NASCAR Changes Qualifying Format
posted by Summer Bedgood
Tuesday March 11, 2014
Following safety concerns regarding NASCAR’s new qualifying format, the sanctioning body is introducing some changes in preparation for this weekend’s race at Bristol Motor Speedway. According to the Associated Press, NASCAR is banning teams from cool-down laps after their qualifying attempts, but will instead be allowed to hook up cool-down units to the engine through hood flaps.
Late Tuesday afternoon, a release from NASCAR fully detailed the changes. Teams will be allowed a single cool down unit to be connected through the right or left side hood flap, however the hood must remain closed. Additionally, two crew members will be allowed over the wall while cooling down.
“The qualifying is new to all of us and as we have said over the past several weeks, we are looking at it from all aspects,” said Robin Pemberton, vice president of competition and racing development. “Following discussions, both internally and with others in the garage area, we moved quickly to make a few revisions that will be effective starting with our two national series events at Bristol Motor Speedway this weekend. We believe this will only enhance and improve what has demonstrated to be an exciting form of qualifying for our fans, competitors and others involved with the sport. Moving forward we will continue to look at it and address anything else that we may need to as the season unfolds.”
The move comes after three weeks of NASCAR’s new knockout qualifying system, where multiple cars are allowed to make qualifying attempts at the same time instead of the traditional one-car-at-a-time procedure. Drivers and teams had complained that the new rules didn’t allow them to cool their engines down on pit road, and the cool-down laps caused a dangerous situation with slower cars staying on the track at the same time that other cars were running by them at much higher speeds.
The rule will begin this weekend in Bristol, a track that has a much narrower racing surface than Daytona, Phoenix, and Las Vegas.
Kurt Busch to Attempt The Indianapolis-Charlotte Double
posted by Phil Allaway
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Andretti Autosport announced this morning that Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet in the Sprint Cup Series, will attempt the Indianapolis 500 in a fifth entry for the IndyCar Series team. Once the Indianapolis 500 is completed, Busch will fly from Indianapolis to Charlotte, jump in his No. 41 Chevrolet and compete in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Busch considers the opportunity to do the double as an old-school throwback moment.
“This is really to challenge myself within motorsports,” Busch said in Andretti Autosport’s press release. “Perhaps I am a bit of an old-school racer; a throwback, I guess. I enjoyed the era of drivers racing different cars and testing themselves in other series. It is tough to do now for a variety of factors, but when the opportunity is there, I want to do it. While NASCAR is my home, I have been fortunate to compete in Pro Stock on the NHRA circuit a number of years ago and test a V8 Supercar. This opportunity was a talk with Michael [Andretti] over dinner one night, a “What if,” and now it’s becoming a reality for me to drive in the Indy 500 with Andretti Autosport. It’s literally a dream come true. To go to the famous Brickyard with the iconic Andretti name, it doesn’t get much cooler or better than that.”
Busch will be doing the Indianapolis-Charlotte double as a Memorial Day mission to men and women serving in the U.S. Military via the Armed Forces Foundation. Fans can contribute to the cause by texting AFF to 50555 to donate $10.
Busch, who has never raced an IndyCar, passed Rookie Orientation at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway last year during a test session. At the time, Busch was more or less testing the Dallara DW12 for fun.
Busch will be the fourth driver to attempt the Indianapolis-Charlotte double. John Andretti was the first driver to attempt it in 1994. After finishing four laps down in tenth in Indianapolis, Andretti crashed and had engine problems in the 600. Robby Gordon has attempted the double five times, most recently in 2004. However, Gordon failed to make it to Charlotte on time and did not start the 600 in 2000 (P.J. Jones started Gordon’s No. 13 Ford in that instance). Finally, Tony Stewart has attempted the double twice (most recently in 2001) and is the only driver to ever complete all 1100 miles. Neither of the three drivers has won either leg of the double. The best finishes are Stewart and Gordon’s sixth-place finishes at the Indianapolis 500 (although Gordon’s came in 2000, the year he didn’t make it to Charlotte in time to start the Coca-Cola 600), and Stewart’s fourth-place finish in the 2001 Coca-Cola 600.
Danica Patrick, Justin Allgaier Talk About Phoenix Incident
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
A disappointing start to the year for Danica Patrick won’t include continued conflict. Patrick met with rookie Justin Allgaier Sunday, shortly after the Phoenix Cup race after a wreck ruined both drivers’ days. Patrick, who was critical of the No. 51 car on the radio, claiming Allgaier was “driving all over the track” appeared receptive to a conversation that quickly settled differences over what will be a long season.
“She was just upset because she got involved in the crash that we had,’’ said Allgaier to the Motor Racing Network. “She says she’s been through this and that she felt like I needed to settle down at that point. I explained my position on why everything happened. I think she understood where I was coming from. It doesn’t fix either one of our racecars. It doesn’t fix either one of our days. Unfortunately, we were both having pretty decent days.’’
Allgaier wound up 30th due to the incident while Patrick was 36th. The incident, which was caused by Allgaier’s spin also involved the No. 32 team and Travis Kvapil, which wound up 38th after sustaining heavy damage.
Camping World Close to Extending Title Sponsorship of NCWTS
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Marcus Lemonis, CEO of Camping World, Grand Marshal of Sunday’s Sprint Cup race at Phoenix International Raceway, and star of CNBC’s “The Profit,” made the announcement over the weekend that the retailer is very close to announcing a deal that would continue its title sponsorship of NASCAR’s Truck Series. The original agreement with NASCAR is scheduled to conclude after the 2015 season.
According to the sanctioning body, no formal contract has been signed, but “the agreement between the two parties has proven to be a beneficial one.”
“In about a month, we’ll be announcing a significant extension to that contract. It’s been great for us,” said Camping World’s Lemonis in a statement. “The NASCAR relationship has worked well for Camping World. When we started, we had 35 stores. Now, we’re up to 120 stores. As we travel the country and we meet new customers in stores, they always are very appreciative of our relationship with NASCAR. It’s been good.”
