Around this time every week, Speedway Digest has our race previews. However, since we will be at the race track this weekend, Speedway Digest is doing something a little different. Instead of our normal race previews, we have come up with an analysis for each of the 43 drivers entered on the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series entry list for the FedEX 400 Benefiting Austim Speaks.
- Jamie McMurray: Won Coca-Cola 600 and has momentum on his side. Three top-10s this year, but has struggled at Dover with just five top-10s in 22 starts. Hasn’t led at Dover since 2008 with RFR.
- Brad Keselowski: After winning at Las Vegas, Keselowski is looking for his second Dover win. Finished fifth in this event last year, and is looking for his second top-five after his Vegas win – scoring just two top-10 finishes since then (Richmond and Charlotte).
- Austin Dillon: The ROTY candidate is currently 15th in points as he has been leaning towards finishing inside the top-15 on a consistent basis. This will be his second Cup Series start at Dover after finishing 27th in this race last year for Phoenix Racing. Has a Nationwide Series pole at Dover in spring of 2013; finished inside the top-10 in all four races at Dover. 2 Truck Series starts as well, best finish of fourth in 2011.
- Kevin Harvick: Very hot start to 2014, but has been hit or miss with four finishes of 36th or worse. Won at Phoenix and Darlington, coming off of back-to-back runner-up finishes at Kansas & Charlotte. Looking for first win at Dover after two top-10s last year & runner-up finish in 2012. 12 top-10s in 26 starts at Dover. Never won at Dover in any of the three top divisions. Two top-fives in CWTS & never finished better than third in 17 NNS starts.
- Kasey Kahne: Was fast at Charlotte, but 14th place finish didn’t show after missing his pit stall, getting blocked by Ryan Truex. Kahne has four top-10s this year & enters Dover 17th in points without a win. Never won at Dover in the NSCS & has struggled there since joining HMS – finishing outside of the top-10 in three of four races. Eight top-10s in 14 starts at Dover in NNS.
- Michael Annett: The smaller tracks have been good for TBR in the past, and Dover fits right into that. Annett has had his struggles this year, but has three straight top-30 finishes. Finished third in Dover NNS race in 2012, and had eight top-15s in 10 starts at the track.
- Marcos Ambrose: He has struggled in 2014 as his teammate has excelled. However, he has done exceptionally well at smaller race tracks, and has a third-place finish at Dover in 2011. Seven straight top-20s at Dover.
- Danica Patrick: Has made big improvements this year, competing for top-25s on a weekly basis. Best finish at Dover was 24th, but had success at Bristol and has recently been running well. Two NNS finishes of 30th or worse with best finish of 16th.
- Denny Hamlin: Missed Auto Club due to metal in his eye, but won at Talladega. Struggled the last two weekends, as he looks to gain momentum back. Just three top-10s this year. Looking for first Dover win – best finish was fourth twice (2007 & 2010). Running special scheme for Autism Awareness. Won NNS races at Dover in 2007 & 2008.
- Casey Mears: He has been hit or miss this with the RCR alliance. Did well at Dover last year for Germain, finishing 16th and 24th, looking for sixth straight top-20.
- Tony Stewart: Returned to sprint car racing this weekend, won at Dover last year – lone victory of 2013. Starting to turn the corner after a rough start to 2014, has two top-fives, but both were on pit strategy races. Looking for fourth Dover victory in what will be his 30th start.
- Clint Bowyer: Been mediocre this season. Only has one top-five after signing multi-year extension with MWR, Brian Pattie & 5-Hour Energy. Looking for seventh straight top-10 at Dover with an average finish of 12.6 at the track. 20th in points entering Dover, needs some momentum.
- Greg Biffle: With rumors swirling around this team, Biffle is just looking for consistency. Has four top-10s this year, but three finishes of 21st or worse. Two-time winner at Dover (2005 & 2008), but has struggled since 2009 – not leading a single lap with just two top-10s spanning 2010 until last year’s event.
- Ricky Stenhouse Jr.: With three top-10s this year, he already has the amount he had in his rookie year. After having a runner-up finish at Bristol, he has seven finishes of 20th or worse. Finished on the lead lap only twice since then, and Dover is the right place to do that. Three straight finishes of 17th or better at Dover & two top-fives in six NNS races.
