Ricky Craven
Richard Allen Craven is an ESPN
Entertainment and Sports Programming Network, commonly known as ESPN, is an American global cable television network focusing on sports-related programming including live and pre-taped event telecasts, sports talk shows, and other original programming....

 broadcaster who works ESPN2's NASCAR Now
NASCAR Now is a NASCAR news and analysis show that airs year round Monday through Friday as a thirty minute show at 5:00pm ET on ESPN2. NASCAR Now, that debuted on February 5, 2007, is broadcast in HD from Bristol, Connecticut and also has a daily segment on SportsCenter...

and a race analyst for the network. Prior to his ESPN duties, he was a NASCAR driver who won in four different series—the K&N Pro Series, and the three national series. He occasionally served as a pit reporter when NASCAR aired on TBS in the mid-1990s. Craven is perhaps most well known for winning in the closest finish in NASCAR Sprint Cup Series history.


Craven began racing at the age of 15 at Unity Raceway, winning twice as well as the Rookie of the Year award. The next year, he won 12 feature events and the track championship. After that, he began running in the Canadian-American tour, where he had rampant success. In 1986, he made his NASCAR debut at Oxford Plains Speedway
Oxford Plains Speedway
Oxford Plains Speedway is a racetrack in Oxford, Maine, USA. Established in 1950, it has been home to various NASCAR Nationwide Series events, including the True Value Oxford 250, Oxford 250 and True Value 250. With 14,000 seats, the speedway has the largest seating capacity of any sporting venue...

 in his own #12, finishing 25th after suffering engine failure. Four years later, he began running the Busch North Series, winning the Rookie of the Year award. In 1991, he was named the champion in that series, winning ten times in the #25 SpeeDee Oil Change & Tuneup Chevrolet, with two of those ten wins in "combination" races with the Busch Grand National Series, including the prestigious Oxford 250. In addition, he made his Winston Cup debut at Rockingham, starting and finishing 34th for Dick Moroso. He moved to the Busch Series full-time in 1992 in the #99 DuPont
E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Company , commonly referred to as DuPont, is an American chemical company that was founded in July 1802 as a gunpowder mill by Eleuthère Irénée du Pont. DuPont was the world's third largest chemical company based on market capitalization and ninth based on revenue in 2009...

 Chevy for Bill Papke, and once again was named Rookie of the Year
NASCAR Rookie of the Year
The NASCAR Rookie of the Year Award is presented to the first-year driver that has the best season in a NASCAR season. Each of NASCAR's national and regional touring series selects a RotY winner each year....

. In 1993 & 1994, he finished runner-up to Steve Grissom
Steve Grissom
Steve Grissom is a NASCAR driver. Grissom was the 1993 Busch Series champion and has eleven Busch wins in 185 starts. He turned down a scholarship to play quarterback at the University of Alabama to focus a career on racing....

 and David Green
David Green (NASCAR)
David A. Green is a NASCAR driver. He won the Nationwide Series championship in 1994. His two younger brothers, Jeff and Mark have also competed in the NASCAR circuit...

, respectively, in the championship standings.


In 1995, Craven teamed up with Larry Hedrick Motorsports
Larry Hedrick Motorsports
Larry Hedrick Motorsports is a former NASCAR team. It was owned by businessman Larry Hedrick and always fielded the #41 Chevrolet in both the Winston Cup and the Busch Series. The team ran from 1990 until its closure in 2001.- Beginnings :...

 and Kodiak
Kodiak tobacco
Kodiak is a brand of dipping tobacco manufactured by American Snuff Company, a U.S. smokeless tobacco manufacturer that also produces the Grizzly tobacco and Levi Garrett brands...

 to run for Winston Cup Rookie of the Year. Craven qualified for all 31 races, finished in the top-ten four times, and was able to defeat Robert Pressley
Robert Pressley
Robert Pressley is a former NASCAR driver who is now the promoter at Kingsport Speedway.-Beginnings:...

 for the top rookie award. For his efforts, he was rewarded with a partial ownership share in the team. He began 1996 with three consecutive top-ten finishes and his first career pole. He was fourth in points before the Winston Select 500
Aaron's 499
The Aaron's 499 is a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stock car auto race held at Talladega Superspeedway in Talladega, Alabama. The race has always been held in late April or early May. The Aaron's 499 is also one of four races currently run with restrictor plates, the others being the AMP Energy 500,...