Gaining a long-term commitment from Camping World to sponsor the Truck Series would be a relief for NASCAR, which is set to lose Nationwide Insurance as title sponsor for the NASCAR Nationwide Series at the end of the 2014 season. The sponsorship of the Cup Series by Sprint runs through 2016.
The NCWTS is back in action on March 29th at 2:30 PM (ET) when the trucks visit Martinsville Speedway in the Kroger 250, which can be seen on Fox Sports 1. Ratings for the season opener were up 11 percent.
Harvick Takes Win At Phoenix In Second Race With New Team
posted by Justin Tucker
Monday March 3, 2014
Phoenix International Raceway has become Kevin Harvick’s home away from home. Sunday Afternoon was no exception as Harvick charged to the front early and would dominate for much of the day, leading 224 of the scheduled 312 laps to record his record fifth win on the one mile oval and his third win in the last four races at Phoenix.
Harvick, coming off of a disappointing Speedweeks which was capped by a last lap crash in the Daytona 500 in his debut with Stewart-Haas Racing, set the tone on Saturday by winning both practices while having the best 5 and 10-lap averages in the first practice of the day on Saturday. On Sunday, Harvick and his No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet was nothing short of flawless as he was able to hold Dale Earnhardt, Jr. by .489 seconds after a late race restart to claim his 24th career Sprint Cup Series victory.
“Man, this is awesome,” Harvick said after his dominant victory on Sunday. “Man, this just solidifies so many things and so many decisions. It’s been so much work with all the time and effort that these guys (the crew) have put in—but what a race car.”
Stewart Haas Racing co-owner Gene Haas shared in Harvick’s excitement after the race.
“It took long enough,” Haas joked. “This is phenomenal. I think there was a lot of skepticism last year about what myself and Tony (Stewart) what we were up to, was there a lot of madness to this. Quite frankly, it’s a great team, there’s a lot of synergy at the shop, people working together. I don’t know what we did, but I think we put together a great organization.”
Daytona 500 winner Dale Earnhardt, Jr. continued his hot start to the 2014 season. Earnhardt Jr. would finish second on Sunday, marking his seventh consecutive top 10 finish since the end of the 2013 season. Earnhardt Jr. was pleased with the effort after a coast-to-coast whirlwind week after winning his second Daytona 500 and also gave great praise to the efforts of Harvick and the No. 4 team.
“I’ve got to congratulate Kevin. Those guys were two-tenths faster than everyone all weekend in practice. They were just phenomenal,” Earnhardt said. “To be able to run with them all day was a big confidence builder for us.”
Joining Harvick and Earnhardt in the top 5 of The Profit on CNBC 500K were Brad Keselowski with his second consecutive top 3 run of 2014 in third. Keselowski’s Team Penske teammate Joey Logano would finish fourth, and Jeff Gordon would come home fifth in his No. 24 Pepsi Max Chevrolet.
Jimmie Johnson finished in sixth, followed by Ryan Newman with a nice rebound after Daytona in seventh. Carl Edwards would carry the banner for Roush Fenway Racing by finishing eighth, Kyle Busch was ninth, and Jamie McMurray would finish tenth.
A look at the Profit on CNBC 500K by the numbers. There were 14 lead changes among eight different drivers, there were eight cautions for 39 laps which slowed the race pace to 109.229 MPH.
Next Sunday, the Sprint Cup Series heads to Sin City and the Las Vegas Motor
Starting Lineup: The Profit On CNBC 500K
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday March 1, 2014
Drivers in RED (i) are those ineligible to collect Sprint Cup points
Daytona 500 TV Ratings Down
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Wednesday February 26, 2014
What was the longest weather delay in Daytona 500 history turned out to bring NASCAR lower ratings and TV viewership Sunday night than expected. According to a report Monday from FOX Sports, the 56th running of the Daytona 500 airing at 8 PM (ET) posted a 5.6/10 national household rating/share which averaged 9.3 million viewers. That’s down 44 percent from last year’s 9.9, easily making it the least-watched Daytona 500 of all-time.
Due to the six-hour, twenty-two minute rain delay in Daytona, the race was up against the primetime coverage of the Winter Olympics Closing Ceremony from Sochi, Russia on NBC (15.25 million viewers). FOX also reported that 69% of the pre-rain delay viewers of the race, which began at 1 PM (ET) kept tuning in.
In comparison, the 2013 Daytona 500 on FOX was the most-watched race in five years, posting a 9.9/22 rating/share, commanding 16.7 million viewers. The Daytona 500 in 2012, the first to ever be run on a Monday and in the primetime slot did a 7.7/13 overnight rating/share which resulted in 13.67 million households viewing the race according to Nielsen TV ratings data.
Earnhardt, Jr. Claims Second Daytona 500 Victory
posted by Justin Tucker
Wednesday February 26, 2014
Ten years is a long time. For Dale Earnhardt, Jr., it felt like an eternity. NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver endured many near misses and close calls at the Daytona 500 since his only win in the Great American Race in 2004. Earnhardt had finished second in two of his last three Daytona 500s coming into Sunday’s race. He was also riding the tail of a 55-race winless streak, dating back to Michigan in 2012.
However nothing would stop Dale Jr. on Sunday, not even a 6 hour and 22 minute rain delay from capturing his second Daytona 500 win. Earnhardt Jr. led a race-high 54 laps on the evening and used some timely drafting help from teammates Jimmie Johnson and, on the final restart, Jeff Gordon to separate from the pack and secure the victory.
“Winning this race is the greatest feeling that you could feel in this sport besides accepting the trophy for the championship,” said a jubilant Earnhardt after pulling into Victory Lane. “We could fight off battle after battle. We got a little help at the end there from Jeff to get away on the restart. This is amazing. I can’t believe this is happening. I never take this for granted, man because it doesn’t happen twice, let alone once.”
