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Jimmy Hensley
Born: October 11, 1945
Home: Ridgeway, VA

 

Jimmy Hensley  is a former NASCAR driver with a career spanning 27 seasons in all three of NASCAR's elite divisions, Hensley may be best remembered for his Rookie of the Year award won in 1992 -- his 15th season in the series -- and for his nine career Busch Series wins.

Early career

Hensley's career began in 1972, driving for famous owner Junie Donlavey in the #90 Ford. Both of his starts that season came at Martinsville Speedway, the track being just ten miles from Hensley's hometown of Ridgeway, VA. Though an engine failure in his first start relegated Hensley to a 33rd place finish, he completed all but seven laps of the fall event, the Old Dominion 500, to finish fifth. Ironically, this top five in only his second start would end up being Hensley's best finish in his 98 career Winston Cup Series races.

Hensley competed again for Donlavey in the 1973 and 1974 Virginia 500 events, coming home in seventh and sixth places, respectively. For the 1974 Old Dominion 500, Hensley drove the #02 Chevrolet owned by Russell Large, finishing 19th. Beginning in 1975, Hensley drove the #63 Chevrolet for part-time owner Billy Moyer, competing in both Martinsville races each year until 1977 and registering a top ten each season. This fall race of '77, however, would be Hensley's last for several years.

Return to the series

In 1981, Hensley returned to the Winston Cup Series, driving in the fall Martinsville event for Cecil Gordon in the #24 Buick and bringing home a seventh place result. Hensley raced in three events the next year -- both Martinsville races, along with the September event at Richmond -- in D. K. Ulrich's #40 Buick. That same year, Hensley also competed in the inaugural Busch Series season, competing in 11 events and recording four top five finishes. Hensley spent the 1983 season out of Cup and in the Busch Series, where in 29 starts, he registered 16 top ten finishes.
 

Busch success

For the next eight seasons, Hensley competed on-and-off in the Winston Cup Series and raced full-time in the Busch ranks. Behind the wheel of the #00 Oldsmobile in 1985, Hensley came home second in points, just 29 points behind champion Jack Ingram, after a season with three wins at Hickory, South Boston, and IRP. Hensley again finished second in points in 1987 driving the #5 Advance Auto Parts Buick, starting and finishing first in the season finale at Martinsville for his only win of the season. Just four races later, Hensley won again at Martinsville in the 1988 Miller Classic.

In 1989, Hensley drove 18 races in six different cars, recording a pole at Hickory but finishing no better than sixth. However, he returned to victory lane the next season driving the #25 Crown Oldsmobile, winning at Nazareth Speedway; he followed that in 1991 with a career-high three victories, winning at Martinsville, Hickory, and Rougemont.

The 1989 season also saw one of the more unusual occurrences in NASCAR history, with Hensley at the center of it. The powerful Hurricane Hugo, which battered the Carolinas on September 21st and 22nd, left driver Dale Earnhardt unable to make the trip to Martinsville for qualifying. Filling in behind the wheel of the #3 Chevrolet was Hensley, who took the pole; however, Earnhardt made it to the track for the race, so Hensley was left to watch the race from the pits.

Return to the Cup Series

Beginning in 1992, Hensley made a comeback in the Winston Cup Series, driving for world-renowned owner Cale Yarborough in the #66 TropArtic Ford. While competing in just 22 of 29 races and finishing no better than seventh, Hensley beat out several others, including current ARCA driver Andy Belmont, for the Rookie of the Year title.

For the next two years, Hensley continued to race part-time in the Cup Series for a variety of owners, including Ray DeWitt, Alan Kulwicki, Larry McClure, and Richard Petty. In just nine starts in the 1995 season, Hensley saw reduced success, coming home no higher than 30th place and recording five DNFs. He also cut back on his competition in the Busch Series, running just 13 events between 1992 and 1995 and recording a couple of top five finishes.

Craftsman Truck Series participation

Beginning in 1995, Hensley began to compete in the newly-formed Craftsman Truck Series, driving in his first two seasons for owner Grier Lackey. It was in 1997, however, than Hensley began a relationship with Petty Enterprises, piloting the #43 Cummins Dodge in the next three seasons. At age 52 in 1998, Hensley found victory lane at Nashville and finished sixth in the final points standings. The next year, he finished first at Martinsville, recording what would be the last win of his career.

Hensley rounded out his career driving for Ed Rensi and Doc MacDonald in 2000 and 2001, respectively.