, during which he was involved in a multi-car wreck. On lap 130, his car was launched into the air and impacted with the catch fence above the wall before being thrown back onto the track and hit by another car. This crash was similar to Jimmy Horton
Jimmy Horton
Jimmy Horton is a racecar driver from Folsom, New Jersey. He raced in 48 NASCAR Winston Cup races in eight seasons. He was a regular on the ARCA circuit in the 1980s and 1990s...

's barrel roll in 1993 where he cleared the track. Craven's flip completely sheared the catchfence off the turn and NASCAR threw a lengthy red flag to make repairs. He walked away, but fell to twentieth in points and only had one top-five finish and one pole for the rest of the season

At the end of the year, Craven left Hedrick to drive the #25 Budweiser
Budweiser (Anheuser-Busch)
Budweiser is a 5.0% abv American-style lager introduced in 1876 by Adolphus Busch and one of the highest selling beers in the United States. It is made with up to 30% rice in addition to hops and barley malt. Budweiser is produced in various breweries located around the world...

 Chevy for Hendrick Motorsports
Hendrick Motorsports
Hendrick Motorsports , originally named All Star Racing, is a current American auto racing team created in 1984 by Rick Hendrick. The team currently competes in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series with Chevrolet Impalas...

. Craven finished in the top-five in the first two races of the seasonl He finished 3rd in the 1997 Daytona 500 behind his teammates Terry Labonte
Terry Labonte
Terrance Lee Labonte is a semi-retired NASCAR driver who occasionally drives in the Sprint Cup Series when called upon and is a two-time Winston Cup and IROC champion. He currently drives the #32 U.S. Chrome Ford for FAS Lane Racing. Labonte was introduced to the sport through his father, who had...

 in 2nd and Jeff Gordon
Jeff Gordon
Jeffery Michael "Jeff" Gordon is a professional NASCAR driver. He is the driver of the #24 Drive to End Hunger/DuPont/Pepsi Chevrolet Impala. He is a four-time Sprint Cup Series champion and a three-time Daytona 500 winner. He is third on the all-time wins list, with 85 career wins, and has the...

 in 1st giving Hendrick Motorsports a 1-2-3 sweep of the Daytona 500. While practicing for the inaugural Interstate Batteries 500, Craven crashed hard into the wall. He missed two races due to a concussion suffered from the wreck. Upon his return, he won the Winston Open and finished a then-career-best 19th in points and a total of $1,139,860 in winnings for 1997. After the 1998 season started, the side effects of the concussion began to appear, and Craven was diagnosed with post-concussion syndrome
Post-concussion syndrome
Post-concussion syndrome, also known as postconcussive syndrome or PCS, and historically called shell shock, is a set of symptoms that a person may experience for weeks, months, or occasionally up to a year or more after a concussion – a mild form of traumatic brain injury . PCS may also...

, and was forced to miss several races until he recovered. He returned at his home track at New Hampshire International Speedway
New Hampshire International Speedway
New Hampshire Motor Speedway is a oval speedway located in Loudon, New Hampshire which has hosted NASCAR racing annually since the early 1990s, as well as an IndyCar weekend and the oldest motorcycle race in North America, the Loudon Classic...

 later that year won the pole. After four races, he was released permanently from Hendrick, and did not return until the final three races of the season, filling in for Ernie Irvan
Ernie Irvan
Virgil Earnest Irvan, more commonly known as Ernie Irvan is a former race driver in NASCAR. He is best remembered for his comeback after a serious head injury at Michigan International Speedway which earned him numerous awards and respect from his fellow drivers...

 at MB2 Motorsports
MB2 Motorsports
Ginn Racing was a NASCAR Nextel Cup Series team based in Mooresville, North Carolina, which is near Charlotte. Its principal owners in its final season, 2007, were 80% Bobby Ginn and 20% Jay Frye. The Valvoline corporation co-owned the #10 car with the principal owners from 2001 to 2005...