Aside from the race itself the big story of the race was the 6 hour and 22 minute red flag, which threatened to move the race to Monday evening (had the race been postponed, FOX Sports’ Chris Myers had tweeted that the race would resume at 5:00pm EST). However, Mother Nature would cooperate and would allow the race to be run under different conditions from which they practiced this week. Once the race resumed, the intensity picked up from the changing track conditions. This allowed the pack to race side-by-side and at times 3-wide up to seven rows deep.
Joining Earnhardt Jr. in the top 5 for the 2014 Daytona 500 were: Denny Hamlin who closed out a spectacular Speedweeks in second, Brad Keselowski in third, Jeff Gordon in fourth, and Jimmie Johnson who overcome two wrecks leading up to the 500 in fifth.
Rounding out the top 10 in the Daytona 500 were Matt Kenseth in sixth, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. in seventh and Greg Biffle would bring his No. 16 Ford home in eighth. Austin Dillon would come home ninth in his first Cup Series race in the iconic No. 3 for Richard Childress Racing, while Casey Mears would round out the top 10.
A couple of major contenders for the Daytona 500 win would see their hopes dashed early on as Martin Truex, Jr. would blow up just 30 laps into the race, relegating him to a 43rd-place finish in his debut for Furniture Row Racing. Crew chief Todd Berrier was already in Nashville for a test session before the race was even over. Kyle Busch, meanwhile would have a pit road violation just before halfway and would spend much of the race battling back from that mistake. Busch would eventually finish 19th after leading 19 laps.
Danica Patrick would also be bit by bad luck as she was caught up in a multi-car wreck on lap 145. Patrick would lead her second consecutive Daytona 500, but wouldn’t have the finish to show for it finishing 40th. Tony Stewart would encounter a frustrating evening as well, with a fuel pickup problem derailing his quest for his first Daytona 500 win. Stewart would finish 35th.
A look at the Daytona 500 by the numbers. There were 42 lead changes among 18 drivers, while seven cautions for 39 laps would slow the race pace to 145.290 MPH.
Next week, the Sprint Cup Series heads to the “diamond in the desert,” Phoenix International Raceway for The Profit on CNBC 500K. The Green flag is scheduled for 3:15pm EST.
Nationwide Series Post-Race Quotes: Drive4COPD 300
posted by Thomas Bowles
Tuesday February 25, 2014
Frontstretch Interviews – Courtesy Mike Neff
ELLIOTT SADLER – FINISHED 4th
Thoughts on the race?
It’s definitely a lot different racing than what we’re used to.
Comfortable with it?
Yeah, it’s just different. You’re worried about what you’re doing, but you’re also worried about what everyone else is doing and they’re not doing more than you’re doing. Physically pushing a guy is way better than just riding so you just gotta time it right and push it to the edge.
Happy to start the year with a top 5?
Yeah. Hell, that was the worst we ran all day, I think. I have no idea how they put the 3 car in front of us on that last restart. I hadn’t seen the 3 car hardly all day. When they put us from fifth to sixth, on the outside line, it just really boxed us in. I would have really restarted behind my teammate and given him a good push to the front. Anyways, it is what it is; we’ll take it and move on.
Looked like you were up front all day.
The guys did a good job. We had a fast race car. Great pit stops, just really proud of these guys. The car’s in one piece and we can take it to Talladega now. Great job by my guys. A lot of effort came into coming down here to Daytona and giving ourselves a shot to win. We had that chance to be up front and make some things happen. Fifth is not what we want, but we’ll take it and move on.
Bumping vs Pushing?
It’s way harder. You don’t want to lay on the guy in front of you, so it’s tough racing. A lot different than what we’re used to, ‘cause you gotta go. You gotta drag the brake too ‘cause you don’t want to hit the guys and you don’t want to stay on him. It’s a lot harder mentally than what we’ve done in the past.
Car was strong all day. Pushing vs. Bumping, is that harder to do than just getting on somebody and pushing them?
Yeah, it is a little bit. When you bump ‘em, you jar ‘em, it kinda jacks ‘em a little bit. It’s a little more abrupt, obviously. I thought it was OK there at the end. It was certainly fun and hopefully entertaining. But a little bit of a struggle in the early part of the race and the midpart of the race to see a good race. And that’s unfortunate for the fans. You can’t do that the whole race, you can’t tear up your stuff, knock your grill in, overheat your motor, all that stuff so there’s no sense in doing all that until you get down to the last lap. The 7 and the 6, they did a good job. Man, the 7 really held the 22 and I tight on the bottom. I was rubbing his door and hitting the apron at the same time, no room whatsoever. So it was good; wish we were the ones who could have won but a lot better now than what we were last year.
Going home in one piece makes it a lot better, right?
Yeah. My back feels good. My foot feels good. Past years here, I’ve been going home with pain so I’m alright.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Truck Series Post-Race Quotes: Daytona (Exclusives)
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday February 22, 2014
When you’re on the outside like that, how frustrating is it?
It’s so hard. Timothy Peters has won here. Kyle Busch has won everywhere. Ron Hornaday has been running Trucks forever, probably before I was even born. I was surrounded by veterans there, and like I told them I don’t have a rookie stripe but I’m a rookie. This is only my fourth Truck race ever, my fourth superspeedway race, and man, I figured out when the 17 got up in front of me, I pushed him. And as soon as I pushed him, he took off. And I went with him. And I just kept doing it, and before I knew it, he was leading. And I saw Ron in my mirror, backed up to him, and if it wasn’t for him, I don’t know what would have happened. I gotta thank him big time for that. That was a true teammate move right there. I really appreciate that. He just bounced off me and we got to the front. I tried my hardest to sidedraft Kyle. I was probably touching his door.
Top 5 in the No. 30 truck. This deal come together at the last minute, but you had a heck of a truck. Tell us about your night.
