Countdown to Daytona: History of the No. 12 car in NASCAR
With just 12 days left until the 2014 Daytona 500 on FOX, it’s time to take a look at the No. 12 throughout the history of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.
It was just six years ago – 2008 to be exact – that Penske Racing’s Ryan Newman rode what he called "a push from heaven" from teammate Kurt Busch to win the Daytona 500 in the No. 12 Penske Racing Dodge Charger. Interestingly, that was also the last time the No. 12 has been in Victory Lane in a NASCAR Sprint Cup race.
The No. 12 was also on the side of Stavola Brothers-owned Buick when Bobby Allison won the Daytona 500, some 20 years before Newman did. Allison famously won that ’88 Daytona 500 ahead of son Davey, in Bobby’s final victory before a career-ending accident later that year at Pocono Raceway.
In total, the No. 12 has won an impressive 56 Sprint Cup races, with Allison scoring 25 victories and Newman 13 more.
The other 18 wins are spread among an eclectic group of drivers: Ralph Moody, one half of the famed Holman & Moody Ford team, won five races in the No. 12, while two-time champion Joe Weatherly, Neil Bonnett and Jeremy Mayfield each triumphed three time in the No. 12. LeeRoy Yarbrough won twice, while Paul Goldsmith and Marvin Porter each won a single race.
It was Moody who first put the No. 12 in Victory Lane on June 10, 1956, when he drove a DePaolo Engineering Ford to victory in a 167-lap race at Memphis-Arkansas Speedway.
And now for today’s bar bet question: Who was the first driver to race the No. 12 in NASCAR’s top division?
The correct answer is Woodie Wilson, who finished 17th on the old Daytona Beach & Road Course on July 10, 1949, during the second race of the inaugural season of the old NASCAR Strictly Stock Series, which evolved into what today we know as the Sprint Cup Series.
All told, 112 drivers have competed behind the wheel of the No. 12 in NASCAR’s top division. Expect young Ryan Blaney to make it 113 later this year.
By The Numbers, for No. 12 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series:
Top fives: 277
Top 10s: 468
Average start: 14.9
Average finish: 17.72
Stats by driveraverages.com.