NASCAR Obite Eric McClure Auto Racing

In this July 2013 file photo, Eric McClure gets out of his car after finishing his laps during qualifying for a NASCAR Nationwide auto race at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Fla.

Eric McClure, former NASCAR driver and team owner, died Sunday morning. He was 42.

The Chilhowie, Virginia, resident had suffered health problems including an extended stay in an Abingdon hospital from a rare lung disease in 2019, although no official cause of death has been released at this time. The Washington County (Virginia) Sheriff’s Department said his body has been sent to Roanoke for an autopsy.

His family released the following statement. “The family of Eric Wayne McClure, former NASCAR driver, announces with great sorrow his passing on Sunday, May 2, 2021. They would like to thank everyone for their prayers and support during this very difficult time.”

His fiancé, Kiera Tibbs, also posted the news on Facebook and NASCAR released a statement offering their condolences.

As a driver, McClure made three starts in the Cup Series with a best finish of 26th at Talladega in 2004.

He made 288 starts in the Xfinity Series from 2003-14 with a best finish of eighth in the 2013 season opener at Daytona International Speedway. It came months after McClure had suffered a concussion in a 2012 race at Talladega.

Despite missing six races in 2012, McClure finished a career-best 16th in the points, driving the No. 14 Hefty-sponsored Toyota.

McClure made 18 starts at his home track of Bristol Motor Speedway with a best finish of 21st in the 2013 spring race. Bristol would also be the site of his greatest triumph as a car owner.

Teaming with fellow racer Hal Martin, their No. 39 Toyota entry with Knoxville driver Chad Finchum won the 2016 NASCAR K&N Series Pitt Lite 125 at BMS, leading 112 of the race’s 125 laps.

The Martin-McClure Racing Team scored two other K&N Series victories in 2016, with current NASCAR Xfinity Series champion Austin Cindric winning on the road courses at Virginia International Raceway and Watkins Glen.

The Martin-McClure team returned to Bristol the following season with sponsorship from Emory & Henry College, where McClure was an alumnus. After Finchum started 11th, he finished fifth in a race shortened by rain to 70 laps.

BMS Executive Vice President and General Manager Jerry Caldwell released a statement Sunday about McClure.

“We are saddening to learn today of the passing of our friend, Eric McClure, who competed many times at Bristol Motor Speedway during his career as a driver and team owner,” Caldwell said. “On behalf of the entire team here at his home track, we send our heartfelt condolences to his family, friends, teammates and many fans.”

McClure was the nephew of longtime NASCAR Cup Series team owner Larry McClure, co-owner of Morgan-McClure Motorsports. The team, best known for the yellow and red Kodak-sponsored No. 4 Chevrolet, competed in the Cup Series from 1983-2007 with 14 victories, the first coming at the Bristol Night Race in 1990.

They had three Daytona 500 victories with Ernie Irvan in 1991 and back-to-back wins for Sterling Marlin in 1994-95.

Eric McClure pleaded no contest to domestic assault charges against his now-estranged wife last October after claims of McClure choking her in front of their children.

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