Busch Series champions and milestones

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The Busch Series celebrates the 25th anniversary of its current incarnation this season, though earlier versions of the circuit date back to 1950.

The following is a list of notable moments and accomplishments in Busch Series history and series champions:

  • 1950: The origin of the NASCAR Busch Series traces back to this year when the series is known as the NASCAR Sportsman Division. Drivers frequently compete in three to four races per week – approximately 60 races per year – throughout the East Coast region of the United States. Some of the notable names claiming championships in this division include: Ralph Earnhardt (1956) and Ned Jarrett (1957-58).

  • 1968: The NASCAR Sportsman Division undergoes its first name change, now known as the NASCAR Late Model Sportsman Division.

  • 1982: NASCAR Late Model Sportsman Division is consolidated into a national touring series. The inaugural season consists of 29 races in the first season and is renamed the NASCAR Budweiser Late Model Sportsman Series.

  • February 13, 1982: First race of the new touring series is held at Daytona International Speedway – the Goody's 300. Mike Porter takes the pole position and Dale Earnhardt wins the inaugural race in a Pontiac. This race also marks the first superspeedway event in the history of the series.

  • February 20, 1982: Series competes in its first short track race, the Eastern 150 at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway. Tommy Houston wins the event.

  • March 28, 1982: Diane Teel becomes the first female driver to start a NASCAR Busch Series race, competing at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway and finishing 26th.

  • October 31, 1982: The series championship comes down to the final race of the season at Martinsville Speedway between Jack Ingram and Sam Ard. Ingram, despite a 26th-place finish, holds off Ard, who finishes sixth, to claim the first series title by 49 points.

  • October 8, 1983: Sam Ard establishes a series record with four consecutive wins during the season. Ard wins at South Boston (Va.) Speedway (9/17); Martinsville Speedway (9/24); Orange County (N.C.) Speedway (10/1); and Charlotte Motor Speedway (10/8). The series record still stands.

  • 1984: One of the most important milestones in series history as Anheuser-Busch switches its series sponsorship from its Budweiser brand to Busch. The NASCAR Budweiser Late Model Sportsman Series is renamed the NASCAR Busch Grand National Series.

  • May 26-27, 1984: Bobby Allison becomes the first driver to sweep a race weekend at Charlotte Motor Speedway. He wins the NASCAR Busch Series race – the Mello Yello 300 – on Saturday and comes back the next day to win the World 600 in NASCAR's top division.

  • October 20, 1984: Sam Ard clinches his second consecutive NASCAR Busch Series title, becoming the first driver in history to win back-to-back championships. He also becomes the first multiple champion in the series.

  • 1985: Jack Ingram captures his second NASCAR Busch Series Grand National title, joining two-time champ Ard as the only champions in the four-year-old series.

  • July 6, 1986: The series' first road course race is held at Road Atlanta in Braselton, Ga. The race is won by Darrell Waltrip.

  • 1987: Larry Pearson, son of the legendary David Pearson, wins his second consecutive series championship, joining Sam Ard (1983-84) as the only drivers at this stage to win back-to-back titles.

  • 1989: The Raybestos Rookie of the Year award is established, with Kenny Wallace claiming the inaugural honor. Wallace edges Bobby Hamilton for the award, posting 16 top-10 finishes in 29 starts en route to a sixth-place finish in the championship. Jack Ingram earns the achievement of first driver in the NASCAR Busch Series to earn $1 million in his career.

  • 1992: Joe Nemechek earns the NASCAR Busch Series championship in the closest battle in series history. Nemechek defeats runner-up Bobby Labonte by just three points for the crown. The margin remains the closest in series history. Jeff Gordon becomes the first driver to win $100,000 in a NASCAR Busch Series race at Lowe's Motor Speedway.

  • 1995: The series name is altered slightly, changing to NASCAR Busch Series, Grand National Division.

  • October 19, 1996: Tommy Houston, a 15-year series veteran, makes his final NASCAR Busch Series start at the season finale at North Carolina Speedway in Rockingham, N.C. Houston, who finishes 39th that day, concludes his career with a series-record 417 starts.

