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Biffle honors Kulwicki with Darlington scheme
RELATED: All the 2016 throwback paint schemes " Buy tickets " Vote now CONCORD, N.C. – NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Greg Biffle and his No. 16 Roush Fenway Racing team will honor 1992 premier series champion Alan Kulwicki during next month's Bojangles' Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway . Biffle, along with U.S. Congressman Richard Hudson and Andrew Collier, unveiled a Hooters paint scheme similar to the orange and white scheme featured on Kulwicki's Ford Thunderbird entries from 1991 through the first five races of the '93 season. "The sport was built on guys like that," Biffle said Tuesday. "He ran his own deal and wanted to do stuff his way. He had five career wins and a championship in 92 -- that's a really, really neat story. It's unfortunate that I never got the chance to meet him." The popular restaurant chain began its' sponsorship of the No. 7 team at the fifth race of the '91 season at Darlington. Kulwicki was both owner and driver for the single-team organization. The 1.366-mile track was also the site of Kulwicki's final start – he placed sixth in '93 TranSouth 500. Kulwicki , the series' 1986 Rookie of the Year, was killed in a plane crash in Blountville, Tenn., on April 1, 1993. To possibly win with Hooters on the No. 16 Roush Fenway Racing Ford? "How cool would that be?" Biffle asked. "Then to do an Alan Kulwicki victory lap … would be a storybook ending." Biffle will be making his 16th career start at Darlington, where he has two victories (2005, '06) and a pair of poles. His average starting position at the track is 11.1, best for the 46-year-old among the 22 venues hosting Sprint Cup Series races, while his average finish of 13.6 there is fourth overall. He has led more laps at Darlington (718) than any track other than Texas Motor Speedway , where he has led 733. This is the second season the legendary track has hosted a throwback-themed race weekend, with teams sporting paint schemes similar to those seen in the past. The Bojangles' Southern 500 is scheduled 6 p.m. ET, Sunday, Sept. 4 (NBC, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR). Hooters isn't just on the car as part of the throwback scheme, the restaurant chain is also taking an active role with the team, helping to promote National First Responders Day. Collier, a machinist in the Hendrick Motorsports engine shop, has been a driving force in trying to establish a national day of recognition for first responders. His brother, Sean, was a police officer with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2013 when he was killed by one of two Boston Marathon bombers. "Sean was planning on going and hanging out with some friends that night," Andrew Collier said. "He had no idea … that happens to a lot of first responders every year. It's time we honor them; they are our front line here at home. You have an accident … a fire, anything, none of us ever want to see it but if it does happen to us, the first thing we do is count on them. "It's time to honor them and make this day a reality." For more information about the effort to establish a national day of recognition, visit www.firstrespondersday.org . &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;
Biffle unveils a throwback Kulwicki paint scheme
Greg Biffle will be running a Hooters paint scheme at Darlington Raceway honoring Alan Kulwicki's 1992 championship season.
Food City, Bristol celebrate partnership milestone
BUY TICKETS: See the races at Bristol Next weekend's Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway (April 24, 1 p.m. ET, FOX, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) marks the 25-year sponsorship anniversary between the grocery chain and the track. Yes, 25 years. The Silver Anniversary is a testament, of course, to a perfect pairing of brands that both receive great value from their partnership. Even now, the Food City sponsorship of Bristol Motor Speedway's spring Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series event is as strong as ever. It is the second-longest race entitlement in NASCAR, trailing only the Coca-Cola sponsorship of the 600-mile May race at Charlotte. Initially, it wasn't a long-term deal between the two, but after the 1992 Food City 500, officials were ready to return as soon as the next season. "We signed the (initial) agreement and we had a great first race," Steve Smith, Food City President and CEO, previously told NASCAR.com. " Alan Kulwicki actually won our first race in 1992; I remember that well. We were off and running." Smith said his company, founded by his father, Jack, became involved at the right time in the sport, when the fan base was on the upswing, TV coverage was gaining traction and sponsorship dollars were flowing. "What happened with Bristol was really indicative of what was happening with NASCAR -- it was just growing and growing," he said. "Five