories. It is the third NASCAR-specific product of the season. The $35 GenTex 70 helmet and special racing tires priced at $37.90 each from Pure Oil Co. have already been offered. Later in July, Bill France, Jr., crashes his Nash on the 25th lap of the NASCAR Short Track Division event at Bowman Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem, N.C. France, Jr., was making his second start of the season. It became the last of his career. On October 10, The recently completed Memphis-Arkansas Speedway opens to a crowd of 12,000. Buck Baker wins the 250-miler on the huge 1 1/2-mile high-banked dirt track. For 1954 Lee Petty produced one of the most consistent seasons in NASCAR history, claiming seven races and finishing in the top 10 in 32 of his 34 starts. Petty was perhaps the steadiest of the NASCAR pioneers, taking care of his equipment while attaining maximum performance. Prior to a coil burning out in the Southern 500, Petty had been running at the finish in 56 consecutive NASCAR Grand National events stretching back into the 1953 season.

1955 - The 1955 NASCAR Grand National season was pivotal for the future of NASCAR. It started when Mercury Outboard magnate Carl Kiekhaefer appeared virtually overnight with a powerful Chrysler 300. He brought the car to Daytona without a driver, but Tim Flock, who quit NASCAR in 1954 after he was disqualified from the Daytona victory, was the logical choice. A deal was struck, and Flock won the 1955 Daytona race in his first start with Kiekhaefer. Flock is declared the winner of the 160-mile Daytona Beach race when Fireball Roberts' Buick is disqualified on a technicality. Flock wins for team owner Carl Kiekhaefer, who makes his maiden voyage in NASCAR a successful one.  On March 26, Fonty Flock wheels Frank Christian's Chevrolet to victory in the 100-mile NASCAR Grand National race at Columbia, S.C. It is the first win for the Chevrolet nameplate in NASCAR's premier stock car racing series. On July 31, Tim Flock scores his record 13th win of the season in the 250-mile NASCAR Grand National race at Bay Meadows Race Track in San Mateo, Calif. It is Flock's second win in less than 24 hours.  Flock had won at Syracuse, N.Y., the night before.  By late 1955, GM and Ford were pulling out all the stops to derail the Kiekhaefer/Chrysler express. The big showdown came at Darlington's Southern 500, NASCAR's premier super speedway race and, to date, the only 500-miler. The battle of the Big Three manufacturers so captured the fancy of Southern racing fans that a frenzied peak of anticipation grew each day. All of the Darlington race grandstand seats were sold out more than 24 hours in advance.  In his fourth start since returning from injuries suffered at Charlotte in May, Herb Thomas drives to victory in the Southern 500 at Darlington. A crowd of 50,000 watches the factory-backed teams duel.  On October 30, Tim Flock leads from start to finish to score his record 18th victory of the season in the finale at Hillsboro, N.C. Flock's record-shattering 1955 performance includes 11 races in which he led from green flag to checkered flag.  Kiekhaefer Chryslers won 22 of the 39 events.

1956 - During the 1956 NASCAR Grand National season, the battle between Chevrolet and Ford escalated. The two car giants collectively spent better than $6 million to win NASCAR stock car races and sell their products to the motoring public. Despite their spending sprees, Kiekhaefer's Chryslers and Dodges still cleaned house, compiling an amazing 16-race winning streak during the early summer. On November 13 1955, Tim Flock wins the 1956 season opener at Hickory Speedway as the new campaign gets underway early. Many season that years first races were actually at the end of the previous year. Former NASCAR star Buddy Shuman, recently appointed head of Ford's NASCAR fac­tory effort, tragically dies in a hotel fire the night before the race. On December 11, Joe Weatherly and Jim Reed, the first two finishers in the 100-mile race at West Palm Beach, are both disqualified for technical violations. Herb Thomas is declared the official winner. In February, Tim Flock outruns and ­outlasts a huge 76-car field to score his second straight win in the Daytona Beach NASCAR Grand National event.  In April, Tim Flock racks up his third win of the season at North Wilkesboro, N.C., then surprises the racing world by quitting the championship Kiekhaefer Chrysler team. Buck Baker will replace Flock in the coveted ride.  On May 6, Speedy Thompson drives a Kiekhaefer Chrysler to victory in the 100-mile race at Concord, N.C. It marks the fourth consecutive NASCAR Grand National event that the Kiekhaefer team has swept the top two spots.  On June 3, Herb Thomas scores an easy win in the 100-mile event at Merced, Calif., giving the Carl Kiekhaefer team its 16th consecutive NASCAR Grand National victory. It is a record that will likely live forever in the NASCAR record book.  Then on July 4, Fireball Roberts records his first superspeedway triumph in the 250-miler at Raleigh Speedway. Carl Kiekhaefer files a protest against the weight of Roberts' flywheel. No scales are available at the speedway, so NASCAR officials take the flywheel to a local fish market to be weighed. Roberts' win is upheld by NASCAR. On August 4, Lee Petty dismounts his car in disgust on the 32nd lap, climbs the flagstand, grabs the red flag from the official starter, and waves the scheduled 100-mile NASCAR Grand National race at Tulsa, Okla., to a halt. Dusty conditions blinded the drivers and Petty acted on his own to prevent a catastrophe. The race is never completed or rescheduled.  Later that month on August 12, Tim Flock, with his Mercury's windshield wipers flapping, drives to victory in the 258-mile NASCAR Grand National event at Elkhart Lake's Road America. NASCAR's first appearance in Wisconsin goes off on ­schedule despite a steady rain. On September 30, Curtis Turner is declared the winner of the scheduled 100-mile NASCAR Convertible race at Asheville-Weaverville Speedway when a 14-car crash wipes out all but one car running in the event. Turner's Ford is the only car still in running condition when officials terminate the event after 181 of the scheduled 200 laps. Then on October 23, Buck Baker's Kiekhaefer Chrysler tiptoes around a nasty crash involving former Kiekhaefer teammate Herb Thomas and wins the 100-mile race at Shelby, N.C. Speedy Thompson, also member of the Kiekhaefer team, triggers the crash, which leaves Thomas gravely injured. Baker pulls to within 118 points of Thomas with three races remaining. One of the most peculiar doubleheader days in NASCAR history occurred on November 11. Speedy Thompson wins the 100-mile race at Hickory and Marvin Panch wins the same-day event at Lancaster, Calif.  Curiously, Thompson's win counts as a 1956 race, while Panch's triumph is ­considered the opener of the 1957 NASCAR Grand National season. A week later, Buck Baker is declared the winner of the 1956 season finale at Wilson, N.C.  Joe Weatherly clearly reaches the checkered flag first, but Baker is the first to pass the scoring stand located near turn one.  Baker also wraps up the 1956 NASCAR Grand National championship by 704 points over Herb Thomas.  Near the end of the 1956 season, Kiekhaefer withdrew from NASCAR. Though his teams had performed splendidly, they were constantly booed by spectators and always under the watchful eyes of NASCAR inspectors. Kiekhaefer could never understand why his efforts weren't appreciated and he got out of NASCAR as suddenly as he had arrived.

1957 - For the 1957 NASCAR Grand National season, Kiekhaefer's departure left Chrysler without a top-ranked team. The MoPar unit quickly patched together a team, but Chrysler was far behind Chevrolet and Ford, both of whom were spending millions on their racing efforts. Each car manufacturer had swarms of press agents to beat the drums of publicity in newspapers, magazines, radio, and television.  Fuel-injected engines and superchargers were available to the public, and, therefore, eligible for NASCAR competition.  On December 30 1956, Fireball Roberts leads a 1-2-3-4 sweep for Peter DePaolo Fords in the 90-mile NASCAR Grand National race on the Titusville-Cocoa Airport runways in Florida. The DePaolo Engineering team is managed by master mechanic John Holman.  Years later Holman would team up with Ralph Moody to form the powerful Holman-Moody race team.  On February 17, Cotton Owens drives the Ray Nichels Pontiac to victory in the Daytona Beach NASCAR Grand National event, recording the first NASCAR win for the Pontiac nameplate.  On Thursday, June 6, 1957, heads of several car companies, sitting as directors of the Automobile Manufacturers Asso­ciation, unanimously recommended that the industry take no part in, or assist in any way, automobile races or other competitive events that emphasized speed or horsepower.  When the resolution came down, the automotive industry retreated from NASCAR stock car racing.  The directors of the Automobile Manufacturers Association soon became disturbed about the excessive advertising of brute horsepower -- the nation's highways had become lethal with record numbers of fatalities.  The unlimited gravy train of racing goodies from Detroit and Dearborn to the Southern racing teams dramatically slowed down, but most teams had the resources to finish out the 1957 season.  On September 2, Speedy Thompson wins the Southern 500, aver­aging 100.094 mph. It is the first Southern 500 to average better than 100 mph. Bobby Myers is fatally injured in a three-car crash on the 28th lap. On October 12, just 900 spectators watch Fireball Roberts wheel his Ford to victory in the 100-mile NASCAR Grand National race at Newberry Speedway in South Carolina. To this day, it remains the smallest trackside attendance in NASCAR history. At the end of the month, Buck Baker wraps up his second straight NASCAR Grand National champion­ship campaign by wheeling his Chevrolet to a win in the 250-lap season finale at Central Carolina Fairground in Greensboro, N.C. Baker beats Marvin Panch in the title hunt with his 10th win of the ­season.  Finally on November 27, the first spade of dirt is turned on the tract of land that will become the Daytona International Speedway. After nearly five years, the red tape has been cleared to proceed with the construction of the world's most modern racing facility.

1958 - At the start of the 1958 NASCAR Grand National season, car manufacturers faced the Automobile Manufacturers Association 1957 ban on active participation in auto racing -- but they were itching to get back into the sport. To abide by the AMA resolution, yet still get the latest equipment into the hands of NASCAR competitors, manufacturers found they just had to be a little more discreet. John Holman said his newly arrived 1958 Fords were the courtesy of 32 Carolina Ford dealerships, not the Ford factory. Jim Rathmann, who owned a Chevrolet dealership in Florida, found himself surrounded with Chevrolet's latest high-speed equipment and some of the first 1958 sheet metal. Pontiac was well-represented too, with the addition of Smokey Yunick to its team. Forty-nine cars showed up for the 1958 Daytona Beach NASCAR Grand National race and the season never broke stride. Fifty-one events comprised the 1958 NASCAR Grand National campaign, and a pair of 500-milers at Trenton, N.J., and Riverside, Calif., were added to the slate.  On February 23, Paul Goldsmith drives Smokey Yunick's Pontiac to victory in the 160-mile NASCAR Grand National race on Daytona's Beach-Road course. The event is the final NASCAR race staged on the picturesque 4.1-mile course on the shore.  On March 2; four days after the race: Lee Petty is declared the winner of the 100-mile NASCAR Grand National at Concord Speedway despite protests from Curtis Turner and Speedy Thompson, the apparent top two finishers. Scorecard data indicates that Petty finishes the 200 laps first although Turner starts on the pole and leads the entire ­distance.  On May 30, Fireball Roberts drives his Chevrolet to a big win in the 500-mile NASCAR Grand National race at Trenton, N.J. The race is the first 500-miler staged north of Darlington.  On July 18, Richard Petty makes his first career NASCAR Grand National start in the 100-lap race at Toronto's Canadian National Exposition Speedway. The 21-year-old Petty finishes 17th in the 19-car field after hitting the fence on the 55th lap.  On September 1, Fireball Roberts takes his fourth win of the NASCAR Grand National season at Darlington's Southern 500. Roberts has now won four of his seven starts during the 1958 ­campaign.  On October 26, Junior Johnson edges Fireball Roberts by a whisker to win the NASCAR Grand National season finale at Atlanta's Lakewood Speed­way. Lee Petty captures the championship over Buck Baker.

1959 - The 1959 NASCAR Grand National season was full of excitement as the very first Daytona 500 was held on a massive new, 2.5-mile speedway in Daytona Beach. The Feb. 22 show turned out to be better than a Hollywood production. For 500 miles, devoid of a single caution period, America's finest machinery battled around the new Daytona Inter­national Speedway in dizzying fashion. Speeds were alarming -- certainly faster than any stock car had gone and within a whisker of the top speeds turned at Indy. In the late stages, the race boiled down to a three-car struggle between Lee Petty's Oldsmobile, Johnny Beauchamp's Thunderbird, and Joe Weatherly's Chevy. The finish was so close Bill France stepped in to announce the results were "unofficial" until all available evidence could be studied in the form of photos and film. After 61 hours, Lee Petty was declared the official winner, by about one foot. Petty averaged 135.521 mph, 33 mph faster than any other NASCAR Grand National race. The Daytona 500 was an electric success that generated more publicity than any other stock car race to that point in his­tory. A track-side audience of 41,921 watched as NASCAR stock car racing was about to venture into a whole new chapter of ultra-fast speedways.  On March 29, Junior Johnson wins the 100-miler at Wilson Speedway in North Carolina for his first win of the 1959 season. Less than an hour before the race, the wooden grandstand catches on fire and burns to the ground. No one is injured, but the 8,000 spectators have to watch the race while standing along the catch fence. On May 2, Junior Johnson rolls his Ford in practice, but drives the hastily repaired machine to victory in the 100-mile NASCAR Grand National race at Hickory Speedway. Johnson finishes two laps ahead of runner-up Joe Weatherly.  On June 14, Richard Petty finishes first in the 100-miler at Atlanta's Lakewood Speedway, but is protested by the second-place finisher, who happens to be his father Lee. After NASCAR officials study the scorecards, Lee is ­officially declared the winner with Richard second.  On July 29,Groundbreaking ceremonies for the new Charlotte Motor Speedway take place on a sultry summer morning. The new speedway will be built by Curtis Turner and Bruton Smith, and the first race is scheduled for May 1960.  Two days later, Ned Jarrett records his first NASCAR Grand National win in the 100-miler at Myrtle Beach, S.C. Jarrett had purchased the car only a couple of days earlier with a postdated check that wouldn't clear the bank until the Monday after the race.  Jim Reed would win this years Southern 500; and at the same time gives Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. its first NASCAR win on a superspeedway.  October 25 saw Jack Smith wins the 1959 NASCAR Grand National finale at Concord, N.C., for his fourth win of the season. Rather than accepting a winner's check for $1,500, Smith elects to take home a new 1960 Ford offered by promoter Bruton Smith. Lee Petty wraps up his third championship.

