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.
After rubbing fenders with Carl Edwards, the Mac is back. Jamie McMurray has won his first career NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race on Saturday evening, holding off an extremely hard charging Kevin Harvick.
McMuray led 31 laps en route to his third race at Charlotte (two points paying races and now the All-Star Race). The win is Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates’ first win at the Sprint All-Star Race.
Kyle Busch won the first segment after pole sitter, Carl Edwards, led the first nine laps. Busch was under heat from Jeff Gordon, but was able to hold him off by a half of a second.
Denny Hamlin stayed out after the first round of pit stops while Keselowski, Newman and Kurt Busch took two-tires only, trying to advance from the middle of the pack.
Kasey Kahne won the second segment after Denny Hamlin stacked up the field with a tire going down due to making contact with Greg Biffle while going three-wide on the front stretch.
Strategy came into play as four drivers opted to stay out after the second segment, but only had seven laps on their tires as they attempted to improve their total average finish. However, Kahne was able to win the third segment as well after maneuvering through traffic. Kahne hit the wall in the fourth segment, and said on his radio “"I hit it hard. I blew it bad.” Then, Kahne hit the wall hard at the conclusion of that segment.
“I can’t believe that happened…we had a great car. I blew a right front getting into one,” Kahne radioed into his No. 5 team after the second incident.
Jeff Gordon had “something break” during segment four, causing a fire to erupt from his No. 24 Chevrolet. Martin Truex Jr. had nowhere to go as Greg Biffle and he slammed into one another, ending both of their evenings.
Harvick won the fourth segment after having a hard fought battle with Jamie McMurray, who led 15 laps in that sector of the All-Star Race.
Here are the unofficial results from the Sprint All-Star Race:
1). Jamie McMurray
2). Kevin Harvick
3). Matt Kenseth
4). Dale Earnhardt Jr.
5). Carl Edwards
6). Jimmie Johnson
7). Clint Bowyer
8). Brian Vickers
9). Denny Hamlin
10). Brad Keselowski
11). Kurt Busch
12). Tony Stewart
13). David Ragan
14). Kasey Kahne
15). Josh Wise
16). Ryan Newman
17). Jeff Gordon
18). Martin Truex Jr.
19). Greg Biffle
20). A.J. Allmendinger
21). Kyle Busch
22). Joey Logano
Carl Edwards has won his second straight Sprint All-Star Race pole award. Edwards, the winner of 2011 All-Star Race, was able to outclass the rest of the 22-car field during the most abnormal qualifying session NASCAR has to offer.
The driver of the No. 99 Ford was able to pull off the top lap time at 110.268 seconds during a session in which drivers had to run a regular qualifying lap, then pit for four-tires, and go back onto the race track. Kyle Busch ran the second quickest pace, but that was .85 seconds off of Edwards’ blistering pace. In 18 regular-season races at the Charlotte Motor Speedway, Edwards has an average finish of 11.8, but has three top-five finishes in eight career All-Star Races.
Multiple cars experienced mechanical issues during the qualifying session due to the roaring speeds entering pit road. Tony Stewart had an extensive amount of smoke coming out of his No. 14 Chevrolet. The team immediately went to work in the garage as his team Tweeted they will be changing the transmission, rear end gear, driveshaft and axle prior to Saturday evening’s All-Star Race. Ryan Newman also had problems during the qualifying session after having trouble on pit road.
Several drivers missed their pit box while entering pit road. Approximately half of the field had trouble getting into their pit stall, or they had slow stops due to NASCAR’s policy where crew members could not climb over the wall until the car had fully stopped.
Each of the Hendrick Motorsports cars qualified fourth through seventh, and ran solid lap times along with having respectable pit stops. Kevin Harvick will start third in his No. 4 Chevrolet. Sprint Showdown winner, Clint Bowyer, will start ninth in his No. 15 Toyota while A.J. Allmendinger qualified 17th. Sprint Fan Vote winner, Josh Wise, qualified 19th in his No. 98 car for Phil Parsons Racing.
