When it comes to the No. 32 in NASCAR, one name stands above the rest. From 2001 until 2004, Ricky Craven drove the No. 32 Tide-sponsored car in NASCAR's Premier Series.
The Maine native piloted the No. 32 for 133 races, earning two victories, 10 top fives and 24 top 10s. Taking reigns of the number in 2001, Craven earned his first Sprint Cup victory that season at Martinsville Speedway, leading 94 laps and besting NASCAR Hall of Fame member Dale Jarrett.
However, Craven delivered the most memorable moment for the number during the 2003 Carolina Dodge Dealers 400 at Darlington Raceway. Kurt Busch took the lead from Jeff Gordon with 23 laps to go, but Craven set his sights on the then Roush Fenway Racing driver.
Chasing him down, Craven put the pressure on hard over the final laps of the race. With two laps to go, Craven tried to get under Busch as they raced side-by-side into Turn 1, the No. 32 slipped up the track and squeezed Busch into the wall. With Craven out front, Busch gave him the bumper and retook the lead exiting Turn 2.
Taking the white flag for the final lap, Craven was on the back bumper of Busch's car and looking for the lead. Coming off Turn 4, Craven made the move under Busch for the lead and the two cars came together on the fronstretch. Stuck together, the two cars crossed the checkered flag side-by-side, with Craven scoring the victory by 0.002 seconds.
Craven's No. 32 Tide Pontiac led only one lap and currently sits in the NASCAR Hall of Fame. The finish remains the closest in NASCAR history.
Aside from Craven, a total of 103 other drivers have piloted the No. 32 in NASCAR's premier division.
Jim Rathmann was the first to carry the number, doing so on Sept. 11, 1949 at Langhorne Speedway, the fourth race of the inaugural Strictly Stock season. Dick Brooks drove the No. 32 in the second-most amount of races. During his 78 starts in the No. 32, Brooks earned 18 top fives, 34 top 10s and led 197 laps.
While Craven and Brooks delivered the most success in the No. 32, New Jersey native Jimmy Horton gave the number one of the wildest rides.
During the May 2, 1993 race at Talladega Superspeedway, the "Big One" occurred in Turn 1, sending cars crashing hard into the outside wall. Horton was running at the bottom of the track when he was hit in the right rear. The No. 32 Chevrolet instantly turned on its side and barrel-rolled up the banking, over the retaining wall and outside the racetrack. Although the car was destroyed, Horton walked away unharmed.
The No. 32 has been a part of NASCAR's top division since its first season, but it has not enjoyed a great deal of success over the years. Craven was the first and only driver to score a victory with the number. Last season, Mike Bliss, Josh Wise, Bobby Labonte, Joey Gase, Boris Said, Jeffrey Earnhardt, Travis Kvapil, Will Kimmel III, Eddie MacDonald and Kyle Fowler all took turns behind the wheel of the No. 32.
The No. 32 car by the numbers:
Wins by driver: Ricky Craven, 2
Top 5s: 35
Top 10s: 109
Average finish: 24.82
Average start: 26.0