1960 - By the 1960 NASCAR Grand National season, work had already begun on new super-tracks in Atlanta, Charlotte, and Hanford, Calif. NASCAR had also found its way into the electronic media with CBS Sports' live telecast of three preliminary races during the Daytona Speedweeks. The CBS television network sends a skeleton production crew to Daytona International Speed­way to televise the pole position and compact car races during the opening of Speedweeks. Bud Palmer is the anchorman for the first live telecast of NASCAR stock cars.  In the qualifying race, Herman Beam becomes the first driver to be black-flagged in a NASCAR event at Daytona International Speedway. Race officials notice that Beam forgot to put on his helmet before the Twin 100-mile qualifying race. NASCAR officials park Beam for the remainder of the race.  The in the Daytona 500, Junior Johnson passes a spinning Bobby Johns with nine laps remaining and hustles to victory in the second annual race. Driving a 1959 Chevrolet Impala, Johnson beats a record 68-car field and wins $19,600.  Two weeks later a young Richard Petty scores the first win of his career in the 100-mile NASCAR Grand National event at the Charlotte Fairgrounds Speedway.  On March 27, Lee Petty finishes first in the controversial 100-mile race at North Wilkesboro (N.C.) Speedway. Petty bumps his way past Junior Johnson with 14 laps remaining to claim his 49th career NASCAR Grand National win. Petty is pelted with rocks and debris in ­victory lane. The victory makes Petty the top race winner in NASCAR ­history, surpassing 48-time-winner Herb Thomas.  With NASCAR races beginning to show up on the tube in American homes, the automobile industry realized the Automobile Manufacturers Association 1957 ban on participation was hindering their efforts in promotions, sales, and performance. Factory representation in NASCAR was on a dramatic rise by 1960, although all members of the AMA said publicly that they were still adhering to the original guidelines of the 1957 resolution. Ford and General Motors even hired individuals to spy on each other. On June 19, unheralded Joe Lee Johnson gallops to a four-lap victory in the inaugural World 600 at the new Charlotte Motor Speedway. Jack Smith, who had built a five-lap lead, sees his hopes dashed when a piece of debris slices a hole in his fuel tank.  On July 31 at another of the new super speedways, Fireball Roberts wheels Smokey Yunick's Pontiac to victory in the Dixie 300 at the new Atlanta International Raceway.  Tragic events unfolded at this years Southern 500.  Buck Baker is declared the winner of the tragic Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway. Three men in the pits, including crew chief Paul McDuffie, are killed when Bobby Johns' Pontiac careens into the backstretch pit area.  On October 30, Bobby Johns drives Cotton Owens' Pontiac to his first career NASCAR Grand National victory in the inaugural Atlanta 500 at Atlanta Inter­national Raceway. Rex White finishes fifth and is officially declared the 1960 NASCAR Grand National champion.  In 1960, GM won 20 NASCAR Grand National events, including the Daytona 500, Charlotte's World 600, and the NASCAR Grand National championship. Ford won 15 times, while Chrysler's conservative effort with the Petty Engineering camp scored nine wins.

1961 - In the 1961 NASCAR Grand National season, General Motors continued winning, taking 41 races in all. Pontiac won 30 and Chevrolet won 11, but Ford won only seven times. Chrysler managed to win four short-track events. Also in 1961, ABC's Wide World of Sports began to televise a number of the major super speedway races in a tape-delayed format. On Saturday afternoon, a half-hour or so of edited highlights of the 1961 NASCAR Grand Nationals were beamed into American homes. New Fords, Pontiacs, Chevrolets, and Plymouths were performing on a speedy stage in the living rooms of a car-buying public. Pontiacs were winning most of the races aired on tele­vision. Not surprisingly, Pontiac sales showed a brisk increase. Soon, Pontiac ranked third in automobile sales in the United States, a position that could be directly attributed to lofty results on NASCAR tracks.  February 24 would see Fireball Roberts and Joe Weatherly share victory lane in Daytona's crash-marred Twin 100-mile qualifying races. Lee Petty is badly injured when he sails over the guardrail in the second event. Richard Petty sprains his ankle after soaring over the rail in the opening 100-miler.  Lee Petty suffered multiple life-threatening injuries.  In the 500, Marvin Panch takes the lead 13 laps from the finish and wins the third annual Daytona 500. Panch cruises into first place when teammate Fireball Roberts blows his engine while holding a ­commanding lead.  May 28 saw Sophomore driver David Pearson scores his first career win in the second annual World 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Pearson crosses the finish line on three wheels after blowing a tire with just over a lap to go. Pearson's victory comes in his first start with crew chief Ray Fox.  On August 8, Curtis Turner announces that "most of the NASCAR drivers" have joined the Teamsters Union and the Federation of Professional Athletes. NASCAR president Bill France says, "No known union member can compete in a NASCAR race, and I'll use a pistol to enforce it."  Three days later, Fireball Roberts withdraws from the Teamsters Union. "The more I thought about it [joining the union], the more I realized that we could possibly accomplish more harm than good for racing." Roberts is reinstated by NASCAR upon his resignation. Rex White and Ned Jarrett also submit resignations and are permitted to resume racing.   On August 13, Junior Johnson is declared the winner of the shortened Western North Carolina 500 at Asheville-Weaverville Speedway. The race is halted after 258 laps due to a deteriorating track. About 4,000 angry spectators create a mob scene and hold the drivers and team owners hostage in the infield for nearly four hours.  Two days after the race,  NASCAR president Bill France bans Curtis Turner and Tim Flock "for life" from all NASCAR racing. Turner and Flock are the only two drivers who refuse to abandon the Teamsters Union project.  IN the annual labor day classic; the Southern 500; Rookie Nelson Stacy becomes the 19th different winner of the season by passing Marvin Panch with seven laps remaining to win the storied Southern 500 at Darlington.  October 29 sees Joe Weatherly dominates the season finale at Orange Speedway in Hillsboro, N.C., for his ninth win of the season. Ned Jarrett, winner of only one race during the season, is declared the NASCAR Grand National champion. Jarrett beats seven-time winner Rex White

1962 - Early in the 1962 NASCAR Grand National season, General Motors was racking up impressive numbers in the victory column. GM won 18 of the first 20 races, 12 by Pontiac. Plymouth scored twice and Ford had a big zero. In June 1962, Ford Motor Co. president Henry Ford II announced his company was stepping out of the 1957 Automobile Manufacturers Association ban on NASCAR participation and would actively -- and publicly -- be involved in NASCAR racing. NASCAR president Bill France greeted the Ford announce­ment with enthusiasm and approval. Veteran driver Buck Baker, who won the 1956 and 1957 NASCAR Grand National championships while a member of factory teams, said a full-scale return to racing by the factory teams would mean "a better sport, better equipment, better pay, and a better show. All the top drivers would be bid for, just like baseball players."  Fireball Roberts leads 144 of the 200 laps in his overwhelming triumph in the fourth annual Daytona 500. Roberts caps off a ­perfect Speedweeks, winning the American Challenge invitational event for winners of 1961 events, the pole position for the 500, the Twin 100-mile qualifier, and the Daytona 500.  In May, Nelson Stacy, driving a Ford, overtakes David Pearson with eight laps to go and scores a big victory in the third annual World 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Pearson is headed for his second straight 600 win when the engine in his Pontiac blows in the final laps.  On June 16, Veteran driver Johnny Allen scores his first career NASCAR Grand National victory in the 50-mile race at Bowman Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem. Allen edges Rex White by six inches, then crashes over the wall after taking the checkered flag. There is more damage to Allen's Pontiac than the winner's prize of $580 will cover.  Fireball Roberts continues his mastery of Daytona International Speedway by winning the Firecracker 250. Speedway officials announce the July 1963 race will be lengthened to 400 miles.  At Darlington, Larry Frank is declared the winner of the Southern 500 almost five hours after the checkered flag dropped in the Labor Day event. Junior Johnson had been flagged the winner, but after a check of the scorecards, Frank is given credit for his first NASCAR Grand National win.  The season concluded at Atlanta where Rex White drives his Chevrolet into the lead three laps from the finish and nips Joe Weatherly in a frantic duel to win the Dixie 400 at Atlanta. The win is White's first on a superspeedway. Weatherly wraps up his first NASCAR Grand National championship in the season finale.

1963 - For the 1963 NASCAR Grand National season, NASCAR established a new set of rules to address the potential of unlimited engineering by the factories. For one, a 428 cubic inch limit on engine displacement was put into effect. By limiting the cid, NASCAR could keep the factories in check and keep the present components from becoming obsolete. Regardless, Ford started the 1963 Grand National campaign with a bang, finishing 1-2-3-4-5 in the celebrated Daytona 500.  Tiny Ling picked the surprise win.  Lund had come to Daytona without a ride; but Marvin Panch crashed in testing and his car burst into flames.  Lund was there and drug him out of his burning machine and saved his life.  From his hospital bed; he told his team owners (Wood Brothers) that he wanted Lund to drive his car in the 500; and Lund drove to victory.  Fireball Roberts and Joe Weatherly, who had been the dominant drivers for Pontiac in 1961 and 1962, simply couldn't keep up with the speedier Fords and Chevys. In the meantime, "Golden Boy" Fred Lorenzen, the lead driver for the Holman-Moody Ford team, was racking up big prizes and collecting lots of handsome trophies for his deeds in speed.  By mid-season, Fireball Roberts and Joe Weatherly had abandoned the sinking Pontiac ship and joined Ford -- Roberts was a teammate with Lorenzen, and Weatherly in the Bud Moore Mercury effort.  In June Fred Lorenzen takes the lead with four laps to go and wins the World 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Junior Johnson's bid for victory is foiled when he blows a tire while holding a narrow lead over Lorenzen.  Cagey Fireball Roberts swoops under Fred Lorenzen on the final lap and wins the frantic Firecracker 400 at Daytona. Roberts edges Lorenzen and Marvin Panch in a three-car finish. The lead changes hands 39 times among six drivers.  Two weeks later Glen Wood edges Ned Jarrett to win the 200-lap NASCAR Grand National race at Bowman Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem, N.C. Lee Petty, ­making his first start since his bad accident at Daytona in 1961, finishes a strong fourth. In the Southern 500, Fireball Roberts breezes into the lead in the late stages to grab the win at Darlington. Roberts averages a record 129.784 mph in the caution-free event, the only nonstop Southern 500 in history. Third-place finisher Fred Lorenzen tops the $100,000 mark for season earnings, making him the first to reach six digits in winnings.  The Wilkes 250 in September saw Marvin Panch, on the comeback trail after suffering serious injuries at Daytona in February, wheel the Wood Brothers Ford to victory in the Wilkes 250 at North Wilkesboro Speedway. Panch leads the final 49 laps to score his first win since the 1961 Daytona 500. Darel Dieringer posts a major upset by driving his Bill Stroppe Mercury to victory in the season finale at Riverside, Calif. It is Dieringer's first NASCAR Grand National win. Joe Weatherly, who drives for nine different teams during the course of the season, is the NASCAR Grand National champion claiming his second championship in a row.

1964 - As the curtain lifted for the 1964 NASCAR Grand National season, Chrysler was loaded for bear.  The Plymouths and Dodges were more streamlined aerodynamically and packed with a bundle of horsepower, but Chrysler dusted off an idea from the early 1950s and came up with a "new" engine -- the 426 Hemi. Cars could now travel up to 175 mph, but with the increased speeds came increased danger, and the unlimited horsepower race exacted a heavy toll. It would turn out to be a tragic year. The season started in December and it saw Wendell Scott become the first African-American driver to win a race in NASCAR's premier division.  The win came at Jacksonville Raceway Park. Scott retired in 1973 due to injuries suffered in an accident at Talladega Superspeedway.  As of the beginning of 2019 Scott is still the only driver to win at the Cup level. Then at Riverside Dan Gurney lapped the field and easily and wins the Riverside 500. Joe Weatherly, two-time defending NASCAR Grand National champion, loses his life when he crashes into a concrete wall in the late stages.  In the Daytona 500, driving a potent Plymouth with the new Hemi engine, Richard Petty leads 184 of the 200 laps to win the Daytona 500 going away. Plymouths run 1-2-3 at the ­finish. The triumph is Petty's first on a super speedway.  Jim Paschal wins Charlotte's World 600 to post his first career superspeedway victory. Tragedy struck again however, as NASCAR great Fireball Roberts is near death after a fiery pile-up on the eighth lap.  Roberts suffered second- and third-degree burns over eighty percent of his body and was airlifted to a hospital in critical condition. Roberts was able to survive for several weeks, and it appeared he might pull through, but he took a turn for the worse on June 30, 1964. He contracted pneumonia and sepsis and had slipped into a coma by the next day. Roberts died from his burns on July 2.  Roberts' death, as well as the deaths of Eddie Sachs and Dave McDonald at the Indianapolis 500, six days after Roberts' crash, led to an increase in research for fire-retardant uniforms. It also led to the development of the Firestone RaceSafe fuel cell, and all race cars today use a foam-backed fuel cell to prevent fuel spillage of the massive degree that Roberts had.  After Roberts' death, NASCAR mandated that all drivers wear flame retardant coveralls while on track. They also instituted the five point safety harness, and the special, contoured drivers seat.  Fresh off of winning this years Indy 500, A.J. Foyt nips Bobby Isaac at the finish of Daytona's Firecracker 400. Foyt and Isaac are in Dodges prepared by Ray Nichels. Foyt and Isaac swap the lead 16 times in the final 56 laps.  On July 19, Billy Wade wheels his Mercury to his fourth straight win in the 150-miler at Watkins Glen. Wade, the 1963 Rookie of the Year, is the first driver to win four consecutive NASCAR Grand National races. Fred Lorenzen won five straight starts earlier in the year, but not in consecutive races.  The Southern 500 saw Richard Petty win the pole and lead a race high 252 laps; but it would be Buck Baker who claimed the win.  It would be the final win of Bakers career.  In September, Team owner Cotton Owens ends his retirement as a driver and wins the Capital City 300 at Richmond, beating his hired driver David Pearson by a full lap.  On September 20 tragedy would again rear it's ugly head as Jimmy Pardue dies in a tire-test crash at Charlotte Motor Speedway.  Ned Jarrett won the ­season finale at Jacksonville, N.C. It is Jarrett's 15th win of the season. Richard Petty wraps up his first NASCAR Grand National champion­ship. The Jackson­ville event is the 62nd race of the campaign, the most races ever staged during a single NASCAR season.

