One wild ride: The No. 28 has always been bad-fast in NASCAR

It seems like for as long as the No. 28 raced in NASCAR, it was always a bad-fast hot rod. And that's one reason that it ranks as the ninth-most successful car number in the sport's history, with 76 race victories.

The No. 28 debuted in the first NASCAR Strictly Stock Series race at the long-defunct Charlotte Speedway dirt track 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 NASCAR Hall of Fame member Fred Lorenzen led 31 of 149 laps to capture the win. Just two years later, Lorenzen would shatter a huge barrier, becoming the first driver to win more than $100,000 in prize money in a single season.

Lorenzen, known as "The Golden Boy" for his movie-star good looks, would go on to score 25 race victories, most of any pilot in the No. 28's long, illustrious history.

But Fast Freddie would have some equally fast company later on in the No. 28.

In February 1983, NASCAR Hall of Famer Cale Yarborough became the first driver to qualify at more than 200 miles per hour at Daytona International Speedway, when ran 200.503 mph in Harry Ranier's No. 28 Chevrolet Monte Carlo. But on his second qualifying lap, the car got light in Turn 3 and flipped over, hitting the wall hard in Turn 4.

Yarborough was fortunately unhurt, but his car was destroyed, and there was no backup. So Ranier and crew Waddell Wilson got a Pontiac Lemans that was being used as a show car by sponsor Hardee's at a restaurant in nearby New Smyrna Beach. The crew worked all day and night prepping it for Thursday's 125-mile qualifying race, with Yarborough finishing third. And darned if Yarborough didn't go out and win the Daytona 500 on Sunday, passing Buddy Baker on the last lap to score the victory.

Speaking of Baker, the lead-footed gentle giant won the 1980 Daytona 500 in Ranier's "Grey Ghost" No. 28 Oldsmobile, setting a 500-mile speed record of 177.602 miles per hour. That record still stands today, and the paint scheme is one of the best in NASCAR history, as was Baker, who died earlier this year.

The late, great Davey Allison was always feared on track when he drove the Robert Yates Racing No. 28 Ford Thunderbird, with which he won the 1992 Daytona 500, the '91 Daytona 500 pole and a Talladega race. Nicknamed "Buster," the Daytona 500-winning car sold at the 2010 Barrett-Jackson Collector-Car Auction in Scottsdale, Arizona, for $137,500. Along with the car came a voluminous set of notes from Allison's former crew chief and now NASCAR analyst, Larry McReynolds.

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 in 2014.

The No. 28 by the numbers:

Races: 1,032

Wins: 76

Wins by driver: Fred Lorenzen, 25; Davey Allison, 19; Cale Yarborough, 9; Ernie Irvan, 8; Buddy Baker, 5; Bobby Allison, 5; Ricky Rudd, 3; Dale Jarrett, 1; Dan Gurney, 1.

Top 5s: 299

Top 10s: 437

Poles: 94

Average finish: 16.06

Average start: 12.9

Laps led: 24,070

DNFs: 284

All stats provided by