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Five Legends Named to 2020 NASCAR Hall Of Fame Class

Baker, Gibbs, Labonte, Stewart and Wilson Comprise Hall’s 11th Class

 

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (May 22, 2019) – NASCAR announced today the inductees who will comprise the NASCAR Hall of Fame Class of 2020. The five-person group – the 11th since the inception of the NASCAR Hall of Fame in 2010 – consists of Buddy Baker, Joe Gibbs, Bobby Labonte, Tony Stewart and Waddell Wilson. In addition, NASCAR announced that Edsel Ford II earned the 2020 Landmark Award for Outstanding Contributions to NASCAR. The distinguished group will be honored during the NASCAR Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony on Jan. 31, 2020.

 

The NASCAR Hall of Fame Voting Panel met today in a closed session at the Charlotte Convention Center to debate and vote upon the 20 nominees for the induction class of 2020 and the five nominees for the Landmark Award.

 

The Class of 2020 was determined by votes cast by the Voting Panel, including representatives from NASCAR, the NASCAR Hall of Fame, track owners from major facilities and historic short tracks, media members, manufacturer representatives, competitors (drivers, owners, crew chiefs), recognized industry leaders, a nationwide fan vote conducted through NASCAR.com and, for the sixth year, the reigning Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion (Joey Logano). In all, 57 votes were cast, with two additional Voting Panel members recused from voting as potential nominees for induction (Ricky Rudd and Waddell Wilson). The accounting firm of EY presided over the tabulation of the votes.

 

Voting was as follows: Tony Stewart (88%), Joe Gibbs (72%), Waddell Wilson (72%), Buddy Baker (70%) and Bobby Labonte (67%).

 

The next top vote-getters were Mike Stefanik, Ray Fox and Hershel McGriff.

 

Results for the NASCAR.com Fan Vote, in alphabetical order, were Buddy Baker, Neil Bonnett, Harry Gant, Bobby Labonte and Tony Stewart.

 

The five inductees came from a group of 20 nominees that included, in addition to the five inductees chosen: Sam Ard, Neil Bonnett, Red Farmer, Ray Fox, Harry Gant, John Holman, Harry Hyde, Hershel McGriff, Ralph Moody, Marvin Panch, Jim Paschal, Larry Phillips, Ricky Rudd, Mike Stefanik and Red Vogt.

 

Nominees for the Landmark Award included Edsel Ford II, Alvin Hawkins, Mike Helton, Dr. Joseph Mattioli and Ralph Seagraves.

 

The Class of 2020 Induction Weekend is set for Thursday, Jan. 30, 2020, through Saturday, Feb. 1, 2020, at the NASCAR Hall of Fame and Charlotte Convention Center in Charlotte, North Carolina. The official Induction Ceremony will take place on Friday, Jan. 31, 2020. The Class of 2020 marks the 11th class and a total of 55 legends inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

 

Tickets to Induction Ceremony events begin at $75 per person (plus tax and applicable service fees). Tickets go on sale on Saturday, July 6, 2019, at 10 a.m. ET. Special pre-sales will be available to NASCAR Hall of Fame members Tuesday, June 25 through Friday, July 5. For additional details about the Class of 2020 Induction Weekend events and to learn about becoming a NASCAR Hall of Fame member, visit nascarhall.com.

 

Class of 2020 Inductees:

 

Buddy Baker

At six feet, six inches tall, Buddy Baker was often called the “Gentle Giant,” a nod to her personable nature during a 33-year career. In 1980, the Charlotte, North Carolina, native won the Daytona 500 with an average race speed of 177.602 mph – a track record that still stands. That same year, Baker became the first driver to eclipse the 200-mph mark on a closed course while testing at Talladega Superspeedway. He won 19 races in the Cup series, including a victory in the 1970 Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway where he lapped the rest of the field. He also won back-to-back Coca-Cola 600s at Charlotte in 1972-73. After retiring in 1992, Baker made a successful transition to the television booth as a commentator for The Nashville Network and CBS, and later as a radio co-host on Late Shift and Tradin’ Paint for SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

 

Joe Gibbs

Joe Gibbs has won throughout his entire life. The three-time Super Bowl champion football coach started Joe Gibbs Racing in 1992 and has led the organization to four Cup Series championships and five Xfinity Series titles. Known as a master motivator, Gibbs’ 164 Cup Series owner wins (through May 22, 2019) rank third all-time. They include three Daytona 500 victories and five Brickyard 400 wins. His Cup Series titles have come with three different drivers: Bobby Labonte (2000), Tony Stewart (2002, ’05) and Kyle Busch (2015). Referred to in NASCAR circles has simply “Coach,” Gibbs was enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1996.  

