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Rick Ware Racing to field Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series team
THOMASVILLE, N.C. -- Officials from Rick Ware Racing (RWR) announced today the team’s intent to compete in the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series as an "open non-chartered" team beginning with next month's 59th annual Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway . RWR's return to the elite level of NASCAR will have Timmy Hill aboard the No. 51 Chevrolet for Speedweeks with a rotating list of drivers to follow throughout the season including longtime RWR drivers Stanton Barrett , Cody Ware and road course veteran Kevin O’Connell to name a few. "We've been eyeing our return to the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series since the end of last year," said RWR team principal Rick Ware. "We knew with the competition level stronger than ever, we needed to take the steps to make sure we could come to the track and be as competitive as possible, while focused on building our organization as the season presses on.” RWR also announced the team has acquired assets from Tommy Baldwin Racing (TBR) for use this season, including cars, pulldown rig and technology support. Additionally, longtime industry veteran Joe Lax, also previously with TBR will serve as crew chief, while pro-motor engineering (PME) will supply the horsepower during the season. Furthermore, Mike Hillman Sr., a longtime fixture in NASCAR joins RWR in a newly created role as team consultant. "I feel like we've done a great job getting our stars aligned for this year," Ware added. "Between acquiring cars from Tommy Baldwin Racing and having a good open relationship with them, plus being able to bring key personnel aboard who have the desire and drive to make our team the best it's ever been. "One component I'm really proud about is our initiative to bring our body work in-house. We really have hired some talented and experienced personnel overall and I couldn't be more excited to get our season underway." Hill is hopeful to make his "World Center of Racing" debut in next month's Super Bowl event. The 23-year-old hopes to make his 49th Cup race in his first ever Daytona 500 . Despite no Cup starts at Daytona, the Port Tobacco, Maryland native has four XFINITY starts at the 2.5-mile oval with two career top-10 finishes including back-to-back top-10 runs for Rick Ware Racing in 2012 with a career-best seventh in the season-opening race. "I'm thankful to continue my relationship with Rick Ware Racing for the 2017 season," said Hill. "I've always wanted the chance to compete in the Daytona 500 and thanks to Rick and Lisa (Ware), I'll have that opportunity. It won't be easy, but as a team and Joe (Lax) leading the way, we’re focused and will give it all we have and hope we’ll be one of the 40 cars running in the Daytona 500 !" In addition to their effort in the Cup Series , Rick Ware Racing will also compete in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) this season with recently announced driver Spencer Boyd at the wheel. Sponsorship for the team’s Cup entry will be announced at a later date. </p>
Reinvigorated Martin relishes second chances, Hall of Fame nod
RELATED: Learn more about the Class of 2017 " Martin's top moments CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Mark Martin described the rollicking ride of emotions leading up to his induction speech for the NASCAR Hall of Fame as far more difficult than anything that he ever experienced in a race car. A heady statement, since Martin's path to stock-car stardom was anything but easy. "I can't tell you how it feels to stand up here in front of you tonight," Martin said. "It's a feeling that my words could never do justice." But Mark Martin had all the words Friday night, just over 1,500 of them in a heartfelt address that capped a stellar night in the Charlotte Convention Center. He joined Richard Childress, Rick Hendrick, Raymond Parks and Benny Parsons in the Hall's eighth class of five inductees. When it was all done and Martin was officially enshrined, the 58-year-old driver felt invigorated. "I feel like I've had a cup of coffee or I've been playing some Gucci Mane," Martin said with a laugh. "I'm wide open." The circuitous path to NASCAR enshrinement, which started on the rickety back roads with one-lane bridges in his native Arkansas, was a long time coming. And though he's just more than three years removed from his final big-league start -- in a fill-in stint for the injured Tony Stewart in the 2013 finale -- Martin says he's transferred his trademark determination to more mundane pursuits. "How shiny can I get my motor home. I've got to get that trash and take it out. That light bulb is burned out, dammit," Martin said of his day-to-day life now. "… You know, I just do all the things that I used to pay people to do. I still go like hell every day. That's the same ol' me. "Yeah, I just really enjoy not -- not having that laser focus. I'm still focused. Don't get me wrong. And I'm still OCD and I still run wide open, and I'm still odd about how I want things and all that. I'm still that