Aug 22, 2014, 3:52 PM EDT
Former NASCAR Busch Series team owner Ed Whitaker passed away Friday at his home in Bristol, Va., business associate Peter Laura told the Bristol Herald Courier.
Whitaker was 76.
Whitaker was a Busch Series team owner for 20 years, from 1982 to 2002. His drivers made 246 starts, with 28 wins, 80 top-5 and 107 top-10 finishes, along with 17 poles.
Three of those wins were on his home track, Bristol Motor Speedway, which is hosting NASCAR’s Trucks, NNS and Cup series this weekend.
During his ownership tenure, Whitaker had a veritable Who’s Who collection of NASCAR drivers race for him, including providing Dale Earnhardt Jr. his first ride in the Busch Series at BMS in 1997.
Other NASCAR greats that drove for Whitaker – most while they were just beginning their careers in NASCAR’s developmental series – included 1992 Sprint Cup champion, the late Alan Kulwicki, Mark Martin, the late Tim Richmond, the late Davy Allison, Harry Gant and Morgan Shepherd. Gant earned 20 of Whitaker’s 28 wins as a team owner.
“He loved every driver that every got in one of his cars. They were family to him,” Whitaker’s widow, Maxine, told the Herald Courier.
Whitaker also fielded a car for six Sprint Cup (then known as Winston Cup) Series races in the late 1970s before switching to the Busch Series, the predecessor to the Nationwide Series.
Funeral arrangements are pending.
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