 

Bobby Labonte

The ultimate grinder, Bobby Labonte raced any car he could get behind the wheel of before he got his first break as a full-time Cup Series driver at 28 years old in 1993. His persistence paid off with a career highlighted by 21 trips to Victory Lane and the 2000 Cup Series title. A success in all three of NASCAR’s national series, Labonte was the first of four drivers to win both a Cup and Xfinity Series championship. He is also one of 27 drivers to win a race in all three national series. The Texan showed up on the biggest stages throughout his 2000 Cup championship season, earning two of his four wins in the Brickyard 400 and Southern 500.

 

Tony Stewart

Known as “The People’s Champion” for his blue-collar, hard-nosed style of competition, Stewart immediately showed that he would be a force to be reckoned with in NASCAR – earning three victories in his Rookie of the Year season. The titles soon followed. Stewart won his first Cup championship in 2002 driving for Joe Gibbs Racing and answered that quickly in 2005. His versatility was on display throughout his 17-year NASCAR career. He tallied 49 wins in the Cup Series – winning on every style of track. He won the prestigious Brickyard 400 at his beloved, home-state Indianapolis Motor Speedway twice. In 2009, Stewart became a team owner, partnering with Gene Haas. He won 16 times as a driver/owner including one of the most memorable championship pursuits in history. In 2011, he won five of the 10 Playoff races – including the season finale – to claim his third title by virtue of a tiebreaker over Carl Edwards.

 

Waddell Wilson

A dual threat as an engine builder and crew chief, Waddell Wilson powered and guided cars to some of the biggest victories in NASCAR history. As an engine builder, he supplied the power that helped David Pearson (1968, ’69) and Benny Parsons (1973) to Cup Series titles. Overall, Wilson’s engines helped some of the greatest drivers to ever wheel a car – including NASCAR Hall of Famers Pearson, Fireball Roberts, Bobby Allison, Cale Yarborough and Darrell Waltrip – to 109 wins and 123 poles. He originally gained acclaim for building the engine Roberts used to win the 1963 Southern 500. Wilson guided three cars to Victory Lane in the Daytona 500 as a crew chief, winning The Great American Race with Buddy Baker (1980) and Cale Yarborough (1983-84). The famed “Grey Ghost” he assembled for Buddy Baker still holds the Daytona 500 record with an average speed of 177.602 MPH.

 

Landmark Award for Outstanding Contributions to NASCAR:

 

Edsel Ford II

There are few names as iconic in the sport of auto racing as Edsel Ford II. A member of the Ford Motor Company Board of Directors and longtime executive of the company founded by his great-grandfather Henry Ford, Edsel’s is a familiar face in the racing garage. Ford’s support of NASCAR has been both behind the scenes with the Ford Motor Company but also out in front where he is greeted warmly by the sport’s competitors, executives, team owners and fans at any race track he visits. His leadership at Ford includes time as President and Chief Operating Officer (May, 1991-1998) and a Director of International Speedway Corporation (November, 2007-October, 2015).

 

About NASCAR

The National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing, Inc. (NASCAR) is the sanctioning body for the No. 1 form of motorsports in the United States. NASCAR consists of three national series (Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series™, NASCAR Xfinity Series™, and NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series™), three regional series, one local grassroots series, three international series and the Automobile Racing Club of America (ARCA). The International Motor Sports Association™ (IMSA®) governs the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship™, the premier U.S. sports car series. Based in Daytona Beach, Fla., with offices in eight cities across North America, NASCAR sanctions more than 1,200 races in more than 30 U.S. states, Canada, Mexico and Europe. For more information visit www.NASCAR.com and www.IMSA.com, and follow NASCAR on FacebookTwitterInstagram, and Snapchat (‘NASCAR’).