- Kyle Busch: Doing the triple this weekend btwn. NSCS, NNS and NCWTS, Busch will be extremely busy. Won three CWTS races at Dover & has led 19 or more laps in all eight Truck races he’s run. Led a total of 161 laps in both NNS events at Dover last year, but failed to finish better than fifth. Has three NNS wins at Dover & looking for his 66th win in his 280th NNS start. Has two wins at Dover in the NSCS, both in this event (2008 & 2010). Led 150 laps in this event last year and has led 90 or more laps at Dover in five of his 18 starts at the track. Looking for fourth straight top-seven finish.
- Matt Kenseth: Going back to old form where he struggles while starting races, but gets very good as the race goes on. Finished third at Charlotte, looking for 10th top-10 of the year. Two-time Dover winner, looking for 20th top-10 in what will be his 31st start. Also running the NNS race, two wins in NNS competition with third place finish last year.
- Joey Logano: Has two wins this year & is running the NNS race. Looking for fifth straight NNS win at Dover. Four straight top-10s in the Cup Series at Dover, average finish of 15.4. With one more win this year, he ties the amount that he has had entering this year.
- Alex Bowman: ROTY candidate for BK Racing. Best NNS finish at Dover was 17th. Five finishes of 30th or better this year. Looking to just stay out of trouble.
- Jeff Gordon: After having back spasms at Charlotte, Gordon is good to go for Dover. Already captured his first win this year at Kansas, and has three straight top-four finishes at Dover. Has only one finish outside the top-20 at Dover since 2006. Currently the points leader, looking for his 90th career win. Has four wins at Dover in 42 starts with 24 top-10s.
- Cole Whitt: Since switching to BK Racing after Swan Racing closed, he has three top-30 finishes. Finished 27th in lone NSCS start at Dover last year, but has finished no worse than 16th in four NNS races at Dover (a pair of 16th place finishes for TriStar Motorsports last year).
- Paul Menard: Has been very consistent this year with six top-10s. Has just one top-10 at Dover, but has finished 22nd or better in five straight races at the track. Currently 16th in points coming off of a top-10 at Charlotte.
- Ryan Newman: He hasn’t been great this year, but like Menard, Newman has been very consistent – not finishing worse than 22nd this year. He’s ninth in points, but only has four top-10s in his first year for RCR. Average finish of 12.9 at Dover with 12 top-10s in 24 starts. Looking for first win this year. Has only led 10 laps this year.
- Blake Koch: Making just his fourth start in the NSCS. Primarily a driver for TriStar Motorsports in the NNS just looking for an opportunity to race.
- David Stremme: Making just his fourth start this year after running out of luck at Swan Racing. Missed Texas, best finish of the year was 35th at Richmond. Finished 28th at Dover last year.
- David Ragan: Team has struggled this year with new rules package with best finish of 27th at Fontana. Dover has been good for this small team over the years with three top-25s in the last four races.
- Reed Sorenson: Has Click it or Ticket on board this weekend. Besides 16th at Daytona, best finish has been 21st at Fontana. Just looking for a consistent run for TBR in his 14th Dover start.
- David Gilliland: Has struggled at Dover since joining FRM, coming off of three straight finishes of 37th or worse this year. Did well at Richmond and Bristol, expecting a top-25.
- Landon Cassill: Missed Phoenix and Las Vegas, but has made all races since then. Top-30 at all the short tracks this year, Dover shouldn’t be any different. Running the double with JD Motorsports in the NNS. Has struggled at Dover in the NNS before, but when they don’t have issues, this team has been in the top-20 weekly.
- Kyle Larson: Finished second and 10th at Dover last year in the NNS. Running the double again for TSM. Has five top-10s this year. Looking for seventh straight top-16 in NSCS competition as he is 13th in points.
- Aric Almirola: Coming off of a career-best year, Almirola is set to better that this year. Finished third at Bristol, and has three top-10s already this year, but he’s 19th in points. After signing a multi-year deal with RPM, he is looking to show why the team signed him. Four straight top-17 finishes, and has never finished worse than 22nd at Dover. Making 120th career start.