1965 - On October 19, 1964, NASCAR issued new rules for the 1965 NASCAR Grand National campaign designed to curb speeds and increase the focus on safety. The engine displacement remained unchanged, but special limited edition engines were banned, including the Chrysler Hemi. Chrysler packed up and pulled out of NASCAR in protest. Richard Petty would not defend his championship, and top contenders David Pearson, Paul Goldsmith, Bobby Isaac, Jim Paschal, and LeeRoy Yarbrough were on the sidelines. It was a season marked by protest, controversy and more tragedy.  On January 5, Billy Wade is killed during a tire test at Daytona. Wade had replaced the late Joe Weatherly on the Bud Moore Mercury team who had been killed the previous season.  The Daytona 500 saw Fred Lorenzen wins the rain-shortened race, finishing a lap ahead of runner-up Darel Dieringer. Fords and Mercurys take the top 13 positions as the factory Chrysler team continues its boycott. Two weeks later Ned Jarrett wins the 100-mile race at Spartanburg by an incredible 22 laps. Only 16 cars start the race. Independent driver G.C. Spencer finishes second despite only completing 178 of the 200 laps.  During the Chrysler boycott Richard Petty went drag racing. On Feb 28, Petty loses control of his 1965 Plymouth Barracuda drag car at a dragstrip in Dallas, Georgia. The car veers into a group of spectators, killing an eight-year-old boy.  Fred Lorenzen would battle little know Earl Balmer and win the World 600 by just six seconds. On July 25, Ned Jarrett edges Dick Hutcherson to win Bristol's Volunteer 500. It is the 32nd consecutive victory for Ford, an all-time NASCAR Grand National record. Richard Petty returns to NASCAR Grand National racing as NASCAR relaxes the rules against the Hemi engine on short tracks.  On July 31, Following a meeting with concerned promoters, Bill France lifts the lifetime ban on Curtis Turner. Turner plans to enter selected NASCAR Grand National events for the first time since 1961.  Turner was a fan favorite and his ban was hurting race attendance. Title-bound Ned Jarrett wins the Southern 500 at Darlington. Jarrett crosses the finish line 14 laps (19.25 miles) ahead of runner-up Buck Baker, the largest margin of ­victory (in miles) in NASCAR Grand National history. Rookie Buren Skeen is fatally injured in a lap-three crash.  On October 17, Fred Lorenzen wins at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Lorenzen outruns Dick Hutcherson, A.J. Foyt, and Curtis Turner in what is regarded as a "race for the ages." Harold Kite, the 1950 Daytona winner who was ending a nine-year retirement, loses his life in a multi-car crash on lap two. On October 31, Curtis Turner returns from exile by winning the inaugural American 500 at the new North Carolina Motor Speedway. Turner wheels his Wood Brothers Ford to a narrow victory over upstart driver Cale Yarborough.  In November Ned Jarrett outruns Bobby Isaac to win the 100-mile race at Dog Track Speedway in Moyock, N.C. Jarrett's 13th win of the season helps him wrap up his second ­champion­ship.

1966 - The 1966 NASCAR season was marked by the re-introduction of Chrysler's legendary Hemi engine and Ford's departure from the sport. With less competition and more power than ever, Chrysler was a frequent visitor to the winner's circle early in the season, though Ford's boycott took a big bite out of attendance. By the end of the season, Ford had realized that without NASCAR performances, sales were suffering, and so returned to the speedways in force.  In this seasons Daytona 500, Richard Petty overcomes a two-lap deficit and wins the Daytona 500 in a runaway. Petty is a full lap in front of runner-up Cale Yarborough when a thunderstorm halts the race after 198 of the scheduled 200 laps. On April 7, David Pearson wins the 100-mile race at Columbia, S.C., as Ford announces its factory teams will boycott the NASCAR Grand National season in a dispute over engine rules.  On April 30, Richard Petty dominates the Rebel 400 at Darlington, finishing three laps ahead of runner-up Paul Goldsmith. The Ford boycott has a telling effect on the attendance as only 7000 spectators show up, plus 5000 Boy Scouts, who are admitted free.  In May, Marvin Panch quits the Ford camp and drives a Petty Engineering Plymouth to victory in Charlotte's World 600. Only 11 cars in the field of 44 finish the race.  Meanwhile in June, Independent driver Elmo Langley steers his Ford to victory in the 100-mile NASCAR Grand National race at Spartan­burg, S.C. Langley leads the final 40 laps to score his first NASCAR win.  In the Firecracker 400, sophomore Sam McQuagg wheels the Nichels Engineering Dodge Charger to his first career win in the Daytona Firecracker 400. McQuagg's slope-backed Dodge is equipped with a strip of aluminum on the rear deck to make the car more stable. It is the first NASCAR Grand National race to permit cars equipped with "spoilers."  Funny event in August in a 100 mile race at Columbia SC.  David Pearson scores his 12th win of the season, meanwhile Curtis Turner finishes third in Junior Johnson's Ford while wearing a three-piece business suit. Turner says sponsor Holly Farms "wanted me to wear a suit, but they didn't specify what kind. So I wore my best."  In the Southern 500, 65,000 people, came and saw a battle between Richard Petty and Darel Dieringer.  The last 170 laps saw the duo duel hammer and tong with many lead changes as Dieringer pulled off the win.  Three weeks later in the Old Dominion 500, Fred Lorenzen is flagged the winner of the Old Dominion 500 at Martinsville, but has his victory stripped due to an oversized fuel tank. Three days later, NASCAR reverses its decision and restores Lorenzen's ­victory, even though the fuel cell in his Ford held 23.1 gallons of fuel, 1.1 ­gallons too many. NASCAR announces that since the fuel cell in question was bought directly from a Firestone dealer, the spirit of the rules wasn't encroached.  In the season finale, Fred Lorenzen outruns a star-studded field to win the American 500 at Rockingham. Ned Jarrett and Junior Johnson, who have both won 50 NASCAR Grand National races, compete in their final race. Jarrett ­finishes third while Johnson comes home fifth.  David Pearson would wheel his Cotton Owens Ford to his first Championship.

1967 - By 1967, the car makers were back in the NASCAR Grand National chase in full force. At Daytona, more than 80 cars filed into the big speedway, and all factory teams were on hand with the exception of General Motors. A record crowd of 94,250 paid to attend the Daytona 500, which was won in 1967 by Mario Andretti. The excitement at Daytona set the tone for the rest of the thrilling season.  Andretti's story is an interesting one.  Some Holman-Moody crew members didn't like the Indy car transplant coming down into NASCAR and racing. They gave him the least powered motors and he caught on.  Andretti confronts them about what was happening and was told "all the motors are the same"  SO he said "Good, you won't have a problem swapping the motor I have for a different one.  Andretti took his motor and lead the final 33 laps and wins the Daytona 500. It is Andretti's first NASCAR Grand National win.  Richard Petty was strong this season.  In May,  Petty guides his Plymouth to victory in the Darlington Rebel 400, finishing a lap ahead of David Pearson. It is Petty's 55th career NASCAR Grand National win, putting him first on the all-time victory list. Ford star Fred Lorenzen retires before the race, giving up his seat in the Holman-Moody Ford to Pearson. Pearson would again see his Holman-Moody car finish second.  This time in the World 600 as he was beat out by Jim Paschal with a narrow five second win.  In August, Richard Petty hustles his Plymouth to another win in the 250-lapper at Bowman Gray Stadium. The triumph is Petty's 19th of the season, breaking Tim Flock's record of 18 wins during the 1955 campaign.  Petty would claim another win; this time in the Southern 500, beating David Pearson by five laps.  Then in October, with several of the top racing officials from Ford Motor Co. looking on, Richard Petty continues his phenomenal winning streak by taking the Wilkes 400 at North Wilkesboro Speedway. Petty scores his record-shattering 10th consecutive victory, a feat that might never be topped.  As the season wound down, Bobby Allison prevailed in a bumper-grinding shootout with Richard Petty to win the season finale at Asheville-Weaverville Speedway. Petty wraps up the NASCAR Grand National championship by a huge margin over runner-up James Hylton.

1968 - The 1968 NASCAR Grand National season would pit the sleek Ford Torino and Mercury Cyclone models against the brute horsepower of Chrysler's Hemi. General Motors was still on the sidelines, staying out of racing because it feared violating federal safety standards. The Fords and Caleb Yarborough's lone Mercury were the top dogs on the super speedways, while Richard Petty's Ford racked up wins on the short tracks. Ford scored in nine of the 12 major races on big tracks. The excitement of the season gave NASCAR a needed boost in popularity among fans as well.  As the season kicked off, on November 12, 1967; Bobby Allison wins the 1968 NASCAR Grand National season opener at Middle Georgia Race­way in Macon. An elaborate moonshine operation is discovered beneath the track. Peach County Sheriff Reggie Mullis calls it, "one of the most well-built moonshine stills ever operated." Cale Yarborough wins the Daytona 500 by less than a second over LeeRoy Yarbrough.  The first of four.  Buddy Baker would win a rain shortened World 600.  A crown of 60,00 saw 255 of 400 laps completed and Baker best Donnie Allison.  In August, David Pearson wins his third consecutive race in the Western North Carolina 500 at Asheville-Weaver­ville Speedway. Pearson is the 11th driver to win in the 11 runnings of the event. The following year Bobby Isaac would win this race making him the twelfth different winner; and the track closed.  Cale Yarborough nips David Pearson by four car lengths and wins the Southern 500 at Darlington. It is Yarborough's record fourth superspeedway win of the season.  Two weeks later, Richard Petty finishes seven laps ahead of the field in the 150-miler at Orange Speedway in Hillsborough, N.C. It is the last NASCAR Grand National race staged at the venerable 0.9-mile dirt oval. On November 3, Cale Yarborough wins the season finale at Jefferson, Ga., as David Pearson is declared the NASCAR Grand National champion.  At the end of the month, Richard Petty announces he will leave Plymouth to drive Fords in the 1969 season. All of Petty's 92 wins have come in Plymouths.

1969 - At the beginning of the 1969 NASCAR Grand National season, Ford and Mercury were virtually unbeatable. On the big tracks hosting races of 300 miles or more, Ford tied together a 13-race winning streak. Fords took the top five spots at Atlanta, the top four at Michigan, and finished first and second in eight of the 13 victories. All of that changed in September with the introduction of the Dodge Charger Daytona at the Talladega 500.  As the season kicked off, Richard Petty would win the Motor Trend 500 in his first start in a Ford on the road course at Riverside. Petty finishes 25 seconds ahead of runner-up A.J. Foyt.  At Daytona LeeRoy Yarbrough passes Charlie Glotzbach on the final lap to win the Daytona 500. Yarbrough wins in his back-up car.  Yarbrough wins again in May, and then he whipped the field at Charlotte; winning the World 600 by over two laps.  Yarbrough would again visit victory lane in the Firecracker 400.  Meanwhile, behind-the-scenes frustrations built among the drivers, who held a secret meeting in Ann Arbor in August and formed the Professional Drivers Association. Once again LeeRoy Yarbrough would claim a win in a major event.  He would sweep past David Pearson on the final lap to get this win.  He became the first driver to win the Daytona 500, World 600 and Southern 500 in the same season.  Two weeks later we saw Talladega Speedway open. The rough track at Talladega proved to be a catalyst for a driver boycott: Drivers wanted to postpone the race to wait for safer tires to be developed that could handle the surface, but officials refused. Most of the drivers loaded up their cars and went home. The first official drivers boycott in NASCAR history had become a reality.  Afraid the boycott would keep fans away; Bill France said that anyone who bought a ticket for the Talladega race would get a FREE ticket to the next season's Daytona 500.  The race went off without a hitch after GoodYear was able to provide better tires on Sunday morning prior to the race.  In October, LeeRoy Yarbrough scores his seventh superspeedway win of the season in the American 500 at Rockingham. Yarbrough loses a lap when a tire blows, sending him into the wall. He scrambles back into contention and takes the lead for keeps with 57 laps remaining.  In the final months of the 1969 campaign, the PDA drivers returned to the speedway, albeit with considerable tension, to cap off another season of thrills and controversy.  On December 12, Bobby Isaac claims his first career superspeedway victory in the inaugural Texas 500 at the new Texas International Speedway. Cale Yarborough is seriously injured when his Mercury clobbers the wall.  David Pearson claims the Cup Championship for the third time.  Before the year was out, NASCAR signs a contract with ABC Television, which will televise nine NASCAR Grand National races, including five live broadcasts during the 1970 season.