 

About the NASCAR Hall of Fame

Conveniently located in Uptown Charlotte, North Carolina, the NASCAR Hall of Fame is an interactive, entertainment attraction honoring the history and heritage of NASCAR. The high-tech venue, designed to educate and entertain race fans and non-fans alike, opened May 11, 2010, and includes artifacts, hands-on exhibits, a 278-person state-of-the-art theater, Hall of Honor, Buffalo Wild Wings restaurant, NASCAR Hall of Fame Gear Shop and NASCAR Productions-operated broadcast studio. The NASCAR Hall of Fame is open daily 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. for summer hours and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. for winter hours. On designated Group Hot Pass Tuesdays, the facility is open for scheduled group visits and events only. An attached parking garage is available on Brevard Street. The 5-acre site also includes a privately developed 19-story office tower and 102,000-square-foot expansion to the Charlotte Convention Center, highlighted by a 40,000-square-foot ballroom. The NASCAR Hall of Fame is owned by the City of Charlotte, licensed by NASCAR and operated by the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority. For more information, visit nascarhall.com.

Categories
NASCAR Cup Series

New Hampshire Winner Kenseth Fails Inspection

After winning Sunday’s New Hampshire 301, Matt Kenseth’s No. 20 Toyota failed post-race inspection at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

According to NASCAR, Kenseth’s car failed the laser inspection station and will be taken to the NASCAR R&D Center in Concord, North Carolina for further inspection. Runner-up finisher Tony Stewart’s car passed the LIS platform after the race and will also be taken to the R&D center for evaluation, which is standard protocol.

Sunday’s win was Kenseth’s second victory of the season and third career win at New Hampshire.

Typically, the penalty for failing LIS has been 15 points and a fine for the crew chief. Kasey Kahne’s No. 5 failed after the Dover race, and Kyle Larson’s No. 42 was penalized after last month’s race at Michigan.

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NASCAR Cup Series

JGR Pit Crews Providing Psychological Advantage Nearing Playoffs

On Sunday night, the No. 19 pit crew won Carl Edwards the Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway. The over-the-wall work Joe Gibbs Racing is doing right now may also win them the Sprint Cup Series championship.

While some in the sport continues to believe that Gibbs has developed a new air gun or that they are pushing the new lug nut rules more than every other team, there is no doubt that JGR places a high amount of resources into the training and development of those that go over the wall.

Edwards was third at the time of the final caution with 11 laps to go and Hamlin wasn’t even in the top-5 — and yet they came out first and third respectively. Edwards won going away while Hamlin battled with Keselowski for second before ultimately settling for third.

Even though this is the competition package that Edwards has been lobbying for since 2008, he was quick to point out that his victory was a total team effort at Joe Gibbs Racing.

“I feel like my pit crew ought to be sitting up here doing interviews,” Edwards said during his post victory press conference. “They won that race for us. It was just amazing to come down third and to go out leading the race.”

In fact, the No. 19 team alone executed six stops in 11 seconds or less, championship quality work from everyone associated with that operation.

Joe Gibbs himself has placed an organizational priority on pit stops since before last season but it really became apparent late last year when all three cars began blistering the rest of the field during cautions and green flag pit stops respectively.

“We spend a lot of time on it,” Gibbs said. “Obviously everybody in the sport does. Everyone realizes how important it is, and I think you’re battling up there tonight with all those teams have great pit crews.

“I think that’s an interesting part of our sport because it really is, it’s a lot like the other sport that I was in where you film things, you’re training all the time, you’ve got mandatory practice, and so I think it’s become a huge part of this sport, and I think it’s fun, and I think the fans like it too.

“You come on pit road, you don’t know what’s going to happen. I think that’s a great part of our racing because on a pit stop, a lot of things can happen. There can be penalties, you can have guys, great stops like we had tonight, and it’s the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat when you come on pit road, so I think it’s a big deal.”

Hamlin added that pit stops across the JGR board have gotten so exceptional in recent seasons that it actually gives the Toyota powerhouse a psychological advantage over the rest of the field each week.

“They picked me up a combined 30 or 40 spots throughout the night,” Hamlin said about his personal crew on Sunday night. “They carry us a lot of the time on restarts and get us the track position we need to handicap it until our cars come in.

“So it’s probably more of a psychological thing for the competition because they know that if they see me in the top-5 late in the race, they also know that we’re coming out with the lead if we have a late caution.”

