A newbie's five picks to click for the Great American Race
The Truck Series runs its final stand alone race of the season Entry # Driver Owner Crew chief Manufacturer Sponsor 1 0 Caleb Roark Kenneth Grimes Michael Stewart 14 Chevrolet Grimes Irrigation & Construction 2 02 Tyler Young Randy Young Bryan Berry 14 Chevrolet Randco/Young's Building Systems 3 05 John Wes Townley Tony Townley Mike Beam 14 Toyota Zaxby's 4 6 Norm Benning Norm Benning Kevin Dargie 14 Chevrolet TBA 5 7 Brian Ickler Tom Deloach Chris Carrier 14 Toyota TBD 6 07 B J McLeod Ken Smith Doug Weddle 14 Chevrolet TBA 7 08 Jimmy Weller Bobby Dotter Jason Miller 14 Chevrolet TBA 8 8 Joe Nemechek Sidney Mauldin Jerry Babb 14 Toyota Smoke-N-Sear/SWM 9 9 Ron Hornaday Jr Joe Denette Ryan McKinney 14 Chevrolet RHEEM 10 10 Jennifer Jo Cobb Jennifer Jo Cobb Steve Kuykendall 14 Chevrolet Driven2Honor.org 11 13 Jeb Burton Duke Thorson Jeriod Prince 14 Toyota Estes-Carolina Nut Company 12 115 Mason Mingus Billy Boat Dan Deeringhoff 14 RAM 811 Call Before You Dig/Diamond Equipment 13 17 Timothy Peters Tom Deloach Marcus Richmond II 14 Toyota Red Horse Racing 14 19 Tyler Reddick Brad Keselowski Doug Randolph 14 Ford Reese 15 20 Jason White(i) Bob Newberry Chris Rice 14 Chevrolet Gun Broker 16 21 Joey Coulter Maurice Gallagher Jr Jeff Stankiewicz 14 Chevrolet Allegiant Travel 17 23 Spencer Gallagher Maurice Gallagher Jr Ryan London 14 Chevrolet Allegiant Travel 18 29 Ryan Blaney Brad Keselowski Chad Kendrick 14 Ford Cooper Standard 19 31 Ben Kennedy Steve Turner Doug George 14 Chevrolet Heater.com 20 32 Tayler Malsam Harry Scott Jr Mike Hillman Jr 14 Chevrolet Outerwall 21 35 TBA Kevin Cywinski Dennis Connor 14 Toyota TBA 22 136 Scott Stenzel Beverly Mittler Michael Mittler 14 Chevrolet Mitler Bros Machine & Tool/Ski Soda 23 50 T J Bell Mark Beaver Tim Sliva 14 Chevrolet Dedicated to Electrical Linemen 24 51 Erik Jones Kyle Busch Eric Phillips 14 Toyota ToyotaCare/Project Pink 25 54 Darrell Wallace Jr Kyle Busch Jerry Baxter 14 Toyota ToyotaCare 26 63 Justin Jennings Michael Mittler Michael Mittler 14 Chevrolet Mittler Bros/LG Seeds/Ski Soda 27 77 German Quiroga Tom Deloach Butch Hylton 14 Toyota OtterBox 28 88 Matt Crafton Rhonda Thorson Carl Joiner 14 Toyota JeldWen/Menards 29 98 Johnny Sauter Mike Curb Jeff Hensley 14 Toyota Nextant/Curb Records 30 99 Bryan Silas Chris Baluch Cal Boprey 14 Chevrolet TBA MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView
Jimmie Johnson makes contact with Jeb Burton sending Burton spinning, David Ragan and Kevin Harvick get caught in the aftermath.
Check out some of the funniest moments in the media center from the first six races of the 2015 season.