Yeah, I’ve got to thank Turner Scott Motorsports. The guys worked so hard on this Rheem Comfort Products Chevrolet. Exciting! Just got hung up on the outside and had to wait for my teammate there to catch up. And then he got to the bottom, so… I got the old 32 and started pushing ol’ Ryan to the front. So, it’s not bad. We’ll take it. You just don’t want to step over that boundary. You don’t know how far to push and shove. We bumped about six times down the straightaway without latching onto them. Hopefully, that was OK and we came home with a top 5.
Connect with Mike!
Check in with Matt and Jay on their site at CareyandCoffey.com.
The hullabaloo surrounding the opening of the new NASCAR Hall of Fame has reached a crescendo, or at least the highest level of noise the marketing types in Charlotte and Daytona Beach have been able to achieve. Let’s just say that said opening is a few notches beneath the general public’s radar screen, and it’s unlikely Diane Sawyer will be broadcasting the Nightly News from the Hall unless maybe Carl Edwards agrees to put Brad Keselowski on his roof again.
With that said, the building is a pretty impressive edifice, and even if worries of technical difficulties continued through opening day, let’s try to give the folks in charge the benefit of the doubt and guess that one day they’ll get it all sorted out. Certainly, stock car racing’s rich and colorful history and the legendary and equally colorful (and nowadays equally rich) slate of competitors deserve the recognition.
I don’t want to get into how the Hall was financed, its financial challenges, or the rest. Local politics here in Hysterical Guthriesville and surrounding burgs are ugly and sordid enough without my wanting to know what’s going on in the Queen City. For those who must know, here in Guthriesville, Wawa and its planned store were run out of town on a rail under cover of darkness, so you still can’t get a decent cup of coffee without enduring the 30 Bypass, and several local politicos are still wondering if this means they have to return all those big bribe checks to Wawa. The local historical commission (the last three or four folks on earth you’d want to get cornered by at a cocktail party) is strutting about like roosters thanks to a key assist by the Army Corps of Engineers, and the world’s ugliest historical general store remains standing, despite remaining vacant and even if folks like me wouldn’t shed a tear or piss on the ashes if it burned down tonight. In brighter news, the vending machine outside the AM/PM store has featured a particularly lively batch of night crawlers for fishermen fond of the Culbertson Run River, which a lame man could leap over in most places.
But back to business. It’s hard to argue with three of the first five inductees into the Hall: Richard Petty (200 wins, seven titles, and the face of the sport for two decades) Dale Earnhardt (the sport’s other seven-time titlist, and the face that replaced Petty as the TV age bloomed), and Junior Johnson (not only a racer with 50 wins, but a multi-time championship car owner.) The Bills France? Yeah, you could make an argument there, but what’s done is done.
So who should the five drivers inducted into the Hall in 2011 be? In my mind (and it’s a dark and scary place) there are four drivers that should automatically make the cut.
There’s Cale Yarborough, until last year the only driver to win three consecutive titles. It would have been nice to see Cale and Junior inducted together, as that was the combination that produced those three championships, but again we have to look forward, not back. Yarborough himself wasn’t the largest of men in the sport back in the days before power steering and cool boxes. He’d emerge from his car, usually in Victory Lane, tomato red in the face, down a few brews, then confuse the Hell out of Ken Squier and other Yankee broadcasters with a rapid fire torrent of Southernism incomprehensible to anyone born north of the Mason-Dixon line in that era.
Yarborough was the first driver to carry an in-car camera for the networks (it was the size of a largish microwave oven) to Victory Lane at Daytona. He was also one of the three protagonists in the post-race fistfight after the 1979 Daytona 500, and seemingly at the losing end of that altercation with the Allison boys. That fight is still credited by many, this writer included, with putting NASCAR racing on the map that historic day in February, and to this day that wreck and subsequent fight still gets re-aired time after time during each year’s Daytona 500 coverage. Yarborough won 83 of the 560 Cup level races he entered, finishing within the top 5 in 255 of those races while leading a mind-numbing 31,659 laps – including all 500 at Bristol in the spring of 1973. Perhaps most importantly, Yarborough left the circuit still in his prime, leaving us to wonder how many more races he could have won if he stuck around. My guess is the man could have won a lot more races if he chose to.
It’s hard for me to comprehend that any sane person would argue David Pearson shouldn’t be part of the Class of 2011. The three-time champion is second on NASCAR’s all-time list with 105 victories in Cup. He’d likely have won bunches more, but during the early ’70s Pearson and the Wood Brothers ran only select races, the big superspeedways that paid the big checks to win. In 1973, Pearson won 11 of the 18 races he entered; in 1976, he won 10 of 22 races he competed in. It seemed at the end of every race in that era, it came down to Pearson in his Mercury and Petty in his Mopar battling for the win, and in head-to-head competition Pearson actually outdid Petty (the tally reads 33-30 in races where they finished 1-2).
Tall, lanky, and usually soft-spoken, Pearson was the embodiment of cool, while he smoked his cigarettes under caution and calmly tossed them out the window coming to the green flag. Early in a lot of races, Pearson was all but invisible, leaving fans to wonder what was wrong with his car. More often than not, he was out on a Sunday ride, saving his equipment, staying out of wrecks, and waiting for the laps that decided who got the trophy and the big check. At the end of those races, he’d seemingly come out of nowhere and power his way to the lead with moves that were calculated when they could be and bold when they had to be. There just seemed to be no stopping that red and white Wood Brothers Mercury once Pearson put the spurs to it. If you were a fan of the Ford Motor Company in the late ’60s and ’70s, Pearson carried your flag and did you proud. In 574 starts, he averaged an eleventh-place finish.
