The eighth class of the NASCAR Hall of Fame was chosen on Wednesday, as five members were selected to join the ranks of the best of NASCAR with a spot in the Hall of Honor.
The five to get the nod: Benny Parsons, Rick Hendrick, Mark Martin, Raymond Parks and Richard Childress.
The announcement was made live on NBCSN following a day of deliberations by NASCAR stakeholders, including defending Sprint Cup champion Kyle Busch and an aggregated fan vote. The five honorees will officially be inducted in January 2017.
As for the newest inductees:
-Benny Parsons had the distinction of being the first NASCAR driver to pass 200 mph, but, even more importantly, he was the 1973 Cup champion. Parsons, who passed away in 2007, won 21 races at the premier level – including the 1975 Daytona 500 – and after retiring from Cup he moved to the broadcast booth, calling races for ESPN, TNT, and NBC. Parsons was named one of NASCAR’s 50 Greatest Drivers in 1998.
-Rick Hendrick is the face of the New York Yankees of NASCAR, Hendrick Motorsports. The car owner has fielded entries for such drivers as Darrell Waltrip, Jeff Gordon, Terry Labonte and Jimmie Johnson. His current four-car roster of Johnson, Kasey Kahne, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and Chase Elliott all sit within the top 20 in Sprint Cup points this season; his teams have won six of the past 10 Cup titles. In all, his organization has won 242 times on the Cup tour from 1984 through the present day.
-Mark Martin may be the greatest driver to never win a championship, but he is now a Hall of Famer. His decades-long career began in 1981 and lasted until 2013. Martin won 56 poles and has 40 wins in Cup, five of which came after a few years of running part-time before returning full-time with Hendrick in 2009. In addition to his Cup wins, Martin captured 49 victories in NASCAR’s XFINITY Series, second most in series history. He was title runner-up a total of five times, playing the bridesmaid in 1990, 1994, 1998, 2002, and 2009 at age 50.
-Raymond Parks was NASCAR’s first successful team owner. He racked up only two wins throughout his days on the circuit, but he proved to others in the early years of NASCAR that one could field a successful team in auto racing. His driver Red Byron won the inaugural NASCAR championship and the first premier series title as well. Parks went out on top, retiring from racing in the mid-1950s.
-Richard Childress is best known for fielding the No. 3 car of Dale Earnhardt, but Childress has accomplished much more than that. A driver himself, Childress never won at the Cup level but has won as an owner on 105 occasions. He also was the owner for six of Earnhardt’s titles, four XFINITY driver titles with three different drivers and two Camping World Truck Series titles with two different drivers. He currently fields three full-time teams in the Sprint Cup Series.
NASCAR also awarded the Landmark Award for Outstanding Contributions to NASCAR during today’s festivities. The honor went to H. Clay Earles, the founder of Martinsville Speedway.
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