At first race, Penn State student got great view of NASCAR action Students are encouraged to work as active media members at the race track and ultimately tell the story of their unique experience at a NASCAR event. Following each immersion, one student will have the chance to see their work published on NASCAR.com. Melissa Conrad, a senior at Pennsylvania State University, attended the race weekend in Avondale, Arizona, and filed this story. I grew up watching and playing all sports, from field hockey to tennis to cross country and everything in between. I traveled up and down the East Coast watching my brother play summer league baseball and competing in AAU basketball tournaments myself. I watched NFL games every Sunday with my dad. I pined over Olympic figure skating and gymnastics with my mom, the one non-sports-oriented person in my family. I chose to attend Penn State University for the well-respected education I would receive from the College of Communications and the athletic involvement opportunities that would present themselves at such a high-profile institution. Now, as a senior having completed a multitude of internships in the industry, I thought I had accomplished a diverse, well-rounded background in sports knowledge. That is, until Nov. 7 when I arrived at Phoenix International Raceway to experience NASCAR. Before arriving in Phoenix to participate in an exclusive student immersion program for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and NASCAR Nationwide Series races, NASCAR was defined as such: The sport of which I have almost no knowledge or opinion. My definition today? The best-kept sports secret of my generation. Per my own observation, it seems that the buzz for NASCAR exists mostly within an older-than-college crowd. However, my experience in Phoenix is proof to why the buzz needs to spread (and will). As soon as we landed at the airport, we were immediately whisked away to the track. Tom Bryant, director of communicators for Touring and Weekly racing, met us at the track entrance to get us set up with credentials that would allow us access to people and areas that thousands of others would beg for during the weekend. I can genuinely say that the scene we walked into was unlike any other sports scene I’ve been a part of, from Penn State’s Beaver Stadium filled to capacity to Gaelic football playoffs in Ireland. It was an organized chaos of pit crews handling hundreds of tools and parts, passionate fans looking on and waiting for autographs, media members fighting for interviews and cars zooming by in tight lanes to enter the raceway for practice or qualifying rounds. Friday consisted of meeting the on-site NASCAR Competition Communications team from top to bottom, who welcomed us as if we were one of their own. The group was not only quick to offer any and all background information on the sport, but was also just as interested to hear our stories -- where we were from, what our majors were, what brought us here and so on. We looked on in amazement as the final practice round for the NASCAR Nationwide Series took place, followed by NASCAR Camping World Truck Series qualifying. I never realized that NASCAR isn't just the race itself; it’s the compilation of qualifying and practice rounds that are just as crucial. The sun went down and it was time for NASCAR under the lights at Phoenix International Raceway . There was one problem though: a power outage in the region. Half of the race track was completely darkened beside the Arizona desert mountains, and the main attraction of the day (not to mention, my first ever NASCAR race) was delayed by an hour. When the lights turned on and the race did get going, a crash occurred before some of the trucks even reached the start/finish line, thus rendering 18 ensuing caution laps. Everyone in the press box made a point to stop by the Penn State students' chairs and whisper: "Don't worry, it's not usually like this." However, what they didn't realize is that you never forget your first experience with a particular sport. Power outages and cautions laps or not, NASCAR was beginning to make sense to me. Saturday was another full day of practice rounds, qualifying, media interviews, press conferences and most notably a 100 mph, adrenaline-spiking pace car trip around the track. The NASCAR Nationwide Series race was set for 2 p.m. that afternoon. We