- J.J. Yeley: Has DNQed for six races this year and blew engines in the two races he did make. Average finish at Dover is worse than 30th. Running the NNS race for JGL Racing – finished no worse than 21st in eight starts.
- A.J. Allmendinger: The smaller the track the better for JTG Daugherty Racing. They have three top-10s already this year, and Dover is arguably Allmendinger’s best track. Led 143 laps with RPM in 2010, and ran towards the top-half of the field since 2008 at Dover with an average finish of 22.9.
- Jimmie Johnson: The all-time wins leader at Dover with eight victories, he recorded his first 2014 win at Charlotte this past weekend. Average finish at Dover – 8.7. Has led at least one lap in every Dover race in last 13 events while leading 143 or more laps in nine of those races. He’s sixth in points with seven top-10s and 691 laps led entering Dover. Looking for 68th career win.
- Justin Allgaier: Starting to click with his new crew chief, Steve Addington. Has had some issues last two weeks not of his own doing, but was running rather well compared to the other ROTY candidates. His best finish this year was 17th at Bristol. Only has one top-five in 10 NNS starts at Dover, but has four top-10s with a pair of 12th place finishes last year.
- Brian Vickers: Currently eighth in points, Vickers is looking to get his sixth top-10 of the year. Finished 12th at Dover last year in his first start at the track since 2011, and has performed better this year than Bowyer has. Coming off of a sixth-place finish at Charlotte, might be a contender for the win.
- Brett Moffitt: Making Sprint Cup Series debut for Identity Ventures Racing in place of Joe Nemechek. Came short of NASCAR Camping World East Series title five years in a row with a total of nine wins and 44 top-10s in 61 starts. Has one NNS start for RAB Racing in 2012 at Iowa where he finished ninth and two CWTS starts last year.
- Dave Blaney: Has failed to qualify for 10 races this year, and parks early when he does make the race.
- Martin Truex Jr.: Had a good run going at Charlotte, but had some trouble on pit road that cost them another decent finish. He has not led a lap this year after the MWR fiasco. If there is anywhere he can turn his luck around, it is Dover – the site of his first career win and his home track. Has six top-10s in 16 starts at Dover, but has been hit or miss.
- Ryan Truex: Ran Bristol last year for Phoenix Racing after Harry Scott took control of the team – finishing 32nd. Missed two races this year, and hasn’t finished a race since Richmond. Nearly won the NNS race at Dover in 2012, and never finished worse than 18th in NNS competition at his home track.
- Dale Earnhardt Jr.: After finishing no worse than 11th in the past four races at Dover, he is bound to contend for the win this weekend. Hasn’t won at Dover since 2001, but finished second last year. Looking for his 11th top-10 in what will be his 29th Dover start. He dropped to fifth in points after his extremely hot start this year, but he has six top-fives and has run well the past five races.
- Josh Wise: Running a special scheme with Reddit.com in conjunction with iRacing to help fund this program. Team was impressive at Bristol and Darlington which has truly sparked a ton of attention for them. Also running the NNS race for The Motorsports Group where he has had some good runs this year.
- Carl Edwards: Edwards has back-to-back finishes inside the top-10, but speculation has him leaving RFR at the end of the year. Has seven top-10s this year and is third in points. Besides his Bristol win, Edwards has not led more than eight laps in an event this year. Edwards recorded a win at Bristol in 2007, and has 12 top-10s at the track with an average finish of 10th.
Here is the schedule for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Dover:
- Practices: Friday, May 30 at 11 a.m. ET until 12:20 p.m. ET. Saturday, May 31 at 9:30 a.m. ET until 10:20 a.m. ET as well as final practice at 12:30 p.m. ET until 1:20 p.m. ET.
- Qualifying: Friday, May 30 at 3:40 p.m. ET.
- Race: Sunday, June 1 at 1 p.m. ET on FOX.
Statistics were used thanks to Racing-Reference.info.
Being a rookie in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series might be one of, if not the most challenging part of some racer’s lives. This year, the Sunoco Rookie of the Year class is abundant. Even though one rookie has lost his ride due to funding issues, the rest of the rookie class appears to be secure in their seats – at least for the remainder for the season.
