DARLINGTON, S.C. (April 18, 2023) – Twenty years after their side-by-side battle at Darlington Raceway produced the closest finish in NASCAR Cup Series history, Ricky Craven and Kurt Busch are teaming up for the Goodyear 400.
Darlington Raceway announced on Tuesday that the legendary NASCAR drivers will serve as the Goodyear 400’s Honorary Starters on May 14. They will also serve as Grand Marshals for the annual Darlington Throwback Parade on Saturday, May 13.
“I still get excited watching replays of that incredible finish,” said Darlington Raceway President Kerry Tharp. “The fact that it is still widely talked about 20 years later is a testament to the legendary racers who made it happen. The way Ricky Craven and Kurt Busch raced to the checkered flag, and the way they handled themselves afterwards, is the finest example of good, hard, competitive racing that I can remember. We’re honored to have them serve in these dignitary roles for our upcoming Throwback Weekend.”
On March 16, 2003, Busch’s No. 97 Ford Taurus led Craven’s hard-charging No. 32 Pontiac Grand Prix on the final lap. Craven’s Pontiac dipped to the inside of Busch in Turn 4 then leaned on the Ford heading down the final straightaway. Wheels touched, smoke flew, and when the checkered flag waved, Craven edged Busch by two-thousandths of a second. Remarkably, neither car crashed, and both racers were smiling ear to ear after that fantastic finish.
“Every time I return to Darlington Raceway, I feel as though I am going home. It’s because of the way the people who operate the racetrack treat me and the connection I feel with all the people in attendance.” Says Ricky Craven. So, to be asked to serve as co-Grand Marshal of the Throwback Parade and co-Starter of the race with my friend and colleague Kurt Busch is among the greatest honors I’ve had since hanging up my helmet.”
“I am honored to be a co-honorary starter for the Goodyear 400 alongside my friend Ricky Craven,” Busch said. “We have shared one of the most iconic finishes in NASCAR history for the past 20 years, and this again will be another thrilling moment for us to share at the track Too Tough to Tame.”
Craven and Busch are just two of the NASCAR legends fans will interact with during Throwback Weekend.
Racing begins that night with the NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series’ Buckle Up South Carolina 200 and continues Saturday, May 13, with the NASCAR Xfinity Series’ Shriners Children’s 200. That sets a splendid table for Sunday’s Goodyear 400, featuring today’s stars of the NASCAR Cup Series and a once-in-a-lifetime tribute to NASCAR’s 75 Greatest Drivers before the green flag waves.
Fans are encouraged to purchase their tickets now at darlingtonraceway.com so they don’t miss out on this historic opportunity.