had the amazing opportunity to sit atop Kyle Larson 's pit box, an experience I'm sure would be envied by many NASCAR loyalists. I almost felt guilty taking such an incredible viewing spot for the race, having had no previous knowledge of a sport in which millions live and breathe. Watching the @NASCAR_NNS race at @PhoenixRaceway from @KyleLarsonRacin 's pit box. pic.twitter.com/AvFJIGbSr3 — Melissa Conrad (@melissaconradPR) November 8, 2014 What an experience it was to see the race from that vantage point. Listening to the radio, watching Larson's team go to work in less than eight seconds each pit stop and being that close to the track was a sports moment I will never forget. I learned in those three hours that you do not need to fully understand a sport to truly grasp its intensity. The beauty of sports is just that. If you have a passion for competition, it doesn't matter whether it's a ball bouncing on a court, a puck skimming across the ice, a glove making a catch, or a high-speed car revving its engine. All sports matter. I arrived at the Phoenix International Raceway as a NASCAR doubter and left as a believer. Text goes here MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView
See who will be in the 22nd and final NCWTS race of the 2014 season Entry # Driver Owner Crew chief Manufacturer Sponsor 1 0 Caleb Roark Kenneth Grimes Michael Stewart 14 Chevrolet Grimes Irrigation & Construction 2 02 Tyler Young Randy Young Bryan Berry 14 Chevrolet Randco/Young's Building Systems 3 05 John Wes Townley Tony Townley Michael Shelton 14 Toyota Zaxby's 4 6 Norm Benning Norm Benning Kevin Dargie 14 Chevrolet TBA 5 07 Todd Peck Ken Smith Doug Weddle 14 Chevrolet TBA 6 8 Joe Nemechek Sidney Mauldin Jerry Babb 14 Toyota swmtx.com 7 08 Ray Black Jr Bobby Dotter Jason Miller 14 Chevrolet ScubaLife / NASE WorldWide 8 9 Brennan Newberry Joe Denette Ryan McKinney 14 Chevrolet Qore-24 9 10 Jennifer Jo Cobb Jennifer Jo Cobb Steve Kuykendall 14 Chevrolet Oohrah! Hydration Drink 10 13 Jeb Burton Duke Thorson Jeriod Prince 14 Toyota Estes-Carolina Nut Company 11 115 Mason Mingus Billy Boat Ben Leslie 14 Chevrolet Call 811 Before You Dig 12 17 Timothy Peters Tom Deloach Marcus Richmond II 14 Toyota Red Horse Racing 13 19 Tyler Reddick Brad Keselowski Doug Randolph 14 Ford DrawTite 14 20 TBA Bob Newberry Chris Rice 14 Chevrolet Qore-24 15 21 Joey Coulter Maurice Gallagher Jr Jeff Stankiewicz 14 Chevrolet Allegiant Travel 16 23 Spencer Gallagher Maurice Gallagher Jr Harold Holly 14 Chevrolet Allegiant Travel 17 29 Ryan Blaney Brad Keselowski Chad Kendrick 14 Ford Cooper Standard 18 31 Ben Kennedy Steve Turner Doug George 14 Chevrolet Heater.com 19 32 Tayler Malsam Harry Scott Jr Shannon Rursch 14 Chevrolet Outerwall 20 35 Ross Chastain Kevin Cywinski Mark Rette 14 Toyota TBA 21 136 Blake Koch(i) Beverly Mittler Michael Mittler 14 RAM Mittler Bros Machine & Tool/LG Seeds/Ski Soda 22 40 Todd Peck Michael Peck Keith Wolfe 14 Chevrolet Horizon Pharma/Arthritis Foundation 23 242 Kyle Larson(i) Steve Turner Mike Hillman Jr 14 Chevrolet ParkerStore 24 245 Matt Tifft B J McLeod Trip Bruce III 14 Chevrolet TBA 25 50 T J Bell Mark Beaver Tim Sliva 14 Chevrolet Dedicated to the Electrical Lineman 26 51 Kyle Busch(i) Kyle Busch Eric Phillips 14 Toyota ToyotaCare 27 54 Darrell Wallace Jr Kyle Busch Jerry Baxter 14 Toyota ToyotaCare 28 159 Kyle Martel William Martel William Martel 13 Chevrolet TBA 29 63 Justin Jennings Michael Mittler Michael Mittler 14 Chevrolet Mittler Bros Machine & Tool/LG Seeds/Ski Soda 30 77 German Quiroga Tom Deloach Butch Hylton 14 Toyota OtterBox 31 88 Matt Crafton Rhonda Thorson Carl Joiner 14 Toyota Jeld-Wen/Menards 32 92 Austin Hill Ricky Benton Michael Hester 14 Ford Goodyear Fleet HQ / Wynns / ARCO / A&D Welders 33 98 Johnny Sauter Mike Curb Jeff Hensley 14 Toyota Nextant/Curb Records 34 99 Bryan Silas Chris Baluch Cal Boprey 14 Chevrolet TBA MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView
See which drivers will look to compete at Phoenix Entry # Driver Owner Crew chief Manufacturer Sponsor 1 00 Cole Custer Gene Haas Joe Shear 14 Chevrolet Haas Automation 2 0 Caleb Roark Kenneth Grimes Michael Stewart 14 Chevrolet Grimes Irrigation & Construction 3 02 Tyler Young Randy Young Bryan Berry 14 Chevrolet Randco/Young's Building Systems 4 05 John Wes Townley Tony Townley Michael Shelton 14 Toyota Zaxby's 5 6 Norm Benning Norm Benning Kevin Dargie 14 Chevrolet TBA 6 07 Korbin Forrister Ken Smith Doug Weddle 13 Chevrolet TBA 7 08 Jimmy Weller Bobby Dotter Jason Miller 13 Chevrolet TBA 8 8 John Hunter Nemechek Sidney Mauldin Jerry Babb 14 Toyota swmtx.com 9 9 Brennan Newberry Joe Denette Ryan McKinney 14 Chevrolet GunBrokers.com 10 10 Jennifer Jo Cobb Jennifer Jo Cobb Steve Kuykendall 14 Chevrolet Grimes Irrigation & Construction 11 13 Jeb Burton Duke Thorson Jeriod Prince 14 Toyota Estes-Carolina Nut Company 12 14 Austin Dillon(i) Bob Newberry John Monsam 14 Chevrolet RUUD 13 115 Mason Mingus Billy Boat Ben Leslie 14 Chevrolet 811 Call Before You Dig 14 17 Timothy Peters Tom Deloach Marcus Richmond II 14 Toyota Red Horse Racing 15 19 Tyler Reddick Brad Keselowski Doug Randolph 14 Ford Reese 16 20 Gray Gaulding Bob Newberry Chris Rice 14 Chevrolet Gemini Southern / Krispy Kreme 17 21 Joey Coulter Maurice Gallagher Jr Jeff Stankiewicz 14 Chevrolet Allegiant Travel 18 23 Spencer Gallagher Maurice Gallagher Jr Harold Holly 14 Chevrolet Allegiant Travel 19 29 Ryan Blaney Brad Keselowski Chad Kendrick 14 Ford Cooper Standard 20 31 Ben Kennedy Steve Turner Doug George 14 Chevrolet Heater.com 21 32 Ben Rhodes Harry Scott Jr Mike Hillman Jr 14 Chevrolet Alpha Energy Solutions 22 233 Brandon Jones Maurice Gallagher Jr Shane Huffman 14 Chevrolet TBA 23 35 TBA Kevin Cywinski Mark Rette 14 Toyota Eneos 24 136 Tyler Tanner Beverly Mittler Michael Mittler 13 RAM Pape Murphy's Pizza/Mittler Bros Machine & Tool 25 245 Matt Tifft B J McLeod Trip Bruce III 14 Chevrolet TBA 26 50 T J Bell Mark Beaver Tim Sliva 13 Chevrolet TBA 27 51 Erik Jones Kyle Busch Eric Phillips 14 Toyota Dollar General 28 54 Darrell Wallace Jr Kyle Busch Jerry Baxter 14 Toyota ToyotaCare 29 63 Justin Jennings Michael Mittler Michael Mittler 13 Chevrolet Mittler Bros Machine & Tool/LG Seeds/Ski Soda 30 74 Wendell Chavous Mike Harmon Gary Ritter 13 Chevrolet TBA 31 77 German Quiroga Tom Deloach Butch Hylton 14 Toyota NET10 Wireless 32 180 Jody Knowles Tracy Wallace Wayne Hansard 09 Ford Clayton Signs 33 88 Matt Crafton Rhonda Thorson Carl Joiner 14 Toyota Menards/Hormell 34 98 Johnny Sauter Mike Curb Jeff Hensley 14 Toyota Nextant/Curb Records 35 99 Bryan Silas Chris Baluch Cal Boprey 14 Chevrolet TBD MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView
A behind-the-scenes look at Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s media tour Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live Editor's note: Dale Earnhardt Jr. was in New York City last week for a Road to Daytona 500 media tour and let NASCAR.com tag along. NEW YORK -- It's cold at 9:30 a.m. in the Upper West Side of Manhattan. Thirty degrees won't come for four more hours, and the wind whips and swirls between the skyscrapers and billows down the sidewalk at the intersection of 67th and Columbus, where a line of people snakes down the sidewalk. These huddled masses are lined up around the block outside 7 Lincoln Square, awaiting the opening of the doors that will bring both warmth and a seat inside the "LIVE with Kelly and Michael" studio. NASCAR superstar Dale Earnhardt Jr. has already called in to "The Dan Patrick Show" as his first media obligation on Feb. 11, and he has four more stops on the docket as part of the Road to Daytona 500 Media Tour. He's in a black Chevrolet SUV fighting morning traffic, but steadily making progress toward this tiny pocket of the largest city in the United States. And he's running late. Congested morning streets make it hardly Junior's fault, but he bustles into the dressing room at the "LIVE" studio a bit behind schedule, and there's a pair of show producers eager to get him prepped for his spot. Part of their job is to make Earnhardt feel both welcome and comfortable. With Valentine's Day three days away, it's an easy talking point -- and one Junior will hear relentlessly throughout both this trip, and at Media Day in Daytona Beach, Florida, the following day. "Got any big plans for Valentine's Day?" an assistant asks Dale Jr. after a few quick brushes in the makeup room. "We've got a race," Junior says. "Oh, how romantic!" • • • It's a commercial break, and host Michael Strahan signs an old New York Giants jersey that was tossed down from the balcony. He banters playfully with the audience, including one member who makes fun of his arm strength. "Hey, I wasn't a