Ricky Craven

Rated as one of NASCAR’s best ‘comeback drivers’ Ricky Craven started racing at the tender age of fifteen. Young Craven grew up in the state of New England and he began his racing career at the Unity Raceway, where he won two races in his first year and also garnered the Rookie of the Year award. At this young age his career skyrocketed, and in his second year of racing he won as many as twelve feature events and the track championship, following which he made the decision to run the Canadian-American tour, where he enjoyed even more success.

Shortly after this brilliant start, Ricky Craven suffered a number of failures. His bad luck lasted roughly four years, but he persevered and went on to enjoy some notable successes such as winning the Rookie of the Year Award at the Busch North Series. In 1991 he became the Busch North Series Champion, won two Busch Series races and made his debut at the Winston Cup. He decided to race the Busch Series full-time in 1992 and went on to win the Rookie of the Year award yet again. In subsequent years he finished as a runner up in the championship standings and soon had several Winston Cup team owners knocking at his door. In 1995 he teamed up with Larry Hendrick Motorsports and Kodiak for a sensational season. He qualified for every race in the Winston Cup, finished in the top-ten four times and took the top rookie award. He also enjoyed an excellent year in 1996.

At the end of the year Craven was given the opportunity to drive for the Hendrick Motorsports team, which he immediately agreed to, and the new season started well. However, while practising for the Interstate Batteries 500 in1997, Craven crashed hard into the wall, suffering a concussion resulting in him missing two races. Before long he was back in the driver’s seat winning the Winston Open and finishing 19th in points. Unfortunately, things did not go so well the following year when the long-term effects of his concussion became evident and he was forced onto the sidelines until he recovered. He made one premature attempt at a return, winning the pole at the New Hampshire International Speedway before fading again. He went through a bad patch after this before returning to racing glory in 2000 when he won the Michigan International Speedway’s summer race, amongst other things. In 2003 he made NASCAR history at the Darlington Speedway, where he finished first in an epic battle against Kurt Busch. Following a season with Rousch Racing in 2005, and a failed attempt at winning the Goody’s 250 for FitzBradshaw Racing, Ricky Craven retired from the track and became a commentator and NASCAR analyst for ESPN and Yahoo! Sports.

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