Alex Bowman, 21, is one of those rookies. Bowman is racing for the underfunded BK Racing organization. After releasing both of their primary drivers from the 2013 season, BK Racing opted to go with two rookie drivers at the helm of their Toyota Camry’s with Bowman as well as Ryan Truex. Together, the pair has had their struggles, but there is light at the end of the tunnel in Bowman’s eyes.
“The transition to the Cup Series has been a challenging one. Having a crew chief in Dave Winston and a great team around me, it has made that transition easier,” Bowman said.
After racing for RAB Racing in 2013, Bowman proved to BK Racing’s owner, Ron Devine, that he was capable of racing in NASCAR’s highest rank. Bowman tested for the organization over the off-season at Charlotte and also appeared at the Daytona test.
However, with the jump to the Sprint Cup Series, the No. 23 team has experienced adversity 12 races into the season. In his lone Nationwide Series season, Bowman had six top-10 finishes, and also had two pole awards. This year has been anything but successful though. His best finish was 22nd at the Auto Club Speedway, yet he has had seven finishes of 32nd or worse.
“The longer races have been the biggest transition for me. When you add the extra 100 or 200 miles or laps it takes time to get used to it,” he said to Speedway Digest. “We need to continue to get better each and every week and I feel that we will continue to become more competitive. We need to continue to get better each and every week and I feel that we will continue to become more competitive.”
What has been Bowman’s culprit this year? It is simple – bad luck. At Martinsville, he was on his way to a solid run, but wrecked multiple times and was relegated to a 36th place finish.
As an underfunded team, BK Racing utilizes Race Engines Plus, owned by Joey Arrington. Besides BK Racing, Joe Nemechek’s Identity Ventures Racing. Entering this season, expectations were not set high for Bowman, and he understood that. Moreover, the team has sporadically performed well this year, but their results don’t show it. Having three consecutive top-30 finishes at Darlington, Richmond and Talladega was a step in the right direction for this small team, even though it does not sound like the greatest of achievements.
“Probably my feedback to Dave and the crew guys. I continue to get use to the way these Sprint Cup Series cars drive compared to a Nationwide car,” Bowman said on what he needs to improve on.
Meanwhile, as Bowman continues to look for success, his teammate, the younger brother of Furniture Row Racing’s Martin Truex Jr., has had some struggles. Truex has more experience in NASCAR competition than Bowman, but has not finished better than 30th this season after missing the Daytona 500 and the race at Texas. Currently, the No. 23 team with Bowman sits 34th in owner points and is relatively safe from missing races. Meanwhile, Truex's No. 83 team is 42nd in owner points, and is not guaranteed into each event.
Amidst their struggles, the two have developed a close bond, closer than just teammates. With such a small team, they are able to work with each other in multiple ways, on and off the race track. Besides developing a friendship, their crews led by Winston and Doug Richert, are now working better, and results are on their way.
“Ryan and I try to work together and compared notes and driving styles. Dave has been great to work with. Him brings a ton of knowledge from the team’s that he has worked with in the past. Dave is certainly a calming voice on the radio each weekend.”
As he continues to adjust to the higher level of competition, expect the Arizona native to run closer to the top half of the field. It is going to be a long, tough road, but Bowman believes he is up for the challenge. The new qualifying format which NASCAR implemented at Phoenix has also helped him gain extra experience, something extremely valuable for a driver looking to find a home for multiple years at a young organization.
“(The) Biggest adjustment is that these guys never take a lap off. Each and every lap they go as hard as they can.”
A hard charging Kevin Harvick was not enough for the second straight weekend at the Charlotte Motor Speedway. After coming so close to a victory during the Sprint All-Star Race, Harvick could not catch the reigning champion.
Jimmie Johnson ended his 13-race winless streak on Sunday evening. Johnson dominated the Coca-Cola 600, leading 165 of the 400 laps. The victory marks the fourth time Johnson has won the Coca-Cola 600, and his seventh points paying victory at Charlotte. After 447 career starts in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, Johnson has secured his 67th victory, which is approximately 15 percent of the races he has started.
Johnson was in position to lose the race after fuel strategy was falling into Carl Edwards’ hands, but after a late race caution – Johnson was able to capitalize after taking four tires, maneuvering his way through traffic, and shooting by Matt Kenseth with nine laps to go.