same guy. But you know, life is just a lot more serene for me now." Martin nearly exited the sport twice, once because of unfortunate circumstances and another by his choice. His career nearly short-circuited during a struggle-filled 1982 season, but Martin stuck with it, eventually landing a second chance with car owner Jack Roush in a partnership that lifted both to elite status. "Because racing was my passion," Martin said when asked what kept him going. "The easy thing to do was to go to the trucking company that my dad owned and go to work there. I had no interest in that trucking company. The only thing I knew was racing." And when he dialed back his driving duties with two part-time seasons in 2007 and '08, it was Hendrick -- his fellow inductee and ever the salesman -- who persuaded him back to a full-season ride. The agreement yielded one his most prolific seasons -- the last five of his 40 premier- series wins and his last brush with the championship trophy that eluded him. In his three-year absence from the driver's seat, Martin says he's missed the people, the media, the garage and the fans. He hasn't missed driving the race cars, but his competitive nature, he says, has never left him. Martin seems content in channeling his tenacious spirit toward fixing an electrical outlet or other do-it-yourself projects these days. But though the lure of the track may have faded, he said he looks forward to his career enjoying a sense of permanence in the NASCAR Hall of Fame. "This makes me feel like I have a place, a little bit of a place," Martin says. "But the thing about racing is when you step out, the hole closes behind you so fast, it's unbelievable, as a driver, as a crew chief, crew member, whatever. I'm sure even doing your job, you step out for very long, that hole closes, man. It ain't easy to get back inside. I stepped out, and the holes closed, and I just -- I embrace this opportunity to represent the NASCAR Hall of Fame because it makes me very proud that we have this because of how important it is to me to know the full story about Raymond Parks. I knew who he was and whatnot, but I know the full story now. "So for a guy who's been here for so long to learn that through this process, just think what it's going to do 50 years from now, how important it's going to be." &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;gt;
NASCAR Hall of Fame Class of 2017 honored, inducted
RELATED: Recap induction night, watch more speeches CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The enshrinement of three car owners of paramount importance to stock car racing, a driver who proved a prolific winner in NASCAR’s top-two series and a former Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion who would become one of the most beloved storytellers in the history of the sport highlighted Friday night’s induction of the Class of 2017 into the NASCAR Hall of Fame. Not only did the emotional proceedings usher one of NASCAR’s first car owners, Raymond Parks, into the Hall. Also recognized were the ongoing accomplishments of two owners -- Richard Childress and Rick Hendrick -- whose efforts have helped to produce a pair of seven-time champions. Friday night also brought the induction of driver Mark Martin, who won 40 races in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series , another 49 in the NASCAR XFINITY Series and who finished second in the championship standings at NASCAR’s highest level no less than five times. WATCH: Martin enters the 'grandest Victory Lane' Perhaps the most gripping moment of the night was the enshrinement of 1973 Cup champion Benny Parsons, a man of indefatigable good humor who flourished after his driving career as one of the most beloved broadcasters the sport has known. Parsons lost his life on Jan. 16, 2007 after a courageous battle against lung cancer. Appropriately, Parks was first to be enshrined. Introduced by Kevin Harvick and inducted posthumously by family friend Kyle Petty, Parks was a close friend of NASCAR founder Bill France Sr. and a pillar of the sport in its formative years. Born in the mountains of north Georgia, Parks shares "moonshine" roots with such NASCAR pioneers as Junior Johnson. Parks later grew successful jukebox and vending machine businesses in Atlanta before venturing into NASCAR ownership. Parks won NASCAR's first two championships, in modifieds in 1948 and in Strictly Stock (NASCAR's top division) with Red Byron behind the wheel and Red Vogt as crew chief. RELATED: 'Lost' films restored, reveal Parks' talent "He put his money where his mouth was, investing in our great pastime as an owner," Harvick said. "The World War II veteran captured NASCAR's first premier series championship in 1949 and nearly 70 years later has earned the highest honor from the sport he always believed in." "Without Raymond Parks, there would be no Richard Petty -- there’s nothing to build on," Kyle Petty said. Introduced by fellow Michigander Brad Keselowski , Parsons won his only championship in 1973, an achievement that came during a string of nine straight years (1972-1980) in which Parsons finished in the top five in the final standings. All told, Parsons