Dale Earnhardt, Richard Petty, Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., and Kyle Busch. These are some of the most popular names known to NASCAR.
How about Ricky Craven? Does that name ring a bell? For some older followers, it probably does.
Craven, who lived in Newburgh, ME, started off his career at Unity Raceway in Maine, winning 12 races and Rookie of the Year. He also won Rookie of the Year at Wiscasset Raceway in 1988.
He moved to the Busch North Series in 1990, winning seven poles, two races, and Rookie of the Year.
In 1995, Craven teamed up with Larry Hedrick and Kodiak to drive his way to his first Rookie of the Year in Winston Cup.
In 1996, Craven had a horrific crash at Talledaga when his car was launched into the air and impacted with the catch fence right above the wall. Not even two seconds after, he was thrown back onto the track and hit by another car. This crash is the only one in NASCAR history that ended a race. They never threw a red flag, but they did end the race.
After that horrific year, Craven was given the chance of a lifetime. He was asked to drive the No. 25 Monte Carlo for the ever-famous Rick Hendrick. He did well for the first year, finishing third at the Daytona 500. While practicing for the Interstate Batteries 500, Craven crashed into the wall. Although he had to miss two races due to a concussion, he came back but not as good.
Craven is probably most memorable for the race at Darlington in 2003. It was a side-by-side final lap. It was Craven's No. 32 and Kurt Busch's No. 92 on the final lap. The cars finished only .002 seconds apart and no one knew who won. The conclusion said that Craven won.
This was his last race won in is NASCAR career.
He was released from his duties in 2004. He then went to race trucks for Rousch Racing but parted after that season. He is no longer part of the racing circuit but is a NASCAR analyst for Yahoo! Sports.
Though many may not remember him, for us Mainers he is our popular local driver.