After 100 laps, Harvick had a five-second lead over Johnson as only 12 cars were still on the lead lap. The race went green for the first 107 laps while Harvick lapped all but the top-10.
David Gilliland slammed the wall on Lap 164, forcing him to become the first driver to go to the garage.
Clint Bowyer had a vibration preceding the half-way mark. Bowyer pitted for two tires, but continued to report a vibration, and was forced to bring his No. 15 Toyota back into the pits to change left-side tires after competing for the win.
Jeff Gordon had the lead on the final restart, but slipped back to the seventh position after taking two tires as his No. 24 team assumed the race would go green for the remaining 20 laps. But after having back spasms for the majority of the weekend, Gordon's fight for the win was another small victory for Hendrick Motorsports.
Harvick led at the half-way mark with Johnson and Brad Keselowski trailing him by over two seconds. At the time, there were just 16 cars on the lead lap.
While running several laps down, Kurt Busch blew an engine on Lap 274, forcing an end to his attempt at becoming the first driver since Tony Stewart in 2001 to run all 1,100 miles in the Indianapolis 500 and the Coca-Cola 600. Busch finished sixth during his first race in the Verizon IndyCar Series after starting the day in what was originally Marco Andretti’s backup car. Overally, Busch ran a total of 906.5 miles between the two events.
“This symbolizes how tough it has been this year on the Haas Automation team,” Busch said after his engine blew. “I can’t let what happen with the car here dampen what I did today. The motor just went. I trained hard and gave it my all.”
At Lap 220, Danica Patrick began reporting she was down a cylinder. Patrick was running in the top-15 for the majority of the first half of the race, but began to slide back as the track began to cool down. Evidently, Patrick’s car blew up proceeding Busch’s engine woes, making the Stewart-Haas Racing duo finish 39th and 40th, respectively.
13 cars finished on the lead lap in a race where green flag runs spread out the field, forcing a mixture of strategies. Six different drivers led during green flag conditions for 13 or more laps, and four of them led for 34 or more markers with a total of 34 lead changes.
It’s NASCAR’s longest race. Recently, each one of these events comes down to fuel mileage. This year should be no different.
The Coca-Cola 600, formerly known as the World 600, enables teams to bring their family members to the track, and they get to spend more time with their families because of it. As part of the Memorial Day ceremonies, NASCAR teams and drivers unite on this special weekend with a sign of patriotism seldom seen in any other sport. And in the midst of NASCAR’s homeland,
During a test at Charlotte over the off-season, Kevin Harvick was seemingly the best car at the 1.5-mile speedway. Harvick was strong during the Sprint All-Star Race on long runs, and that is going to be important going into the homestretch of an event which he has won twice in the past. The move to Stewart-Haas Racing has started to pay dividends for the 38-year-old driver. However, the rest of SHR did not perform well during the Sprint Showdown and the All-Star Race, and this might be a weekend where things can turn around for the organization. SHR has done well on fuel mileage races this year, taking risks late in events in order to gain as many as 15 spots late in races such as Tony Stewart at Las Vegas.
After winning the Sprint All-Star Race, Jamie McMurray has plenty of momentum going into the Coca-Cola 600, which he finished second in during the 2010 edition of the event. Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates has done well as of late with Kyle Larson joining the organization this year, and if the All-Star Race was an indication of how the team will run at the All-Star Race, both drivers should contend for top-10 finishes.
Track position was a key during both races last weekend. Drivers which took two tires to get towards the front of the pack were able to stay up there for the most part. During the All-Star Race, Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon had two of the strongest cars, yet they did not have the track position to compete for the lead. Gordon ended up getting involved in a wreck, and Johnson finished sixth because he did not have a short-run car.
Johnson has not won a points paying event at Charlotte since October of 2009, but he has been strong on the intermediate tracks this season. Even though he has yet to score a victory after winning the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship, Johnson is going to be a contender during the Coca-Cola 600. If Johnson can have a clean race, he might show the dominance which he had at Charlotte before the repave nearly a decade ago. Johnson’s teammate, Kasey Kahne, is also going to be a contender this weekend, especially after having a dominant car during the Sprint All-Star Race, leading 20 laps before smacking the wall multiple times.