quarterback," he says. "I hit quarterbacks." An image of Earnhardt Jr. suddenly blares on the television screens behind the hosts, and Strahan teases, "You don't know who our next guest is, do you?" "Dale Jr.!" screams the audience, and there's a few shrieks thrown in there as well. The man himself strides on stage, and that's where one first sees the transformation. Quiet and reserved by nature, he is a media chameleon of sorts -- his personality adapts to its surroundings . When the camera comes on, there's Junior smiling, there's Junior giving these well thought-out answers to questions he's answered literally hundreds of times before. He's stopped just once in this building, by a pair of veterans who ask for a quick picture with NASCAR's 12-time Most Popular Driver as he walks to his waiting ride in the building's parking garage after the filming is completed. "Thank you for your service," he says before climbing into the back seat and being whisked away. • • • At the "Rachael Ray Show," an employee named Vida creates a pet name for Earnhardt as she describes how the taping will go. "Hey, pumpkin!" she says when he walks in. "OK, pumpkin?" after her final bit of instruction. "Yes ma'am," he replies. It's how he always replies. Vida appears flustered when Earnhardt is pulled away to do the stage. "I have to get a picture with him," she says on the way out. Vida's not the only one at this stop to feel the Junior Effect. Chad Carter, a producer on the show, is from Concord, North Carolina. It's a town just north of Charlotte (Charlotte Motor Speedway is actually in Concord), and about 20 miles southeast of Mooresville, where Junior grew up. He's talked Earnhardt up all week, so the staff is eager to meet the man. "In my area of North Carolina, it's Jesus, Elvis and Dale Earnhardt Jr.," Carter told the show's associates, and even Ray herself, leading up to this day. Carter left a note for Junior, along with a gift bag full of local beer, gin and bourbon. The wooden table has a stack of North Carolina-specific books, an attempt to make the glamorous green room feel more like Mooresville than Manhattan. A succinctly titled "Duke Sucks" sits on top. Earnhardt thumbs through Carter's 1994 Concord High School yearbook, and a book of photography by Hugh Morton, one of North Carolina's most well-known native sons, while waiting to be called to the stage. The TV blares behind him. Someone brings food -- flank steak and popovers. Junior has already changed clothes so he doesn't appear on different talk shows wearing the same outfit, and he reacts to a new piece of clothing like most everyone. He puts on his new striped suit jacket, fixes it, pulls on it, then checks it out in the mirror before finally asking, "Does this look OK?" Vida will soon get her picture, and Carter is waiting for Earnhardt when he gets back to the green room after his interview with Ray and special guest host Regis Philbin. There isn't much time for pleasantries, but Earnhardt greets Carter as he does everyone else he encounters on this trip -- a look in the eye, a firm handshake and a one-word introduction: "Dale." "Thank you for the gift bag," Earnhardt says. "That was very generous of you." • • • At lunch, Earnhardt perks up at the prospect of food. It's been a busy morning. He offers suggestions to the sushi novice (black dynamite, on account of the tempura shrimp -- the crunchiness hides the fact that there's actual raw fish jammed in there), then expertly wields his chopsticks with his left hand while polishing off a salad, miso soup and two lines of brightly colored sushi. Whether it's eating or walking or making a decision, Earnhardt Jr. is always moving fast, as if his personality mirrors how he hopes to perform on the track. Maybe it does. But there is no wasted movement with this man in the city, no dallying. When lunch is finished, he rises, puts on his jacket and is 25 feet away before anyone else has pushed a chair back from the table. He power-walks on the city sidewalks, reaching his vehicle before anyone else in his group and not waiting for the driver to emerge and open the door for him. Now, at 1 p.m., is the only break Earnhardt has in the day, a 45-minute stretch in which he doesn't have a commitment, and doesn't need to be chugging along in his rented ride to get to his next commitment. He can do anything he wants. And he wants to go