1970 - Auto racing -- particularly the NASCAR Grand National tour -- in the United States was billed as "The Sport of the 1970s" as the new decade approached. With new, ultra-modern facilities popping up all over the country and millions of dollars being poured into NASCAR stock racing by the automotive factories, the sport seemed to be on a roll. Despite the overall rosy appearance, the earth was rumbling a bit within the NASCAR domain. Most of the licensed NASCAR Grand National drivers had formed a union called the Professional Drivers Association. The drivers were serious about gaining awareness from NASCAR about conditions at the speedways, including the alarmingly high speeds, the amount of time teams had to spend at a track to prepare for a race, the perceived lack of posted awards, and amenities for the competitors. Even with behind-the-scenes friction, the 1970 NASCAR tour produced many great moments.  1970 would be the year of the Superbirds.  In January when the season opened at Riverside, A.J. Foyt's Ford nipped Roger McCluskey's Plymouth Superbird to win the season opener.  Cale Yarborough and Charlie Glotzbach win the Twin 125-mile qualifiers at Daytona. Rookie Talmadge Prince is fatally injured in a 19th-lap crash in the second qualifier.  Ir was Prince's first career Cup start.  Pete Hamilton, recently signed to drive a Petty Enterprises Plymouth, posts an upset victory in the Daytona 500. Hamilton passes Ford's David Pearson with nine laps to go and wins by three car lengths.  On March 1, James Hylton holds off a furious rally by Richard Petty to win the Richmond 500. It is Hylton's first career NASCAR Grand National win and his first start in a Ford after campaigning a Dodge for four years.  On March 24, Buddy Baker became the first driver to break the 200 MPH barrier in an open test session as he wheeled one of the sleek and winged Dodge Daytona's.  His average speed was 200.447 to establish himself as the "Fastest Man on Four Wheels."  On April 12, Pete Hamilton cruises to victory in the Alabama 500 at Talladega as ABC Sports televises the second half of the race live to a nationwide audience. The network squeezes the three hour and 17 minute race into a 90-minute time slot.  The next week, Richard Petty breezes to an easy win in the Gwyn Staley Memorial 400 at North Wilkesboro, the second event televised live by ABC Sports. Petty leads 349 of the 400 laps, and is ahead of the pack every lap shown during the live telecast.  In Early May, David Pearson scores his first win of the season in the Rebel 400 at Darlington. Richard Petty is injured when his Plymouth flips on the front chute. ABC Sports picks up live coverage a few minutes before Petty's crash.  In the World 600,Donnie Allison finishes two laps ahead of the field to win the Charlotte World 600. Fred Lorenzen ends a three-year retirement with a competitive run, but exits with a blown engine after 378 miles.   Buddy Baker would out run Bobby Isaac by over a lap to win the Southern 500.  Later that month the final dirt-track race in NASCAR Grand National history is run at State Fairgrounds Speedway in Raleigh, N.C. The race is won by Richard Petty.  On October legendary NASCAR driver Curtis Turner perishes in a private plane crash in Pennsylvania.  On November 15, Cale Yarborough hustles to victory in the American 500 at Rockingham, and announces from ­victory lane that he will move to the USAC Indy Car trail in 1971.  On the 19th, Ford announced that it will cut back its factory effort in 1971. Jacques Passino, director of Ford's racing program, quits the company.  on the 22nd Bobby Allison captures the season finale at Hampton, Va., as Bobby Isaac is declared the 1970 NASCAR Grand National champion.  In December R.J. Reynolds announced its Winston brand of cigarettes will become the title sponsor of NASCAR's premier stock car racing series. The official title will be NASCAR Winston Cup Grand National Series.

1971 - The loss of the factory-supported team in 1971 was a big blow to the NASCAR Grand Nationals. Every team in NASCAR in 1971, save Petty Enterprises, felt the pinch of the factory withdrawal. Drivers -- and NASCAR itself -- found relief in the form of a sponsorship deal with R.J Reynolds Tobacco Company (the parent company of Winston cigarettes), who in turn gained advertising and naming rights to the newly-christened NASCAR Winston Cup Grand Nationals. It was one of a handful of bright spots in an otherwise troubled season.  The season was shortened from 48 to 31 events a year, and dirt events were removed from the series. But the biggest changes were in the point system, as it was modified to where all points races awarded an equal number of points to the competitors.  Previously some track and more prominent events awarded more points than short track races.  NASCAR's rules implemented for the 1971 season limited the  "aero-cars" to an engine displacement of no greater than 305 cu in (5.00 l) or they had to carry much more weight compared to their competitors. While they were still legal to race, the power-to-weight consequences that would come with the smaller engine or the increased weight rendered the cars uncompetitive.  In January West Coast driver Ray Elder surprised the NASCAR touring pros by winning the season-opening Motor Trend 500 at Riverside International Raceway.  Richard Petty bags his third Daytona 500 win ahead of Buddy Baker, giving Petty Enterprises a 1-2 finish in NASCAR's most celebrated event. Dick Brooks finishes seventh in a winged Dodge Daytona, the final appearance of the exotic aerodynamic wonder in a NASCAR event.  Two weeks later, A.J. Foyt drives the Wood Brothers Mercury to victory in the 500-miler at the new Ontario Motor Speedway. Foyt goes down in the record book as winning the 1,000th NASCAR Winston Cup Grand National race.  April 10 was the first live flag to flag coverage for a NASCAR race.  Bobby Isaac drives his Dodge to a big win in the 100-mile NASCAR Winston Cup Grand National event at Greenville-Pickens Speedway. On May 21, The lightly funded indepen­dent drivers stage a mini-boycott of the 100-mile NASCAR Winston Cup Grand National race at Asheville, N.C. Protesting the payoff structure and a lack of any appearance money, seven drivers pull out of the race in the early stages, leaving only five cars running at the finish. Richard Petty wins by four laps over Elmo Langley.  Bobby and Donnie Allison ­finish first and second, respectively, in the World 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway in a pair of Mercurys.  The Firecracker 400 saw 36 lead changes in a shoot out between five drivers.  Bobby Isaac would pull into the lead for good with 25 laps to go and beat Richard Petty by four seconds.  In the Southern 500, Bobby Allison beat Richard Petty by over a lap to claim the win.  On December 12, Richard Petty roars to his 21st win of the season in the finale at Texas World Speedway. Petty also wraps up his third NASCAR Winston Cup Grand National champion­ship over James Hylton.  This was the third time Hylton finished second in the championship chase.

1972 - Bill France Sr would hand the leadership of NASCAR over to his son Bill France Jr.  The early part of the 1972 NASCAR Winston Cup season was rather lethargic. Richard Petty lost a cylinder midway through the 250-miler at Martinsville in April, yet still won the race by seven laps. Fan attendance was down, and the forecast for the season was uncertain. But toward the end of the year, a feud exploded between Richard Petty and Bobby Allison, the two front-runners, that would ignite the fierce competition of the rest of the season.  In January before the start of the season, NASCAR announces the 1972 NASCAR Winston Cup Grand National season will be reduced to 30 events. Only races of 250 miles or more will be part of the schedule.  Also NASCAR founder Bill France steps down as president and turns the reins over to his son, Bill France, Jr.  In February, AJ Foyt would give his car owners the Wood Brothers yet another win in the Daytona 500.  He blistered the field to win the 500 by nearly five miles. Foyt leads the final 300 miles in the lackluster event. Third-place driver Jim Vandiver finishes six laps off the pace.  The next month at the Atlanta 500, Bobby Allison drives his Chevrolet to a near photo-finish ­victory. Allison records the first superspeedway win for Chevrolet since 1963.  At the World 600, Buddy Baker and Bobby Allison duel to the finish; and Baker came out on top.  It was his second win in the 600.  David Pearson prevails in a three-car finish to win the Daytona Firecracker 400. Pearson beats Richard Petty by four feet as Bobby Allison finishes a close third.  In August, independent driver James Hylton enjoys the finest day of his career by taking a narrow victory over Ramo Stott in the Talladega 500. New tires introduced by Goodyear fail to withstand the high-speed punishment and eliminate most of the favorites.  In the Southern 500, Bobby Allison and David Pearson staged a fierce battle.  One of the two drivers lead all of the last 300 laps but one.  Allison managed to pass Pearson with six laps to go and hold on to win my four car lengths.  On October 1 Allison again found himself in a war.  This time with Richard Petty.  Petty outrun Allison in the final laps of an epic slugfest and wins the spine-­tingling Wilkes 400 at North Wilkes­boro (N.C.) Speedway. Petty and Allison tangle repeatedly during the final laps and both cars are badly crumpled when the checkered flag falls.  Buddy Baker edges A.J. Foyt by a half car length at the finish line to win the season-ending Texas 500 at Texas World Speedway. Richard Petty finishes third and clinches his fourth NASCAR Winston Cup Grand National championship.

1973 - During the 1973 NASCAR Winston Cup season, NASCAR had not given up hope for small engines, though the lack of team sponsors prevented the sanctioning body from putting the heavily restricted big engines out to pasture.  Although David Parsons enjoyed a record wrecking year in 1973, winning 10 of 15 starts on super speedways and 11 of 18 for the season, the un-sponsored team of L.G. DeWitt and Benny Parsons won a single race and took the NASCAR Winston Cup championship trophy in a significant upset.  At Daytona, Richard Petty outlasts a speedy Buddy Baker to post his fourth win in the Daytona 500. Pole-sitter Baker leads most of the way but is foiled by an engine failure while running second with six laps to go.  In March, Cale Yarborough, back in NASCAR's fold after a two-year exile in USAC Indy Cars, drives Junior Johnson's Chevrolet to an overwhelming victory in the Southeastern 500 at Bristol. Yarborough leads all 500 laps.  When the World 600 rolled around, it would see Buddy Baker in victory lane for the third time.  He would beat out David Pearson by just over a second.  On July 8, Points leader Benny Parsons drives his unsponsored Chevrolet to an impressive win in the Volunteer 500 at Bristol International Speedway. Parsons finishes seven laps ahead of runner-up L.D. Ottinger.  IT would be Parsons only win of the season.  On August 12, Dick Brooks posts perhaps the biggest upset win in NASCAR history in the Talladega 500. Brooks is behind the wheel of a Plymouth owned by the Crawford Brothers, a team that has never finished above 16th in a NASCAR Winston Cup Grand National event. Larry Smith, 1972 Rookie of the Year, loses his life in an early crash.  This years edition of the Southern 500 would see Cale Yarborough and David battle to the finish for the win.  Yarborough was in the lead when a late yellow saw the race end under yellow; giving him the win.  In the final race of the season, David Pearson captures his 11th win in 18 starts with a season-ending victory in the American 500 at Rockingham's North Carolina Motor Speedway. Benny Parsons pits for repairs after a heavy early crash that severely damaged his car. The help of several teams allow him to get back into the race and finish 28th.  Parsons holds on to win the NASCAR Winston Cup Grand National champ­ionship over Cale Yarborough.

1974 - The 1974 NASCAR Winston Cup Grand National season faced the threat of a shut-down when, in late 1973, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) announced a general boycott on oil exports to Europe, Japan, and the United States. Faced with an oil crisis, NASCAR took immediate steps to conserve fuel. Among other changes, the length of all races was cut by 10 percent, which went a long way toward the goal of reducing fuel use by 25 percent. Meanwhile, NASCAR continued to move toward the use of smaller engines, and made several rule changes. In January along with announcing races being shortened by ten percent; NASCAR also announced plans for smaller starting fields and limited practice sessions.  Richard Petty rallies from a flat tire, takes the lead with 11 laps remaining, and drives to victory in the 450-mile Daytona 500. Speedway ­officials decide to drop the first 20 laps from the race, and count the first lap as lap 21 to maintain the "500" in the name of NASCAR's most prestigious event.  In Mat at the World 600, David Pearson racks up his 80th career Winston Cup victory at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Pearson takes the lead with nine laps remaining and beats Richard Petty by a car length.  On July 4, Cagey David Pearson outfoxes Richard Petty to win the Firecracker 400 in a puzzling finish. Pearson leads entering the final lap, but pulls to the low groove to allow Petty to pass. Pearson regains stride, runs Petty down, and makes the decisive pass just before the finish line.  On Labor day weekend NASCAR would travel back to it's traditional race at Darlington.  The Lady In Black was a grizzy old gal this day as attrition was high.  40 cars started the event, but only 12 finished.  Cale Yarborough managed to avoid the carnage and mechanical failures to beat out Darrell by a lap.  at the Old Dominion 500 in September, Canadian rookie Earl Ross outlasts Richard Petty and Cale Yarborough and outruns Buddy Baker in the final laps to win the Old Dominion 500 at Martinsville. Ross becomes the first Canadian driver to win a NASCAR Winston Cup Grand National race.  Despite the years rule changes, the overwhelming majority of races were won by Richard Petty, Cale Yarborough, and David Pearson.  Richard Petty won his fifth championship

1975 - By the 1975 NASCAR Winston Cup Grand National season, the transition from big to small engines was complete. All cars were equipped with the same-size engines and the restrictor plates were gone. With a standard set of rules, stability had gained a foothold within the NASCAR kingdom. Despite smaller fields of competition, NASCAR Winston Cup racing was getting more television time as well.  NASCAR announces a new points system, the fourth different method of distributing points in the last five years. For the first time in NASCAR history, each race will carry an equal points value throughout the season.  At Daytona, Benny Parsons takes the lead three laps from the finish and wins the Daytona 500 when leader David Pearson spins on the backstretch. Parsons comes from the 32nd starting position to claim the upset win and the biggest victory of his career.  In May, Darrell Waltrip racks up his first career NASCAR Winston Cup Grand National victory with a two-lap triumph in the Music City USA 420 at his hometown Nashville Speedway.  In the World 600, Richard Petty scores his first victory at Charlotte Motor Speedway since winning a 100-mile qualifying race in 1961 with a resounding win in the race. Dale Earnhardt makes his first NASCAR Winston Cup Grand National start, ­finishing 22nd in a Dodge.  Tragedy struck in the Talladega 500.  Buddy Baker nosed out Richard Petty in a photo finish to win the event, an event marred by the death of DeWayne "Tiny" Lund. Lund is involved in a multi-car crash on the seventh lap. In the annual Labor Day event; Bobby Allison, would beat Richard Petty for the win.  Allison would sweep the races at Darlington in 1974.  This race would be the last win for a Roger Penske owned team until 1991. This would also be the last win for the AMC Matador.  At the end of the month, journeyman Dave Marcis drives a Dodge to his first career NASCAR Winston Cup Grand National victory in the Old Dominion 500 at Martinsville Speed­way.  Two weeks later, Darrell Waltrip gives the DiGard Racing team its first NASCAR Winston Cup Grand National win in the 500-lapper at Richmond Fairgrounds Speedway.  In November, Buddy Baker bags his fourth win of the season with a decisive triumph in the Los Angeles Times 500 at Ontario Motor Speedway. Richard Petty takes his sixth NASCAR championship over Dave Marcis.