Kurt Busch will be exhausted after the Coca-Cola 600 on Sunday evening. Busch will be racing a backup car in the Indianapolis 500 for Andretti Autosport, all while racing his Sprint Cup Series vehicle for SHR. Busch will have Parker Kligerman as his backup driver in case the Indianapolis 500 is delayed, but even if Busch can’t start the race, he will be able to qualify the No. 41 Chevrolet, making him still eligible for the Chase for the Sprint Cup as long as he is inside of the top-30 in points after Richmond in September.
However, even though the usual suspects will contend for the win this weekend, the Coca-Cola 600 provides an extra 100 miles that no other event does. Patience is going to be extremely key during this event. Drivers have a notorious history for over-driving their cars during the early stages of the race. With this race going from the sun beaming down on the track to seeing the night sky glowing above the track, drivers will have to communicate with their crew chiefs the best possible strategy to keeping up with the temperature sensitive track, all the while attempting to stay on the lead lap as green flag runs are at a premium during the Coca-Cola 600.
Here are some notables for the Coca-Cola 600:
-A.J. Allmendinger had an extremely strong car during the Sprint Showdown and All-Star Race. Allmendinger moved inside of the top-10 before being involved in an incident. The alliance JTG Daugherty Racing has with Richard Childress Racing is paying off, and it will show this weekend as Allmendinger attempts to get his fourth top-10 of the year.
-Trevor Bayne returns to the seat of the No. 21 Ford. Bayne made his Sprint Cup Series debut at Texas back in 2010, which is a track with somewhat similar characteristics to Charlotte. He finished 16th in the Coca-Cola 600 in 2013, but is looking for more after recording two top-20 finishes at Las Vegas and Texas this season.
-Blake Koch will make his first of multiple starts for Go Fas Racing this weekend in the No. 32 car. Koch raced at Phoenix earlier this year for Front Row Motorsports, but also missed the race at Las Vegas. Even though Koch won’t be a contender in this event, getting 600 miles on the Sprint Cup Series circuit will be one of the best opportunities he has ever had.
-Brian Scott will return to the seat of the No. 33 Chevrolet for Circle Sport Racing in conjunction with Richard Childress Racing. Scott made his Cup Series debut at Charlotte last October, and will be attempting to make his sixth career start in NASCAR’s top-tier division.
-Michael McDowell returns in the No. 95 Ford this weekend. The team has started to move into the right direction after finishing 30th at Texas after a rough start to the year.
On Wednesday, the NASCAR Hall of Fame will announce the five newest legends that will be joining an already impressive list of 25 of NASCAR’s most accomplished individuals. This year, there are 20 nominees that are hoping to be a part of the 2015 NASCAR Hall of Fame Class.
Over the years, we have seen team owners, legends past and present, crew chiefs, engine builders and even CEO’s make their way into NASCAR’s coveted Hall of Fame which inducted their first class in 2010. This year, there are drivers such as Terry Labonte and Bill Elliott on the list of nominees. However, they are clearly going to be elected into the NASCAR Hall of Fame within the next hand full of years.
With a list of 20 outstanding individuals, it was rather difficult to narrow down the list to five of them. However, I was up to the challenge. With that, here is a list of the five candidates which I believe deserve to be selected into the 2015 NASCAR Hall of Fame.
Joe Weatherly: Joe Weatherly was the fifth driver to win multiple championships in the NASCAR Strictly Stock division, and became just the third driver to win back-to-back titles. Not only was Weatherly a champion, but he was around the sport from 1951 until the day he passed away during an on-track wreck at Riverside.
One of NASCAR’s 50 greatest drivers, Weatherly drove for the likes of Holman-Moody, Bud Moore and sparingly made starts for the Wood Brothers and other teams when Holman-Moody couldn’t come up with funding to run him in the late-1950s. His urge for racing was shown by running nearly the full schedule in 1963, winning the title by over 2,000 points ahead of Richard Petty.
Benny Parsons: Benny Parsons went from being a cab driver to a championship winning racecar driver. When I started watching NASCAR back in 2004, Parsons played a huge role in helping new fans, such as myself, learn about the history of the sport while playing a key role as a part of the NBC and TNT broadcasts. When Parsons was being treated for Lung Cancer, he stayed in the booth for a short amount of time. During that time, he was struggling, and it was noticeable. However, Parsons brought something different to the race broadcasts, even when you could hear his voice weakening.
