Ricky Craven

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Richard Allen Craven
Ricky Craven 1997.jpg
Craven in 1997
Born (1966-05-24) May 24, 1966 (age 48)
Newburgh, Maine, United States
Achievements 1991 Busch North Series Champion
Awards 1981 Unity Raceway Rookie of the Year
1990 Busch North Series Rookie of the Year
1990, 1991 Busch North Series Most Popular Driver
1992 Busch Series Rookie of the Year
1995 Winston Cup Series Rookie of the Year
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series career
278 race(s) run over 11 year(s)
Best champ.
finish
15th (2002)
First race 1991 AC Delco 500 (Rockingham)
Last race 2004 EA Sports 500 (Talladega)
First win 2001 Old Dominion 500 (Martinsville)
Last win 2003 Carolina Dodge Dealers 400 (Darlington)
Wins Top tens Poles
2 41 6
NASCAR Nationwide Series career
142 race(s) run over 14 year(s)
Best champ.
finish
2nd (1993, 1994)
First race 1986 Oxford 250 (Oxford)
Last race 2006 Goody's 250 (Martinsville)
First win 1991 True Value 250 (Oxford)
Last win 1994 Meridian Advantage 200 (Nazareth)
Wins Top tens Poles
4 57 7
NASCAR Camping World Truck Series career
26 race(s) run over 2 year(s)
Best champ.
finish
14th (2005)
First race 2004 Sylvania 200 Presented By Lowe's (Loudon)
Last race 2005 Ford 200 (Homestead)
First win 2005 Kroger 200 (Martinsville)
Last win 2005 Kroger 200 (Martinsville)
Wins Top tens Poles
1 9 0
Statistics current as of December 2, 2012.

Richard Allen Craven (born May 24, 1966) is an ESPN broadcaster who works ESPN2's NASCAR Now and a race analyst for the network. Prior to his ESPN duties, he was a NASCAR driver who won in four different series—the K&N Pro Series, and the three national series.[1] He occasionally served as a pit reporter when NASCAR aired on TBS in the mid-1990s. Craven is perhaps most well known for winning in the closest finish in NASCAR Sprint Cup Series history.

Beginnings[edit]

Craven began racing at the age of 15 at Unity Raceway, winning twice as well as the Rookie of the Year award. The next year, he won 12 feature events and the track championship. In 1984 Craven raced at Wiscasset Raceway in the Late Model Division; in this year he won the track championship along with the Rookie of the Year title.[2] After that, he began running in the American Canadian Tour, where he had rampant success. In 1986, he made his NASCAR debut at Oxford Plains Speedway in his own #12, finishing 25th after suffering engine failure. Four years later, he began running the Busch North Series, winning the Rookie of the Year award. In 1991, he was named the champion in that series, winning ten times in the #25 SpeeDee Oil Change & Tuneup Chevrolet, with two of those ten wins in "combination" races with the Busch Grand National Series, including the prestigious Oxford 250. In addition, he made his Winston Cup debut at Rockingham, starting and finishing 34th for Dick Moroso. He moved to the Busch Series full-time in 1992 in the #99 DuPont Chevy for Bill Papke, and once again was named Rookie of the Year. In 1993 and 1994, he finished runner-up to Steve Grissom and David Green, respectively, in the championship standings.

1995–1998[edit]

Craven's 1997 racecar

In 1995, Craven teamed up with Larry Hedrick Motorsports and Kodiak to run for Winston Cup Rookie of the Year. Craven qualified for all 31 races, finished in the top-ten four times, and was able to defeat Robert Pressley for the top rookie award. For his efforts, he was rewarded with a partial ownership share in the team. He began 1996 with three consecutive top-ten finishes and his first career pole. He was fourth in points before the Winston Select 500, during which he was involved in a multi-car wreck. On lap 130, his car was launched into the air and impacted with the catch fence above the wall before being thrown back onto the track and hit by another car. This crash was similar[citation needed] to Jimmy Horton's barrel roll in 1993 where he cleared the track. Craven's flip completely sheared the catchfence off the turn and NASCAR threw a lengthy red flag to make repairs. He walked away, but fell to twentieth in points and only had one top-five finish and one pole for the rest of the season