  • 1997: Randy LaJoie becomes the third driver in history to win back-to-back NASCAR Busch Series championships, joining Sam Ard (1983-84) and Larry Pearson (1986-87). LaJoie also becomes the first driver to earn $1 million in a single season. It's also the third consecutive NASCAR Busch Series championship for BACE Motorsports owner Bill Baumgardner, who replaces 1995 champion Johnny Benson with LaJoie. No other team owner has won three titles in a row in this series.

  • March 15, 1997: The NASCAR Busch Series travels to the West Coast for the Las Vegas 300 at Las Vegas (Nev.) Motor Speedway, marking the first race west of the Mississippi River in series history. California Speedway, Texas Motor Speedway and Gateway International Raceway in St. Louis, Mo., are added to the series schedule in 1997.

  • September 5, 1998: Dick Trickle, at 56 years, 11 months, becomes the oldest driver to win a NASCAR Busch Series race, at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway.

  • October 17, 1998:The Petty racing legacy is extended to a fourth generation as Adam Petty, son of Kyle, makes his NASCAR Busch Series debut at Gateway International Raceway in St. Louis, Mo. Petty finishes 27th.

  • January 1999: Final attendance figures are announced for the 1998 season and the numbers reveal that more than 2 million attended races that year.

  • June 27, 1999: At Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International, Bill Lester makes history as the first African-American driver to start a NASCAR Busch Series race. Lester finishes 21st after starting 24th.

  • July 4, 1999: Casey Atwood, at 18 years, 11 months, wins at The Milwaukee (Wis.) Mile, becoming the youngest winner of a NASCAR Busch Series race in history. Atwood easily eclipses the mark set by Rob Moroso, who was 19 years, nine months old when he won previously at Myrtle Beach (S.C.) Speedway on July 2, 1988.

  • November 11, 1999: NASCAR announces a six-year television contract with NBC Sports and Turner Sports (a joint venture) and an eight-year agreement with FOX and its FX cable network, beginning with the 2001 NASCAR Busch Series season.

  • November 13, 1999: Dale Earnhardt Jr. is crowned the 1999 series champion, becoming the fourth driver to win consecutive titles and second in a row. Earnhardt Jr. joins Sam Ard (1983-'84), Larry Pearson (1986-'87) and Randy LaJoie (1996-'97).

  • November 2000:Jeff Green earns his first NASCAR Busch Series championship and enhances the family racing legacy. Coupled with his brother David's series title in 1994, the Greens became the first brothers to win NASCAR Busch Series titles. For the first time in NASCAR Busch Series history, three rookies (Kevin Harvick, Ron Hornaday and Jimmie Johnson) finish in the top 10 in the final driver point standings.

  • 2001: As a result of increased broadcast and cable coverage on NBC/TNT and FOX/FX, the NASCAR Busch Series enjoys tremendous increases in television ratings and viewership. The number of households tuning in to watch NASCAR Busch Series races increases 33% compared to the previous year. The NASCAR Busch Series establishes itself as the No. 2 motorsports series in the United States.

  • November 3, 2001: Kevin Harvick wins the series championship making his car owner, Richard Childress, the first owner to win championships in all three of NASCAR's national series.

  • 2002: Greg Biffle captures the NASCAR Busch Series title, becoming the first driver to win championships in both this series and the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. Biffle also becomes the first driver in NASCAR Busch Series history to win over $2 million in a single season.

  • 2003: Brian Vickers becomes the youngest champion (20) in the history of NASCAR's top three divisions when he clinches the NASCAR Busch Series title in the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Richard Childress takes the owner's championship; it is the first time in series history that the driver title and car owner title are won by different teams. The term "Grand National" is dropped from the series name.

  • 2004: Martin Truex Jr. wins the NASCAR Busch Series championship in his first full season of competition. Nineteen-year-old Kyle Busch shatters all series Raybestos Rookie records on his way to a second-place series finish.

  • 2005: Martin Truex Jr. becomes the fifth driver to win consecutive NASCAR Busch Series championships and the sixth driver overall to win multiple titles. Truex also wins the historic race in Mexico City, the series' first points race outside the United States. The win gives Dale Earnhardt Inc. an unprecedented fourth series title. Ryan Newman captures wins in five straight races that he enters. Jason Keller surpasses $10 million in earnings in his NASCAR Busch Series career.