to Bleecker Street. Nestled near New York University, Bleecker Street is a trendy nightclub district in Greenwich Village. It also has a Burberry store. That is the purpose of this detour. Junior looks like any man shopping for his significant other when he walks through the doors and is confronted with a dizzying array of pink purses, accessories and clothes. He selects two scarves for his girlfriend Amy Reimann, but the merchandise continually catches his eye as the employees ring him up. He inspects a wallet, whose well-designed interior is stunning when he pops it open. "That's cool as hell," he murmurs. Two scarves quickly becomes two scarves plus a wallet … plus a shawl … plus a new purse to replace the one stolen from Amy on vacation. Not even the loud buzz as he walks out the door -- two of the security devices hadn't been removed -- harshens his mood. • • • That famous selfie in Victory Lane at Daytona International Speedway last year is the first image of Dale Earnhardt Jr. that people on Twitter glimpsed. It was the first tweet from @DaleJr, and it kicked off a year in which Junior delighted his fans and followers with Throwback Thursday photos, race predictions and late-night Q&A sessions. It directly led to this penultimate media tour stop at one of the Twitter offices, where a bunch of hip 20-somethings sequester Junior into a conference room and film his reasoning -- and reaction -- to joining the platform. "It's hard to do," Earnhardt says. "You can't try it for a week and go 'It's not for me.' I needed a moment. … "But it also gives us a way to say we're confident, and fans want to hear that confidence. And when we win, we get to celebrate with all our fans." The Twitter folks exude New York. They are trendy, they wear jeans to work and they are young. Yet the 40-year-old Earnhardt does not look like an outsider. He looks like he could be either Twitter's guest for the day, or one of its executives. That's something else we learn from this trip. Earnhardt somehow is both the laid-back guy from rural North Carolina and a media mogul that can blend into the biggest city in the United States, looking like he belongs on Wall Street. It's a dichotomy that shows up everywhere, from the people he meets to his Southern politeness, even to the way he dresses. Sure, he's wearing blue jeans (Wrangler, no doubt) but his black dress shoes are gleaming as if they've been freshly polished, and he bought a new striped sports coat for this occasion. He gives thoughtful, professional answers on questions that need them. But when he's off camera, and sees a beautiful three-layer cake the Twitter folks surprised him with, he grins. "Hell yeah!" he says. • • • He arrives at the day's last stop at 3:32 p.m. It's the fifth hit of his day, a day that began in North Carolina before the sun came up, has spanned states and necessitates that a somewhat introverted man talk almost nonstop. Junior has not yawned once. In fact, this day of racing talk has him amped for the start of the season. An offseason with virtually no testing had the driver itching to get back in the car alongside his Hendrick Motorsports teammates, one of whom is Jeff Gordon. This is Gordon's last full-time season, and it has Earnhardt thinking about his own future. Junior tackled the topic of retirement multiple times last year, and admits it's almost an obsessive thing to mull when one of the greats hangs it up. "I often think about retirement, and what it is that makes people retire," Earnhardt Jr. says. "I wonder about myself. 'What is going to take me out of the car? Is it gonna be family? Is it gonna be health?' "I can tell you I wouldn't step out for the car right now for anything." Minutes later, his "Pardon the Interruption" taping is finished. And one final time, we see the two sides of Dale. He's leaving a beautiful midtown studio, the type of place so very few people have access to, walking away from the marble flooring and fancy recording equipment. It's a building that so few people -- really, so few professional athletes -- will ever be qualified to enter. His day is done, but there's still one final piece of business as the elevator takes him down and spits him back toward the crowded streets. Before he leaves, Dale Earnhardt Jr. heads to a small nook of a convenience store and buys a Powerball ticket. MORE: READ: Latest NASCAR news PLAY: Sign up for Fantasy Live WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView today
