See who our staff members pick to take the checkered flag Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live Members of the NASCAR.com editorial team make their picks for the Great American Race below. Who do you have? Let us know in the comments section. Zack Albert Denny Hamlin . Joe Gibbs Racing cars have shown plenty of oomph so far in Speedweeks, making Matt Kenseth another Daytona favorite. Sunday, it should be Hamlin's turn in Victory Lane. Kenny Bruce Dale Earnhardt Jr. Strong all week, and probably as pumped as he's ever been about his team and his car. Holly Cain Jimmie Johnson. Pat DeCola Jimmie Johnson. The Hendrick Motorsports driver has been unstoppable thus far at Speedweeks, but he's coming off one of his worst seasons to date -- making Johnson the rare "dark horse favorite." The No. 48 Chevrolet swept both Daytona races in his 2013 championship season but hadn't finished higher than 20th in the six Daytona races prior to that. Still, I've got a feeling. Stu Hothem Dale Earnhardt Jr. After last Saturday's first practice, the defending Daytona 500 champion said he had the fastest car in the field. On the 20th anniversary of the last back-to-back winner (Sterling Marlin) going to Victory Lane, Earnhardt will join Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jeff Gordon and NASCAR Hall of Famers Bobby Allison, Dale Jarrett, Richard Petty and Cale Yarborough with three or more wins in the Great American Race. RJ Kraft Carl Edwards. The Joe Gibbs Racing stable has been as strong as the Hendrick Motorsports fleet during Speedweeks, with the veteran showing plenty of speed. It will be the organization's newest driver that brings Joe Gibbs his first trip to Victory Lane in the Daytona 500 since 1993. Brad Norman Tony Stewart. His car is fast, and Stewart seems more like the 'Smoke' of old than at any other point over the past two years. Plus, he's just due for a good break at Daytona. Jessica Ruffin Jeff Gordon. The three-time Daytona 500 champion is starting from the pole position, has a dynamic duo of Hendrick Motorsports teammates helping him in the front and his No. 24 Chevrolet SS has showcased its speed the entire week. But above all, with this event marking his final Daytona 500, Gordon has plenty of motivation to take the checkered one last time in the Great American Race. Taylor Starer Jeff Gordon. The four-time Cup champion is starting his final Great American Race as a full-time driver from the pole — what more motivation does he need to do well? Three previous Daytona 500 wins under his belt doesn't hurt, either. George Winkler Dale Earnhardt Jr. He becomes the first back-to-back winner of the Daytona 500 since Sterling Marlin in 1995. Junior's car has looked fast all week -- he won in the Daytona Duels -- and he has a strong history in this race (series-best 99.6 driver rating, two previous Daytona 500 wins). MORE: READ: Latest NASCAR news PLAY: Sign up for Fantasy Live WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView today
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Evernham, Kulwicki, Martin added to ballot; Landmark Award nominees named Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live DAYTONA BEACH, Fla.— Legendary engine builders, crew chiefs, owners and drivers. Their roles and responsibilities may have differed, but they all have one trait in common – each made an everlasting mark on NASCAR history. NASCAR today announced the 20 nominees for the NASCAR Hall of Fame’s Class of 2016, as well as the five nominees for the Landmark Award for Outstanding Contributions to NASCAR. Included among the list are five first-time nominees – legends all – who exceled in various disciplines, at various levels. RELATED: Photo gallery of the Class of 2016 nominees Among them are three-time NASCAR premier series championship crew chief Ray Evernham; 1970 NASCAR premier series championship crew chief Harry Hyde; 1992 NASCAR premier series champion Alan Kulwicki; winner of a combined 96 NASCAR national series races, Mark Martin; and 1986 NASCAR west series champion Hershel McGriff. For a full list of nominees, please see below. The nominees were selected by a nominating committee consisting of representatives from NASCAR and the NASCAR Hall of Fame, track owners from both major facilities and historic short tracks and the media. The committee's votes were tabulated by accounting firm Ernst & Young. From the list of 20 NASCAR Hall of Fame nominees, five inductees will be elected by the NASCAR Hall of Fame Voting Panel, which includes a nationwide fan vote on NASCAR.com. Voting Day for the 