With a short Busch career and only one Cup start, Sam Ard never was considered one of NASCAR's superstars.
But his three seasons as a full-time racer were stellar. He finished second in the 1982 Busch standings and then won consecutive championships in 1983 and 1984. He earned his first title by winning 10 races — a record that stands today.
Harvick furiously chased Ard's record last season. He fell one win short, but brought attention to Ard's plight in the process.
After the Ards wrote NASCAR asking for $24,000 to help pay off their trailer, NASCAR and Richmond International Raceway held an auction that raised $36,000 before taxes ate up a chunk of the money.
But Harvick, who has never met Ard but knows about his legacy because his wife, DeLana, grew up rooting for him, couldn't shake the need to do more. So he got together with Earnhardt Jr. to raise money from other drivers. Neither told Ard they were responsible — even after anonymously dropping "a good amount" of money into the Sam Ard Care Fund.
"You look at a lot of these guys who have raced and made our sport what it is today, and they don't have anything," Harvick said. "We are reaping the benefits from their aches and pains, the things that they did several years ago, and it's really not fair to leave them hanging. It just kind of rubs me the wrong way."
A lot of drivers feel a responsibility to the men who came before them and would welcome a system to honor and aid them.
"Jack Ingram, Sam Ard, Bobby Allison — those guys created an excitement about our sport that has made it wonderful, and I think we have to be careful as a generation to make sure we don't forget that," said Jeff Burton. "One of the things that I think should fall on the shoulders of all the current drivers is that we need to leave the sport better than it was when we got here. Because they damn sure did."
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