Some of you newer fans might never have even heard of Tim Flock, one of the three Flock brothers that once were superstars of the sport. Flock won two Cup titles (1952 and 1955). In 1955, he won 18 of the 39 races he ran in and finished within the top 5 in 32 of those events. He led 3,495 of the 6,208 laps he ran that year. Jimmie Johnson is never going to approach that sort of number, nor will his average career finish be 9.5. Flock was also one of the sport’s first superstars in an era where racing was dangerous to a level today’s fans could ever comprehend. You wouldn’t let your kid ride a bicycle wearing the sort of crash helmet Flock wore in competition. The dangers drivers faced in that era extended beyond the track, too. After a long run back South from the race at Rochester, NY to compete in a race at Spartanburg that Fourth of July (such was commonplace in the era) Flock laid down in the grass to catch some sleep. (No, his motorcoach wasn’t being re-outfitted with a leather interior that weekend.) Some marketing type looking for a place to park threw it in reverse and parked his back wheel atop Flock’s head. The craziest part of all? Flock was back racing a little over a month later. He finished sixth in that year’s points standings.
I was shocked to take a phone call from Tim Flock shortly before his death from cancer to thank me as one of several scribes encouraging fans to support the still living legend as he was forced not only to battle off the illness but sell off his lifetime accrual of trophies and other racing memorabilia to pay for his treatment. He was as charming and personable a man as I’ve over spoken to, still fully in charge of his faculties and generous to a fault in telling me stories from racing’s days of yore. Flock’s unparalleled racing success occurred before I was born, and long before TV was part of the NASCAR equation. I do recall as a young fan attending races in that era, I was eager to learn of the sport’s history, the part of the story I’d missed because of my age. The gnarled railbirds, almost to a man, kind enough to speak to an eager young kid told me there was no better or braver driver ever to turn a lap in a race car than Tim Flock. I look at those black and white photos in Greg Fielden’s pinnacle series of books on our sport’s history and hope that before I die, time travel becomes possible so I could be there just one time to watch Flock running the Daytona Beach road course in a great big old white Chrysler 300B. Until then, Tim’s inclusion in the Hall of Fame is just going to have to do.
On an emotional level, I can think of no candidate more worthy of inclusion in next year’s Hall class than Bobby Allison. Long before Alan Kulwicki was honored with the song “My Way” at his championship banquet, there was Allison doing it his way… often using the hardest road possible. Still, his level of success is unquestionable. Allison won 85 races. Some record books still show Allison with just 84 victories, tied with his once arch-nemesis Darrell Waltrip on the all-time winners list. Balderdash (and I’m self-editing here, there’s a far more colloquial term I’d like to use.) On August 6, 1971, Bobby Allison won at Winston-Salem. That night, he drove a Ford Mustang, not one of the Grand National mid-size cars. By the entry form, that Mustang was eligible to compete for the race win, not a separate win. Such was the case in several small track events late that season, as NASCAR and track promoters struggled to fill fields in the wake of Ford and Chrysler’s withdrawal of factory support of our sport. Allison got the trophy that night, beating no less a driver than Richard Petty in a Charger to earn the win. (For the record, the rivalry between Petty and Allison for several seasons can be compared to the recent dustups between Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson, sort of like a nuclear war and a short quiet fart in a broom closet.)
Somehow, historical revisionists have eliminated that win from Allison’s total, leaving him tied with Waltrip. But oddly enough, Allison’s second-place finish at Ona two days later to Petty is officially recognized as one of his 336 top-5 finishes in 718 career Cup starts. (And his total of 446 top 10s…Jimmie who?) To paraphrase Moe Howard, it’s time for Darrell Waltrip and his self-aggrandizing self to help set the record straight and acknowledge that Allison won one more Cup race than DW did. If you’re going to have a Hall of Fame, you need to get your stats straight. In fact, if that old Mustang still exists it ought to be put in the entrance of the Hall to help right a forty-year wrong.
Allison might have set that record straight himself if it weren’t for a near-fatal wreck at Pocono four months and four days after his memorable and emotional win over his son Davey in the 1988 Daytona 500, still one of the best races in NASCAR history. Brain injuries suffered in that crash ended his driving career, and he never fully recovered from them despite returning as a car owner shortly thereafter. Cruelly, the same sport that cost him his health cost Allison both his sons; Clifford in a Busch series practice wreck at Michigan in 1992, and Davey in a helicopter wreck at Talladega the next year.
Bobby Allison has paid his way into the Hall in with his own blood and that of his two sons. I watched him race back in the day, and there was nobody more determined nor any driver who did more with less when he couldn’t find a competitive ride. If Allison isn’t in this year’s class, I might just pay a crack-head half of my annual salary to burn the joint down. And if DW is inducted prior to Bobby, I might up that offer to two year’s salary.
My fifth pick is a split decision. Obviously, I don’t think much of Darrell Waltrip as a broadcaster, but as a race car driver he was one of the best ever, at least until the waning years of his career when the struggles tarnished his own legend. It’s hard to argue with three championships and 84 race wins. At places like Bristol and Martinsville in his day, Waltrip was all but unbeatable. NASCAR in that era was enjoying its growing TV exposure, and Waltrip was a master in front of the TV cameras, one of the more erudite drivers of the day. Long before Kyle Busch was born, Waltrip wasn’t afraid to wear the black hat of the bad guy, taking on the sport’s monarchy of Petty, Pearson, Allison, and Yarborough. Other newer drivers would exclaim, gosh and golly they were just thrilled to be out there racing those fellows. DW confidently predicted he wasn’t going to race, he was going to beat them because he was a superior driver.
Waltrip’s ongoing feuds with Allison and Yarborough were the stuff of legends and a race promoter’s dream. He crossed swords with Dale Earnhardt more than once, too, as the next generation of drivers came into the sport – although the unlikely duo would eventually become close friends. For him, there was never a dull moment; Waltrip once famously challenged the entire crowd that was booing him after a win at Charlotte to meet him at a K-Mart parking lot to settle matters. (Cooler heads prevailed, and DW was whisked out of the speedway under heavy police protection.) In later years, Waltrip mellowed and fans started warming to him. That was about the same time he stopped winning. Go figure. Between 1984 and 2000, Waltrip was the only driver other than Bill Elliott to win the Most Popular Driver award (Waltrip won in 1989 and 1990.) Think what you want of DW as a broadcaster (which incidentally rhymes with “disaster”) but the man could wheel a stock car like few others. I might have been booing him from the cheap seats in the grandstands, pulling for the No. 9 Coors car but I was amazed at what Waltrip could do at the wheel of a battered car late in a race.