For 1999, Craven signed to drive the #58 Turbine Solutions Ford Taurus
Ford Taurus
The Ford Taurus is an automobile manufactured by the Ford Motor Company in the United States. Originally introduced in the 1986 model year, it has remained in near-continuous production for more than two decades, making it the fourth oldest nameplate that is currently sold in the North American...

 for Scott Barbour's SBIII Motorsports, a brand new team in NASCAR. Craven did not finish any better than 19th while he drove the car, and after he failed to qualify for the Coca-Cola 600
Coca-Cola 600
The Coca-Cola 600, formerly known as the World 600, is a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race held each year at Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, North Carolina on Memorial Day weekend...

, he was replaced by Loy Allen Jr.
Loy Allen Jr.
Loy Allen Jr. , is a former NASCAR Winston Cup and Busch Series driver. He found his best results however in the ARCA series, with a win at Atlanta Motor Speedway in 1992 and two second place finishes at Talladega and Daytona in 1993.- Winston Cup Career :Allen Jr. made his Cup Debut at Daytona in...

. Several weeks later, he signed up with another new team, Midwest Transit Racing
Midwest Transit Racing
Midwest Transit Racing was a former NASCAR Winston Cup Series team owned and operated by Hal Hicks and Mike Witter. It was formed in 1998 as #03 with Dan Pardus driving and Midwest Transit as the sponsor. Before the car hit the track however, NASCAR changed the number to 07 for unspecified reasons...

 replacing rookie Dan Pardus
Dan Pardus
Dan Pardus is an American stock car racing driver. He has raced in the ARCA series, as well as NASCAR with Jim & Julie Motorsports and Midwest Transit Racing. He made one Winston Cup start, the 1998 Pepsi 400 and 18 Busch Series starts in 2001 and 2002. He was born in Daytona Beach, Florida...

 in the #50 and finished the season with them. Craven returned to the team in 2000, but after failing to qualify for four of the first nine races of the season, the team switched to a part-time schedule. Following this decision, Craven had four top-twenty finishes but finished 44th in points.

In January the next year, it was announced he would replace Scott Pruett
Scott Pruett
Scott Donald Pruett is an American race car driver who has competed in NASCAR, Champ Car, IMSA, Trans-Am and Grand-Am. He and his wife Judy have three children, and are children's book authors....

 in PPI Motorsports
PPI Motorsports
PPI Motorsports was a race team which competed in CART, NASCAR, and various off-road racing circuits. The team had one of the few remaining single car operations in NASCAR.-Early years:...

's #32 Tide
Tide (detergent)
Tide is the brand-name of a popular laundry detergent manufactured by Procter & Gamble and first introduced to the United States consumer in 1946. It is also marketed in Canada, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, India and several other countries...

 Ford. Craven won the pole at the summer race at Michigan International Speedway
Michigan International Speedway
Michigan International Speedway is a two-mile moderate-banked D-shaped superspeedway located off U.S. Highway 12 on more than in Brooklyn, in the scenic Irish Hills area of southeastern Michigan. The track is used primarily for NASCAR events. It is sometimes known as a "sister track" to Texas...

, and at the Old Dominion 500 at Martinsville Speedway
Martinsville Speedway
Martinsville Speedway is an International Speedway Corporation-owned NASCAR stock car racing track located in Henry County, near Ridgeway, Virginia, just to the south of Martinsville. At in length, it is the shortest track in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. The track was also one of the first paved...

