Richard Allen Ricky Craven
- May 24, 1966
- United States
- Not Active
Richard Allen ’Ricky’ Craven was once declared as one of NASCAR’s hottest prospects, but when he retired from driving, he became a NASCAR analyst on TV.
Ricky Craven had a successful career at regional level
He was born on 24th of May, 1966 in Newburgh, Maine, where he spent his childhood. Craven started racing when he was 15 and immediately made an impact at local level. In 1983, he won 12 races at Unity Raceway in Maine and won the track championship title. In the next few years, Ricky continued to race at the regional level and won many races before moving to the American-Canadian tour.
As a twenty-year-old, Craven debuted in NASCAR Busch Series, driving his own Chevy at Oxford, finishing 29th. The following year he returned to the same track driving a Buick and finished 17th. In 1990 and 1991 Craven still raced as a guest in Busch Series, racing mainly at the nearby tracks. In 1990, he took 4th place in New Hampshire but in the following year he won the race there. The same year he also won the race at Oxford but also made a debut in the Nextel Cup, finishing 34th at Rockingham.
Two-time Busch Series runner-up
In 1992, Craven raced as a full-time driver in Busch Series. Driving Brewco Motorsports’ Chevy #99, he had some notable results and took 14th place in the Drivers’ championship. He stayed with the team for another year and finished as the series vice-champion. Interestingly, Ricky hasn’t scored a win that year but drove in the consistent form finishing 17 times in top 10.
For the 1994 campaign, Craven moved to RC Racing’s Chevy #2. He won two races that year, at Hickory Motor Speedway and Nazareth, had other 14 top 10 finishes but again that wasn’t enough for the title. Craven again finished the season as a runner-up, losing to David Green by only 46 points. That was Ricky’s last full-time year in Bush Series. He stayed with RC Racing for another four races but drove only in the selected events.
Move to NASCAR Nextel Cup
The reason why he left Busch Series was that he got a chance to compete full-time in Nextel Cup with Larry Hedrick Motorsports. Craven’s first season in the highest rank of NASCAR was good enough to win 1995 Rookie of the Year award after he has scored four top 10 finishes. Craven stayed with LHM in 1996 and did slightly better than in the previous season, so he finished 20th in the overall rankings.
Injury slowed Ricky's progress
Ricky’s journey in NASCAR Nextel Cup continued with Hendrick Motorsport and its Chevy #25. The start was excellent as he was in top 5 in the opening two races, but later in the season he couldn’t keep a high level of performance so he finished 19th in the championship. The reason of the form downfall was a huge crash at Texas Motor Speedway when he suffered a concussion and missed the next two races.
After the start of 1998 season, Ricky was diagnosed with post-concussion syndrome. He was forced to miss several races and later was released by the team. Craven returned to the late stage of the season driving for MB2 Motorsports but he wasn't impressive. With the same team, he struggled a lot in 1999 and in the middle of the season moved to Midwest Transit Racing but that hasn’t improved the things and the results were still poor, just as in 2000.
Legendary win at Martinsville
The situation became better in 2001 when Craven replaced Scott Pruett in the PPI Motorsports’ car #32. He managed to win the race at Martinsville and scored many top 10s before taking 21st place in the championship which was a huge step forward, considering a couple of previous underachieving seasons.
Video - Craven wins Old Dominion 500
Even after he failed to win the race in 2002, that year was probably the best in Craven’s NASCAR Nextel Cup career. Ricky finished 15th in the championship and reached the peak of his career. The following year we were able to see probably the best-known moment of Craven’s career. Driving a Pontiac, Ricky won the race at Darlington beating Kurt Busch by only 0.002 seconds, one of the closest finishes in the history of the series. At the same time, that was the last victory in Craven’s career. He finished the season at the 27th place and stayed with PPI Motorsports for another year but left the team before the end of the season. His last Cup appearing was at Talladega in 2004 when he drove Joe Gibbs Racing’s Chevrolet #11.
Switch to Truck Series
That wasn’t the end of Craven’s career. In 2005 he entered NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, driving Roush Racing’s Ford #99 and did it pretty well, especially at the start of the season. He won the race at Martinsville, had other eight finishes in top 10 but due to poor performances in the middle of the year dropped down in the standings. However, Ricky finished 14th in the points which was a relatively good achievement in his final year.
Retirement and TV career
Unable to secure a part-time driving in any of the top NASCAR series, Craven started to work for ESPN and Yahoo Sports as a NASCAR analyst. He already had an experience as a pit reporter working for TBS during the mid-90s. During his NASCAR career, Ricky Craven competed in 446 races, scored seven wins and had 107 top 10 places, earning more than $16 million.