From DJ to Bobby Labonte to Rowdy, a history of the No. 18

When Joe Gibbs Racing came into what is now the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in 1992, its original entry was the No. 18 Chevrolet driven by Dale Jarrett.

The team didn't win a race in its first season, but Jarrett struck gold a year later, winning the Daytona 500. In one of NASCAR's most memorable finishes, Jarrett outdueled superstar Dale Earnhardt, urged on by Jarrett's father, Ned, who was in the broadcasting booth while Ned's wife, Martha, had her hands over her eyes in an RV in the infield.

"Take her to the inside! Don't let him get on the inside coming around this turn," Ned cheered on the last lap. "... He's going to make it! Dale Jarrett's going to win the Daytona 500."

In a classy move, Ned later apologized to Earnhardt, who was not upset about Ned cheerleading. "I understand," Earnhardt said. "I'm a daddy, too."

Fittingly, Dale Jarrett would go on join his father first as a NASCAR Premier Series champion -- though not in the No. 18 -- and then as a member of the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

Bobby Labonte won JGR's first NASCAR Premier Series championship in the No. 18 in 2000, and Kyle Busch made a near miraculous recovery from leg and foot injuries to win the 2015 title in the No. 18.

But long before JGR, the No. 18 was a staple of NASCAR.

The No. 18 was first raced in NASCAR in the inaugural season of the Strictly Stock Series, the predecessor of today's Sprint Cup Series. On Oct. 2, 1949, at the half-mile Heidelberg (Pennsylvania) Raceway dirt track, John Wright drove the No. 18 Ford to a seventh-place finish in the 200-lap race, winning $100. It was Wright's only career start in the series.

Now for today's trivia question you can use to win a bar bet: What was the car number of the only Volkswagen to ever race in NASCAR's top division? Well, it was the No. 18.

The date was June 23, 1953 and the place was Langhorne (Pennsylvania) Speedway. There, Philadelphian Dick Hagey drove the No. 18 1953 Volkswagen Beetle to a 19th-place finish on the circular mile dirt oval. Hagey, who won $40 on that day, never entered another race in NASCAR's top division.

Here's another bar bet for you: True or false? Joe Gibbs Racing is the only team to ever win a NASCAR Sprint Cup race with the No. 18.

TRUE. A total of 99 different drivers have been behind the wheel of the No. 18 in NASCAR's top division, but the only three to win are Kyle Busch (30 victories), Bobby Labonte (21) and Dale Jarrett (2).

The winless driver with the most starts in the No. 18 is Joe Frasson, who raced it 101 times from 1970-78, earning four top fives, but no race victories.

Interestingly, seven NASCAR Hall of Fame drivers have piloted the No. 18 in at least one NASCAR race: Dale Jarrett, Cotton Owens, Fireball Roberts, Cale Yarborough, Herb Thomas, Buck Baker and Tim Flock.

By The Numbers, for the No. 17 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series:

Starts: 1,316

Wins: 53

Wins by driver: Kyle Busch, 30; Bobby Labonte, 21; Dale Jarrett, 2.

Top fives: 247

Top 10s: 451

Poles: 43

Average start: 17.20

Average finish: 17.75

Drivers: 102