Series champions

1950: Mike Klapak
1951: Mike Klapak
1952: Mike Klapak
1953: Johnny Roberts
1954: Danny Graves
1955: Billy Myers
1956: Ralph Earnhardt
1957: Ned Jarrett
1958: Ned Jarrett
1959: Rick Henderson
1960: Bill Wimble
1961: Dick Nephew
1962: Rene Charland
1963: Rene Charland
1964: Rene Charland
1965: Rene Charland
1966: Don MacTavish
1967: Pete Hamilton
1968: Joe Thurman
1969: Red Farmer
1970: Red Farmer
1971: Red Farmer
1972: Jack Ingram
1973: Jack Ingram
1974: Jack Ingram
1975: L.D. Ottinger
1976: L.D. Ottinger
1977: Butch Lindley
1978: Butch Lindley
1979: Gene Glover
1980: Morgan Shepherd
1981: Tommy Ellis
1982: Jack Ingram
1983: Sam Ard
1984: Sam Ard
1985: Jack Ingram
1986: Larry Pearson
1987: Larry Pearson
1988: Tommy Ellis
1989: Rob Moroso
1990: Chuck Bown
1991: Bobby Labonte
1992: Joe Nemechek
1993: Steve Grissom
1994: David Green
1995: Johnny Benson
1996: Randy LaJoie
1997: Randy LaJoie
1998: Dale Earnhardt Jr.
1999: Dale Earnhardt Jr.
2000: Jeff Green
2001: Kevin Harvick
2002: Greg Biffle
2003: Brian Vickers
2004: Martin Truex Jr.
2005: Martin Truex Jr.

Notable achievements

All-time wins leader: Mark Martin (47)
First Race: Daytona International Speedway (Feb. 13, 1982)
First Race Winner: Dale Earnhardt (Daytona, Feb. 13, 1982)
First Pole Winner: Mike Porter, Daytona (Feb. 9, 1982)
First Superspeedway Race: Daytona (Feb. 13, 1982)
First Superspeedway Winner: Dale Earnhardt, Daytona (Feb. 13, 1982)
First Short Track Race: Richmond (Feb. 20, 1982)
First Short Track Winner: Tommy Houston, Richmond (Feb. 20, 1982)
First Road Course Race: Road Atlanta (July 6, 1986)
First Road Course Winner: Darrell Waltrip, Road Atlanta (July 6, 1986)
First Buick Win: Tommy Houston, Hickory (Oct. 12, 1985)
First Chevrolet Win: Tommy Houston, Richmond (Feb. 20, 1982)
First Dodge Win: Hank Parker Jr., Pikes Peak (July 27, 2002)
First Ford Win: Mark Martin, Dover (May 30, 1987)
First Oldsmobile Win: Sam Ard, Martinsville (March 28, 1982)
First Pontiac Win: Dale Earnhardt, Daytona (Feb. 13, 1982)
First Champion: Jack Ingram (1982)
First Rookie of the Year: Kenny Wallace (1989)
First Driver to Start 300 Races: Tommy Houston (1992)
First Driver to Start 400 Races: Tommy Houston (1996)
First Driver to Win Back-to-Back Titles: Sam Ard (1983-84)
First Driver to Win $10 Million in Career: Jason Keller (2005)
First Driver to Win $5 Million in Career: Randy LaJoie (2001), Jeff Green (2001)
First Driver to Win $1 Million in Career: Jack Ingram (1989)
First Driver to Win $3 Million in a Season: Martin Truex Jr. (2005)
First Driver to Win $2 Million in a Season: Greg Biffle (2002)
First Driver to Win $1 Million in a Season: Randy LaJoie (1997)
First Driver to Win $100,000 in a Race: Jeff Gordon (1992)
First Race West of Mississippi River: Las Vegas 300, Las Vegas (March 15, 1997)
First Brothers to Win Championships: David Green (1994), Jeff Green (2000)

Source: NASCAR