2016 class will be Wednesday, May 20. The five nominees for the Landmark Award are Harold Brasington, H. Clay Earles, Raymond Parks, Ralph Seagraves and Ken Squier (more on each below). Potential Landmark Award recipients include competitors or those working in the sport as a member of a racing organization, track facility, race team, sponsor, media partner or being a general ambassador for the sport through a professional or non-professional role. Award winners remain eligible for NHOF enshrinement. Following are the 20 nominees for induction into the NASCAR Hall of Fame, listed alphabetically: Buddy Baker, won 19 times in NASCAR's premier (now Sprint Cup) series, including the Daytona 500 and Southern 500 Red Byron , first NASCAR premier series champion, in 1949 Richard Childress, 11-time car owner champion in NASCAR’s three national series Jerry Cook , six-time NASCAR Modified champion Ray Evernham , three-time NASCAR premier series championship crew chief Ray Fox , legendary engine builder and owner of cars driven by Buck Baker, Junior Johnson and others Rick Hendrick, 14-time car owner champion in NASCAR's three national series Harry Hyde , 1970 NASCAR premier series championship crew chief Bobby Isaac , 1970 NASCAR premier series champion Alan Kulwicki , 1992 NASCAR premier series champion Terry Labonte , two-time NASCAR premier series champion Mark Martin , 96-time race winner in NASCAR national series competition Hershel McGriff, 1986 NASCAR west series champion Raymond Parks , NASCAR's first champion car owner Benny Parsons , 1973 NASCAR premier series champion Larry Phillips , only five-time NASCAR weekly series national champion O. Bruton Smith , builder of Charlotte Motor Speedway and architect of Speedway Motorsports Inc. Mike Stefanik , winner of record-tying nine NASCAR championships Curtis Turner, early personality, called the "Babe Ruth of stock car racing" Robert Yates , won NASCAR premier series championship as both an engine builder and owner The five nominees for the Landmark Award are as follows… Harold Brasington , founder of Darlington Speedway H. Clay Earles , founder of Martinsville Speedway Raymond Parks , NASCAR's first champion car owner Ralph Seagraves , formed groundbreaking Winston-NASCAR partnership as executive with R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company Ken Squier , legendary radio and television broadcaster; inaugural winner/namesake of Squier-Hall Award for NASCAR Media Excellence The 22-person Nominating Committee are as follows... NOMINATION COMMITTEE NASCAR Hall of Fame: Executive Director Winston Kelley; Historian Buz McKim. NASCAR Officials: Chairman / CEO Brian France; Vice Chairman Jim France; Vice Chairman of NASCAR Mike Helton; Chief Operating Officer Brent Dewar; Executive Vice President / Chief Racing Development Officer Steve O’Donnell; Executive Vice President / Chief Marketing Officer Steve Phelps; Senior Vice President of Competition Robin Pemberton; Competition Administrator Jerry Cook (Note: Due to Jerry Cook's inclusion on the ballot for the NHOF Class of 2015, he was recused from voting for the Class of 2016 nominees.) Track Owners/Operators: International Speedway Corporation CEO Lesa Kennedy; Martinsville Speedway President Clay Campbell; Texas Motor Speedway President Eddie Gossage; Atlanta Motor Speedway President Ed Clark; former Indianapolis Motor Speedway President Tony George ; Dover Motorsports CEO Denis McGlynn; Pocono Raceway board of directors member Looie McNally; Bowman Gray Stadium operator Dale Pinilis; Holland Motorsports Complex operator Ron Bennett; Rockford Speedway operator Jody Deery; West Coast representative Ken Clapp. Media: Mike Joy, FOX. MORE: READ: Latest NASCAR news PLAY: Sign up for Fantasy Live WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView today
Driver's final appeal denied; earlier appeal denied as well Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Kurt Busch's final appeal of NASCAR's indefinite suspension was denied Saturday night. This came hours after his first appeal was rejected and one day after the sanctioning body handed down punishment based on the findings of a Delaware family court. NASCAR announced the final decision from National Motorsports Final Appeals Officer Bryan Moss at its headquarters at the International Motorsports Center, where both appeals were heard Saturday. Busch was not allowed counsel from Rusty Hardin, his lead attorney, or any member of his legal team during either hearing. The ruling scuttles any notion of an 11th-hour reinstatement to the Stewart-Haas Racing No. 41 Chevrolet