BRISTOL, Tenn. - UPDATE: Bristol Motor Speedway general manager Jerry Caldwell released the following statement about Ed Whitaker's passing:
"Bristol, Va. native and former NASCAR Nationwide Series car owner Ed Whitaker passed away this morning at the age of 76.
Despite never fielding a team for a full-season schedule, Whitaker-built cars won 28 times in 246 career Nationwide Series races, a ratio of more than one in every 10 races they entered.
The list of distinguished drivers who drove for Whitaker is long and includes: Davey Allison, Dale Earnhardt, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Harry Gant, Jimmy Hensley, Alan Kulwicki, Butch Lindley, Mark Martin, Tim Richmond, Hermie Sadler, Morgan Shepherd, Mike Wallace and two drivers in tonight's Food City 300, Brendan Gaughan and Regan Smith.
"Ed Whitaker proved you can have big success with a small operation," said Jerry Caldwell, Bristol Motor Speedway General Manager. "The term ‘throwback' gets used a lot but Ed was a true definition of it. We are proud of the achievements he had in a sport we all love. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family."
Whitaker's greatest success came with Gant behind the wheel for 20 of the team's 28 wins. Shepherd collected the remaining eight.
Three of those victories, Shepherd in 1983 and 1986 and Gant in 1992 came at Bristol Motor Speedway.
One of the greats of NASCAR history died this morning in Bristol, Tennessee.
Family members tell us team owner and car builder Ed Whitaker died just after 8:00 AM Friday.
His teams posted 28 Nationwide Series races wins and was a three time winner at Bristol Motor Speedway.
Whitaker is known for helping many of the biggest names in NASCAR get their start on the Nationwide Series.
Looking over the names of previous drivers who drove for Whitaker you will find Dale Earnhardt, Mark Martin, Alan Kulwicki, Tim Richmond, and Davey Allison.
BMS officials say Dale Earnhardt, Jr.'s first Nationwide race at Bristol in 1997 was in an Ed Whitaker-owned car.
We will have more on this developing story, as well as, the life and impact of Ed Whitaker throughout out the day.