One million dollars is on the line Saturday evening. No, it is not your ordinary NASCAR race. This is not just a preparation for NASCAR’s longest spectacle. This is the Sprint All-Star Race.
Jimmie Johnson has won back-to-back All-Star events, and is going for his third straight win. However, Johnson will have to beat Brad Keselowski who is driving the “best car he has ever driven” for the All-Star Race. Johnson had the second fastest 10 lap average in the lone practice session on Friday afternoon, but Keselowski was more than 1.2 mph faster than Johnson.
This edition of NASCAR’s All-Star event is setting up to be different from each of the previous races. After holding the Sprint Showdown on Friday evening, the three drivers which were able to lock themselves into the All-Star Race, Clint Bowyer, A.J. Allmendinger and Josh Wise, will be enabled to qualify with the drivers already locked into the one-of-a-kind event. Bowyer and Allmendinger were the class of the 23-car field. Wise pulled off the fan vote upset thanks to the Reddit.Com community, stunning the NASCAR world by beating Danica Patrick in the popularity contest. This will be Wise’s first career All-Star Race start after finishing 18th in the Sprint Showdown.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. paced the practice session on Friday afternoon, but was several miles per hour off the pace set by Keselowski, ending the day sixth out of seven cars to run 10 consecutive laps. Earnhardt Jr. currently sits fourth in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series points standings, and is looking to get his first win at Charlotte for the All-Star Race since he won the event during his rookie season.
Coming off of his win at Kansas, Jeff Gordon has plenty of momentum heading into the All-Star Race. Gordon is the points leader after 11 races, and looks to win his first All-Star Race since 2001. However, he has not finished inside of the top-10 for one of NASCAR’s most coveted events since third place finish in 2006.
Kevin Harvick was the fastest car during the test at Charlotte over the winter. Throughout all of the simulation races NASCAR held during that test, Harvick was arguably the best car no matter what type of aero package NASCAR created. Harvick was fourth in practice, and his crew chief, Rodney Childers, and he are looking to win their first All-Star Race together. Harvick's teammate, Kurt Busch, will make it to the All-Star Race after qualifying his No. 26 Honda in the IndyCar Series for his first Indianapolis 500 start. Busch's No. 41 Chevrolet was practiced by Parker Kligerman, who is on standby in case Busch misses the All-Star Race or Coca-Cola 600.
Qualifying for the Sprint All-Star Race will be held on Saturday evening preceding the main event at 7:10 p.m. ET. This qualifying session will be unlike any other throughout the season as drivers will run three laps with a four-tire pit stop without a pit road speed limit, and the total time elapsed will determine the starting grid. This is the first time qualifying will be held on the same evening as the All-Star Race.
After qualifying is completed, the All-Star Race will start at approximately 9:00 p.m. ET.
Redemption works in crazy ways. Denny Hamlin has had some bad luck over the past year or so. However, Hamlin is victorious for the first time in 2014, and in doing so - won in his 300th career start in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.
Hamlin won his 24th career race on Sunday afternoon as he held off a hard charging Greg Biffle before a caution came out on the backstretch to end the race. Winning the Aaron's 499 at Talladega marks the first points paying race which Hamlin has won at a restrictor plate track. Biffle led a race-high 54 laps, which is more than he has led throughout the season after eight races. The win marks the third victory for Joe Gibbs Racing at Talladega in Sprint Cup Series competition. Elliott Sadler, a Joe Gibbs Racing driver, won Saturday's Nationwide Series event - giving the organization a weekend sweep.
After starting the Aaron's 499 in 2013, Hamlin was forced to remove himself from the car due to his back injury. Now, Hamlin is in victory lane, and was quite emotional after having to miss the race at Auto Club Speedway several weeks ago.
"We really just want to win race, regardless of the implications that this means for the Chase," Hamlin said in victory lane.