years later, Bruton (Smith, Speedway Motorsports Inc., founder) bought the track and things just really started to escalate here with the amenities and the things that they did for the race fans. ... Folks love coming here, they love the racing environment, and they love, I think, the southern hospitality. "We try, as a sponsor, to do a lot of things to get them in here a little bit early, whether it's Food City Race Night or other events to really make it a full week of fun for the race fan." RELATED: Learn more about the track In addition to the Monster Energy Series sponsorship, the company also sponsors the August NASCAR XFINITY Series event at Bristol. While there have been times that spending money on race entitlement rights might have been questionable, Smith said, "I don't think there's ever been a time when we really thought about dropping the race." The return for Food City, he said, comes in many forms. No. 1 is name recognition. "We're a relatively small regional company," Smith said. "But it's a sense of pride for our associates, our customers who know we sponsor racing. NASCAR fans are very loyal, they're loyal to the brands that are involved whether it's Food City or other consumer products sponsors. We think it helps us sell more products and bring more people in to our stores." In February 2014, Food City and BMS officials announced a five-year extension for the naming rights of the track's spring race. So the relationship will continue through 2019 -- at least. "At the end of the day, it's hard to put a financial statement together that proves that it's a great spend, but we've been doing good ever since we been sponsoring racing so we don't want to stop there," Smith said. -- Kenny Bruce contributed to this article &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;
NASCAR Hall of Fame: Alan Kulwicki
NASCAR driver Alan Kulwicki was the 1986 Rookie of the Year and 1992 NSCS Champion. He was also famous for his 'Polish' victory lap.
Throwback Thursday: Alan Kulwicki's Final Lap
Alan Kulwicki died in an airplane crash on Thursday April 1, 1993 traveling from an appearance in Knoxville at Hooters aboard a Hooters corporate plane flight across Tennessee before the Sunday spring race at Bristol.
Racing community honors Sam Ard at memorial service
RELATED: Sam Ard dies at 78 FLORENCE, S.C. -- Gold chandeliers and dark wood may have suggested a more somber mood, but subdued wasn't an apt description of the crowd filling in to pay their final respects to Samuel Julian Ard on Tuesday evening. Spirited perhaps. But respectful, too. It was an unusually warm evening, with the sun casting long shadows across the parking lot of the Stoudenmire-Dowling Funeral Home. Outside, folks milled about, some smoking and talking and others simply talking. Traffic moved along out on the highway, sporadic but at a respectful pace as the day was coming to an end. Inside, they lined up to express their sorrow and offer comfort to the family -- widow Agnes Josephine "Jo" Ard, a tiny woman with a big heart; the children Melinda, Joane, Robert and Sharon; and the grandchildren and great grandchildren that make up a big, close-knit family. "Mama wanted me in dresses and Daddy wanted a wrench in my hand,” Melinda, the eldest of the children, recalled. They came here to remember and say farewell to Sam Ard, one of the best racers to ever suit up and slip behind the wheel in what is now NASCAR's XFINITY Series. Ard, who was 78 and a Pamplico, South Carolina, resident for most of his life, passed away in the early hours of Sunday morning. An Air Force veteran, he served his country during the Vietnam War. In the early 1980s, Ard was one of a handful of tough and talented local racers who helped breathe life into NASCAR just one rung beneath its top series. While it shared billing with what's now the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series at places such as Daytona, Darlington, Bristol and Charlotte, the series didn't stray too far, too often, from its grassroots beginnings. Hickory and South Boston, Rougemont and Asheville were regular stops in those early years, and drivers such as Ard and Jack Ingram and Larry Pearson and Tommy Houston were among its stars. The familiar No. 00 Oldsmobile, white with red lettering and sponsored by Thomas Brothers Country Ham, was a frequent sight up front. Ard won 22 races in just 92 career starts and he finished 10th or better 79 times. He was the series' first two-time champion (1983-84) and finished second in the standings in 1982. He had eight wins, and the title in hand, when he was injured in a crash early in the '84 Komfort Koach 200 at North Carolina Motor Speedway. He missed the final race of season, but still outpointed Ingram for the title. He made no starts the following year and in June of '85 officially announced his retirement from NASCAR competition. "Between him and Jack Ingram, you didn't win a Sportsman race," Dale Earnhardt Jr. recalled Tuesday. "They won everywhere. "It