1976 - The 1976 NASCAR Winston Cup season was filled with heart-stopping moments, from a last-lap crash between Richard Petty and David Pearson in the Daytona 500 to one between Dale Earnhardt and Dick Brooks at Atlanta International Raceway. In Daytona 500 qualifying, NASCAR disallowed the speeds of the three fastest qualifiers for the Daytona 500, leaving unheralded Ramo Stott on the pole. A.J. Foyt, Darrell Waltrip, and Dave Marcis have to requalify.  The race itself provided an exciting finish. David Pearson creeps across the finish line at 20 mph to beat Richard Petty in a stunning finish to the Daytona 500. Pearson and Petty swap the lead four times on the final lap and tangle off the fourth turn. Pearson gets his Mercury straightened out and crosses the finish line first. In the World 600, David Pearson weaves his way through a crash with three laps to go and captures the World 600 for his fifth win of the season. NASCAR also welcomed female driver Janet Guthrie, who finished 15th at the World 600.  David Pearson leads the final 45 laps and drives to a 2.8-second victory over Richard Petty in the Southern 500 at Darlington. The win gives Pearson a victory in all three crown-jewel events on the NASCAR ­calendar: the Daytona 500, World 600, and Southern 500.  On November 7, Dave Marcis outruns David Pearson and Donnie Allison in a three-car shootout to win the Dixie 500 at Atlanta International Raceway. Newcomer Dale Earnhardt survives a wicked tumble with 49 laps to go.  When the season wrapped up two weeks later, David Pearson posts his 10th win of the year in the 500-miler at Ontario Motor Speedway. Cale Yarborough claims his first NASCAR Winston Cup Grand National cham­­pionship over Richard Petty.

1977 - By 1977, the NASCAR Winston Cup organization was pulling itself out of the shackles of the post-factory days. Corporate sponsors were jumping on the bandwagon, new team owners found the NASCAR scene appealing, and a few of the surviving independent teams had beefed up their operations. The starting fields were full again, the grandstands were close to capacity, competition was closer, and television ratings were climbing steadily.The season kicked off seeing Cale Yarborough pull away from Benny Parsons in the final laps to win in his second Daytona 500.  In April, Darrell Waltrip wins the race back to the yellow flag to capture the Rebel 500 at Darlington. Waltrip weaves his way through a crash scene in the fourth turn, passing David Pearson, Richard Petty, and Donnie Allison on the final green-flag lap.  A month later, Cale Yarborough roars back from two black flags, a pair of unscheduled pit stops, and a four-lap deficit to win the Mason-Dixon 500 at Dover Downs. It is already Yarborough's sixth win of the season.  In the World 600, Richard Petty and David Pearson would duke it out; seeing Petty pull out to a nice lead near the end; winning by 30 seconds.  Nord Krauskopf sold his team after this event to Jim Stacy with the famed red #71 Dodge getting repainted into the white #5, Neil Bonnett stayed aboard as driver.  Richard Petty would again find himself in victory lane as he won the Firecracker 400 at Daytona. For the first time since 1949, three women drivers are in the starting field. Janet Guthrie, Christine Beckers, and Lella Lombardi all start the race.  At Bristol Cale Yarborough racks up his eighth win of the year at Bristol's Volunteer 400.  Janet Guthrie finishes sixth, her best NASCAR Winston Cup Grand National effort.  Quick pit work nets David Pearson his second straight win in the Southern 500 at Darlington. Darrell Waltrip earns the nickname "Jaws" at the same event.  Later in september, Neil Bonnett scores his first career NASCAR Winston Cup Grand National win in the Capital City 400 at Richmond. Bonnett outruns Richard Petty by seven seconds.  In the season finale, Neil Bonnett outruns Richard Petty in an epic duel over the final 10 laps to win at Ontario Motor Speedway. Third-place finisher Cale Yarborough takes his second straight NASCAR Winston Cup championship.

1978 - The 1978 NASCAR Winston Cup season was filled with hotly contested races and surprise upset victories. In the Talladega 500 alone, there were 67 lead changes before Lennie Pond drove his Oldsmobile around Benny Parsons with five laps to go and scored his lone NASCAR Winston Cup career victory by a narrow margin. Other races captured the season's spirited competition.  In the Winston Western 500, Cale Yarborough drove his Oldsmobile to a close decision over Benny Parsons to win the Winston Western 500 on the road course at Riverside International Raceway. It is the first win for the Oldsmobile nameplate since 1959.  In the Daytona 500 Bobby Allison ends his 67-race winless skid with a dramatic victory.  Allison pushes his Bud Moore Ford around Buddy Baker with 11 laps remaining and leads the rest of the way.  On March 5, David Pearson rallies from a late spin, passes Benny Parsons, and drives to victory in the Carolina 500 at Rockingham's North Carolina Motor Speedway. It is the 100th win of Pearson's illustrious career.  On May 14, Cale Yarborough passes Buddy Baker on the final lap to win the Winston 500 at Talladega. Car owner Harold Miller and driver Keith Davis are suspended for 12 weeks when NASCAR officials discover an illegal bottle of nitrous oxide in the car in prerace inspections.  In the World 600, Willy T. Ribbs, America's leading African American race driver, fails to appear for two special practice sessions in preparation for the upcoming World 600 at Charlotte. Team owner Will Cronkrite, irked with Ribbs' absence, replaces him with relatively unknown short-track racer Dale Earnhardt.  On August 6, Lennie Pond leads the final five laps and staves off challenges from six rivals to post his first career NASCAR Winston Cup Grand National victory in the Talladega 500. Pond averages a record 174.700 mph and had 67 lead changes.  Cale Yarborough scores his fourth win in the Southern 500. Terry Labonte, making his NASCAR Winston Cup Grand National debut, finishes fourth. D.K. Ulrich is suspended for the remainder of the season after a wreck reveals he has an illegal nitrous oxide bottle in his Chevrolet.  In November Controversy flares at Atlanta International Raceway as Donnie Allison is declared the winner of the Dixie 500 after the crowd of 40,000 thought Richard Petty had nipped Dave Marcis in a race to the finish. NASCAR scorers failed to notice that Allison had passed both Petty and Marcis with three laps remaining. Rookie Dale Earnhardt ­finishes fourth in his first start with the Rod Osterlund team.  Two weeks later Bobby Allison scores his fifth win of the year in the finale at Ontario Motor Speedway. Runner-up Cale Yarborough wins his third consecutive NASCAR Winston Cup Grand National championship over Allison.


1979 - The 1979 NASCAR Winston Cup season was one of record speeds and legendary brawls. At the Daytona 500 alone, thanks to a newly-resurfaced track, Buddy Baker reached a record qualifying speed of 196.049 mph to top Cale Yarborough's nine-year-old record of 194.015. The race itself didn't disappoint, either. The 21st annual Daytona 500 was spectacular from start to finish, with thrilling action and many lead changes. During the final lap, leaders Cale Yarborough and Donnie Allison (who had been jostling for the lead) slid together into the concrete wall, clearing the way for Richard Petty to take the win. Immediately, Yarborough and Allison began to fight on the field, and the whole fracas was televised live on CBS, which only served to increase ticket sales.  The Nielsen ­ratings for the CBS live telecast are a remarkable 10.5, with the final half hour drawing an amazing 13.5 rating.  On April 1, Outstanding rookie driver Dale Earnhardt scoots around Darrell Waltrip with 27 laps to go and grabs his first career NASCAR Winston Cup Grand National victory in Bristol's Southeastern 500.  The next week Darrell Waltrip prevails in a last-lap battle with Richard Petty to win the Rebel 500 at Darlington. The two drivers swap the lead four times on the final lap. After the race, legend­ary David Pearson is released as ­driver of the Wood Brothers Mercury. A pit mishap is cited as the reason for Pearson's release.  In May, Neil Bonnett, making his third start for the Wood Brothers, drives around Cale Yarborough with three laps remaining to win the Mason-Dixon 500 at Dover Downs International Speedway.  The World 600 was a battle between Darrell Waltrip, Dale Earnhardt and Richard Petty. Records would show that Waltrip led the final 92 laps; but Petty was right on his heels and Waltrip only managed to pull out the win by five seconds.  Earnhardt was third.  In the Firecracker 400 Neil Bonnett would grab another victory for the Wood Brothers as he edged Benny Parson by one second.  The action packed Coca Cola 500 would see a whopping 56 lead changes.  Cale Yarborough would go on to claim the win prevailed for his third win of the year. Rookie driver Dale Earnhardt fractures both collar bones in a hard crash on the 99th lap.  At Darlington David Pearson, substituting for the injured Dale Earnhardt, leads the final 70 laps to win his third Southern 500. Upstart third-year driver Bill Elliott ­finishes ­second.  At Atlanta in November Neil Bonnett edges Dale Earnhardt by about three feet to win the Dixie 500 at Atlanta. Darrell Waltrip carries a narrow two-point lead over Richard Petty into the ­season finale at Ontario.  In the season final race, Benny Parsons takes the lead with five laps to go and wins the Los Angeles Times 500. Fifth-place finisher Richard Petty takes his seventh NASCAR Winston Cup Grand National championship by 11 points over Darrell Waltrip, who finishes eighth.

1980 - The 1980 NASCAR Winston Cup season began with a refreshing outlook for a sport that had endured a tumultuous trek through peaks and valleys in the preceding 10 years. Through a complex, shifting panorama, NASCAR overcame innumerable obstacles in the 1970s, and emerged in 1980 with one of the most thrilling championship chases in NASCAR history, between sophomore Dale Earnhardt and veteran Cale Yarborough.

1981 - New NASCAR guidelines for the 1981 NASCAR Winston Cup season resulted in cars that twitched frighteningly at high speeds and had to be stabilized with large spoilers. The Daytona 500 featured 49 lead changes, and set the tone for the rest of the exciting 1981 campaign. Over the course of the 31-race season in 1981, fans witnessed 772 lead changes -- a mark that still stands despite the fact that five races have been added to the annual schedule. A record five races were also determined by a last-lap pass, another standard that still stands.

1982 - By the 1982 NASCAR Winston Cup season, the importance of team sponsorship had become paramount. Costs were rising sharply, and teams had to perform well to secure and keep sponsorship. Winning races was a prerequisite, and crews often challenged the savvy of the NASCAR technical inspectors in their efforts to gain a "competitive edge." The tradition was as old as stock car racing itself, and was considered part of the game.

1983 - In the early part of the 1983 NASCAR Winston Cup campaign, NASCAR began cracking down on teams that were stepping beyond the rules. Early in the season, such disallowed items as illegal fuel cans, unapproved fuel cells, and other ingenious "modifications" were confiscated by NASCAR officials. But threats failed to curtail the imagination of the sport's top mechanics. Throughout the season, a number of violations were detected and confiscated. The controversy came to a head in October, when seven-time champ Richard Petty won the Miller High Life 500, but was then found to be using illegal tires and a too-large engine. The scandal destroyed Petty's decades-long relationship with Petty Enterprises, and dogged him long after.

1984 - The 1984 NASCAR Winston Cup season got off to a quick start with Cale Yarborough's win at the Daytona 500. But an even higher point came at the July 4 Firecracker 400. With President Reagan in attendance, Richard Petty won his magical 200th NASCAR Winston Cup race. The finish awed the president. It was the second and final victory of the 1984 season for the King of NASCAR -- and it turned out to be the final win of his career. At season's close, Terry Labonte parlayed consistency to win the championship on the strength of just two wins, but 17 top-five finishes. Petty finished a distant 10th in the final standings.

1985 - Bill Elliott emerged as a bona fide super speedway hero in the 1985 NASCAR Winston Cup season. Elliott won 11 super speedway races in 1985, still a single-season record. He gobbled up every laurel and post-season award possible, yet didn't win the NASCAR Winston Cup championship. That honor went to Darrell Waltrip, who won three races. The intricacies of the NASCAR points system rewarded consistency in 1985. The 1985 All-Star race was a big bonus to the drivers and fans of NASCAR Winston Cup racing. The inaugural running of the event, which was open to all drivers who won races in 1984, was staged at Charlotte Motor Speedway. The event was "on the house" for NASCAR enthusiasts who had paid to see a race the day before.

1986 - Dale Earnhardt, NASCAR's darling youngster in the early 1980s, rebounded during the 1986 NASCAR Winston Cup season from a few sluggish years after his electrifying championship as a sophomore in 1980. Earnhardt's Wrangler Jeans machine ran up front every week. Along the way, Earnhardt ruffled a few feathers, crumpled some sheet metal, shoved rivals out of the way, and acquired the nickname "The Intimidator." Earnhardt's thrilling driving style made the 1986 NASCAR Winston Cup season a joy to watch.

1987 - Like the 1986 season, Dale Earnhardt was at center stage during the 1987 NASCAR Winston Cup campaign. Many of Earnhardt's adversaries claimed his aggressive driving style led to unnecessary incidents -- and there was plenty of damaged sheet metal along the way. The season-long controversy came to a head during The Winston, NASCAR's all-star race, on May 17, 1987. Earnhardt, Bill Elliott, and Geoff Bodine bumped, scraped, and blocked each other to the end in one of the most memorable finishes in stock car racing history.  Earnhardt, Elliott, and Bodine were all fined and placed on probation after the fracas. The Winston of 1987 is still regarded as one of the most energized and spectacular thrill shows in NASCAR Cup Series history, though cooler heads prevailed for the remainder of the year.  Bill Elliott posted the fastest qualifying speed to date as he lapped the 2.66 Talladega SPeedway at an average speed of 212.809.  During the race, Bobby Allison had a series blow-over crash on the front stretch and almost flew up into the grandstands.  The crash was the reason for NASCAR to start the use of restrictor plates to slow the cars. It is hard to see Elliott's qualifying record being broken as long as NASCAR uses restrictor plates or aero modification to slow the cars down and keep then on the ground.