won 21 races, including the 1975 Daytona 500 , during a career whose hallmark was remarkable consistency. In 526 starts at NASCAR’s highest level, Parsons finished in the top 10 283 times, an enviable 54 percent. "He's from Detroit, and he came from being a Michigan taxi driver to a NASCAR champion," Keselowski said. "Think about that. That seems like the script from a Hollywood movie. "But that is exactly what Benny Parsons accomplished in 1973." WATCH: Childress says his story's possible 'only in America' Childress’ grandsons, Austin and Ty Dillon -- both of whom are racing in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series this year -- introduced their "Pop Pop," the car owner with whom inaugural NASCAR Hall of Fame class member Dale Earnhardt won six of his seven championships. "My brother and I are so proud and honored to introduce Pop Pop," Austin Dillon said. "There are countless family stories I could share of his true grit, persistence, determination, and love for others." Including Earnhardt’s six with RCR, Childress has won 11 titles combined in NASCAR’s top three touring series , second only to fellow inductee Hendrick’s 15. "I’m honored to go into the NASCAR Hall of Fame with my heroes," said Childress, who was inducted by his wife, Judy Childress. "Just look around this wall and look at the greats that we'll be going in the Hall of Fame with. Unbelievable. And to go in the Class of 2017 with so many great inductees is quite an honor." Seven-time champion Jimmie Johnson and four-time titleholder Jeff Gordon did the introduction honors for Hendrick, their car owner. "The stats speak for themselves: 15 national series championship, 245 Cup wins, certainly impressive numbers, but more important than the wins and the championships is the person behind them," Gordon said. "He's the most loyal man I know. He'll take the shirt right off his back for you. His accomplishments are endless, and his character is unrivaled." Hendrick accepted induction from his wife, Linda Hendrick. WATCH: Hendrick thanks NASCAR family "I humbly accept this tonight, and all the drivers that have been involved in our company, all the mechanics, everybody that's ever been a part of it, I accept this on your behalf, past and present," Hendrick said. "I know my son (Ricky Hendrick, killed in a 2004 plane crash) is watching tonight, and he's so proud. Congratulations to Jimmie for winning No. 7, dedicating it to him … "But I can tell you that the feelings that I have for this sport and for all the people in it, all the sponsors -- and I've got so many here tonight I can't name them all, don't want to do that -- but it's your faith, it's your family and your friends that get you through life, and that's the most important thing. When it's all over, it's the people that you touch and the lives you change that make a difference in this world." Introduced by former Roush Fenway Racing teammate Matt Kenseth and inducted by team owner Jack Roush, Martin chronicled a career that began in 1981 and ended at Michael Waltrip Racing in 2013. In between, Martin finished second in the standings four times with Roush -- the first in 1990 -- and once with Hendrick, in 2009, during Johnson’s run of five straight titles. Martin won 96 races across all three NASCAR national touring series , currently seventh all-time. He credited Roush with giving him a welcome opportunity to drive RFR Fords in 1988, after his career had stalled. "He was hell-bent and determined as I was to make a name for himself winning races and competing for championships at NASCAR's highest level," Martin said. "Jack Roush gave me that second chance." During Friday night’s ceremony, Martinsville Speedway founder H. Clay Earles was recognized with the Landmark Award for Outstanding Contributions to NASCAR. Opened in 1947, Martinsville is the only track to have hosted races at NASCAR’s highest level since the sanctioning body’s formation in 1949. The late Benny Phillips, former reporter and sports editor for the High Point (N.C.) Enterprise received the Squier-Hall Award for NASCAR Media Excellence. Overcoming polio to pursue his career as a journalist, Phillips also wrote for Stock Car Racing magazine for 27 years and spent 12 years covering racing with TBS. &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;gt;
Atlanta introduces 'Chase U' ticket package
RELATED: Buy tickets for the race Atlanta Motor Speedway has partnered with Dawsonville, Georgia, native and driver of the No. 24 Chevrolet SS for Hendrick Motorsports , Chase Elliott , to introduce the Chase U ticket package, the hottest new deal for college students attending the March 5 Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race. The package, popular among millennial fans currently enrolled in college, offers a near industry-low price point for a NASCAR Cup Series race, a festive pre-race tailgate party, complimentary food and drink and a chance to interact with Chase Elliott , the 2016 Rookie of the Year in NASCAR's top series . Buyers of a Chase U ticket will enjoy a low $24 ticket for a seat in the Lower Winners Grandstand, free parking at the race and admission into the exclusive Chase U tailgate