was incredible to me that they could come out of Asheville or wherever they raced and go to Charlotte, a big mile-and-a-half track, and outrun Robert Gee's cars, or those Cup cars that all those Cup drivers were competing in. You would think they would get dusted. But Sam could show up and run better than even the Cup guys with Cup-influenced race teams. "It was incredible the speed that they had, and they had it everywhere, Sam and Jack could compete with anyone on any race track in the Sportsman series back then." His season win mark of 10, set in 1983, stood for 27 years before Kyle Busch won 13 times in 2010. But Ard's record of four consecutive wins, also set in '83, remains the standard for the series. Ard won at South Boston, Martinsville, Rougemont and Charlotte to establish the consecutive win record. "The Charlotte race was always a big deal to me because it happened around my birthday," said Earnhardt, who was born Oct. 10, 1974. "I think it was '82 or '83, Sam whipped Daddy in the 300. I was so upset because I wanted Dad to win (for) my birthday. I remember watching in the infield with all our family, all the Earnhardts and Eurys. We ran second I think, second or third, but that 00 smoked 'em. "Unfortunately, it was just after that where he got injured. I raced with his son (Robert) at Myrtle Beach quite a bit and Sam would come around with him. We became friends and I got to see Sam a little bit then." He was inducted into the National Motorsports Hall of Fame, located on the grounds of Darlington Raceway, in 1999 along with 1992 Monster Energy Cup Series champ Alan Kulwicki . And on Wednesday, Sam Ard was laid to rest, wearing his Hall of Fame blazer, at Mt. Zion Baptist Church cemetery.
Polls open for NASCAR Hall of Fame Class of 2018 Fan Vote
HALL OF FAME: Cast your vote today! Since NASCAR's start in 1948, fans have been the cornerstone of the sport -- their voices vital, heard and acted upon. So, it made perfect sense that when NASCAR assembled the original Voting Panel for the NASCAR Hall of Fame's inaugural Class of 2010, the sanctioning body made sure the fans had a say in who earned the sport's highest honor. And today, that tradition continues. Polls are now open for the NASCAR Hall of Fame Class of 2018 Fan Vote. To vote, visit NASCAR.com/halloffame . Fans are once again asked to cast votes for up to five nominees for inclusion into the Class of 2018, and can vote up to 50 times per day. The five nominees who receive the most votes will count as one of the 54 votes cast by the Voting Panel on NASCAR Hall of Fame Voting Day on May 24. The polls close May 22. Below are the 20 nominees who are eligible for entry into the NASCAR Hall of Fame Class of 2018: • Davey Allison , won 19 times in NASCAR's premier (now Monster Energy NASCAR Cup) series, including the 1992 Daytona 500 • Buddy Baker , won 19 times in NASCAR's premier series, including the Daytona 500 and Southern 500 • Red Byron , first NASCAR premier series champion, in 1949 • Ray Evernham , three-time NASCAR premier series championship crew chief • Red Farmer , three-time Late Model Sportsman champion; 1956 Modified champion • Ray Fox , legendary engine builder, crew chief and car owner • Joe Gibbs , combined for nine car owner championships in premier and XFINITY series • Ron Hornaday Jr. , four-time NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion • Harry Hyde , 1970 NASCAR premier series championship crew chief • Alan Kulwicki , 1992 NASCAR premier series champion • Bobby Labonte , won a championship in both the premier series and XFINITY Series • Hershel McGriff , 1986 NASCAR west series champion • Roger Penske , combined for four car owner championships in premier and XFINITY series • Larry Phillips , only five-time NASCAR weekly series national champion • Jack Roush , five-time car owner champion in NASCAR's three national series • Ricky Rudd , won 23 times in NASCAR's premier series, including the 1997 Brickyard 400 • Ken Squier , legendary radio and television broadcaster; inaugural winner/namesake of Squier-Hall Award for NASCAR Media Excellence • Mike Stefanik , winner of record-tying nine NASCAR championships • Waddell Wilson , won three NASCAR premier series championships as an engine builder • Robert Yates , won NASCAR premier series championship as both an engine builder and owner &amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;gt;
Nominee for the NASCAR Hall of Fame Class
Cain on Davey Allison's Hall of Fame nomination: 'It's time'