The lone alternative for the class of 2011 would be Lee Petty, patriarch of the Petty clan and founder of Lee Petty Engineering, which would evolve into the famous Petty Racing team. Petty was there for the very first NASCAR race held that June afternoon in 1949, though the event didn’t turn out so well. Purportedly driving a Buick borrowed from a neighbor, Petty ended up on his roof and officially listed as the first NASCAR driver out of a race due to a crash; and then, legend has it the Petty clan had to hitchhike home because they’d arrived at the event driving the Buick. Petty went on to drive in six of that year’s eight Strictly Stock events, and won one race in Pittsburg, of all places. He finished second to the late Red Byron in that year’s points championship.
He’d go on to win 54 races, three titles, and should have been awarded a fourth. In that era, NASCAR was still trying to corral the top name drivers into the fold and wanted to prevent them from running in rival series, which were myriad in the day. NASCAR’s Cup schedule in 1950 took a three-week hiatus in July, probably to spare fans the sweltering Southern heat. Petty reckoned he had a perfectly good race car, and there were events run outside of NASCAR that paid good money, so he raced in them. As a result, an angry Bill France stripped Petty of the 809 points he’d earned to that point in the season. Petty would go on to compete in seventeen of that season’s nineteen Cup races, but would finish third in the points behind Bill Rexford and Fireball Roberts – 369 points away from a championship.
There’s no sugarcoating history. Lee Petty was a man as hard as the soil of North Carolina that borne him. In an era where most Cup racers were hobbyists, Petty was the first to decide that racing was a full-time career. He did so because he was damn good at racing, and it paid better than farming. If it hadn’t, he’d have traded in his race car on a tractor and been back to the farm. Notoriously tight with a buck, short-tempered, and argumentative, he wasn’t an easy guy to race against or get along with. He was a product of his times, and to fellows in the grandstands Lee was their kind of guy. He won the Most Popular Driver award in 1952, ’53, and ’54. That’s plenty of fanfare for a guy who once drove two laps with his son Richard on the hood of his race car because the King was too slow cleaning the windshield during a pit stop. Lee was ordering Richard to jump off the car, but Richard was holding on for dear life… literally. NASCAR eventually black-flagged Lee, who took a switch to Richard’s backside after the race for insubordination.
During Richard Petty’s first NASCAR hardtop race, his own dad wrecked him for failing to get out of the way fast enough when trying to lap his son. Yeah, Lee Petty was cuddly as a cactus, but he put butts in the grandstands back in an era where it was crucial to NASCAR’s very survival as a viable enterprise. The elder Petty could have done even more, but his racing career was effectively ended in the second qualifying race for the 1961 Daytona 500, when his car exited the track and landed in the parking lot. He’d go on to drive a handful more races before retiring and leaving the family business to his sons.
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I think 5 of the 6 MATT picked will make it, but I think Flock will be snubbed rather than Petty. I personally think Flock was more talented, but Lee Petty remained in the public eye longer due to Richard Petty’s success, plus he wasn’t banned from the sport for aligning with the Teamsters Union, which might mean Brian France might not want him in so quickly…
The next inductions will be pretty predictable, as one would expect the other 4 of the 7 big winners (minus Gordon who will have to wait until retirement) will make it, along with somebody else. I think Petty will get it over Flock.
The year after? I’ll say Tim Flock, Ned Jarrett, Benny Parsons, Lee Petty, and Fireball Roberts. Parsons gets a bounce due to his announcing. Rusty has great stats, but they’ll probably wait until at least the fourth year for him because he retired recently.
Even though theoretically crew chiefs, engine builders, car owners, and promoters are being considered, I think it’s going to be a long time before they actually induct a non-driver… If there’s any justice, the first would be Smokey Yunick, but I don’t think he has a chance before year 4.
What about the first driver to win 4 championships in a row? He’s already done more for this sport than anyone Matt listed.
I’d also like to see Bill France Jr in the hall while he’s still young enough to enjoy it. If Bill got the recognition he deserves, and was inducted NOW, he may be able to make REAL changes to NASCAR and not have to worry about public opinion.
Is Dansmom always a clueless drunk?! I’m just curious!
Brian France, a twice lifesize bronze statue in front. Sort of North Korean style. I mean what the heck…the pigeons need a place to ..um you know.
Matt great article. I think every one of the men you mentioned deserves to be inducted NOW.
@ DansMom: Your ignorance truly knows no limits, does it? That was a rhetorical question. The answer is obviously, “No, no limits there at all.”
I find the poll of which NASCAR greats to leave out of the list that Matt has given to be a poll no one can participate in. How could you argue with any of those choices? How could you argue with some other choices that could be made? Fact is the Hall of Fame is a late comer and there are so many NASCAR people that should be in the Hall that it will take several years for the Hall to catch up with the people that should be in the Hall. The problem that exist is not who should be in the Hall, but why has it taken so long for this Hall of Fame to be formed? I think the Hall should take in 50 people in one year that were a big part of NASCAR that have since passed away, before the people that knew many of these people like Humpy Wheeler have passed on themselves. Any one ever heard of Paul Sawyers the Richmond Raceway owner that established the system of how to promote and make a living from running a race track? Ned Jarrett, Junior Johnson, Richard Petty, Buddy Baker, Ken Squire, Chris I can not spell his last name, all know many of the NASCAR people of the past that should be in the Hall. Let us get them in now while we have the sources of information of people that where there and know what the real deal was, before it is to late. Matt, there are no time machines on the horizon.
“These men (and many others) raced truly unwieldy cars, with no rollcage, fuel cell, firesuit, window net, air conditioning, carbon monoxide filter, or power steering.”