The caution came out as the field was in the middle of the backstretch on the final wreck. Cole Whitt, who was involved in several incidents on the day, got into Justin Allgaier. Allgaier's No. 51 Chevrolet slammed into the wall right by the finish line. However, NASCAR kept the green flag out. Biffle was debating whether or not to make a move to pass Hamlin, but wanted to wait until the field was back on the frontstretch. However, the spin occurred in the tri-oval, several yards before the leaders took the white flag.
"I didn't have any teammates out there. I was going to try to pass him going into the tri-oval," said Biffle after the race. "I was backing up to get a run on him on the backstretch, but then the caution came out."
After the race, fans were outraged on social media about the caution which concluded the race. However, a large piece of fiberglass-like material from Allgaier's car was sitting right in the middle of the track by the finish line. If NASCAR would have enabled the cars to keep going, most of the field would have ran that piece of debris over, possibly causing it to fly into the grandstands. Some people believe that the cars could have just gone around it, but if the leaders were to go three-wide, it would have been extremely difficult to miss a piece of debris that could have put people in danger. Moreover, this will make NASCAR look at their policy on green-white-checkered finishes as the ARCA Series has adapted the same mentality as NASCAR, but enables the possibilities of having yellow flags after the white flag.
There were several major wrecks during the Aaron's 499 which featured 23 different leaders with 48 lead changes. Brad Keselowski was battling Danica Patrick for the lead early in the event when he went down to clear Patrick's No. 10 Chevrolet at the end of the front stretch, but was not clear of Patrick. Patrick went up the race track a drop, and Keselowski continued to go down. Keselowski spun out, then went below the apron, and he went back up the race track. Keselowski had overheating problems, putting him eight laps down at one point.
However, that was not the last incident the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion was involved in.
Keselowski was racing in the midst of the pack where he got loose, collecting multiple cars including Matt Kenseth and Jeff Gordon. It is arguable that Keselowski should not have been racing in the pack since he was multiple laps down. However, he was racing for the lucky dog, and had to stay ahead of Jamie McMurray, who sustained damage during Keselowski's spin, to do so. Throughout the race, McMurray had six lucky dog awards - putting him just one lap down at the finish.
Jimmie Johnson had an up and down day in his No. 48 Chevrolet. However, the six-time Sprint Cup Series champion did not have the day he wanted. Johnson had an incident similar to that of Keselowski's. He was in the midst of the pack when his car just got slightly loose, collecting Kurt Busch, Joey Logano, Michael McDowell and last year's winner of the Aaron's 499, David Ragan. Even with the spin, Johnson had the least amount of damage of those which were involved in the accident.
A.J. Allmendinger collected his second straight top-five finish for JTG Daugherty Racing. Allmendinger was running inside the top-10 for the majority of the race. Kyle Larson was the highest finishing Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidate. Larson unofficially finished ninth in the No. 42 car as he stayed in the back of the pack for most of the race until late in the going. Landon Cassill had an impressive run in the No. 40 car for Hillman Racing. Cassill finished a career-best 11th after running well throughout the race.
27 cars were able to finish the race on the lead lap.
Josh Wise, in a car sponsored by Reddit.com users, was running towards the front of the field late in the race, but ended up finishing the day in 20th for Phil Parsons Racing. Patrick was able to lead six laps early, but experienced some power issues during the race - causing her to finish 22nd. Pole sitter, Brian Scott, finished the day in the 42nd position after getting caught up in the Keselowski wreck.
Here are some other notables:
-Dale Earnhardt Jr. led 26 laps. However, Earnhardt Jr. finished 26th after struggling late in the race.
-Cole Whitt finished 21st after being involved in several wrecks in his second race for BK Racin
- Terry Labonte finished 24th in the No. 32 car for GO Fas Racing. Labonte will be returning to competition for only two more races (Daytona in July and Talladega in October).