Over the course of his career, Parsons won the 1973 championship while driving for L.G. DeWhitt, whom of which he had most of his success with. Besides working with DeWhitt, Parsons also drove for Bud Moore and M.C. Anderson. For the majority of his career, Parsons had an average starting position of 10.4 or better, and bettered an average of fifth in 1977 and 1978. Winning the 1975 Daytona 500 was one of Parsons’ biggest achievements. However, his biggest achievement might just be the legacy he has left behind as he also helped bring drivers into the sport such as Greg Biffle during the Roush “Gong Show.”
Fred Lorenzen: After starting out racing in modifieds and eventually in the USAC division before making the jump to NASCAR competition in 1956. Lorenzen never won a national series title, but what he did on the track was quite remarkable. He became the first driver to earn over $100,000 in the 1963 season, albeit running only 29 of the sport’s 55 events, but was able to win some of the largest events NASCAR had to offer at the time such as the World 600 and Old Dominion 500. In 1964, he only ran 16 events, but won eight of them, including five in a row at Bristol, Atlanta, North Wilkesboro, Martinsville and Darlington.
Lorenzen’s aspect to racing was different than most drivers during the Golden Era of stock car racing. He wanted to make money and win races, but never ran more than 29 events in a year, and was even able to finish third in points during that campaign in 1963. Lorenzen also won the 1965 Daytona 500. Now, he currently resides in an Assisted Living, and he truly deserves to be honored for his outstanding accomplishments.
Curtis Turner: No, NASCAR never had a labor union. But Curtis Turner certainly gave it his all, even while NASCAR banned him for life in 1961. NASCAR reinstated him in 1965, and he was able to race until 1968. However, even with 17 career wins, like Lorenzen, Turner raced a limited schedule for the duration of his career.
Turner was entered in the first NASCAR sanctioned event ever held at the old Charlotte Speedway in 1949. He has been on the ballot each year since NASCAR opened the Hall of Fame, and has missed the cut each time. Winning 38 of 79 races in the NASCAR Convertible Series from 1956-1959, Turner’s dominance was shown, even though his statistics might not show it in the NASCAR Strictly Stock division.
Bruton Smith: Besides having a boatload of money, Bruton Smith built the Charlotte Motor Speedway and still serves as the CEO for Speedway Motorsports Incorporated, which is a publicly traded stock on the New York Stock Exchange. SMI owns eight of the 23 tracks on the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series schedule, and has multiple Cup Series events at half of those venues.
Smith has played an essential role in modernizing NASCAR tracks over the years. Even though he has made some controversial changes over the years, swapping dates at the tracks he owns, Smith has helped provide NASCAR with helping keep up with the times. He created the Neon Garage at Las Vegas, and even helped turned Bristol from a regular short track to racing’s version of a coliseum.
Here are some of the nominees which I believe will be in the Hall of Fame, but should not be on it this year:
Bill Elliott: Elliott was an outstanding driver. However, this is his first year on the ballot, and even while most people are voting for the former Cup Series champion, I believe this year should be a year where NASCAR celebrates the founders of the sport before more of them disappear.
Robert Yates: Yates, the legendary car owner and engine builder, will be in the Hall of Fame. There is no doubt that the owner of 57 winning events will get in the Hall of Fame over the next handful of years. Yates helped create a powerhouse at Ford with drivers such as Ernie Irvan, Dale Jarrett, Davey Allison, Ricky Rudd, Elliott Sadler, Kenny Irwin Jr. and several other men behind the wheel.
Raymond Parks: Parks was NASCAR’s first championship car owner. Not only did he help Red Byron win the first NASCAR title in 1949, but he was also one of NASCAR’s founding members. Although he only fielded cars in 18 races from 1949-1955, Parks helped make Byron, Fonty Flock and Curtis Turner championship winning drivers.
Rick Hendrick: Hendrick is a 14-time championship winning car owner, and has won 220 events since starting his organization in 1984. Right off the bat, Hendrick was helping drivers win races. He was won championships in each of NASCAR’s top-three divisions, and has truly helped Hendrick Motorsports become a dynasty.