party taking place from 10 a.m. to noon on the day of the race. The tailgate will include complimentary food and beverage for each ticketholder, live music, tailgate games, a Daytona USA racing simulator and a free-entry cornhole tournament with prizes and awards. Elliott will make an appearance at the party for a special Q&A session with tailgate attendees and will take time afterwards to meet with fans. "Atlanta is providing an awesome race-day experience for the students that come to Chase U," said Elliott. "I want fans to have a great time at the race, with their own party zone, live music, food, drinks, games and a grandstand ticket, all for $24. If I were able to go watch a race, this is a place that would be fun for me. Everyone there will have a great time, and hopefully we'll make some lifetime NASCAR fans in the process." The Chase U ticket package is available only to college students with a valid student ID and can be purchased today by contacting the Atlanta Motor Speedway ticket office at (770) 946-4211, (877) 9-AMS-TIX or by logging on to www.atlantamotorspeedway.com . NASCAR racing returns to Atlanta Motor Speedway March 3-5, 2017, featuring the Rinnai 250 XFINITY Series and Active Pest Control 200 Camping World Truck Series doubleheader on Saturday, March 4 and the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race on Sunday, March 5.
Predicting where Daniel Suarez could get first win
MORE: Track Suarez's path to NASCAR star Daniel Suarez 's rise to Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series competition following the abrupt departure of Carl Edwards from full-time racing has us wondering how the incoming Sunoco Rookie of the Year contender will fare in his first season at the big league level. Let's take a look back at how the reigning NASCAR XFINITY Series champion has performed throughout his NASCAR career in lower series across tracks he'll be racing at in 2017. (Note: While success at certain tracks as a driver moves up the ranks doesn't necessarily guarantee similar results at the Cup level, it can give a bit of insight into a driver's strengths and weaknesses.) First and foremost, Suarez picked up three wins over two full-time seasons in his XFINITY Series career, all three of which came en route in 2016 to his first NASCAR national series title. The three victories came at Michigan (four laps led), Dover (123 laps led) and, of course, Homestead, where Suarez led a dominating 133 of 200 laps from the pole to secure the race victory and the championship. Three distinct tracks, three different lengths (2 miles, 1 mile, 1.5 miles, respectively.) Tough to draw much from that other than point out that Suarez, clearly, isn't a one-trick pony. Let's dig a little deeper. Over his 68 total XFINITY Series starts, Suarez had multiple top-five finishes at six tracks. Guess what? None of them were the ones he won at, muddying the picture a bit more. Phoenix and Kentucky top the list with three apiece, followed by two each at New Hampshire, Bristol, Charlotte and Darlington. All of these tracks range 1-mile to 1.5-miles in length, save for the half-mile Bristol. We may be getting warmer. Suarez has four tracks on his resume at which he averages a finish inside the top five in Darlington, Homestead, New Hampshire and Indianapolis. He's led more than 100 laps at Homestead and Dover, and has a pole at Kentucky, Homestead, Auto Club and Daytona. Moving onto the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series , Suarez has just a single win at Phoenix, but has only compiled a total of 27 starts across three part-time seasons. Still, he has multiple top-five finishes at Texas (three), Phoenix and Dover, with multiple top-10 finishes at those tracks and Martinsville. The new driver of the No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota also has a pole at Kentucky, where he's led a total of 77 laps -- tied for the most he has at any track in the series with Bristol. Suarez averaged starts in the top five at three Camping World Truck Series tracks (Kentucky, Chicago and Phoenix), while averaging a finish inside the top five at Dover, Phoenix and Texas. And, hey, for good measure -- he won at Daytona in the K&N Pro Series East in 2014. Alright, now that our heads are good and dizzy from a blizzard of numbers and facts, let's digest and make some bold semi-predictions. If Suarez is able to win a Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race -- don't forget, an unexpected rookie won in 2016 ( Chris Buescher ) and two made the Chase (Buescher and Chase Elliott ), so it's certainly a distinct possibility that he could -- it appears the most likely tracks will be in that 1-mile to 1.5-mile range. Tracks of this stature make up exactly half the schedule, with 10 races before the Chase begins. Given that Suarez is stepping into a competitive ride immediately -- one that nearly won the 2016 championship just two months ago -- the talented incoming rookie will have an excellent shot at securing his first win. Look specifically to Dover, Phoenix, Texas, Kentucky, New Hampshire and -- *gulp* -- Homestead as the tracks most likely to see Suarez land in Victory Lane.
