2003 NASCAR Winston Cup Series

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2003 NASCAR Winston Cup Series season
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Champions | Seasons

The 2003 NASCAR Winston Cup Series was the 55th season of professional stock car racing in the United States and the 32nd modern-era Cup Series season. The season began with on February 8 at the Daytona International Speedway with the Budweiser Shootout and ended on November 16 at Homestead-Miami Speedway with the Ford 400. Matt Kenseth, driving the No.17 Ford for Roush Racing, was crowned the Winston Cup champion, despite winning only one race in the season. Chevrolet took home the NASCAR Manufacturers' Championship after capturing 19 wins and 264 points over second-place finisher Dodge, who had nine wins and 203 points. Ford finished the year third with seven wins and 200 points, and Pontiac finished fourth with one win and 125 points.[1]

This was the last year in which Winston was the title sponsor of the Cup Series. After it decided not to renew its sponsorship, NASCAR decided on the telecommunications firm Nextel to be the title sponsor of the new series.

In addition, NASCAR instituted a new points system after this season entitled the Chase for the Cup, in which after 26 races, all the points standings in the top ten as well as any position within 400 points of the lead, would be reset, so the drivers in those positions would be eligible for the championship. This was done primarily because of the huge lead Kenseth accumulated during 2003 despite winning one race.

Teams and drivers[edit]

Complete schedule[edit]

Matt Kenseth, the 2003 NASCAR Cup Champion
Jimmie Johnson came in second behind Kenseth by 90 points
Dale Earnhardt, Jr. finished third in the championship
Make Team No. Driver Crew chief
Chevrolet BACE Motorsports 74 Tony Raines (R) Larry Carter
Dale Earnhardt Incorporated 1 Steve Park 11 Tony Gibson
Jeff Green 12
Ron Fellows 2
John Andretti 10
Jason Keller 1
8 Dale Earnhardt Jr. Tony Eury
15 Michael Waltrip Slugger Labbe
Hendrick Motorsports 5 Terry Labonte Jim Long
24 Jeff Gordon Robbie Loomis
25 Joe Nemechek 32 Peter Sospenzo
Brian Vickers 4
48 Jimmie Johnson Chad Knaus
Joe Gibbs Racing 18 Bobby Labonte Michael McSwain
20 Tony Stewart Greg Zipadelli
Richard Childress Racing 29 Kevin Harvick Todd Berrier
30 Jeff Green 11 Mike Beam
Steve Park 25
31 Robby Gordon Kevin Hamlin
Dodge A. J. Foyt Racing 141 Larry Foyt 33 (R) Ben Holm
P. J. Jones 1
Mark Green 2
BAM Racing 49 Ken Schrader Scott Eggleston
Bill Davis Racing 22 Ward Burton 32 Frank Stoddard
Scott Wimmer 4
23 Kenny Wallace Phillipe Lopez
Chip Ganassi Racing 40 Sterling Marlin Lee McCall
41 Casey Mears (R) Jimmy Elledge
42 Jamie McMurray (R) Donnie Wingo
Evernham Motorsports 9 Bill Elliott Mike Ford
19 Jeremy Mayfield Kenny Francis
Penske Racing 2 Rusty Wallace Bill Wilburn
12 Ryan Newman Matt Borland
Petty Enterprises 43 John Andretti 14 Gary Putnam
Christian Fittipaldi (R) 11
Shane Hmiel 1
Scott Maxwell 1
Jeff Green 9
45 Kyle Petty 35 Greg Steadman
Christian Fittipaldi (R) 1
Ultra Motorsports 7 Jimmy Spencer 35 Tommy Baldwin Jr.
Ted Musgrave 1
Ford BelCar Motorsports 54 Todd Bodine Gary Cogswell
Jasper Motorsports 77 Dave Blaney Mark Harrah
Robert Yates Racing 38 Elliott Sadler Raymond Fox Jr.
88 Dale Jarrett Shawn Parker
Roush Racing 6 Mark Martin Pat Tryson
16 Greg Biffle (R) Doug Richert
17 Matt Kenseth Robbie Reiser
97 Kurt Busch Jimmy Fennig
99 Jeff Burton Paul Andrews
Wood Brothers Racing 21 Ricky Rudd Ben Leslie
Pontiac Haas CNC Racing 0 Jack Sprague (R) 18 Tony Furr
John Andretti 3
Jason Leffler 11
Ward Burton 4
MB2 Motorsports 01 Jerry Nadeau 10 Ryan Pemberton
Jason Keller 1
Mike Wallace 8
Boris Said 2
Mike Skinner 11
Joe Nemechek 4
10 Johnny Benson Jay Guy
Morgan-McClure Motorsports 4 Mike Skinner 15 Tim Brewer
Johnny Miller 1
Stacy Compton 2
Johnny Sauter (R) 6
Brett Bodine 1
Robert Pressley 1
P. J. Jones 1
Kevin Lepage 9
PPI Motorsports 32 Ricky Craven Scott Miller

Limited schedule[edit]

