Remembering No. 28: From Buddy Baker to Fred Lorenzen and Davey Allison
Sunday marks 28 days until the running of the Daytona 500, as well as the birthday of NASCAR great Buddy Baker, who won the 1980 Daytona 500 in the iconic No. 28 Oldsmobile known as the "Gray Ghost."
And on Friday night, Fred Lorenzen will be inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame. Lorenzen, who in 1963 became the first NASCAR driver in history to win $100,000 in a single season, won 25 races with the No. 28 in what is now known as the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.
Add it all up and it’s a good time to do a tutorial on the history of the No. 28 in NASCAR.
The No. 28 debuted in the first NASCAR Strictly Stock Series race at the long-defunct Charlotte Speedway on June 19, 1949. In that inaugural race, Slick Smith finished eighth in an Oldsmobile, winning a whopping $125 for his troubles.
The first victory for the No. 28 came at Martinsville Speedway on April 9, 1961, when Lorenzen led 31 of 149 laps to capture the win.
All told, the No. 28 has been on the side of 76 race winners at NASCAR’s top level.
In addition to Lorenzen’s 25 race victories, here’s how the winning No. 28 drivers stack up:
Davey Allison, 19 victories
Cale Yarborough, 9
Ernie Irvan, 8
Buddy Baker and Bobby Allison, 5 each
Ricky Rudd, 3
Dale Jarrett and Dan Gurney, 1 each
A total of 61 drivers have piloted the No. 28 in Cup races. Significant drivers who didn’t win in the No. 28 but made at least one start with the number include Benny Parsons, A.J. Foyt, Junior Johnson Donnie Allison, Bobby Isaac and Kenny Irwin Jr.
The last time the No. 28 has raced in the Sprint Cup Series was in 2009, when Travis Kvapil was the driver. Liz Allison, Davey Allison’s widow, has said she hopes to see the No. 28 return to the track some day, just as the No. 3 did last year.
The No. 28 by the numbers:
Top 5s: 299
Top 10s: 437
Average finish: 16.06
Average start: 12.9
Laps led: 24,070
VIDEO: A look at the 2015 NASCAR Hall of Fame class, which includes Fred Lorenzen