Over the years the No. 9 has won quite a few races in its history including 38 with Bill Elliott at the helm. Several of Elliott's most memorable No. 9 moments came at Talladega, site of this week's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stop. Take a look at the history of this famous number up through its current driver, Enumclaw, Wash. native, Kasey Kahne.
(NOTE: This is the third installment in an occasional series of 2009 releases highlighting some of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series’ most renowned car numbers and their performance heritage. This installment takes a look at the No. 9.)
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (April 22, 2009) – Kasey Kahne has the ride. Bill Elliott has the history.
And together, the two drivers represent the vast majority of accomplishments by the No. 9 car in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, with some of the most memorable taking place at Talladega Superspeedway – site of Sunday’s Aaron’s 499.
And just how appropriate is it, that when Elliott decided to step away from racing full-time, he served as a mentor to Kahne, helping prepare the young driver to take over the No. 9 – a car number that had become forever part of NASCAR lore with Elliott behind the wheel.
Elliott made 446 starts in the No. 9 between 1976 and 2003 – out of 1,300 total starts among 97 drivers. The No. 9 had 49 victories coming into the 2009 season; Elliott had 38, followed by Kahne (nine), Donald Thomas (one) and Herb Thomas (one).
Two of those victories for Elliott came at Talladega, during a time when Elliott was the man at NASCAR’s two biggest tracks, Talladega and Daytona. Elliott and the red-and-gold No. 9 Coors Thunderbird more or less ruled the high banks in the mid-1980s, before the safety-oriented mandate of carburetor restrictor plates.
Elliott had six poles in a row at Talladega from 1984-87; the fifth pole in that run was a history-maker. Elliott set an all-time NASCAR qualifying record on April 30, 1987 at ‘Dega, averaging 212.809 mph.
Due to the advent of plates, the record still stands today and likely will stand forever.
Kahne, who drives the modern incarnation of the No. 9 – it’s a Budweiser-sponsored Dodge – has added considerably to the number’s legacy in only five years. He has nine victories, including a series-leading six during the 2006 season.
It all began for the No. 9 in the second race of the very first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (then called Strictly Stock) on the old Daytona beach-road course, with Herb Thomas driving. Herb also got the number’s first victory, in 1952 at North Wilkesboro. Herb’s brother Donald got the second win for the No. 9 in the very next ’52 race, at Lakewood Speedway in Atlanta.