BUY TICKETS: See the races in Las Vegas MORE: Meet the 2018 Hall of Fame nominees "It's time." Social media users did not mince words with Wednesday's announcement that the late and great Davey Allison has been nominated for the NASCAR Hall of Fame. It was a similar enthusiasm and fondness bestowed upon Allison from fans every time he climbed into a stock car. The oldest son of NASCAR legend and Hall of Famer Bobby Allison was a bona fide celebrity in the sport's earlier glory days -- before Twitter, Snapchat and Facebook. Before billion-dollar television deals. Before personal chefs and luxury motorhomes were standard issue. Allison, who died in a helicopter crash at Talladega Superspeedway in 1993 at the age of 32, is a highly-achieved descendent of the "Alabama Gang" -- a group of drivers hailing from Hueytown, Ala., so talented that the very thought they were entered in a race stirred an intense rivalry among competitors. It feels fitting that Allison's addition to the 20-person list of NASCAR Hall of Fame nominees also includes his former team owner Robert Yates and a member of the original Alabama Gang, Red Farmer. PHOTOS: More from NASCAR Hall's five newest nominees Newer NASCAR fans have certainly heard about Allison's talent -- his 1992 Daytona 500 victory, his run at that season's championship -- the "old school" group as they like to be referred to. It was a time of "simpler" days in the sport, though intensely competitive. And Allison, in particular, bridged a gap between the older fans who grew up cheering on his father, Bobby, and a new group ready to root for Allison in a changing of the guard. Allison represented everything competition was supposed to be about -- eager to go door-to-door with greats representing multiple generations such as Richard Petty, Dale Earnhardt and Harry Gant. And of course, greats like his dad, Bobby, who he finished second to in the 1988 Daytona 500, one of the most memorable race outcomes in NASCAR history. At 50, Bobby Allison became the event's oldest winner. At 26, his son firmly established himself as the next generation of raw talent and Allison can-do. Four years later, Davey Allison was celebrating in Daytona 500 Victory Lane himself. It was a big moment kicking off the best full season of his career, although the title run ultimately ended in a collision in the Atlanta season finale, giving the season trophy to Alan Kulwicki . Allison had led the standings most of the season and into the last race. But he was such a fierce competitor: Losing out on the trophy in November only made the other drivers more fearful in February, certain of the extra motivation that would be steering Yates' fast and famous No. 28 Texaco Ford. Allison won multiple races every full year of competition, the 1987 Rookie of the Year title and 14 pole positions. One of the most amazing statistics is that he won one Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race for every 10 starts he made -- 19 total in 191 races. The numbers are so jaw-dropping both Allison's fans and those fans of his rivals wonder what kind of numbers he would have posted if he had had a full career. No need to wonder, though. His work is being recognized as it should. Allison is rightfully nominated for consideration into the NASCAR Hall of Fame and will be a serious candidate come decision time in May. "OH. MY. WORD!" Allison's widow, Liz, posted on Facebook. "Beyond excited and so very grateful to those who voted for Davey. He would be so honored to have made this list and to be a nominee along with all of the nominees. No words to describe the emotions right now. So darn proud for him!!" As are so many.
After Hooters deal, Chase Elliott pumped to stare at ... chicken wings
RELATED: Read more Inside Groove " Hooters joins Elliott for '17 Hendrick Motorsports announced Monday that casual dining chain Hooters would sponsor No. 24 Chevrolet driver Chase Elliott beginning in 2017, which is kind of a best-case-scenario sponsor for the 21-year-old. Elliott was asked about the new deal right away in his NASCAR Media Tour session on Tuesday, and he expanded upon what it was like to take the promo photographs with the Hooters girls and the behind-the-scenes vibe. "It's definitely (a sponsor) I wasn't going to turn down, that's for sure," Elliott, heading into his second Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season, said. "I had a lot of fun with it and they're certainly a fun group of people. Not just the brand, but the group of people that they have to work with behind the scenes. Easy to work with; great to work with. Had a lot of fun. Got to stare, I didn't get to eat, but got to stare at a lot of chicken wings yesterday. It's probably good that I didn't eat 'em. I need to get back in the gym." Nice save. Elliott then explained how important the sponsor is to his family, as his father, Bill, and Alan Kulwicki had one of NASCAR's most storied championship battles in 1992 while Kulwicki ran the Hooters paint scheme. "It was a lot of fun. I'm excited to have them on board. I know their history with Alan ( Kulwicki ) is long and him and my dad had obviously a great championship battle in 1992. That's obviously kind of ironic to see that," said Elliott. "My dad had a lot of respect for Alan and what he did; both my parents do. It's pretty neat to carry the Hooters colors this year and I'm looking forward to that. Definitely something different." &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;