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Car Number Histories: No. 29

By Mark Aumann, Turner Sports Interactive January 18, 2004
ATLANTA --
Cars carrying No. 29 have had two distinct successful eras, with a gulf of more than three decades in between.
From 1961 to '65, the numeral made it to Victory Lane 10 times, including the 1961 Southern 500. However, it took until Kevin Harvick's emotional photo-finish victory over Jeff Gordon at Atlanta in 2001 for the No. 29 to get back in the winner's circle.
The No. 29 was used infrequently in NASCAR's first decade. Slick Smith finished 13th at Daytona in a Buick in 1949. Then Dink Widenhouse drove Nos. 29 and B-29 over a three-year period, starting in 1954. He was fourth at Charlotte in an Oldsmobile that season, won the pole at North Wilkesboro in 1955 and drove a Ford to fourth at Hickory the next year.
Dick Freeman piloted a No. 29 Chevrolet at Martinsville and Daytona in 1959, finishing 15th in the inaugural 500. Bob Potter took over the ride the next season, running the same schedule, including a 15th at Daytona.
The No. 29 made its first appearance in Victory Lane in 1961 with Nelson Stacy behind the wheel. He beat pole-sitter Fireball Roberts to the checkered flag, winning a purse of $18,430. In 15 races in that numeral, Stacy had four top-fives and eight top-10s, finishing 16th in the final standings.
The next year, Stacy stayed with the car as Holman-Moody took over ownership. It was a good decision, as he won three more times in only 15 races, including the spring Darlington event, Charlotte and Martinsville. Despite the limited schedule, he still wound up 21st in the points. Stacy ran 11 races in 1963, but was near the front nine times, including a fourth-place finish in the Daytona 500, leaving him 14th in the final standings.
The next season, Larry Frank used the No. 29 at Daytona, finishing eighth in the 500. Dick Hutcherson then acquired the driver's job for Holman-Moody in 1965 and nearly won the NASCAR championship in his first full season. With eight wins and nine poles in 52 starts in his Ford, Hutcherson finished only behind champion Ned Jarrett in the final standings. Hutcherson posted wins at Bristol, Hillsboro and North Wilkesboro the next season, but ran in only 14 races. In 1967, he took the checkered flag first at Maryville and Atlanta, and wound up third in the points despite running only 33 times compared to Richard Petty's 48 and James Hylton's 46.
When Hutcherson retired at the end of the season, Bobby Allison, Bud Moore and Swede Savage shared the ride in 1968. Allison was third in the Daytona 500, one of two top-five finishes in eight races, while Moore wound up second at Maryville in seven starts. Savage had just two starts, but one was a third-place effort at Bristol.
From that point, the No. 29 made only token appearances in races until 1987.
In 1969, Ramo Stott ran the No. 29 at Daytona, finishing 33rd in the 500. Other drivers behind the wheel in the 1970s included Hershel McGriff, Bill Hollar, R.K. Smith, Walter Ballard, Elliott Forbes-Robinson, Dave Dion, Cecil Gordon and Tim Williamson.
In the '80s, Junior Miller, Tim Richmond, Grant Adcox, Connie Saylor, Scott Autrey, George Follmer and Eddie Bierschwale were added to the list.
But in the 1987, Cale Yarborough switched from the No. 28 to the No. 29. He didn't win, but was fourth at Pocono and fifth at Talladega in 16 starts.
The next season, Yarborough cut back to a 10-race schedule, while a young Dale Jarrett ran the other 19. The two combined for four top-10s, although Jarrett's work in the No. 1 allowed him to earn enough points to finish 23rd in the final standings.
Jarrett then took over the No. 29 on a full-time basis in 1989, and he responded with a pair of fifth-place efforts at Martinsville and Phoenix. That also caught the attention of the Wood Brothers, who put him in the No. 21 for the 1990 season.
The No. 29 went back into limited duty until 1994, with drivers like Phil Parsons, Gary Collins, Pancho Carter, Andy Hillenburg, John Krebs and Kerry Teague taking turns at the wheel.
Then Steve Grissom tried his hand, posting three top-10 finishes in 28 starts in 1994, ending up 28th in the points. The next season, Grissom got off to a great start -- seventh at Daytona, sixth at Rockingham, sixth at Darlington and fifth at North Wilkesboro -- but never cracked the top 10 again, winding up 27th in the final standings. After 12 races in 1996, Grissom was replaced by Greg Sacks, Chad Little, Jeff Green and Robert Pressley. Pressley and Green shared driving duties in 1997, with Green finishing fourth in the season finale at Atlanta. Green ran the car three more times in 1998 before switching to the No. 46.
The numeral was then unused until the unfortunate incident in the 2001 Daytona 500, which resulted in Harvick taking over Dale Earnhardt's ride. Three races later, Harvick was in Victory Lane at Atlanta and followed that with another win at Chicago, finishing ninth in the points.
In 2002, Harvick repeated at Chicago and picked up eight top-10 finishes but fell to 21st in the points. He also missed one race because of suspension, as Kenny Wallace drove the No. 29 in his absence at Martinsville.
Harvick won just once in 2003, but it was at Indianapolis. And his consistency -- 11 top-fives and 18 top-10s -- earned him a fifth-place finish in the final standings.