Doesn’t sound like much fun to me.
I have to agree with Dansmom on this one. Why does driving a death trap with no safety equipment make “these men” better than the drivers today? Makes them sound like idiots to me.
Interesting article on the next people to go into “the Haul of Cash… err Hall of Fame.”
Maybe it should be the Hall of Mirrors so people can “reflect” on how great the sport was 30 years ago. But… if the sport was so much greater back then then, a building dedicated to the sports past should be BOOMING with success. However:
“The story in the Charlotte Observer also says that the Hall hasn’t sold as many corporate sponsorships to companies or commemorative bricks to fans as projected”
Maybe the problem is that old-school fans don’t want to spend their fixed incomes as expendable money. With that philosophy – NASCAR should look to attract newer, younger fans to grow the sport.
Obviously, going after the “die hards” isn’t working.
Wait, which Petty does broadcasts for Speed? Richard or Lee? I didn’t know that guy won all those races. Wow. Guess I should catch up on some NASCAR smarts.
I like how Noel puts the word fans in quotes. As if it is my fault that I started watching NASCAR after Dale Sr died and that makes me less of a fan.
For once in my life I would like to meet a person named Noel that I didnt think was a complete idiot.
At the time I checked the poll results, 59% had selected Darrell Waltrip. I’ll bet many of those votes are based less on his time behind the wheel and more on his time behind the microphone. He has always been more than a little overbearing and has a huge ego, but now it’s stuffed in our faces continually during the FOX broadcasts.
The Hall of fame should only consist of those drivers who have won Chase Championships. Kurt Busch, Tony Stewart, Jimmie Johnson. Afterall, those are the only real champs.
Can’t you ban “dansmom”….its obviously a flamer trying to stir up crap. FYI…Bill France, Jr. is dead. I think even the stupidest of fans know that.
I miss the days when drivers were tough and gritty, driving with no cool helmets, no power steering, no braces and pads to keep their body in place. Those guys weren’t idiots, they were superior athletes to the guys that sit behind the wheel today.
You cant band someone on a message board that doesnt require you to register… DUH! Even the stupidest fans know that.
@Adam: I bet you also want to trade in your car for one with no seat-belts, air bags, anti-lock breaks, air conditioning, sat radio, and cup holders too.
Why does making the car safer make current drivers lesser athletes? Did we learn nothing from Dale Sr? Three Fingers in the air
Jimmie usually races and qualifies well at Dover. This weekend, if he sits on the pole and leads lap 3, I’m standing, taking my hat off and holding three fingers in the air.
After that I’ll be hittin the slot machines. Afterall only real racetracks have casinos (NOT-lose-a-date martinsville)
Dansmom: Shouldnt you hold four fingers in the air? One for every championship?
First of all, I would encourage everyone to start ignoring Dan’s mother. People who get their enjoyment from trolling thrive on the attention. Stop giving her attention and perhaps she’ll leave.
Secondly, it’s hard to choose one of those 6 to leave out! Pearson and Yarborough are obvious choices, and the others you listed are all good picks as well. But, do all the nominees have to be drivers? What about including an owner or a crew chief? We only had 2 1/2 drivers inducted this year, anyway. (The 1/2 is Junior Johnson, who was of course both driver and owner. And speaking of which, Alan Kulwicki wouldn’t be a bad choice, though next year may be too soon.) In the early years of the sport, Carl Kiekhaefer’s multi-car team stood out as the one to beat, though he was only in the sport for a short period of time.
I’m only 25 but I have a great interest in the history of our sport. I wish other younger fans felt the same desire to learn about its past.
Noel- I tried that at the last race I went to. But everyone else just held up one finger and pointed it back at me. I guess that one was for the 5th championship Jimmie will win this year.
Of the six drivers Matt suggested, I’d go with all but Waltrip. Not that DW doesn’t deserve to be in the HOF; I just think the other 5 are more deserving for the second class.
A good friend of mine cared for Tim Flock in his last days, and she would be the first to echo Matt’s gracious comments about Flock. From everything I’ve heard about him, Tim Flock seems to have been a deserving champion and a fine man as well. And besides, what other driver would race with a monkey in his car? And win?
I could be wrong, but I think you have to be retired to be eligible for HOF. That rules out Johnson, Gordon, and other current drivers. However, if Johnson ever does make the HOF, he should be inducted jointly with Chad Knaus, since without him Jimmie would probably be Rick Hendrick’s shoe-shine boy by now.
Dansmom… I hope you win enough money at the casinos to buy a couple of books about Nascar history (I suggest Eights & Aces by our own Matt McLaughlin). And if you still have any money left over, charm school wouldn’t hurt.
Bud Moore needs to be inducted while he’s alive.
Matt, I love your choices, but I think you left one off the list. Ironically enough, DansMom called it right, even though I’m pretty sure it wasn’t on purpose. The first four-time champion SHOULD make the Hall of Fame. Those who don’t realize that Jimmie Johnson is, in fact, the SECOND driver to win four straight-and Richie evans kept right on going, winning EIGHT Modified Division titles in a row, with nine total, making him the most decorated driver ever in NASCAR’s touring series ranks, should perhaps crack a history book. The Modifieds are NOT a lower division than Cup in the way that K&N is-it’s a separate series where many drivers happily make a career of its own merit. Evans should be in already, but I think he should be on this list-I’d put him in before Waltrip for sure, and probably over Tim Flock as well. Otherwise, I think Matt nailed it-and kudos for keeping the money issue out of it…that one’s been done.
As much as I’d like to see Tim Flock in there, he will probably get snubbed because of he and Curtis Turner trying to form a drivers union.
It would be nice to see NASCAR’s first champion inducted. Or the last of the living Founding Fathers, Raymond Parks Jr. Or how about the man who actually created the term NASCAR Red Vogt? I think these folks need to go in long before DW does.