Manufacturer Team No. Race driver Crew chief Round(s)
Chevrolet Andy Petree Racing 33 Christian Fittipaldi 1
Paul Menard 2
BC Motorsports 78 Mike Harmon 1
Bill McAnally Racing 00 Jim Inglebright 1
Michael Waltrip Racing Buckshot Jones 2
Mike Skinner 1
Dale Earnhardt Incorporated 81 Jason Keller 1
John Andretti 1
FitzBradshaw Racing 83 Kerry Earnhardt 3
Hendrick Motorsports 60 David Green Gary DeHart 4
Brian Vickers 1
Joe Gibbs Racing 80 Mike Bliss 2
Joe Varde Racing 35 Joe Varde 1
Marcis Auto Racing 71 Tim Sauter 3
Jim Sauter 1
Mike Starr Racing 75 David Starr 1
Quest Motor Racing 37 Derrike Cope Ernie Cope 18
Richard Childress Racing 90 John Andretti 1
Ron Hornaday, Jr. 1
Dodge Arnold Motorsports 78 Rich Bickle 1
79 Billy Bigley, Jr. 5
Rich Bickle 1
Derrike Cope 1
Bill Davis Racing 27 Scott Wimmer 3
Shelby Howard 1
Chip Ganassi Racing 39 Scott Pruett Matt Chambers 1
Evernham Motorsports 91 Casey Atwood Sammy Johns 2
Petty Enterprises 44 Christian Fittipaldi (R) 5
Phoenix Racing 09 Mike Wallace 7
Scott Pruett 1
Buckshot Jones 1
Ultra Motorsports 07 Ted Musgrave 1
Ford BelCar Racing 66 Hideo Fukuyama 4
Brett Bodine Racing 11 Brett Bodine 5
Geoffrey Bodine 1
CLR Racing 57 Jeff Fultz 1
Brett Bodine 1
Kevin Lepage 2
Donlavey Racing 90 Kirk Shelmerdine 1
Harrah Racing 55 Jeff Fultz 1
Matrix Motorsports 71 Kevin Lepage 1
Robert Yates Racing 98 Jason Jarrett 1
Shepherd Racing Ventures 89 Morgan Shepherd 7
Team Rensi Motorsports 35 Bobby Hamilton, Jr. 3
Pontiac Morgan-McClure Motorsports 04 David Reutimann Garth Finley 2
Johnny Miller 1
Chevrolet
Pontiac
SCORE Motorsports 02 Hermie Sadler Jeff Buckner 19
Brandon Ash 3

Schedule[edit]

No. Race Title Track Date
Budweiser Shootout Daytona International Speedway, Daytona Beach February 8
Gatorade 125s February 13
1 Daytona 500 February 16
2 Subway 400 North Carolina Speedway, Rockingham February 23
3 UAW-DaimlerChrysler 400 Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Las Vegas March 2
4 Bass Pro Shops MBNA 500 Atlanta Motor Speedway, Hampton March 9
5 Carolina Dodge Dealers 400 Darlington Raceway, Darlington March 16
6 Food City 500 Bristol Motor Speedway, Bristol March 23
7 Samsung/RadioShack 500 Texas Motor Speedway, Fort Worth March 30
8 Aaron's 499 Talladega Superspeedway, Talladega April 6
9 Virginia 500 Martinsville Speedway, Ridgeway April 13
10 Auto Club 500 California Speedway, Fontana April 27
11 Pontiac Excitement 400 Richmond International Raceway, Richmond May 3
Winston Open Lowe's Motor Speedway, Concord May 17
The Winston
12 Coca-Cola 600 May 25
13 MBNA Armed Forces Family 400 Dover International Speedway, Dover June 1
14 Pocono 500 Pocono Raceway, Long Pond June 8
15 Sirius 400 Michigan International Speedway, Brooklyn June 15
16 Dodge/Save Mart 350 Infineon Raceway, Sonoma June 22
17 Pepsi 400 Daytona International Speedway, Daytona Beach July 5
18 Tropicana 400 Chicagoland Speedway, Joliet July 13
19 New England 300 New Hampshire International Speedway, Loudon July 20
20 Pennsylvania 500 Pocono Raceway, Long Pond July 27
21 Brickyard 400 Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Speedway August 3
22 Sirius at The Glen Watkins Glen International, Watkins Glen August 10
23 GFS Marketplace 400 Michigan International Speedway, Brooklyn August 17
24 Sharpie 500 Bristol Motor Speedway, Bristol August 23
25 Mountain Dew Southern 500 Darlington Raceway, Darlington August 31
26 Chevy Rock & Roll 400 Richmond International Raceway, Richmond September 6
27 Sylvania 300 New Hampshire International Speedway, Loudon September 14
28 MBNA America 400 Dover International Speedway, Dover September 21
29 EA Sports 500 Talladega Superspeedway, Talladega September 28
30 Banquet 400 Presented by ConAgra Foods Kansas Speedway, Kansas City October 5
31 UAW-GM Quality 500 Lowe's Motor Speedway, Concord October 11
32 Subway 500 Martinsville Speedway, Ridgeway October 19
33 Bass Pro Shops MBNA 500 Atlanta Motor Speedway, Hampton October 26-27
34 Checker Auto Parts 500 Phoenix International Raceway, Phoenix November 2
35 Pop Secret Microwave Popcorn 400 North Carolina Speedway, Rockingham November 9
36 Ford 400 Homestead-Miami Speedway, Homestead November 16

Budweiser Shootout[edit]

The Budweiser Shootout was held February 8 at Daytona International Speedway. It was won by No. 8 of Dale Earnhardt, Jr.. The race featured drivers who have won a pole in the previous season or have won the event before. 2003 marked changes to the race's format, for the first time the race ran at night. The 70-lap event was now split into two segments. After the first 20-lap segment a 10-minute intermission took place allowing drivers to make pit stops and repair their cars. The second segment featured a 50-lap race to the finish with cars restarting double file on all restarts. Drivers were also required to make at least one pit stop under the green flag.

Top ten results:

Pos. No. Driver Make Team
1 8 Dale Earnhardt, Jr. Chevrolet Dale Earnhardt, Inc.
2 24 Jeff Gordon Hendrick Motorsports
3 17 Matt Kenseth Ford Roush Racing
4 12 Ryan Newman Dodge Penske Racing
5 22 Ward Burton Bill Davis Racing
6 49 Ken Schrader BAM Racing
7 48 Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet Hendrick Motorsports
8 21 Ricky Rudd Ford Wood Brothers Racing
9 29 Kevin Harvick Chevrolet Richard Childress Racing
10 32 Ricky Craven Pontiac PPI Motorsports

Gatorade Twin 125s[edit]

The Gatorade 125s qualifying for the Daytona 500 were held on February 12 at Daytona International Speedway.

