Jeff Purvis (born February 19, 1959 in Clarksville, Tennessee) is a former race car driver in NASCAR's Busch Series. He is a 15-year veteran with four wins and 25 top-five finishes. Purvis is still recovering from a massive brain injury suffered in 2002. He races "Late Model Crates" at Golden Isles Speedway.
Winston Cup Series Career Edit
Purvis made his NASCAR debut in 1990. He was hired to drive Bobby Allison's #12 Raybestos Buick at Martinsville Speedway. He started in 31st position for that race, but crashed out and finished 28th. After that, Purvis raced four more times in 1990 in the #51 Plasti-Kote Chevrolet owned by James Finch, who once owned his cars when he race late model dirt races. His best finish among those was a 31st at North Wilkesboro. He also set his best start of 1990 there: a 24th.
Purvis would run 6 races for Finch in 1991. His best start of that year at 22nd. He set his career best finish to that date at Atlanta. After starting 29th, Purvis completed many laps and finished in the 24th position. Unfortunately, he only finished two races that season.
Once again, Purvis would race 6 times in 1992. He ran two races for Finch finishing 27th at Michigan and 36th at Phoenix. He ran 4 more races for Bobby Allison's #12 Buick. His highlight was his career-best finish of 22nd at Richmond.
In 1993, Purvis ran the most races in a season for his career. Making 8 starts, Purvis ran 3 races for Finch and 5 races for Morgan-McClure Motorsports in their #4 Eastman Kodak Chevy. At Talladega in July, Purvis was able to top his previous best starts with a 21st, as well as enjoying the best runs of his career. He earned his best qualifying effort of 18th at Richmond and quickly followed it up with his career-best 16th place finish. The next week, he broke his best finish again with a 13th place finish at Dover and also added a 17th at Martinsville.
In 1994, Finch picked up sponsorship for the #51 from Country Time, and Purvis raced in the Chevy for 6 races, replacing original driver Neil Bonnett, who was killed in a practice accident for the Daytona 500. His best finish of the year came in his first start of 1994. At Atlanta, Purvis finished 21st. However, at Michigan, Purvis was able to break his best start record, with a 13th place start in the race. In the fall race at Michigan, Purvis made the race with T.W. Taylor's #02 Ford. He started that race in 23rd and finished 28th.
Finch once again found sponsorship from Jackaroo BBQ Sauces for the newly renumbered #44 Chevy. Purvis raced 6 races again for Finch in 1995. They struggled, and the best finish for Finch and Purvis was a 29th at Talladega, though once again he set a personal best qualifying effort of 12th. In the fall Atlanta race, Purvis drove for Rick Hendrick and the #58 Leukemia Society Chevy at Atlanta, finishing 26th, his best finish of the year.
Despite only racing 4 races for Finch in 1996, the #44 MCA Records Chevy had their best season effort. In the 1996 Daytona 500, Purvis increased his best career finish to 12th place, where it stands today. He also earned two top-10 qualifying efforts in 1996, the better being his best career start of 6th at the Pepsi 400.
In 1997, with Purvis driving for himself in the Busch Series, he drove his #12 self-owned Chevy into 3 races. He mustered only a 37th, 38th and 39th in those efforts, but did start 8th for the fall race at Charlotte.
After a 3-year absence from the elite division of NASCAR, Purvis returned for his final season in 2001. Purvis was able to make 4 races in the #51 owned by Finch, who bought Fords from Bill Elliott Racing. He started in the top-20 for three of the four racees, but his best finish of the year was a 34th in the #51 Subway Ford at Talladega.
Busch Series Career Edit
While racing with Finch's Phoenix Racing many years in the Cup series, Purvis also competed in the Busch Series for Finch.
In 1989, Purvis made his debut at Charlotte driving the #49 Phoenix Racing Buick. He made the field at 14th position. However, engine problems forced him to 40th place in the 42 car field, ending his debut.
In 1990, Phoenix Racing and Purvis once again teamed up, with Purvis driving the #15 Buick. In four races, he finished 26th twice (Bristol and Charlotte) and had a best qualifying effort of 22nd at Richmond. The next year, Purvis added four more races to his Busch career, driving Finch's #23 Seal-Tech Buick. At Charlotte, he set his career best finish with a 17th place finish. However, he did not finish in any of his four starts. For the third straight season, Purvis competed in four Busch events in 1992. At Talladega, he drove Finch's #51 to his first NASCAR top-10, a 7th place after a 27th place start. Then, Robert Yates Racing offered Purvis a ride in the #28 Texaco Ford for 3 races, finishing 12th, 20th, and 21st, respectively. Also, at Darlington, Purvis matched his career best qualifying effort of 14th.
Purvis ran two races in 1993, both with Morgan-McClure Motorsports, who he was also racing with in the Cup Series. He qualified in 11th and 7th the two races, the 7th at Atlanta being his career best. In 1994, Country Time Lemonade sponsored Finch and Purvis in the Busch Series in a four-race deal in 1994. At Talladega Superspeedway, Purvis and Finch collected their first career Busch Pole Award. Purvis ran up front all day, and finished in 5th position. However, that was the only race he finished, with his next best finish in 1994 being a 29th. However, he qualified 4th at Bristol and 9th at Richmond.
In 1995, Finch and Morgan-McClure decided to resurrect the #4 Kodak Busch Series car. Purvis would drive the car in 9 races, the most starts in a season to date. Purvis had a career season, finishing 9th at Atlanta and Charlotte, 12th at Michigan, and then back at Charlotte, he set his career best finish of 3rd. He also won the pole at Talladega once again, setting his sights on a full 1996.
