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2013 NASCAR Hall Of Fame Inductee: Buck Baker
Buck Baker had 46 wins in a career that spanned 26 years. He was the first NASCAR driver to claim back-to-back championships (1956 and 1957) and had 45 poles, 246 top fives and 372 top 10s.
NASCAR Hall of Fame: Buddy Baker
NASCAR Hall of Fame nominee Buddy Baker has won19 races including the Daytona 500 and Southern 500.
In his own words: John Oates on racing, NASCAR
Editor's note: John Oates, part of legendary musical duo Hall & Oates, grew up racing and watching NASCAR. He still follows closely to this day. Below is his first-person account of his life behind the wheel, and his fandom. Follow John on Facebook here. I became a racing fan in general as a young kid. Growing up in Pennsylvania, I didn't know much about it, but at the same time one of my best friend's father ran the hot dog concession at Hatfield Speedway, which was a quarter-mile dirt track. I saw Mario Andretti and Aldo Andretti when they were racing jalopies, basically, and midgets and sprint cars, so I used to go on Friday and Saturday nights under the lights for the dirt track racing. As I got older and finally had some money to spend on it, I got myself a go-kart and joined the go-kart club in West Hampton, Long Island, did some national races, moved in to Formula Fords, SCCA racing and eventually some professional racing. Raced at Daytona in IMSA, the endurance series, back in the 80s. I was on the track with some of the great legendary drivers. The fact that I got to race at Daytona was an incredible experience. One of the highlights of my life, I was the grand marshal at Talladega when Bill Elliot qualified at over 210 miles per hour. It was the fastest NASCAR qualifying in history. And I'll never forget this as long as I live. They came down on the starting lap and the wave of air that they were pushing, that field of cars at that speed was pushing, hit me about 200 yards before the cars even got close. They were pushing this incredible dirty hot air and it hit me and I never expected it. But I had a death grip on that green flag, so of course I waved the flag and the race went on. Over the years I've taken my son and many friends to several NASCAR races. I actually went to the Buck Baker stock car school at Atlanta. I had come from sports car racing and in the class there was a bunch of guys with oval track experience, and I didn't have that. So I got in the car, and I was really slow. So finally after a couple sessions I asked Buck if I could get a ride along with Randy ( Baker ). He took me around for a couple laps, and it was really instructional. And then I went out and I did real well. Later, Buck took me out for lunch at a barbecue joint and he told me that he could make a real race car driver out of me. And I thought that was a pretty cool compliment. John Oates, right, attended a driving school put on by Buck Baker and received quite the compliment. (Photo courtesy of John Oates) Over the years as NASCAR's become more popular and modernized, the racing now is so competitive. I follow all kinds of racing, there's not a racing series on the planet that's more competitive than NASCAR. When you look at the field and how a few tenths of a second separate 20 cars, it's incredible. I have a great appreciation for it because I've been behind the wheel, I've competed and I understand what it means. The drivers are good, they all have talent and have great equipment, so it really comes down to a mental game late in the season. I love the idea that the pressure ratchets up on every race. With the Chase format, it's a unique situation because the pressure continues to build -- handling pressure, that's what racing is all about.
Buddy Baker says Father was lifelong hero
Buddy Baker recalls his father's career saying Buck was his lifelong hero.
What if Darlington race included throwback drivers?