Race one Race two
Top ten results
pos. No. driver pos. No. driver
1 31 Robby Gordon 1 8 Dale Earnhardt, Jr.
2 30 Jeff Green 2 15 Michael Waltrip
3 21 Ricky Rudd 3 54 Todd Bodine
4 40 Sterling Marlin 4 2 Rusty Wallace
5 99 Jeff Burton 5 20 Tony Stewart
6 88 Dale Jarrett 6 48 Jimmie Johnson
7 24 Jeff Gordon 7 43 John Andretti
8 25 Joe Nemechek 8 9 Bill Elliott
9 22 Ward Burton 9 38 Elliott Sadler
10 42 Jamie McMurray 10 09 Mike Wallace

45th Daytona 500[edit]

Main article: 2003 Daytona 500

Top ten results

  1. 15- Michael Waltrip
  2. 97- Kurt Busch
  3. 48- Jimmie Johnson
  4. 29- Kevin Harvick
  5. 6- Mark Martin
  6. 31- Robby Gordon
  7. 20- Tony Stewart
  8. 19- Jeremy Mayfield
  9. 09- Mike Wallace
  10. 88- Dale Jarrett

Failed to qualify: Larry Foyt (No. 14), Brett Bodine (No. 11), Hermie Sadler (No. 02), David Green (No. 60), Kirk Shelmerdine (No. 90), Derrike Cope (No. 37), Mike Harmon (No. 78)

  • Michael Waltrip became a two-time winner of the "Great American Race", even though the race was rain-shortened.
  • Casey Mears made his debut and finished in 27th.
  • Ryan Newman had a crash in this race, in which his car got clipped by Ken Schrader coming off of turn 4 and slid down the front straightaway, flipping violently in the tri-oval and coming to a rest on its roof.
  • This was the shortest Daytona 500 ever recorded.
  • Since 1971, after they agreed to be the title sponsor for NASCAR's top series, this marked the 1,000th race for RJ Reynolds Tobacco Company and Winston.

Subway 400[edit]

The Subway 400 was held on February 23 at North Carolina Speedway. Dave Blaney was the pole winner.

  1. 88- Dale Jarrett
  2. 97- Kurt Busch
  3. 17- Matt Kenseth
  4. 32- Ricky Craven
  5. 42- Jamie McMurray
  6. 2- Rusty Wallace
  7. 6- Mark Martin
  8. 48- Jimmie Johnson
  9. 38- Elliott Sadler
  10. 77- Dave Blaney

Failed to qualify: none

UAW-DaimlerChrysler 400[edit]

The UAW-DaimlerChrysler 400 was held on March 2 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Bobby Labonte was the pole winner.

Top ten results

  1. 17- Matt Kenseth
  2. 8- Dale Earnhardt Jr.
  3. 15- Michael Waltrip
  4. 18- Bobby Labonte
  5. 20- Tony Stewart
  6. 99- Jeff Burton
  7. 12- Ryan Newman
  8. 40- Sterling Marlin
  9. 25- Joe Nemechek
  10. 1- Steve Park

Failed to qualify: Greg Biffle (No. 16), Brandon Ash (No. 02)

Bass Pro Shops 500[edit]

The Bass Pro Shops MBNA 500 was held on March 9 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Ryan Newman sat on the pole.

Top ten results

  1. 18- Bobby Labonte
  2. 24- Jeff Gordon
  3. 8- Dale Earnhardt Jr.
  4. 17- Matt Kenseth
  5. 20- Tony Stewart
  6. 38- Elliott Sadler
  7. 7- Jimmy Spencer
  8. 77- Dave Blaney
  9. 25- Joe Nemechek
  10. 12- Ryan Newman 1 lap down

Failed to qualify: Bobby Hamilton, Jr. (No. 35), Jeff Fultz (No. 57)

  • After finishing in 4th place, Matt Kenseth took the points lead and never looked back. He led the standings for 33 consecutive weeks on route to his first championship. His 33 consecutive week point lead is a NASCAR record.

Carolina Dodge Dealers 400[edit]

The Carolina Dodge Dealers 400 was held on March 16 at Darlington Raceway. Elliott Sadler sat on the pole.

Top ten results

  1. 32- Ricky Craven
  2. 97- Kurt Busch
  3. 77- Dave Blaney
  4. 6- Mark Martin
  5. 15- Michael Waltrip
  6. 8- Dale Earnhardt Jr.
  7. 38- Elliott Sadler
  8. 17- Matt Kenseth
  9. 9- Bill Elliott
  10. 20- Tony Stewart

Failed to qualify: none

  • This was the last time a Darlington race would be held on this date. Ricky Craven beat Kurt Busch by .002 seconds for the closest finish in NASCAR history.
  • This race was the place where Larry McReynolds said one of his famed phrases that has been repeated many times in commercials and in media "They touch! They touch!". He shouted that to Craven's contact with Busch down the frontstretch on the last lap.
  • This was Ricky Craven's final win.
  • This was also the last win for Pontiac in the sport.
  • Elliott Sadler won his first pole in this race.

Food City 500[edit]

Main article: 2003 Food City 500

The Food City 500 was held on March 23 at Bristol Motor Speedway. Ryan Newman was the pole winner for this race.

Top ten results

  1. 97- Kurt Busch
  2. 17- Matt Kenseth
  3. 18- Bobby Labonte
  4. 21- Ricky Rudd
  5. 16- Greg Biffle
  6. 40- Sterling Marlin
  7. 29- Kevin Harvick 1 lap down
  8. 48- Jimmie Johnson 1 lap down
  9. 24- Jeff Gordon 1 lap down
  10. 23- Kenny Wallace 1 lap down

Failed to qualify: Hermie Sadler (No. 02), Larry Foyt (No. 14)

  • NASCAR considered postponing the race due to the Start of the War in Iraq. The Government said to all professional sporting associations with their consent to go on.
  • This was NASCAR's 2000th race run in Cup Series History.
  • Kyle Petty got caught up in a wreck where the force of gravity was over 80g. This would be the largest crash until 2010.
  • Last top-10 finish for Kenny Wallace

Samsung/Radio Shack 500[edit]

The Samsung/Radio Shack 500 was held at Texas Motor Speedway on March 30, 2003. Texas native Bobby Labonte was the pole sitter for this race.

Top ten results

  1. 12- Ryan Newman
  2. 8- Dale Earnhardt Jr.
  3. 24- Jeff Gordon
  4. 01- Jerry Nadeau
  5. 6- Mark Martin
  6. 17- Matt Kenseth
  7. 30- Jeff Green
  8. 48- Jimmie Johnson
  9. 97- Kurt Busch
  10. 42- Jamie McMurray

Failed to qualify: Kerry Earnhardt (No. 83), David Starr (No. 75)

Aaron's 499[edit]

Main article: 2003 Aaron's 499

The Aaron's 499 was held at Talladega Superspeedway on April 6, 2003. Jeremy Mayfield won the pole.