That’s a huge advantage now that all four JGR cars have qualified for the Chase are expected to be contenders deep into the 10-race playoff. The case could be made that Joey Logano lost a chance at the championship last season when his car fell off the jack late in the race at Homestead.

The move dropped him from the lead pack to outside the top-20. So while every contending team has issues they need to sort out before the final 10 races, Gibbs can have faith that pit stops is not one of theirs.

“Yeah, I can tell you that it’s a lot easier to pass guys on pit road for me than to pass them on the racetrack,” Edwards said. “So I’m really proud of my guys. It’s just like Coach said, it’s an interesting part of the sport because man you’re just on that knife-edge.

“To perform that fast — my guys are just letting it all hang out and they’re able to do that, so I’m really happy to be involved with them, to be on the same team as them.”

EMAIL MATT AT matt.weaver@popularspeed.com

FOLLOW ON TWITTER: @MattWeaverSBN

Categories
NASCAR Cup Series

Joe Gibbs Doesn’t Mind Paying Marginal Cost for Better Racing

SPARTA, Ky. — With the successful launch of the low downforce Kentucky Package and the impending high downforce/high drag configurations at Indianapolis and Michigan, NASCAR appears set on introducing a variety of track-specific rules at each stop on the calendar, perhaps as early as next season.

For teams, that could result in added expenses.

At Kentucky, the only changes came in the form of extra composite material for the spoiler and splitter but other packages may bring additional changes and extra costs. Before moving this direction, NASCAR consulted drivers, manufacturers and owners to receive feedback and opinions on the state of the sport. On Saturday night after winning the Quaker State 400, team owner Joe Gibbs says he doesn’t mind the uptick in costs if it produces a better show for the fans.

“From an owner’s standpoint, what’s best for us is for the fans to be excited about our racing,” Gibbs said. “We need them in the stands and we need them on TV watching and talking about us on the radio.

“This package wasn’t a big expense for us. It’s a fairly simple one. So, but I think that the overall concern for all of us is to do what’s right for our fans.
“Now, I think we’re going to try another package and I applaud NASCAR.  There’s going to be two packages we’re going to try and we’ll kind of see what happens.”

Gibbs, who won three Super Bowl rings as the head coach of the Washington Redskins and three NASCAR Sprint Cup championships as a car owner, called NASCAR “bold,” for moving this direction and applauded the results at Kentucky.

“I think tonight panned out for us to have a good race and it worked out great for us and I think in the future I think you’re going to really see, I think NASCAR’s after it,” Gibbs added. “I think they want — they really want to help the racing.  So, it’s a big deal for us and I think — I applaud what they’re doing and I thought tonight was good.”

EMAIL MATT AT matt.weaver@popularspeed.com

FOLLOW ON TWITTER: @MattWeaverSBN

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NASCAR Cup Series Uncategorized

Aggressive Carl Edwards Impresses in Debut for Joe Gibbs Racing

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Carl Edwards had quite the impressive debut for Joe Gibbs Racing on Saturday night at the Sprint Unlimited, finishing third and showing newfound flashes of aggression that seemed refreshingly unfamiliar from the 35-year-old veteran.

Edwards never put himself in a precarious position but was more than willing to go three-wide or throw a daring block when the situation demanded it. He also had the look of a team player on the final lap, seemingly deciding to race Martin Truex Jr. harder for second in the efforts to prevent him from overtaking teammate and race winner Matt Kenseth at the line.

“Man that was crazy,” Edwards said after the race. “I need to see a replay with (Truex). It felt like he just all but wrecked me that one time, but fortunately we got it straightened out and it was a good start for ARRIS and for Stanley and our relationship with Toyota. I’m glad Matt won that race, but, man, I could taste it there.

“That was a lot of fun – a cool event.

WEAVER: Three Things We Learned During the Sprint Unlimited

Despite not winning in his first night with a new team, Edwards expressed satisfaction with his efforts and the chemistry he established with his teammates and crew chief Darian Grubb on Saturday night.

Next up for the newly formed No. 19 team is qualifying on Sunday afternoon. It’s important that Edwards somehow locks down a front row starting spot because it would automatically lock him into the race prior to the Thursday qualifying races that set the field for The Great American Race.

Since this is a new team, Edwards has no entrant points to fall back on. With that said, Edwards said he was confident with the speed of his Toyota and is looking forward to the rest of the season.