ahead of Sunday's season-opening Daytona 500. Team representatives said Saturday morning that SHR planned to enter Regan Smith as an interim driver of the No. 41 car, regardless of the appeal's outcome. Smith was fitted for the driver's seat and drove the car in Saturday's final NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practice. Busch has now exhausted his appeal options under the NASCAR rulebook and the indefinite suspension remains in effect. Busch's next step toward potential reinstatement will be a prescribed path of treatment subject to professional review, similar to the NASCAR Road to Recovery substance abuse reinstatement process, according to a NASCAR spokesperson. Busch is already required "to be evaluated by a licensed mental health professional" and to complete any prescribed plan of treatment, according to the terms of the family court's conclusions. "We are unhappy with the latest decision to deny our re-appeal, but we will continue to exhaust every procedural and legal remedy we have available to us until Kurt Busch is vindicated," Hardin said in a statement. Busch was suspended Friday after the conclusions reached by Kent County (Delaware) Commissioner David Jones stated that a "preponderance of the evidence" indicated that Busch "committed an act of domestic violence" against former girlfriend Patricia Driscoll last September at Dover International Speedway. Jones' findings were released four days after the family court granted Driscoll's request for an Order of Protection from Abuse, stemming from their alleged altercation in Busch's motorcoach. Busch's punishment fell under two headings in the NASCAR Rule Book: Section 12.1.a: Actions detrimental to stock car racing; and 12.8: Behavioral penalty. On Friday, Steve O'Donnell -- NASCAR Executive Vice President and Chief Racing Development Officer -- said that Busch had the option of appealing the decision and that the process would be expedited. Hardin indicated shortly thereafter that his client would contest the ruling. Busch's first appeal, which was scheduled at noon ET Saturday, was heard by the three-member National Motorsports Appeals Panel. Hardin indicated minutes after the decision was announced that the driver would submit a final appeal. "We are very disappointed that our appeal was rejected by NASCAR's appeal panel," Hardin said in a statement after the first decision was made public. "We are re-appealing immediately, per the proscribed process. We have significant and strong evidence that contradicts the Commissioner's conclusions. In the end we are confident that Kurt will be vindicated and he will be back racing. Until then we will continue to fight on his behalf by ensuring that the entire truth is known." Busch's last recourse in attempting to gain reinstatement during Daytona's Speedweeks marked the first final appeal heard by Moss, the former president of Gulfstream Aerospace who was named National Motorsports Final Appeals Officer last season. Moss' decision is final. The main difference between the two hearings -- according to the NASCAR Rule Book -- is that the burden of proof fell to Busch in the final appeal; in the initial appeal, the burden of proof was NASCAR's responsibility. In both appeals, Jim Cassidy, NASCAR Senior Vice President of Racing Operations, represented the sanctioning body, and NASCAR Vice President George Silbermann served as the appellate administrator. According to a NASCAR release, the three-member panel for Saturday's first appeal consisted of: Paul Brooks, a former NASCAR Senior Vice President; Lyn St. James, a former IndyCar and sports car racer; and Kevin Whitaker, operator of Greenville-Pickens Speedway, a NASCAR-sanctioned weekly track in South Carolina. Busch left the building, across the street from Daytona International Speedway, after the first appeal Saturday afternoon without comment, whisked away in the back seat of a Ford SUV that squealed its tires as it departed at 2:56 p.m. ET. The decision was announced approximately 20 minutes later. The Monday ruling for a no-contact order is a separate legal matter from the Dover (Delaware) Police Department's investigation of the alleged assault. The department concluded its probe on Jan. 6, turning the case over to the county's attorney general's office, which has not decided whether Busch will face criminal charges. MORE: READ: Latest NASCAR news PLAY: Sign up for Fantasy Live WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView today FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
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