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Xfinity Series Champion Sam Ard Dead at 78

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Sam Ard dies of natural causes

22 wins, 2 consecutive championships, and a run as a team owner. These are some of the career highlights for Sam Ard. The driver from Asheboro, North Carolina passed away over the weekend at the age of 78.

Ard captured the NASCAR Xfinity (then Busch Grand National) Series championship in 1983 and 1984. Wih 22 wins in only 92 starts, Ard’s iconic number 00 Oldsmobile was a fixture in victory lane during the inaugural days of the Busch Series. With these numbers, Ard had a career average finish of 5.5. Before the formation of the Busch Series, Ard had created a name for himself in the NASCAR Late Model Sportsman Division. Ard set a single-season record for most Busch Series wins (10) in 1983. This record stood unbroken until Kyle Busch tied it in the 2008 Xfinity season. Ard earned the runner up position in the series standings in 1982. Complications suffered from a 1984 crash at North Carolina Speedway in Rockingham, NC ended Ard’s racing career abruptly. This career-ending crash resulted in a dislocated shoulder and head injuries.

After his days as a driver, Ard transitioned into being a car owner. He had 3 wins as an owner, scoring 2 with Jimmy Hensley and 1 with Jeff Burton. All 3 of Ard’s owner wins came at Martinsville Speedway. Burton’s win was the first win of his Busch series career. Martinsville was also the sight of his lone Winston Cup start in 1984. Prior to Sunday’s STP 500 at Martinsville, Ard was honored with a moment of silence.

Sam Ard suffered from a combination of Alzheimer’s Disease and Parkinson’s Disease in his later years. His family was given several donations over the years to aid in his recovery. In 2006, Kevin Harvick and Dale Earnhardt Jr arranged charitable benefits to care for Ard. Kyle Busch also pledged a $100,000 sum to the Ard family in 2008.

Sam Ard was one of NASCAR’s all time greatest short track drivers. All things considered, the amount of success he saw within such a short career is remarkable and hall of fame worthy. His records set in the Busch Series stood for generations of drivers. He was the team and driver to beat, under the leadership of owner Howard Thomas. Sam Ard will be missed in the racing world from here on. His legacy was truly unique and lastly, we at TSJSports offer his family our deepest condolences.