Top ten results

  1. 8- Dale Earnhardt Jr.
  2. 29- Kevin Harvick
  3. 38- Elliott Sadler
  4. 32- Ricky Craven
  5. 5- Terry Labonte
  6. 40- Sterling Marlin
  7. 22- Ward Burton
  8. 24- Jeff Gordon
  9. 17- Matt Kenseth
  10. 31- Robby Gordon

Failed to qualify: Brett Bodine (No. 11), Larry Foyt (No. 14), David Green (No. 60) (Note: Phoenix Racing's Mike Wallace had originally failed to qualify, but Green's car was found too low and his time was disallowed.)

  • Dale Earnhardt Jr. became the first driver to win 4 consecutive races at Talladega.
  • The "Big One" did not take long and collected 27 cars on the lap 4, making this the largest crash in a Cup race in the modern era. The crash barely included Earnhardt, Jr, who started in the back of the field and managed to race his way to victory lane anyway.
  • Earnhardt was involved in a controversial decision at the end of the race where it appeared he went below the yellow line in an attempt to improve position. NASCAR ruled Earnhardt was forced down making it a clean pass.

Virginia 500[edit]

The Virginia 500 was held at Martinsville Speedway on April 13, 2003. Jeff Gordon won the pole.

Top ten results

  1. 24- Jeff Gordon
  2. 18- Bobby Labonte
  3. 8- Dale Earnhardt Jr.
  4. 99- Jeff Burton
  5. 38- Elliott Sadler
  6. 20- Tony Stewart
  7. 40- Sterling Marlin
  8. 2- Rusty Wallace
  9. 48- Jimmie Johnson
  10. 49- Ken Schrader

Failed to qualify: none

  • This race ended under caution.

Auto Club 500[edit]

Main article: 2003 Auto Club 500

The Auto Club 500 was held at California Speedway on April 27, 2003. Steve Park won the pole.

Top ten results

  1. 97- Kurt Busch
  2. 18- Bobby Labonte
  3. 2- Rusty Wallace
  4. 9- Bill Elliott
  5. 42- Jamie McMurray
  6. 8- Dale Earnhardt Jr.
  7. 15- Michael Waltrip
  8. 43- John Andretti
  9. 17- Matt Kenseth
  10. 40- Sterling Marlin

Failed to qualify: Kerry Earnhardt (No. 83), Hideo Fukuyama (No. 66)

Pontiac Excitement 400[edit]

The Pontiac Excitement 400 was held at Richmond International Raceway on May 3, 2003. Terry Labonte won the pole.

Top ten results

  1. 25- Joe Nemechek
  2. 18- Bobby Labonte
  3. 8- Dale Earnhardt, Jr.
  4. 31- Robby Gordon
  5. 6- Mark Martin
  6. 29- Kevin Harvick
  7. 17- Matt Kenseth
  8. 97- Kurt Busch
  9. 99- Jeff Burton
  10. 2- Rusty Wallace

Failed to qualify: Hermie Sadler (No. 02), Derrike Cope (No. 37), Hideo Fukuyama (No. 66)

  • Jerry Nadeau, driver of the No. 01 Pontiac for MB2/MBV Motorsports, was critically injured in a practice session for this race, and hasn't raced since. This race was shortened to 393 laps due to rain.
  • After this race, Jeff Green was fired for his remarks about Kevin Harvick and swapped rides with Steve Park in the 1 who was fired a day later than Green was. Steve would drive the 30 for the rest of the year while Green drove the 1 until Bristol.

The Winston[edit]

Results

  1. 48- Jimmie Johnson
  2. 97- Kurt Busch
  3. 18- Bobby Labonte
  4. 25- Joe Nemechek
  5. 15- Michael Waltrip
  6. 17- Matt Kenseth
  7. 29- Kevin Harvick
  8. 24- Jeff Gordon
  9. 99- Jeff Burton*
  10. 32- Ricky Craven
  11. 21- Ricky Rudd
  12. 40- Sterling Marlin
  13. 5- Terry Labonte
  14. 20- Tony Stewart
  15. 6- Mark Martin
  16. 9- Bill Elliott
  17. 8- Dale Earnhardt Jr.
  18. 88- Dale Jarrett
  19. 12- Ryan Newman
  20. 22- Ward Burton
  21. 2- Rusty Wallace
  22. 42- Jamie McMurray
  23. 38- Elliott Sadler
  24. 10- Johnny Benson
  • Burton entered via winning the Winston Open

Coca-Cola 600[edit]

Main article: 2003 Coca-Cola 600

The Coca-Cola 600 was held at Lowe's Motor Speedway on May 25, 2003. Ryan Newman won the pole. The race was shortened to 276 laps due to inclement weather.

Top ten results

  1. 48- Jimmie Johnson
  2. 17- Matt Kenseth
  3. 18- Bobby Labonte
  4. 7- Jimmy Spencer
  5. 12- Ryan Newman
  6. 15- Michael Waltrip
  7. 40- Sterling Marlin
  8. 24- Jeff Gordon
  9. 88- Dale Jarrett 1 lap down
  10. 22- Ward Burton 1 lap down

Failed to qualify: Hermie Sadler (No. 02), Brett Bodine (No. 11), Derrike Cope (No. 37)

MBNA Armed Forces Family 400[edit]

The MBNA Armed Forces Family 400 was held at Dover International Speedway on June 1, 2003. Ryan Newman won the pole.

Top ten results

  1. 12- Ryan Newman
  2. 24- Jeff Gordon
  3. 18- Bobby Labonte
  4. 20- Tony Stewart
  5. 10- Johnny Benson
  6. 2- Rusty Wallace
  7. 17- Matt Kenseth
  8. 32- Ricky Craven
  9. 31- Robby Gordon
  10. 5- Terry Labonte

Failed to qualify: Derrike Cope (No. 37), Hermie Sadler (No. 02)

  • Ryan Newman completed the last half of this race without power steering.
  • Brett Bodine's last career start.