At the end of the year, Craven left Hedrick to drive the #25 Budweiser Chevy for Hendrick Motorsports.[3] Craven finished in the top-five in the first two races of the season. He finished 3rd in the 1997 Daytona 500 behind his teammates Terry Labonte in 2nd and Jeff Gordon in 1st giving Hendrick Motorsports a 1-2-3 sweep of the Daytona 500. While practicing for the inaugural Interstate Batteries 500, Craven crashed hard into the wall. He missed two races due to a concussion suffered from the wreck. Upon his return, he won the Winston Open and finished a then-career-best 19th in points and a total of $1,139,860 in winnings for 1997. After the 1998 season started, the side effects of the concussion began to appear, and Craven was diagnosed with post-concussion syndrome, and was forced to miss several races until he recovered. He returned at his home track at New Hampshire International Speedway later that year won the pole. After four races, he was released permanently from Hendrick, and did not return until the final three races of the season, filling in for Ernie Irvan at MB2 Motorsports.

1999–2006[edit]

For 1999, Craven signed to drive the #58 Turbine Solutions Ford Taurus for Scott Barbour's SBIII Motorsports, a brand new team in NASCAR. Craven did not finish any better than 19th while he drove the car, and after he failed to qualify for the Coca-Cola 600, he was replaced by Loy Allen Jr.. Several weeks later, he signed up with another new team, Midwest Transit Racing replacing rookie Dan Pardus in the #50 and finished the season with them. Craven returned to the team in 2000, but after failing to qualify for four of the first nine races of the season, the team switched to a part-time schedule. Following this decision, Craven had four top-twenty finishes but finished 44th in points.

In January the next year, it was announced he would replace Scott Pruett in PPI Motorsports's #32 Tide Ford. Craven won the pole at the summer race at Michigan International Speedway, and at the Old Dominion 500 at Martinsville Speedway, Craven held off Dale Jarrett in the closing laps for his first career Winston Cup win. In 2002, he won two poles, finished in the top-ten nine times, and finished a career-best 15th in points. In 2003, Craven's team switched to Pontiac and with an in-house engine platform, and at the Carolina Dodge Dealers 400 at Darlington Raceway, he battled Kurt Busch for the win, defeating him by .002 seconds in what was voted in December 2009 as the Finish of the 2000s in the Sprint Cup Series.[4] That race he became the last-ever person to win in a Pontiac. Craven failed to visit victory lane again that season, and dropped twelve spots in points. After he did not post a single top-ten finish three-quarters of the way through the 2004 season, he was replaced by Bobby Hamilton Jr., and only returned to run at his home track at New Hampshire. His final Cup race he participated in was the 2004 EA Sports 500 at Talladega where he drove in a Joe Gibbs Racing development car, the number 11 Old Spice Chevrolet.

In 2005, Craven moved to the Craftsman Truck Series to drive the #99 Superchips Ford for Roush Racing. Despite a win at Martinsville Speedway and a fourteenth place finish in points, he and Roush parted ways when the season came to a close. His final start in NASCAR came at the Goody's 250 in the Busch Series for FitzBradshaw Racing. He finished 39th after the brakes on his #14 Family Dollar Dodge failed.

Post-retirement[edit]

Craven spent the next few years looking for a part-time ride, but none came through. He eventually retired and has since worked for ESPN and Yahoo! Sports as a NASCAR analyst.

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Sporting positions
Preceded by
Jamie Aube
NASCAR Busch North Series champion
1991
Succeeded by
Dick McCabe
Achievements
Preceded by
Jeff Burton
NASCAR Winston Cup Series Rookie of the Year
1995
Succeeded by
Johnny Benson
Preceded by
Jeff Gordon
NASCAR Busch Series Rookie of the Year
1992
Succeeded by
Hermie Sadler