RELATED: Darlington throwback paint schemes Darlington's throwback theme for Sunday's Bojangles' Southern 500 already is a hit with racers and fans alike, bringing out the creativity in the industry with special paint schemes and providing opportunities to honor great racers who have gone before. But what if along with those throwback paint schemes, like Dale Earnhardt Jr .'s Valvoline No. 88 nod to Cale Yarborough and Clint Bowyer 's No. 15 salute to recently passed Buddy Baker , we could actually bring back the NASCAR legends themselves for this one race. Who would you pick? Hall of Fame crew chief Dale Inman could fill the whole 43-car field with legendary race car drivers. He won seven premier series championships with Richard Petty and an eighth with Terry Labonte , competing against some of the most storied personalities in the sport. "Damn, I've seen 'em all. I don't know …" Inman said of trying to choose just one driver to place in a throwback ride. "Earnhardt Sr. was good there you know." Bowyer, too, wished Earnhardt Sr. could join the field at the 2015 Southern 500. "Obviously for me it would be Earnhardt for me because we lost him, you know. That's first and foremost. Anyone you ever lost is who you'd want to bring back." But Bowyer said bringing back the man with the most wins (47) and most poles (47) at Darlington, David Pearson, would be the ultimate measuring stick for today's Sprint Cup drivers. "Pearson … man, what a character and just a genuine badass and an aggressive and successful racer. Anytime you have someone who's successful in the sport you make a living in, you want to be able to see what he had, what he's made of and see how you stack up." Eddie Wood, co-owner of Wood Brothers Racing , fondly remembers those days with Pearson driving the No. 21 Purolator Mercury. Pearson drove for the Woods Brothers from 1972-79 and won seven times at "The Lady in Black" during that span with two runner-up finishes. "That was his place," Wood said of Pearson's dominance at the South Carolina track. "The hotter the better for David. He liked it HOT, so we'd have to run in the daytime for him." RELATED: Drivers, officials, fans pumped for throwback weekend Inman attributed some of Pearson's success at the track also called "Too Tough To Tame" to his ability to take care of his equipment. This was extra difficult, as Inman recalled, because the track promoter sometimes would put bear's grease on the track between Saturday's practice and Monday's race. Blue laws prevented NASCAR from running on Sundays in South Carolina then. "Pearson just had a knack for taking care of the car. He always had a good car too," Inman said. "At least most of the time. For Darlington we put bars under the fenders. You knew you were gonna hit the wall, so we just put bars in and just bolted them to the right side. But the guard rail wasn't smooth like it is now. And they'll wear the sides out this time with the low downforce package." Aside from the drivers who racked up at the track, including Richard Petty and Buck Baker , Inman said Parnelli Jones' performance at Darlington had lasting impact on the racing there. "Parnelli Jones came out here in maybe 1956 or 57 was the first one to really use the high bank to what it is now. I remember him just sliding up to the fence. He didn't finish, of course." Jones crashed at Darlington in both 1956 and 1957. He finished 50th in a field of 70 cars in 1956 in the No. 1 Torrance Motors Ford and 34th in the No. 11 Ford owned by Oscar Maples in 1957. In 1958, Jones did finish the Southern 500 running, coming in 18th in a field of 48 cars during his last race there. The list of great performances at Darlington is nothing short of epic. Just the list of winners sends any racing fan on a long ride down memory lane: Curtis Turner, Fireball Roberts, Fred Lorenzen, Bobby Allison, Fonty Flock, Neil Bonnett, Benny Parsons, Harry Gant. How would they stack up against Jeff Gordon , the active driver with the most wins at Darlington (seven)? "Herb Thomas and Buck Baker were both really good," Inman added to the list. "But Herb had it as good as anyone in those old Hudson Hornets that Marshall Teague built, and I think he won in a Chevrolet, too." Now that would be an entirely different kind of throwback idea. Run at Darlington again in restored Chevrolets, Fords, Hornets, Plymouths, Pontiacs and Dodges.