Owen Wilson named Grand Marshal for Daytona 500
MORE: Buy tickets to the race DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Jan. 19, 2017) -- Actor Owen Wilson, the voice of the animated character Lightning McQueen in Disney Pixar's upcoming movie "Cars 3," will serve as Grand Marshal for the 59th annual DAYTONA 500 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race on Feb. 26 at Daytona International Speedway . The Daytona 500 , the season-opening race for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series , will begin at 2 p.m. (TV -- FOX, FOX Deportes; Radio -- MRN Radio, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) following Wilson delivering the famous "Drivers, start your engines" command to the 40-car field. In addition to giving the command, Wilson will ride in one of the Grand Marshal cars during pace laps prior to the green flag of the 200-lap, 500-mile race and attend the drivers meeting. "Cars 3" opens nationwide on June 16. Wilson, who voiced Lightning McQueen in "Cars" (2006) and "Cars 2" (2011), is also known for starring roles in a variety of hit comedy films including "Wedding Crashers," "Meet the Parents," "Zoolander" and "The Royal Tenenbaums." Wilson stars in the upcoming "Wonder" and the Woody Harrelson-directed live film "Lost in London." "Owen Wilson is one of America's most beloved comedic actors and his voice has brought Lightning McQueen to life for millions of movie-goers over the last 10 years," said Daytona International Speedway President Chip Wile. "His star-power, and of course his personality, are perfect fits for 'The Great American Race.' " For more information on "Cars 3" visit http://disney.com/Cars3 . Wilson is the latest name on a long list of actors who have served as Daytona 500 Grand Marshals including Gerard Butler, Vince Vaughn, John Travolta, Ben Affleck, Nicolas Cage and Matthew McConaughey. Tickets for the 2017 DAYTONA 500 and Speedweeks can be purchased online at www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com or by calling 1-800-PITSHOP. Fans can also follow NASCAR on Twitter and stay up to speed on the latest news by using #DAYTONA500 and #SPEEDWEEKS. Stay connected with Daytona International Speedway on Twitter , Facebook , Instagram , YouTube , Pinterest and Snapchat , and by downloading the Speedway’s mobile app, for the latest Speedway news throughout the season. </p>
Nationwide to give fans inside look at Dale Earnhardt Jr.