In 1996, Purvis and Finch got a new sponsorship deal with MCA Records for 5 races in 1996. Even without sponsorship for the other 21 races, Purvis got a shot from Finch to do the whole 1996 schedule. Immediately, he won the pole for 2 of the first 3 races, at Daytona and Richmond. He finished 3rd at Rockingham in the 2nd race of the season. Then after winning the pole at Richmond, Purvis led 38 laps and shot by Joe Nemechek for his first career Busch Series win. Despite a disappointing mid-season, Purvis rebounded with a 2nd place finish at Myrtle Beach, 6th at Talladega, and a 7th at IRP. After the 7th at IRP, Purvis rolled onto Michigan, where after blowing past a fading Mark Martin, and held off Terry Labonte for his 2nd win of his career. By season's end, Purvis had 7 top-10s in 26 starts, earning 7th place in the final standings.
Purvis and Finch looked toward 1997 with high hopes, but Finch informed Purvis that the team could not run a full season without solid sponsorship. After running the first four races, and only a 9th at Daytona to show for it, Finch and Purvis parted. Purvis went and teamed with Larry Lockamy to drive the #28 Opryland Chevy for a handful of races. At Nashville Speedway USA, Purvis made his first start in the #28 and showed off with a 4th place finish. Back at Myrtle Beach, Purvis started 2nd and finished 8th. Meanwhile, Finch was finalizing his deal to get Purvis back. At Homestead-Miami, Purvis debuted the #4 Lance Snacks Chevy, but finished 38th in the race. Despite only running ten races, the three top-10s allowed Purvis to finish 44th in points.
Lance Snacks was on board with Purvis and Finch for a full 1998, and the season started off well. Purvis started 4th, and finshed 2nd at Daytona. He had 5 other top-5s, including the Milwaukee, where he started on the pole and finished 3rd. With 10 top-10s in 1998, you'd think Purvis would be in the top 10 in the final points. However, an incident at South Boston, cost him dearly. Purvis and Mark Green had been racing and crashing each other. After Green spun Purvis out, Purvis rammed Green's car on pit road. That forced him out of the race and out of 4 races due to suspension. Matt Hutter and Nathan Buttke took his place. Following his return, Purvis finished in the top 10 four straight times, allowing him to finish 15th in points despite missing 5 races.
In 1999, Purvis moved to Diamond Ridge Motorsports. He had two less top-5s than in 1998, but two more top-10s, as well as being able to run every race. A 3rd place at Talladega was his best finish of 1999, but the consistency allowed for Purvis to finish 6th in points, bettering his 1996 standing. Even with the solid 1999, Purvis's job was in jeopardy.
However, Joe Gibbs Racing merged with Diamond Ridge, and picked up the #4 team for 2000. They switched the car to Pontiacs and gained sponsor Porter-Cable after Lance left. Purvis finished 2nd three times at Milwaukee Mile, Gateway and IRP. He also finished 3rd at Talladega. However, Purvis's new team could not qualify at Charlotte and Darlington. Unfortunately, Purvis was injured at Myrtle Beach and could not race at Watkins Glen. Curtis Markham replaced him for that race. Despite not making 3 races, Purvis finished a respectable 11th in points, with 4 top-5s and 11 top-10s
In 2001, Gibbs decided to team Purvis up with Mike McLaughlin and Purvis would drive the #18 MBNA Pontiac. In 17 races with the team, Purvis managed a 2nd at Fontana and 4 other top-10s. After Milwaukee race, Purvis was running 7th in points. However, Mike McLaughlin's team had to fold and with two drivers and one spot open, Purvis was release from JGR. Purvis did not run in the next two races, but Richard Childress had his #21 Rockwell Automation Chevy open for most of the summer. After finishing 15th at Gateway, Purvis headed to Pikes Peak International Raceway. After starting 7th, Purvis dominated, leading half of the laps, and easily cruised to his 3rd career Busch Series win. It was his first win in nearly 5 years. Despite the win, Purvis only made one start with the team after that at IRP, and was sent searching for a win again. Purvis was able to gain the #59 Kingsford Chevy ride at ST Motorsports. He made three starts with the team, finishing 5th at Memphis and also had finishes of 14th and 17th.
End and Rebirth of Career Edit
Brewco Motorsports hired Purvis to drive the #37 Timber Wolf Pontiac in 2002. In twelve starts for the team, Purvis struggled. He only finished in the top-20 in five of those tweleve starts. However, one of those came at Texas. Jack Sprague had dominated all day, but with rain in the area, Purvis stayed out while everyone else came in. It paid off 4 laps later, the skies opened and Purvis collected his 4th career win when the race could not restart.
Six races later, at Nazareth Speedway, Purvis was running solidly in the top-15, when he spun out in the backstraightaway. Six seconds later, Greg Biffle plowed into the car, causing Purvis severe head trauma. Purvis left the race, and could not drive again in 2002.
Two years later, in 2004, everyone figured Purvis's career was over. Everyone but longtime friend and owner, James Finch. Finch, who was looking for a driver at Nazareth, decided that Purvis's determination to get back into a Busch car would be rewarded. Ironically enough, Purvis was tapped to drive the #1 Yellow Dodge at Nazareth. The story touched millions, as Purvis made his first laps around the track that nearly took his life. Purvis ran quietly all day. He started 26th, and avoided incident. Without any issues, Purvis collected a 17th place finish.
However, that was Purvis's last career race, and it is unlikely that Purvis will return to the Busch Series. He does still race at local tracks.