Harvick overcomes penalties for 10th 2015 runner-up finish
RELATED: Full results from Bristol " Updated standings BRISTOL, Tenn. -- Kevin Harvick became the first driver since 1972 to post double-digit runner-up finishes during the course of a season Saturday night, trailing race winner Joey Logano across the finish line in the Irwin Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway. The defending NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion had to overcome two pit road penalties to put himself in contention for the win, but was unable to reel in the Team Penske driver in the closing laps of the 500-lap event. The Stewart-Haas Racing driver took the disappointment of another near-win in stride. He's had worse finishes that weren't "near as cool as finishing second," he said. "I'm not frustrated at all because I've been on the other side of this fence, and you'd give everything in the world to finish second every week because it's not easy. This is a hard sport, and to go to all these different types of race tracks and see the success that the team has, I couldn't be prouder … because I know that at any moment you can rattle off two or three wins in a row at any type of race track, so it's fun." No driver had posted 10 or more runner-up finishes in a single season since Bobby Allison managed the feat in '72. Harvick became just the eighth driver to do so, joining Allison, David Pearson, Richard Petty, Ned Jarrett, Dick Rathmann, Joe Weatherly and Buck Baker . Pearson holds the overall mark, registering 18 second-place results in 1969. Harvick failed to lead a lap at BMS, but not for lack of trying. Starting seventh, the Sprint Cup Series champion had driven up to fourth by Lap 126 when Kyle Larson brought out the second caution of the night. But a violation for crewmen coming over the wall too soon dropped the No. 4 Chevrolet back to 22nd on the ensuing restart. He had raced his way back inside the top 10 by the halfway point of the race, and was in the top five at Lap 350. But another penalty, this one for speeding on pit road, dropped him back outside the top 10. With less than 70 laps remaining, Harvick was third on a final restart, taking second from Logano's teammate, Brad Keselowski , when the race resumed. "He (Logano) was just one step ahead of me in traffic," Harvick said of his attempts to track down Logano. "I couldn't get my car to rotate across the center like I needed it to, and every time I tried to force it, it would snap the back out." Logano called it "a very exciting last 20, 30 laps for sure." "I really thought we were going to be able to pull away because I thought we were really good in the long run, and then we didn't pull away," Logano said. "And I was like, ‘uh-oh.'" After the race, Rodney Childers, crew chief for Harvick, said he still didn't understand how his driver could get hit with a speeding penalty when driver Denny Hamlin wasn't cited for excessive speed. "He (Hamlin) was pushing us around the corner," Childers said. "(Kevin) said his speed went up like 300 RPM when he was pushing him. He was like, ‘Oh God, this is going to be close.' And we were speeding." Otherwise, Childers said, it was another good night for the defending champions. "The team overcame a lot of adversity this weekend, which is a plus getting ready for the Chase," he said. "We had a clutch problem this morning and had to change the master cylinder, the clutch … all kinds of stuff. Then to go through what we went through in the race and fight back. "The biggest thing is just Kevin drove his butt off to get back up there and everybody did a good job overcoming it." Runner-up finishes in a season Number Driver Year 18 David Pearson 1969 15 Bobby Allison 1970 14 Richard Petty 1964 13 Ned Jarrett 1965 12 Bobby Allison 1972 12 David Pearson 1968 12 Joe Weatherly 1962 12 Dick Rathmann 1953 10 Kevin Harvick 2015 10 Buck Baker 1958
Family savors Scott's Hall of Fame induction
Trailblazer becomes first African-American inducted into NASCAR Hall Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live RELATED: See the NASCAR Hall of Fame class by class CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Wendell Scott often broadcast his do-it-yourself work ethic on his cars, which frequently sported hand-painted letters to read: "Mechanic: Me!" Though Scott's automotive know-how was largely self-made, he usually had an audience of his seven children watching, begging to help the family cause within their Danville, Virginia shop. Scott would often shoo his kids out, telling them to go play elsewhere. But for young Deborah Scott, she yearned to be in her father's racing shop just a little while longer. "I loved it when he would be on the creeper under the car working and he needed a tool," she recalled. "… It grew on me. I started liking to get dirty." Now married as Deborah Scott Davis, 64, she was part of a vocal contingent of friends and family with Danville ties witnessing her father's induction Friday evening as part of the 2015 class of the NASCAR Hall of Fame. On a night filled with stories pulled from NASCAR lore, Davis' remembrances from her youth stood out. As she joined her siblings to receive a proclamation from the town's mayor late Friday night, her brother Frank remarked that Davis deserved credit as likely the best mechanic of the bunch. His comment came without exaggeration -- Davis transferred a lifetime of automotive knowledge handed down from her father into a long career building cars for Ford Motor Company, first at an assembly plant in the Atlanta area and now near her Louisville, Kentucky home. Davis still has fond memories of those days growing up, watching her father do more with less. And like her