Friday night's Virginia 529 College Savings 250 race at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway will mark a milestone for the NASCAR Nationwide Series. It'll be the series' 1000th race (see slideshow of memorable moments at left).
"The NASCAR Nationwide Series always has been a perfect blend of young and veteran drivers, providing some of the most compelling and entertaining racing in motorsports," NASCAR President Mike Helton said. "We are very pleased with the progress the series has made over the last 32 years and continues to make in terms of competition, technology and providing a truly memorable experience for its legions of fans."
The Nationwide (then-Busch) Series was born with its first race at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway on Feb. 13, 1982. NASCAR Hall of Famer Dale Earnhardt was the winner in that first race. Earnhardt was already a champion in NASCAR's Winston (now-Sprint) Cup Series at that time.
Earnhardt may have won the first race, but Jack Ingram was the first series champion on the strength of a seven-win season. He also claimed the Busch Series title in 1985 with a five-win season. Ingram is set to be inducted into the Hall of Fame in January. At Richmond, Elliott Sadler's No. 11 will don a paint scheme honoring Ingram.
Ingram wasn't the first series two-time champion, though. That honor goes to Sam Ard. Ard won back-to-back titles in 1983 and 1984. In all, eight drivers have claimed two championships. Others include Larry Pearson, Randy LaJoie, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kevin Harvick, Martin Truex Jr. and Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
Kyle Busch is the series' winningest driver with 60 trips to victory lane. He toppled Mark Martin's old record as the circuit's winningest driver with his 50th-career win on Aug. 26, 2011, at Bristol (Ten.) Motor Speedway.