1988 - By the end of the 1988 NASCAR Winston Cup season, a number of time-honored icons were hanging up their helmets. NASCAR Winston Cup champions Cale Yarborough, David Pearson, Benny Parsons, and Bobby Allison retired -- Allison due to debilitating injuries suffered at Pocono in the 1988 Miller High Life 500. The retirement of these legends made way for a new generation of leaders.

1989 - The 1989 NASCAR Winston Cup season was in the midst of an upsurge. As the 1980s drew to a close, the popularity of NASCAR stock car racing was spiraling upward dramatically. Sponsorship from corporate America was strong, the dynamic heroes behind the wheel were becoming household names, and all of the NASCAR Winston Cup events were being televised live. Track side attendance was running at record levels and promoters were adding new grandstands to accommodate the demand for tickets. On a sad note, Tim Richmond, an energized and immensely popular driver, had electrified the audience with his brazen displays of courage only to die prematurely of the AIDS virus in 1989. Richmond was Winston Cup racing's top winner in 1986, but had to sit out most of the 1987 campaign as he concealed the identity of his illness.

1990 - The 1990 NASCAR Winston Cup season arrived with NASCAR's wheels churning progressively forward. Several motivated, energetic, youthful drivers were pressing the seasoned veterans for membership in the elite status of NASCAR Winston Cup racing. A number of the old warriors were conceding to Father Time as they fell further and further behind the newcomers, and the heated race for the championship would be decided by only 26 points.

1991 - By the end of the 1991 NASCAR Winston Cup season, driver Dale Earnhardt was far enough ahead in the points race to capture the championship simply by starting his engine in Atlanta for the last race. But there was plenty of other action throughout the season to keep fans on the edges of their seats. Harry Gant, a 51-year-old driver, captured quite a lot of attention and more than a few headlines with his dramatic comebacks and wins, and NASCAR Winston Cup racing also attracted a new television venue in 1991 when The Nashville Network (TNN) scooped up five events, taking them away from ESPN.

1992 - The 1992 NASCAR Winston Cup season was touched by sadness, as 82-year-old NASCAR founder Bill France passed away in June, but this loss was counterbalanced by the excitement of one of the closest races for the Winston Cup in years. 1992 was also distinctive in that Dale Earnhardt was not a contender -- plagued with a car that couldn't quite keep up and just some plain bad luck.  Richard Petty ran his last race and retired at the season ending race at Atlanta.  This race would also be the first for future Cup star Jeff Gordon.

1993 - The 1993 NASCAR Winston Cup season offered its usual share of exciting races, but it was also touched with tragedy as two of NASCAR's up-and-coming stars -- 1992 champion Alan Kulwicki and Davey Allison -- were both killed during the season. oddly enough both drivers deaths were not on the track.  Kulwicki had flown to a fan meet & greet at a Hooters restaurant close to Bristol Speedway where the Cup series was racing that week.  On the return flight, the plane crashed and all on board perished.  Allison died when his private helicopter crashed as he had flown it over to Talladega Speedway to watch friend David Bonnett practice.  Upon trying to land the copter went down and Allison was killed.  Long time racer Red Farmer was also on board but survived with minor injuries. Although driver Rusty Wallace offered a late-season streak -- winning five of the last eight races -- he was no match for Dale Earnhardt, who won his 6th Winston Cup championship in 1993.  NASCAR also mandated the use of roof flap on race cars.  The flap would let air escape from for the car and hopefully help prevent blow over accidents.

1994 - 1994 was the young driver Jeff Gordon's first year on the NASCAR Winston Cup circuit, and Dale Earnhardt and Rusty Wallace held their usual season-long battle for the 1994 NASCAR Winston Cup championship. Earnhardt ended the season far, far ahead in the points battle -- even though Wallace won twice as many races.  This season saw Earnhardt win his seventh Cup Championship; tying him with Richard Petty.

1995 - NASCAR as a sport was experiencing a burst of growth in 1995, both at its corporate headquarters and because of a successful new race -- the Brickyard 400 held for the first time in 1994 in Indianapolis. Both Forbes and Sports Illustrated magazines featured cover stories about NASCAR in 1995, and the sport launched its website this year as well. This excitement also spilled onto the track as driver Jeff Gordon began giving dominant champion Dale Earnhardt a run for his money.  The NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series also kicked off this year.  Mike Skinner won the first ever race.

1996 - In 1996, NASCAR became a big enough operation to command a New York City office, and Jeff Gordon had his best season ever on the tracks, winning 10 races. However, he was outmaneuvered for the Winston Cup, which went to fellow Chevrolet driver Terry Labonte instead.

1997 - Driver Jeff Gordon began the 1997 NASCAR Winston Cup season with a victory at the Daytona 500 and went on to 10 more victories and a Winston Cup championship. And his winning ways were just beginning -- Gordon had plenty left for the 1998 NASCAR season as well.

1998 - The 1998 season marked NASCAR's 50th anniversary, and the 40th running of the Daytona 500. Adding another layer of significance to the occasion, popular NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt registered a dominating win -- after 20 attempts -- in this crown jewel race of the NASCAR Winston Cup season. Jeff Gordon, however, would take the season's ultimate title for the second year in a row.

1999 - NASCAR prepared for the new millennium with a whole fleet of new young drivers, and Dale Jarrett won the Winston Cup championship in 1999 after a long points battle with Bobby Labonte and Mark Martin. There were also more eyes on the NASCAR Winston Cup series race tracks than ever before as television ratings soared and extra seats were added in many locations to meet the demand for tickets. In 1999, only National Football League events ranked higher in popularity among Americans than NASCAR events.

2000 - As the 2000 NASCAR Winston Cup season began with the Daytona 500, it became clear that action on the track had changed. Far from the 50 to 60 lead changes in a race that had been common in NASCAR's history, "aero-push" -- turbulence caused by the new aerodynamic cars that made passing difficult -- now kept a firmer grasp on the lead.  In an attempt to spice things up, NASCAR introduced some new rules in time for the October 15, 2000, race at Talladega. A small blade attached to the top of each car made the vehicles less stable, which added to the challenge for their drivers. With a new millennium, some new rules, and a new champion, the 2000 NASCAR Winston Cup season was packed with excitement.

2001 - In 2001, the Dodge division of Chrysler Corporation announced it would return to NASCAR Cup Series racing for the first time since the late 1970s, and they assembled a formidable team. Ray Evernham, who left the Hendrick Motor­sports Chevrolet operation in 1999, was hired by MoPar to direct Dodge's effort. Evernham was in charge of Dodge's two-car flagship team with drivers Casey Atwood and Bill Elliott. Other Dodge teams included Bill Davis Racing, Felix Sabates, Melling Racing, and Petty Enterprises, which returned to the Chrysler fold for the first time since 1978.  But the 2001 NASCAR Cup season saw the biggest story of the year occur in the season opening Daytona 500.  On the final lap of the race Dale Earnhardt had a terrible crash and it took the life of the skilled driver and fan favorite.

2002 - The 2002 NASCAR Winston Cup season dawned with promise as NBC television broadcast the Daytona 500 for the first time, and a new crop of rookie drivers -- including Jimmie Johnson and Ryan Newman -- captured headlines. Excitement continued throughout the season as the points race remained the tightest seen in several years.  A new generation of drivers, including Jimmie Johnson, Ryan Newman, Kurt Busch, Kevin Harvick, Matt Kenseth and Dale Earnhardt Jr., gain popularity.

2003 - In many ways the 2003 NASCAR Winston Cup season was a season of change. Before the racing season even began, an announcement by R.J. Reynolds began a series of shifting sponsors that would continue throughout the year and take full effect in 2004. Planned changes in rules and race scheduling also promised that 2003 would be the last NASCAR season of its kind. NASCAR Chairman Bill France, Jr. also stepped down during 2003 and passed the position to his son Brian. On the track, a surprising points victory by Matt Kenseth kept fans captivated all season long.

2004 - One note of interest for the 2004 NASCAR season -- in addition to its now being known as the NASCAR NEXTEL season -- was new chairman Brian Z. France's decision to move the sport west. Texas and Phoenix, Arizona, tracks gained a second event, while Rockingham's North Carolina Speedway hosted its last. The most noticeable change for 2004 was revamp of the points race into the "Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup," which narrowed the field of contenders for the final races of the season in a 'playoff' style format. In response, the points race in 2004 was the closest in NASCAR history and television ratings surged 30 percent over their 2003 levels. Kurt Busch would claim the crown. ANother major story was that beginning in 2004, the sport welcomed Japanese automaker Toyota into the mix.  With its initial focus being the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, Toyota earned its first NASCAR win in August of 2004 when Travis Kvapil won at Michigan.

2005 - Although neither Jeff Gordon nor Dale Earnhardt, Jr. qualified for the Chase portion of the 2005 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup season, fans remained captivated as the decision on the title came down to the very last race. Veteran driver Rusty Wallace also retired at the end of the 2005 season and began a new career as a commentator for ESPN. Continuing their efforts to make NASCAR a sport with truly nationwide appeal, the International Speedway Corporation purchased land near Seattle, Washington, and on Staten Island in New York City for potential future tracks.

2006 - In 2006, the International Speedway Corporation announced that the NASCAR Hall of Fame would be built in Charlotte, North Carolina. They also began introducing their "Car of Tomorrow" project to the public, which was designed to gradually move NASCAR races toward better safety and cost reduction. The new cars will be fully phased in to all NASCAR events in 2009. On the track for 2006, Jimmie Johnson, who had driven well since his first season in 2002, finally put it all together and came away the 2006 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup champion. "Silly Season" was the name of the game for 2006.  Silly season is when drivers shuffle around from team to team. Several new drivers were in their first stint as regulars on the NEXTEL Cup circuit in 2006. Martin Truex Jr. raced the No. 1 Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet for Dale Earnhardt, Inc. (DEI) after winning back-to-back Busch Series championships in 2004 and 2005. The No. 15 car, which was vacated by Michael Waltrip, is being driven by another rookie, Paul Menard, and is being sponsored by his father's Menards Home Improvement stores. The vacancy left following Rusty Wallace's retirement from the Penske No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge, was filled by former 2004 NEXTEL Cup champion Kurt Busch. Jamie McMurray took over for Busch in the No. 26 Sharpie / Crown Royal / Irwin Tools ride for Roush Racing which had previously been the #97. In addition, Mark Martin continued his "Salute to You" tour for an encore with new sponsorship from AAA and 3M, who replaced Viagra on the hood of the No. 6 Ford. Reed Sorenson took the wheel of the No. 41 Target ride and David Stremme became the pilot of the No. 40 car sponsored by Lone Star Steakhouse and Coors Light. in the Chip Ganassi Racing stables. Scott Riggs took the No. 10 Valvoline-sponsored car and number to Evernham Motorsports, where they switched from Chevy to Dodge. The No. 66 (formerly #0) car, now with full-time sponsorship from Best Buy Electronics stores and vacated by Mike Bliss, was driven by Jeff Green, leaving Petty Enterprises' fabled No. 43 Cheerios car open for former Joe Gibbs Racing driver Bobby Labonte. Waltrip and his sponsor, NAPA, left DEI for Bill Davis Racing and the new No. 55 car, but ownership was transferred to the newly merged (with the old #77 team) Waltrip-Jasper Racing in order to ensure that Waltrip made the first five races. Despite the change, the No. 55 still receives most of its equipment and crew from Bill Davis Racing. On January 23 in Charlotte, North Carolina as part of the annual Media Tour, NASCAR announced that the Toyota Camry will be added to the series in 2007, and become the first non-American brand to run in the premier series since Jaguar raced in the mid-1950s. Brent Sherman took over the No. 49 Dodge for BAM Racing with new sponsor Serta Mattresses and State Water Heaters, but was replaced by Kevin Lepage, who had started the season in the Peak Fitness Racing No. 61, which was the No. 66 in 2005. Ken Schrader moved to the famous Wood Brothers No. 21 Ford for Ricky Rudd which not only has the U.S. Air Force and Ford Motorcraft sponsorship, but also Little Debbie on board as a new sponsor. Clint Bowyer took over the wheel of the number 07 Jack Daniels sponsored car for Richard Childress Racing. Other moves saw Scott Wimmer moved to the Morgan-McClure Motorsports Aero Exhaust Chevrolet replacing Mike Wallace, Travis Kvapil moved from the Jasper team to the PPI Motorsports Tide Chevrolet team.  Furniture Row Racing announced it would run full-time with Kenny Wallace in the No. 78 Chevrolet.  In 2006, Toyota won its first NASCAR championship in the Truck series, with Todd Bodine in the #30 Toyota Tundra. Toyota also to run the Camry model in the 2007 Busch and NEXTEL Cup Series.