Dansmom…I hope she wins enough at the spinning wheels to get some therapy and get off the drugs…Bill, Jr. is IN the Hall of Cash…and as far as the “4 time” champion being inducted within the next 10 years, why not wait until the facts come out sometime soon regarding the hidden traction control he has used and the resulting asterisks that will accompany the listing of his “championships”?
Don’t you have to be retired before you can get in a sports hall of fame?
@ Randy Goldman: I take issue with the fans like DansMom that insists on proving why inbreeding is a terrible idea with every comment she makes. I think NASCAR needs all of the fans it can get, but the fans should appreciate the history of the sport, and that it spans 60 years. Regardless of whomever you follow in the sport today, NONE of them has done more for the sport of NASCAR than the men Matt, myself, and other posters have mentioned.
@ DansMom: D’OH!!! That was the entire point. Those cars in the old days weren’t fun to drive. They were hard work to drive fast. Those men did it for love, an adrenaline rush, and a little money. Jimmie Johnson benefits from those men’s struggles. He has made no actual contribution to the sport as such.
@ VolcanoNacho: The drivers of the past weren’t stupid. Most of them were men that fought in WW II and Korea. They stared death in the face and came home to laugh at the danger of racing a car. Many men were maimed or killed suffering horrific injuries. Those tragedies are what led directly to the safety features that are enjoyed by today’s drivers, and even our street cars. That is why they deserve to be honored first.
If you think DW’s head is big now……………..
The rules should also state that you cannot be inducted if you are on the broadcast team, because the fans would have to endure 5 hours each week of non stop DW self promoting Hall of Fame inductee DW.
NASCAR could’ve ramped up its involvement in the International Motorsports Hall of Fame and really made something incredible, instead of what is obviously just a McMuseum.
And yes, for all its deliberate bandwagon flamer nastiness, DansMom has a point. Johnson has done more for the sport than any of these drivers: more televisions have been turned off because of “JJ” and his type than could even watch the races during the careers of the drivers discussed in the article.
Why does everyones list just include drivers. What about Car Owners and Crew Chiefs. According to half the Nascar fans Jimmie would be nothing without Chad but Jimmie should be in with no mention of Chad. Dale Inman won more races as a crew Chief than anyone else if he did not build a bullet proof car and make the right adjustments to it would the King have 200 wins. A great driver is not great without a great Team Owner or Crew Chief.
When Chad does something without Jimmie he’ll cement his legacy. Jordan never won a championship without Phil Jackson btw…
keeping with the NBA analogy: People refer to Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnette as HOF NBA players. So they were great in their era, but in teh grand sceme of things they’ve average at best.
NASCAR needs to be cautious to not induct too many people to quickly – or it will be the Hall of Good, not the Hall of Fame.
Keith, I’m predicting what the Hall of Fame will do, not what it should do, and I have a feeling it will be heavily biased towards drivers in the early years. Most of the top NASCAR driving stars for instance are in the IMHOF but people like Inman, Holman, Vogt, Leonard Wood (OUCH), Waddell Wilson, etc… are not. While I have no doubt some of these people will eventually get into the NASCAR HOF, I think since these guys are less famous names, some of those type of people will definitely be snubbed. I’m predicting what I think will happen, not necessarily what should.
I could easily name 25 drivers that should be inducted next year. But I’d like to see limitations put on the nominations so that others are considered. Only three drivers each year, and two from other areas of the sport. The drivers always had the spotlight, we need to shine it on crew chiefs, team owners, promoters, announcers, at some point even sponsors became game-changers.
We should have ten inductees for the first ten years. Not just because we have fifty years to catch up on, but because these people should be acknowledged while they’re alive.
What Dansmom really meant to say..
I’d also like to see Brian France in the jail while we’re still young enough to enjoy it. If Brian got the recognition he deserves, and was indicted NOW, he would not be able to make STUPID changes to NASCAR and would have to worry about the public’s opinion of him.
I keep seeing all of these posts about Brian France being a criminal and belonging in jail.
Riddle me this… why in the world would you watch a sport every sunday if you think their public leader is a criminal? That doesnt make much sense to me.
Was planning to give more thought later in the year but here are my 5 now for the next couple of years since you’ve raised the topic:
DW’s record was great – but not enough for year 2. Flock is deserving too, but I think waiting another year or two will be OK – especially since Parks is still with us.
Considering the amount of history that the sport actually has, its mond boggling that there hasn’t been a HOF until now. Not many sports wait until far past their 50th year to consider even building one. Limiting the inductees to 5 a year is contrived exclusivity – there are certainly many people who ought to be considered – for a variety of reasons. Maybe the best way to get this rectified would be to increase the annual induction class; but, make the inductees fit particular categories – pioneers of the sport, owners/crew chiefs, media/broadcasting, lifetime achievement, and naturally – drivers. Maybe 10~12 people per year, with 5~6 being drivers. I think there would need to be some sort of objective statistical analysis in addition to any subjective reason to consider a driver. Their nomination ‘package’ could be reviewed by a panel and voted on – not unlike other HOF’s…
This would allow the HOF to honor its past, remain somewhat exclusive, and bring in much of the sport’s history for newer fans to learn about and enjoy – as well as reminding long time fans of some of the things that attracted them to the sport in the first place.
Randy: It’s because we fell in love with the sport. It makes less sense to avoid something just because the American justice system is for sale. If everybody avoided things because the people involved get away with criminal activity, Hollywood would be a bankrupt ghost-town, all of America’s banks would be empty as it is difficult to imagine a more criminally corrupt group of people than the one’s that inhabit wall street, and every professional sport would play to empty stadiums. The point is, after watching NASCAR for 30 years (or more or less depending on the fan) we feel NASCAR belongs more to us than to Brian France, and he should go.
Dansmom, are you that stupid and clueless? Bill France Jr. died years ago.
You are an idiot. Bet you voted for Obama.
MATT MCLAUGHLIN TO THE HALL OF FAME!!!