father, who died in 1990, she shouldered many responsibilities for the family-run race team, helping as a mechanic's assistant, the team's scorekeeper and -- when she was old enough to get her driver's license -- a parts runner. Davis said some of the most gratifying help she offered the family racing effort was as the official scorekeeper, back in the old-school days before electronic timing and scoring was even a dream. Back then, one person with a score sheet was assigned to each car. Each score sheet had a number of small boxes for each lap, and the scorekeeper dutifully marked the time from the scorer's clock in each numbered box whenever their car came past. By Davis' estimation, she only missed one lap in her time as scorekeeper, which ended only when she left for college. That lap was early in the 1964 World 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway , when a multi-car crash triggered a massive fire that eventually claimed the life of Fireball Roberts, a fellow member of the NASCAR Hall of Fame. Scoring Roberts' car that day was his daughter, Pamela, who Davis -- also a teenager at the time -- counted among her best friends. "We sat there and were watching our fathers, and her dad didn't come around," Davis recalled, "and we saw this black, rolling smoke behind us and when we turned back to look on the backstretch, I missed my dad going by. Her dad couldn't come by." Because events on the larger speedways of the era used backup scorers, Scott's missed lap was restored and he remained credited with a ninth-place finish. "I didn't cost him any positions or any money," Davis said, "but that was one of the incidents where I promised never, no matter what happened, I would keep my attention." MORE: Best photos from the NASCAR Hall of Fame induction " Scott among five inductees Davis said the children wouldn't travel to every race, mostly to those close enough to the family's home and on dates that wouldn't interfere with their school work. That's why, she said, none of them were present when Scott posted his only victory in NASCAR's top division on a school night -- Sunday, Dec. 1, 1963 at Speedway Park in Jacksonville, Florida. "Of course, we all wish we had been," Davis said. "Of all the races, we weren't there." When Scott came home as a winner, he received a warm welcome. But the politics of the time wouldn't allow an African-American driver a celebration with the checkered flag or the trophy queen, tempering the family's excitement. Scott was eventually credited with completing 202 laps in the scheduled 200-lap race, but that achievement wasn't recognized on that Sunday night in Jacksonville. "Mixed emotions because here it was, he had won, but not in the right honorable way that he should've been able to celebrate because as you know, he knew he was winning the race," Davis said. "He knew when he took the lead and how many more laps there were to go and as history tells it now, correctly, yes, he did go two laps extra to win the race and still not receive the honor at that time." Race officials initially credited runner-up Buck Baker with the victory, claiming that a scoring error had taken place. If Davis had been there, she said, there would have been no dispute. "They couldn't have gotten around me," she said. "I really don't believe they could have gotten around me." Davis' expertise with a wrench extended beyond helping on the race car. Frank Scott recalled a trip to Michigan International Speedway in the 1960s, traveling with his father, his sister and brother Wendell Jr. -- four of them on the single bench seat -- when the truck hauling the race car broke down. Wendell Sr. and Jr. hitchhiked to the nearest township to get parts, leaving Frank and his sister to prepare the engine for the repairs. "Daddy said to have the motor torn down by the time he got back," Frank Scott said. "Deborah got up under the hood, and I was breaking the bolts to loosen them and she would take them out. She was like a little grease monkey, and that kind of led her into her adult life when she joined the automotive division working for Ford in Atlanta. Even right then, she started cutting her teeth. She had a mechanical instinct and didn't mind getting grease up under her nails." Friday night in Charlotte, the Scott family had the largest delegation of supporters of any of the five inductees, with Frank Scott estimating the number to be "in excess of 100" and from all over the country. For Deborah Scott Davis, the wait to hear her father's name called was a long time coming, but one made all the more satisfying because her mother, Mary, who could not attend the induction because of her health, was able to hear it as well. "Deservingly so," Davis said. "I think the time aspect, I think our friends and some of the fans didn't understand why he wouldn't be in the first class, the second class -- I'm OK with the timing of it. Just in the nick of time, I feel like, while our mom is still here. Couldn't have happened in a better year. "When the announcement was made, it just automatically lifted me out of the chair. Yes, finally -- whew! Years before, you can't be but so sad. At least he's nominated, at least he's getting closer and closer, and then it happened. It means so, so much."
A Hall of Fame night
Herb Thomas, Leonard Wood, Rusty Wallace, Cotton Owens and Buck Baker are selected for the 2013 NASCAR Hall of Fame.
Nominees for 2015 NASCAR Hall of Fame announced
Baker , Elliott, Labonte, Stefanik, Yates added to ballot
Buck : ‘We treat everybody the same’
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Managing Director Richard Buck explains what happened during the inspection process before NSCS qualifying at Atlanta Motor Speedway.