2007 - The 2007 NASCAR Sprint Cup title was the second in a row for Jimmie Johnson, who had 10 wins in the season along with 20 top-five finishes. This was also Rick Hendrick's seventh NASCAR Sprint Cup Series owner's title, which put him in second place behind Petty Enterprises in the team owner championship standings. Here are some changes that occurred during the 2007 season. It was officially announced on January 22 at the annual NASCAR Media Tour in Charlotte, North Carolina that two changes were made for the 2007 Chase for the NEXTEL Cup. The first is that wins became more important. The driver who finishes first now received 185 points instead of 180. Including the five-point bonus for leading a lap, and the possible five bonus points for leading the most laps, a driver could now get a maximum of 195 points for winning a race. The other changes involved the actual Chase. The top twelve drivers after the Chevy Rock and Roll 400 automatically qualified for the 2007 Chase. Additionally, each driver had their points reset to 5,000, plus ten points for each win during the first 26 races. However, when the season ended, only the top ten drivers would be honored at the annual banquet in New York City at the Waldorf-Astoria, NASCAR introduced a new car style known as the "Car of Tomorrow" for use in sixteen races in 2007. This car was the result of a design program which started after the death of Dale Earnhardt in the 2001 Daytona 500. It was intended to offer improvements in safety, performance, competition and cost efficiency. Plans for a partial schedule in 2008 were expanded to full usage after race results and owner feedback led to acceptance of the new car. Some drivers however, offered criticism over the decision, feeling the new design led to boring, uncompetitive races. (which it did). On May 10, 2007, it was announced that Dale Earnhardt, Jr. would be leaving the #8 Budweiser Chevrolet following the conclusion of the season as he could not get a contract extension with Dale Earnhardt, Inc., the driving team his father founded and run by his stepmother, Teresa Earnhardt. at a press conference on June 13, 2007, Dale Earnhardt Jr. announced a five-year deal to join Hendrick Motorsports. He replaced Kyle Busch, who at the time drove the #5 Kellogg's/Carquest Chevrolet; he subsequently joined Joe Gibbs Racing to replace J.J. Yeley in the #18 Interstate Batteries Toyota. Before the season opening Daytona 500, NASCAR team owner Jack Roush announced the sell-off of 50% of his team, Roush Racing to the Fenway Sports Group, who own the Major League Baseball team the Boston Red Sox. The newly formed alliance between two differing sports markets involved the team name to change to Roush Fenway Racing. However, this was only the beginning of what was referred to as "Merger mania". The week before the Allstate 400 at The Brickyard became the week NASCAR was all shaken up in the ownership boxes. On July 24, Dale Earnhardt, Inc. merged with Ginn Racing, inheriting the #01 US Army ride of Mark Martin and Aric Almirola. Another merger was announced on August 6 when former crew chief Ray Evernham announced the merger of his team, Evernham Motorsports, with George Gillett, owner of the National Hockey League team the Montreal Canadians. Michael Waltrip Racing Holdings LLC, a company created as a 50–50 partnership between Robert Kauffman and Michael Waltrip, was announced the weekend of the Bank of America 500 at Lowe's Motor Speedway.  Also during the race weekend for the Bank of America 500 at Lowe's Motor Speedway  it was revealed to the racing world that 1999 Cup champion and three time Daytona 500 winner Dale Jarrett would retire from full-time driving following the end of the 2007 season. In 2008, Jarrett drove in the first five points races, then handed the #44 UPS Toyota to David Reutimann for the Goody's Cool Orange 500. As Jarrett was the 1999 champion, entering the first five races, regardless of his previous standings, guaranteed his #44 in the field, as well as driving in the Budweiser Shootout and the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race.  Jason Leffler earned the first Busch Series win for Toyota while wheeling a Camry when he won at O'Reilly Raceway Park in July of 2007.

2008 - Jimmie Johnson etched his name in the NASCAR record books in 2008. The 2006/2007 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion added his third consecutive title, a feat matched only by the legendary Cale Yarborough, who won three in a row in 1976-78. Johnson also garnered another win at Indianapolis with his second Allstate 400 at the Brickyard victory in July. All this came after a disappointing start, as the #48 Lowe's team didn't score a win until the eighth race at Phoenix, and remained in the shadows while Kyle Busch and Carl Edwards dominated for most of the season. 2008 saw the introduction of the CoT (Car of Tomorrow) NASCAR announced on May 22, 2007 that the original timetable, which would have the full-time use of the single car template in 2009, was being abandoned as 80% of all owners were in favor of moving the full-time use of the CoT one year ahead so they would not race with two sets of rules for all but ten races. The Economic crisis of 2008, with high gas prices over US $4 a gallon caused NASCAR's largely blue-collar fan base to feel the pinch. While Bristol was one of a few tracks that still sold out, others saw crowds shrink. Daytona International Speedway sold out the Daytona 500, but not the Coke Zero 400. The economy also affected the teams themselves with high diesel fuel prices, with that fuel needed to power the semi-trailer trucks which transport the race cars to and from racetracks. Sponsorships also grew increasingly harder to come by, further increasing the gap between teams. Before the season began, Morgan-McClure Motorsports ceased operations for their single-car team, while Yates Racing had no major sponsor on the #28 and #38 cars that they run in the series. Even better sponsored teams struggled. On July 1, Chip Ganassi Racing shut down its #40 team with 2007 IndyCar Champion and Indianapolis 500 winner Dario Franchitti driving because of a lack of sponsorship funding, becoming the first major victim. Some other changed during 2008 included: Over-the-wall pit crews in NASCAR's three national series were able to hand push their car no more than three pit boxes away from their assigned pit box—limiting the crews to the same three-box length for pushing as the vehicles could drive through getting onto pit road; Outside tires that had been removed from a vehicle during a pit stop could no longer be free-rolled from the outside of the pit box to the wall. The tires were required to be hand-directed to the inner half of the pit box before being released; All three national series ran the same upgraded 17¾ gallon fuel cell which was used in the 2007 Nextel Cup Series. The fuel cell was a safety feature that was added that year, replacing the old 22-gallon cell; Money collected from fines issued to drivers and others was remitted to the NASCAR Foundation, which supported a variety of charitable initiatives. Previously, fine money had been added to the season-ending point funds paid to drivers based on their finish in the point standings.  Kyle Busch became the first Sprint Cup winner driving a Toyota when he won at Atlanta in March of 2008.  That year Busch would win a total of eight races. 

2009 - The economy proved to be a crisis for NASCAR in 2009.  Fuel prices came down from record highs, but corporate american was hesitant to shell out big bucks to sponsor race teams. As  a result, Chip Ganassi Racing merged with Dale Earnhardt, Inc. to form Earnhardt Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates. They fielded the No. 1 and No. 8 from DEI and No. 42 from Ganassi, and shut down the DEI No. 01 and No. 15 teams as well as Ganassi's No. 40 and No. 41 teams. The No. 42 team will run under the Chevrolet banner under the merger as it changes from Dodge. In addition, Front Row Motorsports has EGR support for their No. 34 car, to be driven by John Andretti. On January 19, Petty Enterprises merged with Gillett Evernham Motorsports for the merger with Petty's famous No. 43 joining the newly renamed Richard Petty Motorsports. On December 22, 2008, Bill Davis Racing was sold to California businessman Mike Held and BDR vice president Marty Gaunt, and was renamed Triad Racing Development. Hall of Fame Racing announced an alliance with Yates Racing on January 13, 2009 and named Bobby Labonte as the new driver of the No. 96 team as they move from Toyota to Ford.  The season saw several other in-season problems as the #28 team of Travis Kvapil shut down, and later Aric Almirola's team shut down also.  NASCAR also announced the total elimination of testing for all three divisions.  The ban included any tracks the CUP series raced on, as well as any track the Nationwide or Truck series raced on. Due to the economy General Motors had filed for bankruptcy and then cut all financial support to the Nationwide and Truck teams, and seriously curtailed support to the Cup series.  Chrysler also filed for bankruptcy and the Dodge teams lost their factory support.  Before years end, Richard Petty Motorsports would have to merge with Yates Racing and switch to racing Fords.  Race procedures also saw more changes. Before the start of the season, NASCAR changed restart rules regarding the final moments of all races in the Sprint Cup, Nationwide Series and Camping World Truck Series. Previously, when the race was inside the final ten laps, all cars/trucks on the lead lap were in a single-file restart in that window. As of the 2009 season, the window changed to the final 20 laps. The "lucky dog"/"free pass" rule will still be eliminated in the last ten laps of a race. However, before the June Pocono race, the entire restart procedure changed entirely in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. After being run successfully at the NASCAR Sprint Cup All-Star Race and in the Budweiser Shootout, NASCAR implemented a double-file restart system starting at Pocono for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. This change came at the request of fans, drivers, owners, and the media and as a result in a decrease in TV ratings during the NASCAR on Fox portion of the season. The entire field will line up double-file, much like the start of the race at every restart. The leaders and other lead lap cars are now in front always when taking the green flag. Cars who choose to stay out and not pit during a caution flag who are in front of the leaders are now waved-around to restart (double file) at the back of the field. The lucky dog/free pass rule is now in effect the entire distance of the race, and the double-file restarts are for every restart, including green-white-checkered finishes.  As far as the race season played out.  It saw Kyle Busch who posted 3 wins in the first eight races, and  and posted four wins by the first of May; ended up MISSING the Chase.  Another disappointed driver was Matt Kenseth.  He won two of the first three races, and also missed making the Chase  Jimmie Johnson seemed to have picked right up where he had left off in 2008; and posted three wins and a lot of consistent finished up to the time the Chase started.  Johnson then won three of the first five events in the Chase; grabbed the points lead and never looked back.  He added one more win at Phoenix and beat Mark Martin by over 100 points when the final curtain fell.  This was JOhnson fourth consecutive Cup Championship.  It was another disappointment for Martin who once again finished as the runner-up for the Championship.  

2010 - NASCAR announced in January they "boys have at it" rule (or 'no' rule).  NASCAR turned the racers loose to be more physical on the race track to produce more excitement and try to increase fan viewership. After race run-in were also allowed 'to an extent'.  The general rule was we don't have a line in the sand; but when someone steps over it - we'll know it and react"  This was the first year that the green-white-checkered finish was limited to just three attempts.  Also due to so many start-n-park teams the previous season, NASCAR added the first car out of the race to it's post-race inspection list.  On May 11th the new NASCAR Hall of Fame opened in Charlotte NC.  Jimmie Johnson, the 2009 Champion started the season strong winning three of the first five events.  Then went into a funk, and was mediocre at best up until he managed to put together two good week in June and win at Sonoma, and New Hampshire. Denny Hamlin had a great year putting together six wins before the Chase started.  Harvick and Kyle Busch posted three wins.  When the Chase kicked off Johnson still wasn't strong, but he was consistent. Clint Bowyer posted the first win in the Chase, while Johnson did manage to grab a win week #2. Six different drivers claimed wins the first six weeks with Greg Biffle, Tony Stewart, Jamie McMurray and Hamlin also posting wins.  Bowyer posted a second win to stay in contention week 7 and Hamlin got a second win in week 8.  With two weeks to go Hamlin led Johnson by 33 points.  Johnson finish a little better in week number nine and cut into Hamlins lead whittling it down to just 15 markers with Kevin Harvick a long-shot in third.  The final race would determine the Champ.  Johnson ran a good race and kept the pressure on Hamlin.  Hamlin got into a dust-up on lap #25 with Greg Biffle when it seemed he was just racing too hard too soon in the race.  Hamlin got some damage to his front splitter, and he struggled the rest of the day.  Johnson played it conservative since he saw Hamlin had his early issues, and didn't push the car until late in the race.  In the end Johnson captured CUP Championship number five; a truly amazing feat and one that has little chance of ever being broken.  The inaugural class of the NASCAR Hall of Fame – Bill France Sr., Bill France Jr., Richard Petty, Dale Earnhardt and Junior Johnson – is inducted in Charlotte, N.C. at the newly constructed Hall of Fame complex

2011 - The biggest surprise happened right at the start of the season.  Wheeling the Wood Brothers Ford painted in a throw-back paint scheme David Pearson drove to many victories; Trevor Bayne captured lightning in a bottle and won the 2011 Daytona 500.  For this unheralded upstart it was only his second ever CUP start. Bayne became the first driver to win the Daytona 500 in his first attempt since Lee Petty won the inaugural event in 1959. By winning in his second start in the Sprint Cup Series, Bayne tied Jamie McMurray for quickest victory at the start of a career. 2011 saw a few changes to the schedule.  Atlanta lost it's Spring event, while that slot ended up at Fontana CA.   The Chase schedule also saw a tweek as ChicagoLand became the first race in the Chase; while New Hampshire was moved to the second.  The number of men allowed over the wall on a pit stop was reduced by one; NASCAR went to a new 'vented' fuel can which did away with the need for a catch-can man.  NASCAR also announced that drivers can only be able to compete for the championship in one of NASCAR's three national racing series, which means the drivers who race in multiple series, most notably in the Cup and Nationwide Series, are able to compete in the races, but not for the championship. The way points were awarded were also adjusted. An announcement came on January 26, 2011, when Brian France announced that the winner of the race, excluding bonus points would receive 43 points, and each position lost one point from the position before, so that the first position would receive 43 points, while second would receive 42 and so on.  Any driver leading a lap would get one bonus point and the driver leading the most laps got an additional point. 2011 also saw a modification to the race cars front nose. The change removed the splitter braces, and made it a single molded piece.  Turns out this was a much sturdier piece, and sustained less damage. Finally the fuel for all major series in NASCAR changed from Sunoco unleaded to an ethanol blend called 'Sunoco Green E15. The season saw Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch nab six checkered flags. Matt Kenseth, Brad Keselowski and Jeff Gordon all visited the winner circle on three occasions.  While this was going on Tony Stewart was win-less and actually apologized for making it into the Chase field.  Stewart stated at one point "We are just terrible right now; and I feel bad for even being in the Chase because we are taking up a spot from a team who actually HAS a shot to win the title".  Carl Edwards had been the class of the field all season, and held the points lead for 21 races.  However when the final 10 race Chase started somehow Stewart managed to get up off the mat and make a strong showing.  SO strong in fact he grabbed the win in the first race of the Chase.  From there the fight was on.  Edwards and Stewart waged war each week and heading into the final race of the year Edwards held the lead by just three  points as the final race started.  To this point Stewart had won four of the nine Chase races.  Stewart ran into adversity and had ro rally from the back of the field - TWICE_.  For the record he passed 118 cars in this race. Stewart got a hole in his grille.  He had to pit for repairs and started at the rear when the green flew again. Shortly there after the yellow waved again, and it was back into the pits for more work on the grille.  Then the rains came and the red flag was out for over an hour. When racing resumed, Stewart continued to slice through the field and used several spectacular three- and four-wide passes to close in on Edwards. Rains came once again, and more waiting, But Stewart was fourth on the final restart, Edwards was sixth, and Stewart used a three-wide pass over Kyle Busch, Brad Keselowski and AJ Allmendinger to reclaim the lead. Although Edwards quickly moved into second, he couldn't catch Stewart as he sailed to his fifth Chase victory.  The points battle ended up in a flat-footed tie.  The first tie-breaker was 'most wins' and stewart have grabbed five wins in the final ten events, and held the advantage there so Stewart was the Champ.  The championship completes a total turnaround for co-owner Gene Haas, who sold half his slumping organization to Stewart in 2008 in a hope the driver could bring a spark to a team that struggled to stay inside the top-35 in points.  The second class of the NASCAR Hall of Fame is – David Pearson, Bobby ALlison, Lee Petty, Ned Jarrett,and Bud Moore