NASCAR fans will get an inside look into Dale Earnhardt Jr .'s return to racing beginning next Tuesday thanks to a six-part series provided by Nationwide Insurance. Nationwide is the official primary sponsor of the No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet driven by Earnhardt in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series . "Unfinished Business" documents the offseason preparation and work behind Earnhardt's return to competition following last year's injury-shortened season. NASCAR's most popular driver missed the final 18 races of the year after suffering a concussion. The series is scheduled to go live on the Nationwide 88 Facebook page each Tuesday between Jan. 24 and this year's Feb. 26th running of the Daytona 500 . Two episodes will air the week leading into the season-opening race. A preview (trailer) of the series was posted to the Nationwide 88 Facebook page Thursday just before 6 p.m. ET. "Based on everything that happened last year, we wanted to really capitalize on Dale getting back in the car and all the excitement and interest, just the fans' general hunger for as much Dale Jr. content as we could provide," Jim McCoy, director of sports marketing for Nationwide, told NASCAR.com. "Going into the offseason as we did our production shoot for 2017 as we normally do, we wanted to add on a new layer ... a behind-the-scenes unique look around Dale. The offseason processes around production shoots, around designing the car, all the things that go into getting ready for Daytona. And having a real personal view from Dale conveying that." Each segment of the six-part series is short, informative and entertaining. For 2016, Nationwide produced a successful paint scheme unveil for Earnhardt's No. 88 entry. But following his injury officials wanted to go a little deeper this year. Portions of the series include Earnhardt's wife, Amy, car owner Rick Hendrick and crew chief Greg Ives. "Just the people that are really close to everything ... that fans don't normally get," McCoy said. Earnhardt's prior medical condition didn't hinder the process, but sensitivities surrounding the issue were addressed with the Hendrick organization. McCoy said it is "a very small part of this six-episode series ." "This is truly more about getting ready for Daytona; we absolutely touch on the subject of him being out of the car because you have to," he said. "But I would say the majority of it is around what goes into the offseason preparation, why he is even more excited for this year and all that." Among the information provided to fans will be why there may be a different look to this year's No. 88 Nationwide paint scheme. Earnhardt has always been actively involved in determining the appearance of his race cars and coming up with the look for this year's car was no different. "There was a unique little nugget that came out that we'd not heard on him growing up around his grandfather and his dad racing based on the car coming back from the race track," McCoy said. "The lighter cars you could always tell how the race went based on where the tire marks were, the dirt and everything else. On a white car you always had a better sense of that and we've really transitioned to a lighter paint scheme this year with more white mixed into it. "He pulls in some of those personal stories that we hadn't heard and I think the fans will get a really big kick out of learning a little bit more about why he likes lighter paint schemes." Earnhardt has 26 career wins in NASCAR's top series , and his final three -- at Talladega, Daytona and Phoenix in 2015 -- came with Nationwide on the car in a primary role. The company, which previously was the title sponsor for what is now the XFINITY Series , has been affiliated with Earnhardt and his family for many years. McCoy said the series sponsorship, which ran from 2008-14, was crucial in helping to prepare Nationwide for its relationship with Earnhardt. "We learned a lot and we would not have been ready and in position to be able to take over as majority primary (sponsor) of the No. 1 driver in the sport, for the fans' demands and what they would want out of a sponsor," he said. "I think the Nationwide Series allowed us to really learn and do a lot of great things. "But we've taken the program to new levels and heights in partnership with Dale. He's our best customer and we can authentically connect with him and our products and services because it's real. It's been real since he was 16 years old. As we're trying to expand the message of who Nationwide is and what we do, the many sides of our company." &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;
Bruce: Family theme flows through 2017 Hall of Fame inductions
RELATED: Class of 2017 enters Hall of Fame CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The name on the card for Friday night's NASCAR Hall of Fame induction ceremony read "Forever Legends." But after watching and listening to the Hall's eighth class as each was welcomed into the Hall, perhaps "Forever Family" would have been more fitting. "How great is that, to have your wife and your two grandsons to induct you into the NASCAR Hall of Fame?" asked Richard Childress, who rose to prominence as the owner of Richard Childress Racing , his teams winning 12 championships across NASCAR's three national series . Childress, fellow car owners Rick Hendrick and Raymond Parks, and drivers Mark Martin and Benny Parsons made up this year's Hall of Fame class. And much like Childress, others paid tribute to family and the family atmosphere that has permeated