Pocono 500[edit]

The Pocono 500 was held at Pocono Raceway on June 8, 2003. Jimmie Johnson won the pole.

Top ten results

  1. 20- Tony Stewart
  2. 6- Mark Martin
  3. 17- Matt Kenseth
  4. 8- Dale Earnhardt Jr.
  5. 12- Ryan Newman
  6. 40- Sterling Marlin
  7. 5- Terry Labonte
  8. 22- Ward Burton
  9. 38- Elliott Sadler
  10. 32- Ricky Craven

Failed to qualify: Derrike Cope (No. 37), Morgan Shepherd (No. 89)

  • On Lap 7 Ken Schrader gets loose and hits the wall and flips once before catching fire. He was uninjured.
  • With 3 laps to go, Jeff Green hits the inside wall on the backstretch and smashes the front of the car. This would lead to Tony Stewart winning the race under caution. Terry Labonte and Greg Biffle were also shown to have damage afterwards.

Sirius 400[edit]

The Sirius 400 was held at Michigan International Speedway on June 15, 2003. Bobby Labonte was the pole sitter.

Top ten results

  1. 97- Kurt Busch
  2. 18- Bobby Labonte
  3. 24- Jeff Gordon
  4. 17- Matt Kenseth
  5. 15- Michael Waltrip
  6. 40- Sterling Marlin
  7. 8- Dale Earnhardt Jr.
  8. 20- Tony Stewart
  9. 6- Mark Martin
  10. 5- Terry Labonte

Failed to qualify: Mike Skinner (No. 4), Larry Foyt (No. 14)

Dodge/Save Mart 350[edit]

The Dodge/Save Mart 350 was held at Infineon Raceway on June 22, 2003. Boris Said was the pole sitter.

Top ten results

  1. 31- Robby Gordon
  2. 24- Jeff Gordon
  3. 29- Kevin Harvick
  4. 9- Bill Elliott
  5. 12- Ryan Newman
  6. 01- Boris Said
  7. 1- Ron Fellows
  8. 2- Rusty Wallace
  9. 18- Bobby Labonte
  10. 19- Jeremy Mayfield

Failed to qualify: P. J. Jones (No. 14), Brandon Ash (No. 02), Paul Menard (No. 33), Jim Inglebright (No. 00)

  • Controversy erupted on lap 71. Kevin Harvick was leading race winner Robby Gordon when a caution came out for a crash at a different part of the track. Gordon kept charging, and passed Harvick in the keyhole turn, taking the lead before they crossed the start/finish line. Harvick called it a "chicken move" and Jeff Gordon said "I could not believe it when I saw it" and called his passing under the yellow "unheard of." The controversial pass, however, was entirely legal under NASCAR rules at the time, and Robby Gordon was assessed no penalty. The so-called "unethical breach of racing ethics" proved to be the winning edge, and Robby Gordon went on to win the race. He was subjected to considerable scrutiny and ridicule after the race. However, others considered the complaints hypocrisy or "sour grapes" by the losers.

Pepsi 400[edit]

Main article: 2003 Pepsi 400

The Pepsi 400 was held at Daytona International Speedway on July 5, 2003. Steve Park won the pole.

  1. 16- Greg Biffle
  2. 99- Jeff Burton
  3. 21- Ricky Rudd
  4. 5- Terry Labonte
  5. 18- Bobby Labonte
  6. 17- Matt Kenseth
  7. 8- Dale Earnhardt Jr.
  8. 19- Jeremy Mayfield
  9. 29- Kevin Harvick
  10. 88- Dale Jarrett

Failed to qualify: Kerry Earnhardt (No. 83), Tony Raines (No. 74), Shane Hmiel (No. 43), Christian Fittipaldi (No. 44)

  • This was Greg Biffle's first career Winston Cup victory.

Tropicana 400[edit]

The Tropicana 400 was held at Chicagoland Speedway on July 13, 2003. Tony Stewart sat on the pole.

  1. 12- Ryan Newman
  2. 20- Tony Stewart
  3. 48- Jimmie Johnson
  4. 24- Jeff Gordon
  5. 15- Michael Waltrip
  6. 99- Jeff Burton
  7. 31- Robby Gordon
  8. 42- Jamie McMurray
  9. 38- Elliott Sadler
  10. 19- Jeremy Mayfield

Failed to qualify: Jason Keller (No. 81)

New England 300[edit]

The New England 300 was held at New Hampshire International Speedway on July 20, 2003. Matt Kenseth won the pole.

  1. 48- Jimmie Johnson
  2. 29- Kevin Harvick
  3. 17- Matt Kenseth
  4. 12- Ryan Newman
  5. 31- Robby Gordon
  6. 8- Dale Earnhardt Jr.
  7. 88- Dale Jarrett
  8. 30- Steve Park
  9. 99- Jeff Burton
  10. 16- Greg Biffle

Failed to qualify: Tim Sauter (No. 71), David Reutimann (No. 04), Carl Long (No. 46), Larry Foyt (No. 50)

Pennsylvania 500[edit]

The Pennsylvania 500 was held at Pocono Raceway on July 27, 2003. Ryan Newman won the pole.

  1. 12- Ryan Newman
  2. 97- Kurt Busch
  3. 8- Dale Earnhardt Jr.
  4. 15- Michael Waltrip
  5. 5- Terry Labonte
  6. 99- Jeff Burton
  7. 25- Joe Nemechek
  8. 54- Todd Bodine
  9. 77- Dave Blaney
  10. 40- Sterling Marlin

Failed to qualify: Brett Bodine (No. 4)

Brickyard 400[edit]

Main article: 2003 Brickyard 400

The Brickyard 400 was held at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on August 3, 2003. Kevin Harvick won the pole.