-Ricky Stenhouse Jr. had his fourth top-10 finish of the season.
-Michael Waltrip finished 25th in the No. 66 Toyota. Waltrip was hanging towards the back of the pack for the majority of the race, but could not gain many positions late in the event.
-Jeff Gordon has a three point lead over Matt Kenseth in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series standings.
-There are now eight drivers which are seemingly locked into the Chase for the Sprint Cup as long as they attempt to qualify/race each event and are inside the top-30 in points.
1)11 Denny Hamlin FedEx Express Toyota 188 laps
2)16 Greg Biffle 3M Window Film Ford 188 laps
3) 15 Clint Bowyer PEAK Antifreeze/Motor Oil Toyota 188 laps
4) 55 Brian Vickers Aaron's Dream Machine Toyota 188 laps
5) 47 AJ Allmendinger Bush's Beans Chevrolet 188 laps
6) 27 Paul Menard Richmond/Menards Chevrolet 188 laps
7) 4 Kevin Harvick Jimmy John's Chevrolet 188 laps
8) 5 Kasey Kahne FrmrsInsrnce/Thankamillionteachers.com Chevrolet 188 laps
9)42 Kyle Larson # Target Chevrolet 188 laps
10) 17 Ricky Stenhouse Jr Zest Ford 188 laps
11) 40 Landon Cassill(i) Hillman Racing Chevrolet 188 laps
12)18 Kyle Busch M&M's Pretzel Toyota 188 laps
13) 43 Aric Almirola Logan's Roadhouse/Gwaltney Ford 188 laps
14) 13 Casey Mears GEICO Chevrolet 188 laps
15) 3 Austin Dillon # Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet 188 laps
16) 7 Michael Annett # Pilot/Flying J Chevrolet 188 laps
17) 78 Martin Truex Jr Furniture Row Chevrolet 188 laps
18) 31 Ryan Newman Caterpillar Chevrolet 188 laps
19) 9 Marcos Ambrose DeWalt Ford 188 laps
20) 98 Josh Wise Dogecoin/Reddit.com Ford 188 laps
21) 26 Cole Whitt # Scorpyd Crossbows Toyota 188 laps
22) 10 Danica Patrick GoDaddy Chevrolet 188 laps
23)48 Jimmie Johnson Lowe's/Valspar Reserve Chevrolet 188 laps
24) 32 Terry Labonte C&J Energy Services Ford 188 laps
25) 66 Michael Waltrip Blue/DEF Toyota 188 laps
26) 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr National Guard Chevrolet 188 laps
27) 51 Justin Allgaier # Brandt Professional Agriculture Chevrolet 188 laps
28) 23 Alex Bowman # Dr.Pepper Toyota 187 laps Accident
29) 1 Jamie McMurray McDonald's Chevrolet 187 laps
30) 99 Carl Edwards Fastenal Ford 182 laps Accident
31) 83 Ryan Truex # VooDoo BBQ & Grill Toyota 182 laps Accident
32) 22 Joey Logano Shell Pennzoil Ford 174 laps Accident
33) 41 Kurt Busch Haas Automation Chevrolet 174 laps Accident
34) 36 Reed Sorenson Golden Corral Chevrolet 174 laps Accident
35) 34 David Ragan KFC Go Cup Ford 174 laps Accident
36) 95 Michael McDowell Jordan Truck Sales Ford 174 laps Accident
37) 20 Matt Kenseth Dollar General Toyota 171 laps Running
38) 2 Brad Keselowski Miller Lite Ford 160 laps Running
39) 24 Jeff Gordon Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet 156 laps Running
40) 38 David Gilliland Love's Travel Stop Ford 150 laps Engine
41) 21 Trevor Bayne(i) Motorcraft/Quick Lane Tire & Auto Center Ford 136 laps Accident
42) 33 Brian Scott(i) Shore Lodge Chevrolet 136 laps Accident
43) 14 Tony Stewart Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet 136 laps Accident