NASCAR practically since it's 1948 incorporation. NASCAR drivers Austin and Ty Dillon introduced their grandfather on the special night. Although Childress is 71, Ty Dillon noted that he doesn't believe his grandfather "will ever stop pursuing his passion." "He will continue to live his life, fighting to keep this ground which we stand on tonight the best in the world," Dillon said. "He will always keep going to the track because that is what he loves to do, but most of all, he loves his family." Family was also what drove Mark Martin to never give up on his dream, returning to the sport to rebuild a career that was halted almost before it began. With a wife by his side and four young children, Martin feverishly worked his way back into NASCAR to earn a second chance. More than three decades later, after 96 wins in NASCAR's three top series and five runner-up finishes in what is now the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series points battle, Martin stood on stage and officially joined the list of racing legends. "Tonight," he said, "for me is about recognizing the VIPs that made this happen. But the MVP is Arlene Martin. "We met Christmas 1983, and Arlene, from that day, that day and every day since then, you have made me better. It's incredible what we've seen and what we've done to get here." RELATED: Martin recalls second chance, relishes induction Emotions were kept in check, somewhat. Voices did crack on occasion. No surprise there. This was, after all, a big, big deal. "We are like a big family, even though it's a lot of us, we care about each other, and I don't care if people think that's corny," Hendrick, who was a racer himself long before he built a successful auto dealership empire, said. "That's the way I was raised. It's worked for me, and it's worked in our companies, both of them." When Hendrick arrived at the Hall prior to the ceremony, one of the first people he saw was executive director Winston Kelley. Kelley, Hendrick said, told him that there was one thing he could tell the car owner and auto dealer about both his companies, that it was clear that his employees loved their boss. "And I said, 'You know what? Your telling me that means as much to me as getting into the Hall of Fame,'" Hendrick replied. It was every bit as much validation for what he had strived to become as the Hall of Fame ring he would receive just a few hours later. "I feel like 'job well done,'" Hendrick said, "because you look after your people and they look after you." Martin was still riding the adrenalin of the moment when he sat down with the media afterward. "I feel like I've had a cup of coffee or I've been playing some Gucci Mane," he said, grinning. Retired from racing since 2013, he now spends his days focused on more mundane matters. "How shiny can I get my motor home," he said. "I've got to get that trash and take it out. That lightbulb is burned out, damnit. ... "You know I just do all the things that I used to pay people to do. I still go like hell every day. That's the same ol' me." It had been an emotionally draining week for others. Those still entwined in the never-ending cycle of competition, where forward focus is key and there's no time for looking back. "It really was," Hendrick, a leukemia survivor, said. "... This has been the toughest week, besides losing a family member. "We're all emotions up and down, and we had a little champagne toast before I went in there, and the two doctors, the doctor that invented the medicine that saved my life was in there, and I lost it. I mean, Jeff Gordon said, 'I've never seen you that emotional in there since I've known you.'" NASCAR is one big extended family. Full of the quarrels that divide them and the emotional ties that draw them back together. "I meant what I said tonight about all the people in the sport," Hendrick said. "There are some great folks. Hendrick and Childress had spoken earlier in the day. Joe Gibbs phoned, unable to attend Friday's function but happy for his fellow team owner. So did Roger Penske. Just three short months earlier, Penske, Gibbs and Hendrick met with the media in Homestead, Florida, each having drivers competing for the championship. "We're racing each other and we're paying each other compliments," Hendrick said. "You wouldn't see that in the NFL. We want to beat each other just as bad as anybody, but it's really strange. It's a different deal. "I don't know what it is, but it's pretty special." Forever Legends? Sure. But forever family? There's no doubt. &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;
Gene Nead named crew chief for DiBenedetto, No. 32 team
MOORESVILLE, N.C. - Go Fas Racing is pleased to announce that Gene Nead will assume crew chief duties for the No. 32 Ford Fusion in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series for the 2017 season. "I'm excited to be joining the Go Fas Racing team," Nead said. "I've enjoyed working with Matt the last couple of seasons and I'm really looking forward to working with the rest of the guys on our No. 32 Ford team." Nead, a veteran crew chief, brings to GFR more than 20 years of crew chief experience in NASCAR's top-three series' and has accumulated 9 wins, 66 top-five finishes, and 11 poles. Last year, he served as crew chief of the No. 83 at BK Racing , where he worked with Matt DiBenedetto , and together they earned their best ever finish of sixth place at Bristol Motor Speedway . "I am so fortunate to have Gene with me at Go Fas Racing . He has made me into a better all-around driver and his experience has taught me so much in the past year and a half. I can honestly say that I wouldn't be the driver I am without him," said driver Matt DiBenedetto for GFR. " We have a great relationship and we are both extremely competitive. Gene is going to make a big difference in our program at Go Fas Racing and we all appreciate him coming on board." </p>