  1. 29- Kevin Harvick
  2. 17- Matt Kenseth
  3. 42- Jamie McMurray
  4. 24- Jeff Gordon
  5. 9- Bill Elliott
  6. 31- Robby Gordon
  7. 97- Kurt Busch
  8. 7- Jimmy Spencer
  9. 6- Mark Martin
  10. 2- Rusty Wallace

Failed to qualify: Brett Bodine (No. 11), Ken Schrader (No. 49), Billy Bigley (No. 79), Ted Musgrave (No. 07), Robert Pressley (No. 4), Jim Sauter (No. 71), Christian Fittipaldi (No. 43), David Reutimann (No. 04), Hermie Sadler (No. 02)

Sirius at the Glen[edit]

The Sirius at the Glen was held at Watkins Glen International Raceway on August 10, 2003. Jeff Gordon was the pole sitter.

  1. 31- Robby Gordon*
  2. 39- Scott Pruett
  3. 8- Dale Earnhardt Jr.
  4. 48- Jimmie Johnson
  5. 29- Kevin Harvick
  6. 22- Ward Burton
  7. 88- Dale Jarrett
  8. 17- Matt Kenseth
  9. 12- Ryan Newman
  10. 6- Mark Martin

Failed to qualify: Ken Schrader (No. 49), Joe Varde (No. 35), Scott Maxwell (No. 43), Larry Foyt (No. 50)

GFS Marketplace 400[edit]

The GFS Marketplace 400 was held at Michigan International Speedway on August 17, 2003. Bobby Labonte won the pole.

  1. 12- Ryan Newman
  2. 29- Kevin Harvick
  3. 20- Tony Stewart
  4. 16- Greg Biffle
  5. 30- Steve Park
  6. 31- Robby Gordon
  7. 15- Michael Waltrip
  8. 49- Ken Schrader
  9. 17- Matt Kenseth
  10. 10- Johnny Benson

Failed to qualify: Stacy Compton (No. 4)

  • Meanwhile, through the race, Todd Bodine bounces off Kurt Busch and then into Kenny Wallace, causing Bodine to get airborne and land on Wallace and erupt in flames. Fortunately both drivers escaped.
  • An altercation occurred between Kurt Busch and Jimmy Spencer after the race and punches were thrown. A police report was filed and Jimmy Spencer was suspended for the next weeks race at Bristol. Kurt would be on probation after this race.

Sharpie 500[edit]

The Sharpie 500 was held at Bristol Motor Speedway on August 23, 2003. Jeff Gordon sat on the pole.

  1. 97- Kurt Busch
  2. 29- Kevin Harvick
  3. 42- Jamie McMurray
  4. 17- Matt Kenseth
  5. 48- Jimmie Johnson
  6. 12- Ryan Newman
  7. 88- Dale Jarrett
  8. 32- Ricky Craven
  9. 8- Dale Earnhardt Jr.
  10. 19- Jeremy Mayfield

Failed to qualify: Hermie Sadler (No. 02), Billy Bigley (No. 79), Derrike Cope (No. 37)

  • Fans disagreement over the suspension of Jimmy Spencer and only placing Kurt Busch on probation stemming from the incident the previous week prompted fans to boo Busch as he exited his car in victory lane.

Mountain Dew Southern 500[edit]

The Mountain Dew Southern 500 was held at Darlington Speedway on August 31, 2003. This would be the last time the race was held on this date (See notes below). Ryan Newman sat on the pole.

  1. 5- Terry Labonte
  2. 29- Kevin Harvick
  3. 48- Jimmie Johnson
  4. 42- Jamie McMurray
  5. 9- Bill Elliott
  6. 19- Jeremy Mayfield
  7. 18- Bobby Labonte
  8. 32- Ricky Craven
  9. 38- Elliott Sadler
  10. 16- Greg Biffle

Failed to qualify: Larry Foyt (No. 50)

  • This was Terry Labonte's first cup win since Texas in 1999, as well as Labonte's final career win on the Cup circuit.
  • This was the last Southern 500 to be held on its traditional Labor Day weekend date until 2015.
  • This race has been labeled by millions of fans as the most popular win of 2003.

Chevy Rock and Roll 400[edit]

The Chevy Rock and Roll 400 was held at Richmond International Raceway on September 6, 2003. Mike Skinner sat on the pole.

  1. 12- Ryan Newman
  2. 19- Jeremy Mayfield
  3. 21- Ricky Rudd
  4. 99- Jeff Burton
  5. 2- Rusty Wallace
  6. 18- Bobby Labonte
  7. 17- Matt Kenseth
  8. 5- Terry Labonte
  9. 10- Johnny Benson
  10. 24- Jeff Gordon

Failed to qualify: Larry Foyt (No. 50), Billy Bigley (No. 79)

  • With 8 laps to go, Kevin Harvick got loose against Ricky Rudd and spun in the wall. After the race, both cars stopped in the pit road and both drivers began a scuffle between the No. 21 and No. 29 with the pit crew member yells during the fight. Following an incident between Rudd and Harvick, Harvick fined $35,000 and crew chief Todd Berrier fined $10,000 for the incident. In addition, two other pit crew member fined $2,500 each and both pit crew members suspended for the next week's race.

Sylvania 300[edit]

The Sylvania 300 was held at New Hampshire International Speedway on September 14, 2003. Ryan Newman sat on the pole.

  1. 48- Jimmie Johnson
  2. 21- Ricky Rudd
  3. 25- Joe Nemechek
  4. 9- Bill Elliott
  5. 8- Dale Earnhardt Jr.
  6. 2- Rusty Wallace
  7. 17- Matt Kenseth
  8. 38- Elliott Sadler
  9. 12- Ryan Newman
  10. 42- Jamie McMurray

Failed to qualify: Larry Foyt (No. 50), Derrike Cope (No. 37), Morgan Shepherd (No. 89), Carl Long (No. 46)

  • This was the final Cup race in which drivers raced back to the start-finish line as soon as a caution flag came out. Dale Jarrett's No. 88 Ford hit the wall exiting turn 4 and stopped in the middle of the track. Many cars entering the front straight swerved wildly trying to avoid Jarrett's car.

MBNA America 400[edit]

The MBNA America 400 was held at Dover International Speedway on September 21, 2003. Qualifying was cancelled due to Hurricane Isabel; as a result, Matt Kenseth sat on the pole on owner points.