1988 champion gets inducted, says Chase's Cup news was the bigger deal Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live MORE: Five inducted into NASCAR Hall of Fame " Chase scores Cup ride CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Bill Elliott often outran the competition, but recently the former NASCAR premier series champion has been trying to outrun his emotions. It's been quite the past few days for Elliott, the 1988 champ, and his family. On Thursday it was announced that his son, 19-year-old Chase, would make his first start in the Sprint Cup Series later this year. On Friday, the elder Elliott was one of five drivers inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame. His son landing the ride with Hendrick Motorsports , where he will take over a car perhaps even more famous than that of his father was the bigger deal, Bill Elliott said. "Let me tell you this little story," Elliott offered after he, along with Fred Lorenzen, Wendell Scott, Joe Weatherly and Rex White were officially inducted into the Hall. "I called Chase – I think it was Wednesday night and I was talking to him and he said 'guess who called me?' "I said 'I don't know.'" Told it was someone named Jeff, the name didn’t register. "He said, ' Jeff Gordon called me.' He was so excited that Jeff Gordon had picked up the phone and called him," Elliott said. "… That meant so much to him (to talk about) what his next step and what his next role was going to be." Elliott made the No. 9 Ford Thunderbird one of the most recognizable cars on the track during his career. In addition to his championship, he won 44 times in premier series competition. He, along brothers Ernie and Dan , set qualifying records likely to remain unbroken as well. Gordon, scheduled to end his driving career at the end of '15, has won 92 times and four championships with Hendrick Motorsports . For fans that began following the sport in the early '90s or later, Gordon’s brightly painted No. 24 Chevrolet quickly became just as recognizable and even more successful. He's won on nearly ever track where the Sprint Cup Series competes, and several that are no longer on the schedule. And now Chase Elliott prepares to step into the ride once Gordon steps aside. MORE: Gordon calls Chase the 'total package' As much as the sport has changed since Bill Elliott arrived on the scene in the latter part of the '70s, one thing has remained constant – the cycle of drivers that show up, make their mark and eventually depart. Gordon is making plans to exit. Elliott's son Chase is preparing to arrive. Not much different than when he and his family first showed up, the elder Elliott said. "When I came in you had Cale (Yarborough), David Pearson, all those guys kind of winding down," Elliott said. "Then I watched Richard (Petty) retire and now it's turning … again." At that time such changes didn't catch his attention, he said, explaining that with a limited budget and much to learn, "all I cared about was just trying to go race. "There was so few of us, we really didn't worry about anything else," Elliott said. "It was kind of like you were driving down the road with blinders on, you were really oblivious to anything else going on." PHOTOS: Best moments from the NASCAR Hall of Fame induction ceremony His son understands what lies ahead, Elliott said on a night he was honored for what took place in the past. "He's an incredibly good race car driver, and I'm not saying it's because he's my kid," Elliott said. "… I've said all along he's better than I ever thought about being." Maybe so, but the father was no slouch. Among his 44 victories are four that came in the in the twilight of his career before he began to scale back his racing schedule. Driving for Ray Evernham, who had helped guide Gordon to three of his four titles, Elliott won at Homestead, Pocono, Indianapolis and Rockingham. "There aren't many names that transcend a sport," Evernham said. "If you're not even a baseball fan you know the names Ruth or Mantle; even the most casual football fan knows Lombardi and Unitas. "In our sport, in motorsports, they know Foyt and Andretti and Earnhardt and Petty and even casual fans know Bill Elliott because of the things he's done. "It's an honor to have him as a friend, and it's been a great ride."