Bowyer gears up for 'best opportunity' with Stewart-Haas
RELATED: First look at paint schemes of 2017 CONCORD, N.C. -- There's been plenty for Clint Bowyer to adjust to in the brief time that he's officially been a member of Stewart-Haas Racing 's driver roster. He's had to acclimate himself to the way that his new team operates. He's also had to become more familiar with the personnel on the No. 14 Ford that Bowyer will drive in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series in 2017. A helpful hand from his new crew chief, Mike Bugarewicz, has helped Bowyer adjust to both of those new concepts. When Bowyer half-jokingly asked Bugarewicz if he had a team roster to keep him from addressing his crewmembers with, "Hey, buddy," or similar salutations, the second-year crew chief unexpectedly delivered. "He's such a dedicated person and so prepared, he literally went and took pictures of all the guys and e-mailed me the names of them," Bowyer said Wednesday during a preseason media event at the sprawling Ford Performance Technical Center. "I'm like, 'Man, you didn't have to do that. I could've come down.' " At which point Tony Stewart , his team owner and predecessor in the No. 14, interjected: "He says he didn't need that. He needed that, trust me." Laughing aside, Bowyer continued to underscore his point. "That's the level of dedication that you have at Stewart-Haas," Bowyer said. "And it doesn't just end with Mike, it's all across the board. If you ask for something … you've got to be careful asking for something because it's just done." RELATED: Harvick bullish on changes " Transition to Ford among top story lines The next adjustment that Bowyer may have to make is getting accustomed to relevance, something in short supply even before he was announced Sept. 30, 2015 as the successor to three-time series champion Stewart for the organization's flagship team. Bowyer drove in relative obscurity for Michael Waltrip Racing in its waning days, then languished through a throwaway season in 2016 with the former HScott Motorsports operation as he waited his turn to join SHR. "If he could've clicked his heels three times and made it 2017, he'd have done it in a heartbeat," Stewart said. "But we were all just reminding him: 'Be patient. You've got a lot to look forward to.' And we were hoping that his season would turn around at some point, too, but it didn't work out that way and it wasn't for a lack of effort on their side. "I think the nice thing, though, is -- as odd as this sounds -- I've seen him a lot calmer than I saw him all last year. I don't know that he's ever calm, but you can tell he's excited about what's coming up. He's genuinely excited about getting in the 14 car and that makes us happy, too." RELATED: Stewart at ease in new role at SHR Bowyer's authentic anticipation is attached to what he calls "the best opportunity I've ever had." Not only does the 37-year-old driver now have an avenue to potentially return to Victory Lane for the first time in more than four seasons, he also has the chance to place his name back among the sport's top tier. Bowyer has always been known as one of the most animated and energetic figures in the NASCAR garage. But performance -- or a lack of it, in the case of Bowyer's most recent body of work -- has a way of shuffling even the most engaging figures to the shadows. Bowyer's return to a high-profile ride likely changes both the prevailing perceptions and his exposure level, but the results will need to follow suit. "Here's what I hope -- I sure hope you're watching me," Bowyer said. "At the end of the day, relevancy in this sport is everything and I've lost that a little bit. Not a little bit, a lot. And I felt it and didn't like it. It's up to me to go out and become relevant again, have you watch me and talking about me. "It makes everything better. This is a business. This is racing, but once you race at this level, it becomes a business and it trickles down to everything in your life. We're race car drivers but we do this for a business. From my dirt program, everything, my (car) dealership, it just really trickles down. Every business thing that's happened really feeds off of your success on that race track. I had a bad year and I want to become relevant again. You don't work as hard and you have a hell of a lot more fun." RELATED: Key moments in SHR history Before he embarks on that goal, Bowyer has had fun getting better acquainted with his new surroundings, no doubt aided by Bugarewicz's handy chart. But the jollity has also extended to enjoying the luxuries of championship-level equipment for a change. Bowyer marveled at the comfort and quality of his new carbon-fiber seat, remarking "I feel rich" with regards to the perfectly tailored fit. And in a further illustration of Stewart-Haas' attention to precise details, Bowyer was asked last weekend about his preference for a gearshift handle. When the newest SHR driver reacted with indifference in saying that any handle would do, he was presented with eight possible choices. "I think we have dialed in the right gearshift handle for myself and my success this year," Bowyer said with a wry smile. "If not, we have plenty of extras to go around." &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;gt;