Ricky Craven, a driver with wins in all of NASCAR’s top three series, is ESPN’s NASCAR analyst, frequently appearing on SportsCenter and other ESPN news platforms on race weekends and when breaking news warrants. He joined ESPN in 2008.
During his driving career, Craven won the rookie of the year titles in both the NASCAR Nationwide Series (1992) and NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (1995). He won races in both series as well as in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. He also won the 1991 championship of what was then known as the NASCAR Busch Grand National North Series.
In the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, Craven won in what is tied for the closest recorded finish in NASCAR history when he edged Kurt Busch at the finish line by .002 seconds to win at Darlington in 2003.
Born and raised in Newburgh, Maine, Craven began racing at the age of 15 and tasted success at every level of competition. His road to NASCAR began at Unity Raceway in Unity, Maine, with two wins and the rookie of the year title in 1982, followed by 12 wins and the track championship the very next year. Throughout the next few years, he would earn wins at several tracks in New England before joining the American-Canadian Tour, then advancing to the NASCAR Busch North Series.
He finished runner-up in the NASCAR Nationwide Series point standings in both 1993 and 1994 before moving to the Sprint Cup Series in 1995. After winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup rookie of the year with team owner Larry Hedrick, Craven also drove for Hendrick Motorsports, SBIII Motorsports, and Midwest Transit Racing. One of his most memorable moments was finishing third in the 1997 Daytona 500 behind teammates Jeff Gordon and Terry Labonte, completing a 1-2-3 sweep for Hendrick Motorsports.
But it was with the No. 32 Tide Ford for PPI Motorsports and team owner Cal Wells that Craven enjoyed his best success in NASCAR’s top series. He joined the team for 2001 and on Oct. 15, 2001, scored his first career Sprint Cup win, holding off a last lap charge by Dale Jarrett to win the Old Dominion 500 at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway. His second season in 2002 resulted in a career best 15th place finish in the point standings, and the historic Darlington win came in his third season with the team. After driving one more season for Wells, Craven joined Roush Racing in 2005 to race on the truck series and scored a win at Martinsville.
His final full season of racing was 2005. His first work for ESPN was as an analyst on the former NASCAR Now program and he also helped call some NASCAR Nationwide Series races from the booth during ESPN’s period of live NASCAR race coverage that ended in 2014.