, Craven held off Dale Jarrett
Dale Jarrett
Dale Arnold Jarrett is a former American race car driver and current sports commentator known for winning the 1999 NASCAR Winston Cup Series championship...

 in the closing laps for his first career Winston Cup win. In 2002, he won two poles, finished in the top-ten nine times, and finished a career-best 15th in points. In 2003, Craven's team switched to Pontiac
Pontiac was an automobile brand that was established in 1926 as a companion make for General Motors' Oakland. Quickly overtaking its parent in popularity, it supplanted the Oakland brand entirely by 1933 and, for most of its life, became a companion make for Chevrolet. Pontiac was sold in the...

 and with an in-house engine platform, and at the Carolina Dodge Dealers 400 at Darlington Raceway
Darlington Raceway
Darlington Raceway is a race track built for NASCAR racing located near Darlington, South Carolina. It is nicknamed the "Lady in Black" and "The Track Too Tough to Tame" by many NASCAR fans and drivers and advertised as "A NASCAR Tradition"...

, he battled Kurt Busch
Kurt Busch
Kurt Thomas Busch is an American NASCAR and NHRA driver. He drives the No. 22 Shell Oil Company/Pennzoil Dodge Charger in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, and will race on an "opportunity permitting" basis in the Pro Stock division of NHRA...

 for the win, defeating him by .002 seconds in what was voted in December 2009 as the Finish of the 2000s in the Sprint Cup Series. That race he became the last-ever person to win in a Pontiac. Craven failed to visit victory lane again that season, and dropped twelve spots in points. After he did not post a single top-ten finish three-quarters of the way through the 2004 season, he was replaced by Bobby Hamilton Jr., and only returned to run at his home track at New Hampshire. His final Cup race he participated in was the 2004 AMP Energy 500 at Talladega where he drove in a Joe Gibbs
Joe Gibbs
Joe Jackson Gibbs is a former American football coach, NASCAR Championship team owner, and two time NHRA Pro Stock team owner. He was the 20th and 26th head coach in the history of the Washington Redskins...

 development car, the number 11 Old Spice
Old Spice
Old Spice is a prominent American brand of male grooming products. It is manufactured by Procter & Gamble, which acquired the brand in 1990 from the Shulton Company.-History:...


In 2005, Craven moved to the Craftsman Truck Series
Craftsman Truck Series
The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series is a pickup truck racing series owned and operated by the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing...

 to drive the #99 Superchips
Superchips Ltd is a British company specialising in electronic engine tuning of cars. It was established in 1977 by Peter Wales as P.J. Detection Techniques, and was renamed Superchips in 1991. The company is based in Buckingham, Buckinghamshire, and has dealers of its products world wide...

 Ford for Roush Racing
Roush Racing
Roush Fenway Racing is a racing team competing in NASCAR racing. As one of NASCAR's largest premier racing teams, Roush runs teams in the Sprint and Nationwide Series, and formerly in the Camping World Truck Series and ARCA RE/MAX Series.Roush first entered NASCAR competition in 1988, but had...

. Despite a win at Martinsville Speedway and a fourteenth place finish in points, he and Roush parted ways when the season came to a close. His final start in NASCAR came at the Goody's 250 in the Busch Series for FitzBradshaw Racing
FitzBradshaw Racing
Trail Motorsports was a NASCAR team based in Mooresville, North Carolina, which is near Charlotte. The team is owned by Armando Fitz and Art Shelton, and was previously co-owned by Fitz's former wife Mimi...

. He finished 39th after the brakes on his #14 Family Dollar
Family Dollar
Family Dollar is a regional chain of variety stores in the United States. It opened in 1959 and operates approximately 6,617 stores in 44 states and the District of Columbia. It is headquartered in Matthews, North Carolina....

 Dodge failed.


Craven spent the next few years looking for a part-time ride, but none came through. He eventually retired and has since worked for ESPN and Yahoo! Sports as a NASCAR analyst.

External links

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