Longtime NASCAR car owner Junie Donlavey, 90, dies

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Donlavey owned cars in NASCAR’s top series from 1950 to 2002.

Longtime NASCAR team owner Junie Donlavey died Monday night at age 90 -- the same number he used when fielding cars from 1950 to 2002.

Predominantly operating a smaller, single-car team devoid of big sponsorship, Donlavey competed in 863 races in NASCAR's top division. He won just once -- with Jody Ridley in May 1981 at Dover -- but was well-liked and highly respected within the garage.

"The only thing you really need to know about Junie Donlavey is that he was probably the most well-liked person ever in the sport of NASCAR," said NASCAR Hall of Famer Glen Wood, co-owner of Wood Brothers Racing. "He was a good friend of the Wood Brothers ... one of our very best friends in the sport."

Donlavey was best known for offering rides to up-and-coming drivers. Ridley, Ken Schrader and Bill Dennis earned Rookie of the Year honors while driving for Donlavey.

A cavalcade of NASCAR stars wheeled the No. 90 Donlavey car, including Bobby Isaac, Fred Lorenzen, David Pearson, Harry Gant, Ricky Rudd, Ken Schrader, Benny Parsons, Buddy Baker, Ernie Irvan and Dick Trickle.

Donlavey's last race was in 2002, with Rick Mast primarily driving.

"With Junie Donlavey's passing this week, NASCAR lost a treasure, a man who personified NASCAR's proud past," NASCAR said in a statement. "With 863 starts as a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series car owner, he won over millions of fans through his 50-plus years in our sport."

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