  1. 12- Ryan Newman
  2. 19- Jeremy Mayfield
  3. 20- Tony Stewart
  4. 29- Kevin Harvick
  5. 24- Jeff Gordon
  6. 42- Jamie McMurray
  7. 16- Greg Biffle
  8. 48- Jimmie Johnson
  9. 17- Matt Kenseth
  10. 21- Ricky Rudd

Failed to qualify: Larry Foyt (No. 50), Morgan Shepherd (No. 89), Billy Bigley (No. 79), Scott Wimmer (No. 27), Christian Fittipaldi (No. 44), Tim Sauter (No. 71)

  • Starting with this race, racing back to the caution was eliminated. At the moment the caution flag comes out, the field is frozen; running order is determined by video replays and scoring loops around the track. It also introduced the Lucky dog rule, in which the highest-running driver not on the lead lap gets a lap back when the caution period begins.

EA Sports 500[edit]

The EA Sports 500 was held September 28, 2003 at Talladega Superspeedway. Elliott Sadler won the pole.

Top ten results:

Pos. No. Driver Make Team
1 15 Michael Waltrip Chevrolet Dale Earnhardt Inc.
2 8 Dale Earnhardt Jr. Chevrolet Dale Earnhardt Inc.
3 20 Tony Stewart Chevrolet Joe Gibbs Racing
4 12 Ryan Newman Dodge Penske Racing
5 24 Jeff Gordon Chevrolet Hendrick Motorsports
6 97 Kurt Busch Ford Roush Racing
7 29 Kevin Harvick Chevrolet Richard Childress Racing
8 32 Ricky Craven Pontiac PPI Motorsports
9 2 Rusty Wallace Dodge Penske Racing
10 09 Mike Wallace Dodge Phoenix Racing
  • An early wreck took place on lap 10 when Jeremy Mayfield had a tire go down, during pit stops Dale Earnhardt, Jr. made contact with Jeff Green resulting in damage to his car's nose. Earnhardt Jr. would go a lap down on lap 62 after damage repair to his car. On lap 143 the 3rd caution came out when leader Jimmie Johnson was sent spinning down to the inside of Turn 1 after Dale Earnhardt Jr. bumped Michael Waltrip who slapped the side of Johnson, Johnson's car slid back up the Turn 1 banking barely missing a few cars. Dale Earnhardt Jr. was the lucky dog during the caution and got back on the lead lap. On lap 158 Johnson retired to the garage with engine problems. On lap 182 with 7 laps of racing left Elliott Sadler who was racing four wide near the front of the pack down the backstretch went to block Kurt Busch. Sadler made contact with Busch and was turned around, as the car spun it became airborne flipping through the air then landing on the roof near the entrance of Turn 3. The car continued to slide across the grass to the track pavement in Turn 3, when the car caught the pavement it tumbled 5 more times before coming to a stop. Elliott Sadler was removed from the car and was ok. The race was red flagged as track workers cleaned up debris. Michael Waltrip led during the restart with 5 laps to go, Waltrip led all of the last five laps with drafting help from teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr., as the checkered flag waved cars were running 5 wide mid pack when Bill Elliott made contact with Bobby Labonte creating a small wreck in Turn 1. Waltrip celebrated the win by popping out of his car's newly installed emergency roof hatch after doing donuts on the infield grass.[2]
  • Michael Waltrip's last career victory.

Did not qualify: Jason Leffler (No. 0), Kevin Lepage (No. 4), Steve Park (No. 30), Kyle Petty (No. 45), Mike Bliss (No. 80), Todd Bodine (No. 54)

Banquet 400[edit]

The Banquet 400 was held at Kansas Speedway on October 5, 2003. Dale Earnhardt, Jr. sat on the pole.

  1. 12- Ryan Newman
  2. 9- Bill Elliott
  3. 19- Jeremy Mayfield
  4. 20- Tony Stewart
  5. 24- Jeff Gordon
  6. 29- Kevin Harvick
  7. 48- Jimmie Johnson
  8. 42- Jamie McMurray
  9. 2- Rusty Wallace
  10. 21- Ricky Rudd

Failed to qualify: Larry Foyt (No. 14), Johnny Sauter (No. 4)

UAW-GM Quality 500[edit]

The UAW-GM Quality 500 was held at Lowe's Motor Speedway on October 11, 2003. Ryan Newman sat on the pole.

  1. 20- Tony Stewart
  2. 12- Ryan Newman
  3. 48- Jimmie Johnson
  4. 9- Bill Elliott
  5. 24- Jeff Gordon
  6. 18- Bobby Labonte
  7. 42- Jamie McMurray
  8. 17- Matt Kenseth
  9. 8- Dale Earnhardt, Jr.
  10. 29- Kevin Harvick

Failed to qualify: Ken Schrader (No. 49), Hermie Sadler (No. 02), Mark Green (No. 14), Jeff Fultz (No. 55)

  • This was the first fall race at Charlotte to be held on a Saturday night.
  • Brian Vickers made his NASCAR debut, finishing in 33rd.

Subway 500[edit]

The Subway 500 was held at Martinsville Speedway on October 19, 2003. Jeff Gordon sat on the pole.

  1. 24- Jeff Gordon
  2. 48- Jimmie Johnson
  3. 20- Tony Stewart
  4. 8- Dale Earnhardt Jr.
  5. 12- Ryan Newman
  6. 5- Terry Labonte
  7. 29- Kevin Harvick
  8. 42- Jamie McMurray
  9. 9- Bill Elliott
  10. 99- Jeff Burton

Failed to qualify: Mark Green (No. 14), Morgan Shepherd (No. 89)

  • Jeff Gordon led the race's majority, having led 313 of the race's 500 laps on his way to victory. Gordon also swept both Martinsville races for the 2003 season.

Bass Pro Shops MBNA 500[edit]

The Bass Pro Shops MBNA 500 was held at Atlanta Motor Speedway on October 26 – October 27, 2003. Ryan Newman sat on the pole.