     

March 2008:

Please add Jimmy Hensley to this list of drivers. He won numerous track championships in Virginia, Tennessee, and the Carolinaís thru the 60ís, 70ís and 80ís until he retired in the 2001 season. He also won Rookie of the year in Winston Cup in 1992 and was runner-up on several occasions in the NASCAR Busch series points. He has over 300 wins on short tracks and a couple in the NASCAR, truck series. He drove cars prepared by my father, Hubert Hensley, who should maybe be added to the list of owners or mechanics, for his cars have more than 500 wins on short tracks thru out the southeast with Late Models and Modifieds thru the 60ís and 70ís 80ís, including 11 Busch series wins and a Busch series championship in 1990 with Chuck Bown. Please consider these additions to your list, I feel they have earned the right to be recognized for their accomplishments. Thanks, Jeff Hensley

 


 

 

Jimmy Hensley Winston Cup Driver Statistics

Year Age Races Win T5 T10 Pole Laps Led Earnings Rank AvSt AvFn
1972 26 2 of 31 0 1 1 0 548 0 1,900 99 9.5 19.0
1973 27 1 of 28 0 0 1 0 485 0 1,550 103 15.0 7.0
1974 28 2 of 30 0 0 1 0 668 9 2,260 83 4.5 12.5
1975 29 2 of 30 0 0 1 0 534 0 1,860 98 11.5 17.0
1976 30 2 of 30 0 0 1 0 474 0 2,150 68 12.0 16.0
1977 31 2 of 30 0 0 1 0 812 0 2,680 61 12.5 14.0
1981 35 1 of 31 0 0 1 0 487 0 4,650   24.0 7.0
1982 36 3 of 30 0 0 1 0 791 0 3,205   24.0 20.3
1984 38 4 of 30 0 0 0 0 1484 0 12,895   25.8 21.5
1986 40 3 of 29 0 0 0 0 1194 0 11,755 54 20.3 19.0
1988 42 1 of 29 0 0 0 0 290 0 4,245   10.0 24.0
1989 43 0 of 29 0 0 0 1 0 0 0     ?
1990 44 2 of 29 0 0 0 0 692 0 17,475 88 23.0 32.0
1991 45 4 of 29 0 0 1 0 1708 0 32,125 41 24.8 13.8
1992 46 22 of 29 0 0 4 0 6804 22 247,660 28 17.4 18.2
1993 47 21 of 30 0 0 2 0 5843 1 368,150 32 19.1 22.8
1994 48 17 of 31 0 0 0 0 3861 4 203,520 41 26.1 27.3
1995 49 9 of 31 0 0 0 0 1512 0 161,025 44 29.4 33.7
18 years 98 0 1 15 1 28187 36 1,079,105   20.6 22.1

Busch Series Statistics

Year Age Races Win T5 T10 Pole Laps Led Earnings Rank AvSt AvFn
1982 36 11 of 29 0 4 7 0 1794 0 8,905 14 12.0 9.8
1983 37 29 of 35 0 5 16 0 4264 0 26,306 8 13.8 12.6
1984 38 7 of 29 0 1 3 0 1043 0 12,275 34 20.3 17.7
1985 39 27 of 27 3 15 23 4 4884 0 115,964 2 5.5 6.4
1986 40 31 of 31 0 3 9 0 5349 144 95,148 8 14.7 12.7
1987 41 27 of 27 1 8 14 2 4582 221 94,504 2 10.1 11.7
1988 42 30 of 30 1 7 13 0 5494 114 125,615 6 12.0 12.9
1989 43 18 of 29 0 0 2 1 2214 3 29,923 22 17.8 21.4
1990 44 31 of 31 1 9 17 4 6300 364 201,877 2 8.2 10.6
1991 45 31 of 31 3 9 17 4 6170 0 227,969 5 8.6 13.8
1992 46 8 of 31 0 1 6 0 1734 0 40,592 39 16.2 10.4
1993 47 2 of 28 0 1 1 0 322 0 5,093 69 16.5 23.0
1994 48 2 of 28 0 0 1 0 335 0 10,435 70 25.5 19.0
1995 49 1 of 26 0 0 0 0 88 0 3,285 105 35.0 35.0
14 years 255 9 63 129 15 44573 846 997,891   11.6 12.6

Craftsman Truck Series Statistics

Year Age Races Win T5 T10 Pole Laps Led Earnings Rank AvSt AvFn
1995 49 3 of 20 0 0 0 0 308 45 5,675 55 14.0 24.3
1996 50 24 of 24 0 5 14 1 4137 103 228,936 8 8.5 13.3
1997 51 26 of 26 0 4 13 2 4744 219 312,820 8 13.6 11.9
1998 52 27 of 27 1 9 15 0 4704 220 430,328 6 16.9 11.8
1999 53 25 of 25 1 7 14 1 4078 287 332,170 10 10.8 12.2
2000 54 24 of 24 0 2 8 0 3700 9 317,936 13 17.2 14.2
2001 55 17 of 24 0 0 0 0 2548 5 178,006 20 18.5 20.9
7 years 146 2 27 64 4 24219 888 1,805,871   14.1 13.8


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