2012 - The 2012 season saw the Sprint Cup Series change to electronic fuel injection from carburetors, which had been used since 1949. Also NASCAR banned  communication between the driver and spotter to other drivers. The change was initially made to break up two-car racing at restrictor plate tracks, which had received criticism from spectators, but was later announced that it would be banned at all the races. Red Bull racing was missing from this list of owners as they shut the doors and closed down in December of 2011.  In what was probably his last CUP start, Bill Elliott wheeled the car #50 in the Daytona race in July.  The car was sponsored by Wal-Mart and the number in honor of it's 50th anniversary.  Three drivers showed strength all season Jimmie Johnson wheeled his Chevy to five wins, as did Brad Keselowski in his Ford and Denny Hamlin in his Toyota.  Matt Kenseth, Tony Stewart and Clint Bowler all garnered three wins, and all six made the Chase. Brad Keselowski won the first race of the Chase while Johnson seemed to never get in step the entire 10 race set.  He did manage to finish third in the points; while a surprising Clint Bowyer finished; but when the curtain came down on the 2012 season it was Brad Keselowski holding the hardware for the Drivers' Championship at the final race of the season.  It was also car owner Roger Penske's first Owners Championship Chevrolet won the Manufacturers' Championship with 249 points. Despite starting his season late, Stephen Leicht was the 2012 NASCAR Rookie of the Year after beating Josh Wise.  The 2012 class of the NASCAR Hall of Fame is – Cale Yarborough, Darrell Waltrip, Dale Inman, Richie Evans, and Glen Wood

2013 - The new "Generation 6" car was the car used for the 2013 season. NASCAR changed the car inspection process as well. The new process involves a laser mechanism which scans different parts of the car. Tolerances sudden got much tighter for race teams. The testing ban NASCAR had implemented in 2008 was relaxed so that each organization would be allowed to test up to four times, and all must be at different tracks.  NASCAR also made a step back and reverted to a process used for many years prior to 2005.  The top 36 qualifiers were locked in based on qualifying speed, with owners points making up the remainder of the 43 car field.  NASCAR also developed a new track drying system. Instead of using jet dryers as had been done in the past; NASCAR developed a system that was basically large vaccumes that sucked water off the track surface and pumped it into containers  driving alongside on the track apron.  It quickened drying time by at least 60%. NASCAR used group "European Style" qualifying at the road courses or Sonoma and Watkins Glen - with rumors it may be used full time in 2014; In the Championship battle, Jimmie Johnson led going into the final race and second place Matt Kenseth won the pole, and led a race high 144 laps.  Team-mate Denny Hamlin won the race while Kenseth finished second.  Johnson drove to a ninth place finish netted him his record sixth NASCAR Championship Title.  The fourth class of the NASCAR Hall of Fame is – Buck Baker, Cotton Owens, Herb Thomas, Rusty Wallace, and Leonard Wood

2014 - 2014 seemed to have 'change' as it's main theme.  This was the first year for another new Chase format; qualifying procedures were also changed to be done in a Formula One-style knockout qualifying; We also saw the Chase field expanded for 12 to 16 teams.  Any driver that won a race would automatically qualify for the Chase, with the remainder of the 16 driver Chase field determined by the highest drivers in points without a win; We saw  the final year of broadcasting for both the ESPN family of networks and Turner Sports. ESPN had covered the second half of the Sprint Cup season since 2007 while Turner Sports ended a thirty-one year relationship with NASCAR on TBS and later TNT.  For 2015, their portions of the season were divided up between Fox Sports and NBC.  When the dust had settled the record books will show that Kevin Harvick and Stewart-Haas Racing claimed the drivers' championship and owners' championship, while Chevrolet won the manufacturer's championship.  The new 'elimination style" Chase format saw four drivers advance to the final race - has all their points reset to 'zero', no points rewarded for laps led or most laps led; and it was a basic "whoever crosses the finish line first is the Champion" format  Ryan Newman, Joey Logano, Denny Hamlin, and Kevin Harvick went mano-a-mano is the heads up shootout with Harvick claiming the race win with Newman second.  Just a few laps from the end Newman was leading, but a very late race yellow flew and gave Harvick the opportunity he needed.  In one of the largest rookie classes in recent history, Kyle Larson was named Rookie of the Year.  2015 could be a break-out year for Larson as the rookie showed talent beyond his years.  The 2014 class of the NASCAR Hall of Fame is – Tim Flock, Jack Ingram, Dale Jarrett, Maurice Petty and Fireball Roberts

2015 - Rarely does a victory in an individual race take a back seat in the battle for most important storyline of a NASCAR showdown, but that is exactly what happened when Kyle Busch took home the checkered flag at the Ford EcoBoost 400 in Miami. The victory clinched Busch's first career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship in the same season that he missed the first 11 points races because of a broken foot and leg following a crash in an early Xfinity Series competition at Daytona International Speedway. Busch was in the chase for a championship because NASCAR granted him a waiver following the injury if he could climb into the top 30 in points before the end of the 26-race regular season. Other than the final race being for all the marbles; the biggest story was Jeff Gordon. He is one of the biggest legends in the history of the sport, and Sunday was his final race and an opportunity to go out on top. Gordon had won three weeks earlier at Martinsville to punch his ticket to race for the Championship at Homestead. Gordon and Busch was joined in the battle for the Championship by Martin Truex and Kevin Harvick. All the contenders found themselves at the front at various points of the race. Gordon struggled late in the event with rear grip issues knocking him out of contention. Late in the race Harvick lost the handle on his car leaving the battle between Truex and Busch. A late race yellow let Harvick make some adjustments and become a player again; but when the final green flew; Busch jumped to the lead and cruised to the win. When the final curtain fell the stats showed that Joey Logano would win the season opening Daytona 500; while Carl Edwards grabbed the World 600 victory. Edwards would also visit victory lane at Darlington with a Southern 500 victory. Logano won a season high six events; with Jimmie Johnson, Kyle Busch and Matt Kenseth claiming five each.Dale Earnhardt Jr and Kevin Harvick added three each. Unknown at the time; Earnhardt's win at Phoenix would be the final of his career. Brett Moffitt would claim Rookie of the Year honors besting Matt DiBeNedetto, Jeb Burton, Alex Kennedy, and Tanner Berryhill. The 2015 NASCAR Hall of Fame class included Bill Elliott, Fred Lorenzen, Wendell Scott, Joe Weatherly and Rex White.

2016 - The season kicked off at Daytona with Denny Hamlin making a pass on the final corner and beating out Martin Truex by mere inches to win the Daytona 500. Prior to the start of the season Tony Stewart over turned a dune buggy and suffered a burst fracture in his lumbar vertebra. He missed the first eight races of the season; and before returning to the drivers seat he announced that 2016 would be his final season behind the wheel. Stewart muscled past Hamlin on the final lap at the road course of Sonoma and went on to claim the final win of his career. Numerous side by side finishes and last lap passes marked the season. Martin Truex would claim the win in the Coke 600 and also the Southern 500. Kyle Larson's first career win would come at Michigan. Rookie Chris Buescher would also get his first career win in an unusual way. As he was off sequence in his pit stops; he found himself leading past the midpoint of the race. As large thick fog bank rolled in and settled over the speedway. It was os bad the race was eventuallt called official and Buescher went to victory lane. Jimmie Johnson would visit victory circle on five occasions while Brad Keselowski, Martin Truex, Kevin Harvick and Kevin Harvick won four times. Carl Edwards, Joey Logano and Hamlin won three times in a competive season that saw 13 different winners. Logano also would claim the big prize in the 2016 edition of the All Star race. The final race in the Chase came down to a battle between Jimmie Johnson, Joey Logano, Kyle Busch and Carl Edwards. On a restart with less than tens laps to go Edwards controlled the start. As the green flew; he pulled low to block Joey Logano. Logano never lifted and Edwards took a hard crash first into the inside wall; then back into the outside one. Meanwhile this was the break Jimmie Johnson had been looking for. His car had been horrible the whole race and they took a gamble and stayed out when many others pitted. He restarted at the front and fended off Kyle Larson and to grab the win and join Dale Earnhardt and Richard Petty as seven time NASCAR Cup Champions. After the season concluded as teams were looking forward to 2017; Joe Gibbs driver Carl Edwards unexpectedly announced he was retiring from NASCAR racing. Daniel Suarez was brought up from the Joe Gibbs Xfinity series to replace Edwards. In the Rookie of the Year battle, Chase Elliott would beat out Ryan Blaney, Chris Buescher, and Brain Scott to claim the honor. The 2016 NASCAR Hall of Fame class included Bobby Isaac, Terry Labonte, Curtis Turner, Jerry Cook (Modified Series) and Bruton Smith (promoter / CEO of Speedway Motorsports Inc.

2017 - The Daytona 500 was a highly competitive event that saw the race go caution free the final 47 laps. Kurt Busch would pull of the upset as he passed Kyle Larson on the final lap to get the win; the only lap Busch would lead. Ricky Stenhouse would get his first Cup win at Talladega and follow that with a second win at Daytona in July. Martin Truex was a monster on the 1 1/2 mile circuits. He claimed eight wins on the season; and all but one win would be on the 1 1/2 mile tracks Kyle Busch started the season slow; but came on strong in the end. He posted five wins in the season, three of those in the final nine races. Those two made the final race to run for the championship, along with Kevin Harvick and Brad Keselowski. At Homestead, Truex and Busch battled hammer and tong before Truex's crew was able to improve his car;s handling just about the time Busch's car faltered. Truex led the final 51 laps and beat Busch by 1/2 second to claim the win and the Championship. His forst and the first for Furniture Row owner Barney Visser. The other major events saw Austin Dillon use fuel strategy to grab the win in the Coke 600; his first win. The Southern 500 saw Denny Hamlin run down Truex in the waning laps of that race to claim that title. Kasey Kahne would win the BrickYard 400, and as history would show, it would be his final career Cup win. ALong with Stenhouse and Dillon, Ryan Blaney would grab his first Cup win. It would be win #99 for the Wood Brothers. Dale Earnhardt Jr won first ever pole at Talladega in last career start there. Earnhardt would retire at the end of the 2017 and join NBC as a NASCAR sports announcer in 2018. The season saw 15 different driver visit victory circle. Matt Kenseth would win at Phoenix; the last of his career. About mid-point of this year Joe Gibbs would announce that they would not renew Kenseth's contract for 2018. He won at Phoenix in a popular win. The 2017 NASCAR Hall of Fame class included Mark Martin, Benny Parsons, Raymond Parks (owner), Richard Childress (driver / owner), Rick Hendrick (owner). Erik Jones, Daniel Suarez and Ty Dillon battled for Rookie of the Year honors. Jones came out on top as he posted five Top 5 and 14 Top 10 finishes.  Danica Patrick would retire from full time driving at the end of the season.

2018 - The 2018 season will be known as the season of "the big three". Kyle Busch; Kevin Harvick and Martin Truex claimed 20 of the seasons 36 wins. The year kicked off at Daytona and Austin Dillon found victory lane after he punted Aric Almirola out of the way on the final corner of the race. For the second year in a row the winner of the 500 lead only the final lap. The Coke 600 would see Kyle Busch grab the win. Brad Keselowski got on a hot streak and won the Southern 500 and followed it up the next week with in win in the BrickYard 400. He won again the following week at Las vegas in the first round of the Chase. Speaking of Chase... Chase Elliott would finally get the monkey off his back and get his first career Cup win. Like his father before him; Chase finished second eight times before getting his first win. Chase also got his first win on a road course like his dad. Before the season was over Elliott would visit victory lane three times. At Charlotte in the All Star race Kevin Harvick would win. But the big news from this race was a totally new aero package. The package had increased drag and more aero opening to make the cars race more in a pack. It was a success and that same package will be used at most tracks in 2019. With the big three hogging all the wins; we still had Eric Jones win the race at Daytona in July for his first career win. After a successful season in 2017; Kyle Larson had a disappointing season getting shut out of the win column. NASCAR debuted a new circuit in 2018. Charlotte Speedway incorporated a road course into the speedway. Cars ran most of the normal oval track; and dove down into the infield to run a road course section. The ROVAL saw it's first action as the final race of round one of the Chase. After Jimmie Johnson and Martin Truex tangled in the final turn, Ryan Blaney got the win. As expected Busch; Truex, and Harvick advanced to the final race to vie for the Championship. They were joined by Joey Logano. All through the race Logano struggled and was only fast on a short run. Logano fell out of contention wil over 100 laps to go; but a late race yellow set up a short run to the checkers. The short race to the end proved to be just what the doctor ordered as Logano drove his car to the front and claimed the win and the Championship. Some of the biggest news unfolded after the season was over. Barney Visser; owner of Firniture Row Racing and Martin Truex's car, announced that due to a lack of full time funding for 2019, he was going to cease operations. This left Truex without a ride, but as highly suspected he was hired by Joe Gibbs racing to wheel the #19 car for 2019. Daniel Suarez moved to Stewart-Haas Racing. The other major news was the split of driver Jimmie Johnson and crew chief Chad Knaus. After 16 seasons together the pair went winless, and owner Rick Hendrick decided a change was in order. Knaus will be the new crew chief for William Byron and Johnson will be led by Kevin Meendering. Another driver that had a disappointing season was Denny Hamlin. After 12 consecutive season with at least one win; Hamlin was shut out. The 2018 NASCAR Hall of Fame class included Red Byron, Ron Hornaday, Ray Evernham (crew chief), Ken Squier (announcer) and Robert Yates (owner & engine builder). In sad news; we lost drivers David Pearson, James Hylton and Dan Gurney.


2019 -