  1. 24- Jeff Gordon
  2. 20- Tony Stewart
  3. 48- Jimmie Johnson
  4. 9- Bill Elliott
  5. 18- Bobby Labonte
  6. 8- Dale Earnhardt, Jr.
  7. 19- Jeremy Mayfield
  8. 97- Kurt Busch
  9. 7- Jimmy Spencer
  10. 01- Joe Nemechek

Failed to qualify: Jeff Green (No. 43), Buckshot Jones (No. 00), Larry Foyt (No. 14), Mike Wallace (No. 09), Billy Bigley (No. 79), Shelby Howard (No. 27)

  • The race was suspended after 39 laps due to rain and resumed the following day.
  • A crash involving Ryan Newman and Dale Earnhardt Jr. with 4 laps left caused the race to finish under caution.

Checker Auto Parts 500[edit]

The Checker Auto Parts 500 was held Phoenix International Raceway on November 2, 2003. Ryan Newman sat on the pole.

  1. 8- Dale Earnhardt, Jr.
  2. 48- Jimmie Johnson
  3. 12- Ryan Newman
  4. 97- Kurt Busch
  5. 15- Michael Waltrip
  6. 17- Matt Kenseth
  7. 24- Jeff Gordon
  8. 99- Jeff Burton
  9. 22- Scott Wimmer
  10. 6- Mark Martin

Failed to qualify: Derrike Cope (No. 37), Brandon Ash (No. 02)

Pop Secret Microwave Popcorn 400[edit]

The Pop Secret Microwave Popcorn 400 was held at North Carolina Speedway on November 9, 2003. Ryan Newman sat on the pole.

  1. 9- Bill Elliott
  2. 48- Jimmie Johnson
  3. 19- Jeremy Mayfield
  4. 17- Matt Kenseth
  5. 12- Ryan Newman
  6. 74- Tony Raines
  7. 99- Jeff Burton
  8. 18- Bobby Labonte
  9. 20- Tony Stewart
  10. 40- Sterling Marlin

Failed to qualify: Hermie Sadler (No. 02), Tim Sauter (No. 71), Rich Bickle (No. 79)

  • This was Bill Elliott's final win.
  • This was the final Rockingham race in the fall.
  • Matt Kenseth clinched the Championship by finishing in 4th place. Ironically, back at Atlanta in March, Kenseth finished 4th in that race to claim the lead in the Championship standings and never looked back. Then, he finishes 4th in this race as well to clinch the Championship.

Ford 400[edit]

Main article: 2003 Ford 400

The Ford 400, the final race of the season, and the last race ever under the "Winston Cup" name, was held at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 16, 2003. Jamie McMurray sat on the pole.

  1. 18- Bobby Labonte
  2. 29- Kevin Harvick
  3. 48- Jimmie Johnson
  4. 10- Johnny Benson
  5. 24- Jeff Gordon
  6. 19- Jeremy Mayfield
  7. 20- Tony Stewart
  8. 9- Bill Elliott
  9. 42- Jamie McMurray
  10. 40- Sterling Marlin

Failed to qualify: Ken Schrader (No. 49), Kyle Petty (No. 45), Mike Wallace (No. 09), Derrike Cope (No. 79), Rich Bickle (No. 78)

  • First race with new configuration at Miami.
  • With one lap remaining, Bill Elliott was leading when he cut a tire between turns 1 and 2, handing the win to Bobby Labonte, the only lap he led.
  • Matt Kenseth, who had clinched the Winston Cup title at Rockingham one week earlier, finished 43rd due to a blown engine on lap 28, his worst finish of the season.
  • This was the last time Labonte won. This would be 2 races in a row where 2 drivers last wins happened (Bill Elliott was the week before).
  • This marked the final race for Winston as NASCAR's title sponsor for the Cup Series after 33 seasons.
  • This marked the final race for Unocal 76. It had been the official fuel of NASCAR since the sport's inception in 1948.

Final points standings[edit]

Pos. Driver Pts. Pts. Behind Wins
1 Matt Kenseth 5022 Champion 1
2 Jimmie Johnson 4932 -90 3
3 Dale Earnhardt Jr. 4815 -207 2
4 Jeff Gordon 4785 -237 3
5 Kevin Harvick 4770 -252 1
6 Ryan Newman 4711 -311 8
7 Tony Stewart 4549 -473 2
8 Bobby Labonte 4377 -645 2
9 Bill Elliott 4303 -719 1
10 Terry Labonte 4162 -860 1
11 Kurt Busch 4150 -872 4
12 Jeff Burton 4109 -913 0
13 Jamie McMurray (R) 3965 -1057 0
14 Rusty Wallace 3950 -1072 0
15 Michael Waltrip 3934 -1088 2
16 Robby Gordon 3856 -1166 2
17 Mark Martin 3769 -1253 0
18 Sterling Marlin 3745 -1277 0
19 Jeremy Mayfield 3736 -1286 0
20 Greg Biffle (R) 3696 -1326 1
21 Ward Burton 3550 -1472 0
22 Elliott Sadler 3525 -1497 0
23 Ricky Rudd 3521 -1501 0
24 Johnny Benson 3448 -1574 0
25 Joe Nemechek 3426 -1596 1
26 Dale Jarrett 3358 -1664 1
27 Ricky Craven 3334 -1688 1
28 Dave Blaney 3194 -1828 0
29 Jimmy Spencer 3147 -1875 0
30 Kenny Wallace 3061 -1961 0
31 Todd Bodine 2976 -2046 0
32 Steve Park 2923 -2099 0
33 Tony Raines (R) 2772 -2250 0
34 Jeff Green 2656 -2366 0
35 Casey Mears (R) 2638 -2384 0

Rookie of the Year[edit]

The easy favorite for Rookie of the Year heading was Jamie McMurray, who had won the previous year in just his second start, and he did not disappoint, posting thirteen top-tens and a pole position despite not winning again. Runner-up Greg Biffle finished in the top-25 in the first two races, failed to qualify at Las Vegas, then won the Pepsi 400, while Tony Raines posted just one top ten finish in BACE Motorsports' only full season in Winston Cup. Casey Mears could not finish higher than 15th in his debut season, but has gone on since to garner sixteen top-tens. Former Craftsman Truck Series champion Jack Sprague only lasted eighteen races before being released from his No. 0 ride, while Larry Foyt's best finish in 20 starts was a sixteenth at the season ending race at Homestead. The only other declared candidate, Hideo Fukuyama, dropped out early due to a lack of funding from his BelCar Racing team.

References[edit]