“I think all of our JGR Toyotas are good for next week,” Edwards said. “We’ll qualify tomorrow and hopefully that goes well. We’ve got a very good car. If we don’t crash that thing or something tomorrow, I think we’re going to have a good race.”

Meanwhile, Joe Gibbs said not to read too much into Edwards’ aggressive driving on Saturday night, believing it to be a byproduct of the circumstances of non-points racing in the Sprint Unlimited.

“Like everyone else out there, he was going for it,” Gibbs said. “He got trapped in a bad position, just like Matt did for part of the race. If you’re two abreast, you’re back mid-pack, you’re going to have to be fortunate to get through there on some wrecks, which he just missed.”

EMAIL MATT AT matt.weaver@popularspeed.com

FOLLOW ON TWITTER: @MattWeaverSBN

Categories
NASCAR Cup Series

Kyle Busch Eliminated From Chase at Talladega

By Matt Weaver (TALLADEGA, Ala.) — Kyle Busch was eliminated from championship contention as a result of his involvement in a multi-car incident on Sunday afternoon at Talladega Superspeedway. He finished 40th and was ultimately seven points out of a transfer position by time the dust settled.

Busch opened the Chase with five consecutive top-10 finishes, the best start to a playoff in his career, and was second entering in the standings prior to the weekend. He had a 26-point cushion but it was all for nothing when Austin Dillon ran into the back of Busch once drivers started slamming on brakes to avoid the spinning JJ Yeley.

Busch made contact with the inside retaining wall and was forced to immediately drive his tattered Toyota Camry to the garage area.

His team, led by crew chief Dave Rogers, leaped into action and had the car repaired by lap 143. The car was back on the track by lap 152 but it wasn’t enough to gain the points needed to advance, leaving him 10th out of the remaining 12 contenders with the top-eight moving forward.

Busch WalkBusch declined media requests to comment after the race and walked straight to the driver coach lot. Rogers, however, praised Busch for his leadership over the past five weeks during the Chase where the team made a considerable leap in performance from the regular season.

“I can’t praise him enough,” Rogers said of his driver. “He’s really stepped up to be a great leader of this race team in the Chase. We’ve had a couple things go against us — getting the nose knocked off at Loudon, today — and Kyle’s done a really good job of biting his lip and just backing the race team to let us do our job. Kyle, I can’t say enough good about him and I’m really proud of him.”

Even though their chase for the season title has ended, Rogers still believes he and his crew have much to race for over the next four weeks at Martinsville, Texas, Phoenix and Homestead.

“It’s been a lot of fun working with Kyle and we’re not done yet,” Rogers added. “We can’t win the championship, but we can still advance in points and work our way up to fifth. We’re going to go to Martinsville working hard and we’re going to try to win all these races.”

Their team owner, Joe Gibbs, simply expressed disappointment for his driver and the entire No. 18 team, noting the improvements they have made since a sluggish regular season that barely saw them crack the top-20 after the final regular season race at Richmond last month.

“I’m just really disappointed for Kyle,” Gibbs said. “Nothing went our way really. First of all, getting hit from behind, our car was all tore to pieces. I don’t know how the guys got it back out there but I really appreciate them working like that.”

Busch entered the race as the highest driver in the standings without a win in the Contender Round and needed just an average day in order to advance. He was one of only two championship eligible drivers to have posted a top-10 in every race in the playoffs but was eliminated due to one bad finish on Sunday.

Gibbs added that this is an element of the Chase that teams have to accept and Busch was just caught on the wrong side of it at Talladega.

“I think this is where we are with the three-race playoffs,” Gibbs said. “This is where we are. You can be real consistent but if you have one bad experience at the wrong time, you can end up in trouble.”

When asked if he felt the format was fair, given the team’s consistency, Rogers said that he believed it was because they had plenty of time to prepare and better position themselves for Talladega.

“They told us what the rules were and we all signed up to play,” Rogers said. “I love this game and I love playing this sport. They can change the rules every year and the points format — that’s none of my business. I just have to read the rules and try to perform at our best according to them.

“I’m bitter and I’m discouraged, but I’m not going to sit here and say it’s unfair. The rules are the rules — they didn’t change them halfway through Talladega — nothing to complain about there.”