Humble beginnings couldn't slow eventual rise from 'Awesome Bill' Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live Editor's note: The NASCAR Hall of Fame Class of 2015 will be inducted Friday night at 8 p.m. ET. on NBC Sports Network. CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Bill Elliott arrived on the scene after the careers of his fellow 2015 NASCAR Hall of Fame classmates had already come to an end. But the man who would become known as "Awesome Bill from Dawsonville" for his exploits on the track has much in common with Fred Lorenzen, Wendell Scott, Joe Weatherly and Rex White. The five will be inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame tonight. A familiar thread connects those who reside in the Hall, one that often includes humble beginnings, hardships and eventually success. RELATED: Every class of the NASCAR Hall of Fame Elliott, 59, and his family are an integral part of that thread. George, the patriarch, ran a small building supply business in Dawsonville, Georgia. "A hole-in-the-wall deal," Bill says today. The elder Elliott also built race cars, helped other local racers and fielded entries in NASCAR as early as the 1960s. "Daddy carried cars to Daytona in the early '60s, he would carry two cars down there and run a Sportsman or a Modified or some kind of race," Elliott said. Box vans used in the family business served as transporters for the race cars. "He'd back the trailer down there to the loading dock and he'd load them up in the van trailers and carry them down there, then try to find a place to unload them,” Elliott said. "It was like the Clampetts went to Daytona." It wasn't much but as Elliott noted, it was a common sight among those who chose the stock car racing path at that time. "Back then, such a different way of doing things. Anybody could come show up at Daytona with some kind of race car," he said. "I think those are the things that I look back on and were so much fun early on. You go to our little garage down there, you could just throw something together. I remember going to one of the shops of one of the guys Daddy was helping. They were putting a '63 Ford together. They had taken a car out of the junkyard, were taking the interior out and welding the roll bar in it, getting it ready to go. But I mean it was just a stock '63 Ford. Whatever it came with, that's what it had. And those days are gone." Elliott made his first start in what is now NASCAR's Sprint Cup Series in 1976, driving for his family-run team that included brothers Ernie and Dan Elliott. But it wasn't until ’82, when the team was purchased by businessman Harry Melling, that Elliott became an "overnight success." By the time his career had ended (he made his last official start in 2012), Elliott had won 44 races, one series championship and was voted the series' most popular driver 16 times. His wins came on stages big and small -- few bigger than the Daytona 500 , which he won twice, the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the Southern 500 at rugged, old Darlington Raceway . RELATED: Read Bill Elliott's Hall of Fame capsule It was at Darlington that Elliott officially picked up another moniker, "Million Dollar Bill" when a Southern 500 win in 1985 earned him the Winston Million bonus. Elliott's move into stardom coincided with a rise in speed on the race track. Before the advent of restrictor plates at Daytona and Talladega, speed grabbed headlines. And no one went faster than Elliott, who ended his career with 55 pole positions. His qualifying mark of 212.809 mph at Talladega remains the fastest qualifying lap ever for a NASCAR event. But that feat wasn't the record that stands out in his mind, he said. "If I was outside looking in at my career, the biggest thing that impresses me was running 210 (mph) at Daytona in 1987," Elliott said. "I sat there and I watched Cale (Yarborough) try to run just 200 (in 1983) and turn over off Turn 4. We came back, ran 205 in '85 and we came back in '87 and stepped it up five more mph average. That was with no technology. That was just the luck of the draw and the things we did at that point in time; that's what really impressed me. "When I first went there I think I ran 171 or something and I thought, 'Man I'm out of control. How can you run any faster?' " Elliott's induction into the NASCAR Hall of Fame comes just as his son, 19-year-old Chase, prepares to begin his own Sprint Cup career. It was announced earlier this week that Chase would run five Sprint Cup races for Hendrick Motorsports this season, then take over the organization's No. 24 Chevrolet when four-time champion Jeff Gordon steps down at year's end. RELATED: Gordon: Chase is the 'total package' The younger Elliott didn't witness a lot of his father’s exploits as they took place. But he's relived them through video replays. "There were a lot of races where he took it to 'em, man," Chase Elliott said. "He wore them out. That's cool to look back on and see. "I have a lot of respect for what he has done and for what they did. To do it with what they had (at the time) was very, very impressive. I think a lot of people let that slip by. "They were kind of on their own there in Georgia and a lot of people don’t realize that. They didn’t have a lot of help; they didn’t have a big team. It was just them. It’s very, very impressive to see what they were able to do."