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Hall of Fame preview: Mark Martin amongst contenders
RELATED: Meet 2017's nominees Mark Martin will be one of 20 people considered for induction into the NASCAR Hall of Fame when the Voting Panel convenes in Charlotte on Wednesday to determine the 2017 class. Three of those on the ballot are former premier series champions -- Red Byron, NASCAR's first Strictly Stock champion in 1949; Benny Parsons, the 1973 winner who went on to enjoy a successful second career in the broadcast booth; and Alan Kulwicki, killed in a plane crash just four-and-a-half months after capturing the 1992 crown. There was no championship trophy for Martin, who retired from competition at the end of the 2013 season. But that doesn't diminish the accomplishments the Batesville, Arkansas, native garnered during a career that spanned more than three decades. Martin, 57, won 40 times in the premier series, with victories coming at 21 different tracks. He finished 10th or better 453 times, in more than half of his 882 career starts. He also won 56 poles. RELATED: Live stream, 5 p.m. ET, Wednesday In the battle for the championship, Martin placed second five times, a mark he shares with current Hall of Fame member Bobby Allison, and he scored 17 top-10 points finishes during his career. "It makes me proud I was able to be as successful as I was and grateful for the opportunities I had," Martin told Little Rock, Arkansas, radio station KABZ-FM recently. "To be real honest I didn't enjoy a … significant part of my career because I was trying so hard to get that championship because I wanted it, and even more than that, the people who supported me wanted it for me so badly. I saw time running out. "I spent too much of my time focused on that and not enjoying the opportunities I had. Today, when I look back on it I wish I hadn't done that." Martin lost the 1990 title by 26 points to Dale Earnhardt and finished second to the Richard Childress Racing driver again four years later. Other runner-up finishes through the years came against Jeff Gordon , Tony Stewart and Jimmie Johnson . "My life would not be different one bit had I won one of those or not," Martin said. "I had a great career. … I don't think it would have changed a thing in my life had I won one of those trophies. I was very close. I got beat by only four of the greatest of all time in NASCAR in my opinion. … "I'm not embarrassed." Earnhardt was one of five members inducted into the Hall’s inaugural class in 2010. Gordon, a four-time series champion with 93 career victories, retired from driving at the end of 2015 and won't be eligible for Hall of Fame consideration until 2018 and possible induction until '19. Stewart, winner of three premier series titles and co-owner of Stewart-Haas Racing , will cease to compete full time in the series following the 2016 season. Johnson is a six-time champion and boasts 77 career wins, including two thus far this season. In addition to his premier series exploits, Martin held the XFINITY Series record for career wins for 14 years and is also a seven-time winner in the Camping World Truck Series. It is his second consecutive appearance on the Hall of Fame ballot. First-year nominees for the 2017 ballot are former Camping World Truck Series champion Ron Hornaday Jr ., team co-owner Jack Roush, driver Ricky Rudd, noted crew chief and engine builder Waddell Wilson and broadcaster Ken Squier . Rounding out the list of nominees are Buddy Baker, Richard Childress, Ray Evernham, Ray Fox, Rick Hendrick, Harry Hyde, Hershel McGriff, Raymond Parks, Larry Phillips, Mike Stefanik and Robert Yates. Also to be determined by the Voting Panel is the 2017 recipient of the Landmark Award, which recognizes outstanding contributions to NASCAR. The five nominees are Martinsville Speedway track founder H. Clay Earles, driver Janet Guthrie, team owner Raymond Parks, former RJ Reynolds executive Ralph Seagraves and Squier . The Voting Panel is scheduled to begin the selection process Wednesday at 12:30 p.m. ET at the Charlotte Convention Center. The announcement of those chosen will take place in the NASCAR Hall of Fame's Great Hall (5 p.m. ET, NBCSN). NASCAR.com will also live stream the event: You can watch it live here.
NASCAR Hall of Fame: Ken Squier
Take a look at the impact legendary announcer Ken Squier had on the sport of NASCAR.
Steve Byrnes honored with Squier -Hall Award
RELATED: Steve Byrnes passes away at 56 CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The NASCAR Hall of Fame honored late broadcaster Steve Byrnes on Saturday at the weather-delayed induction ceremony at the Charlotte Convention Center. His son Bryson accepted the Squier ‑Hall Award for NASCAR Media Excellence earlier this afternoon at the NASCAR Hall of Fame on behalf of his father, who passed away from cancer in April. "This day is about those who paved the way in our sport," FOX Sports broadcaster Krista Voda said during Byrnes' introduction. "Each of us has a person, the one who guided us, who gave us a blueprint. Steve Byrnes was my person, my mentor, my friend. In April, Steve lost his courageous battle with cancer but not before serving as an inspiration to the entire NASCAR community." The Squier -Hall award is named in honor of legendary broadcasters Ken Squier and Barney Hall and has been presented to influential members of NASCAR media for the past three years. Byrnes' wife, Karen, and son, Bryson, were among the many family members present at the induction ceremony. "Just be nice to others," Bryson Byrnes said on lessons his father taught him. "You know, just enjoy what you do, have a great attitude while doing it, and just always going full out when you do do something, and do what you love, and when you do do it, just do it with a heart and a passion of doing it." RELATED: Through the years photo gallery Drivers Darrell Wallace Jr . and Dale Earnhardt Jr . were among those to tweet tributes and remebrances of Byrnes after Saturday's ceremonies at the NASCAR Hall of Fame. I often delete pics but this one has always been in the bank. It's a constant reminder of how great he was! pic.twitter.com/56sgTqRA8A — Darrell Wallace Jr (@BubbaWallace) January 23, 2016 One of the best EVER to cover the sport. Steve Byrnes honored with the Squier -Hall Award for NASCAR Media Excellence @NASCARHall today. — Dale Earnhardt Jr . (@DaleJr) January 23, 2016
Steve Byrnes wins the 2016 Squier -Hall Award
The family of Steve Byrnes was in attendance as he was posthumously awarded the fifth Squier -Hall Award at the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
Squier , Jarretts to call part of Southern 500
RELATED: See the throwback schemes for Darlington Just when it looked like Darlington Raceway 's 1970s "throwback" promotion couldn't get any groovier with retro race car paint schemes and a return to the track's historical Labor Day weekend calendar spot, NBC Sports upped the game again. The network announced Tuesday that iconic broadcaster Ken Squier will team with NASCAR Hall of Famers -- and father and son -- Ned and Dale Jarrett in the broadcast booth for a portion of Sunday's Bojangles' Southern 500 telecast on NBC (7 p.m. ET, NBC, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). Not only will the race look like a blast from the past, it will sound like one, too. "Something I'm looking extremely forward to is to have a chance to call some of the race with my dad and Ken Squier , who really helped put our sport on the map,'' said Dale Jarrett, who appears on NBC's pre-race show along with Krista Voda and Kyle Petty. Viewers can expect to be transported to a different era in the sport with approximately 30 cars running retro paint schemes and the broadcast set to adjust even fine details, like making its graphics and logo authentic to the time. The track nicknamed "Too Tough to Tame" is itself a perennial "throwback" to some of the most noteworthy historical times in NASCAR. Described Squier , "Darlington is truly like no other, its imperfections ... it's the perfect competitive place for NASCAR." "Authentic" was the buzzword Tuesday afternoon as the NASCAR on NBC team shared its collective thoughts about one of the sport's most traditional races, the Southern 500 and its long-awaited move back to its Labor Day weekend position on the schedule for the first time since 2003. Squier called it "the best move NASCAR has made in a decade." Others spoke at length about how this weekend's race at the notoriously tough Darlington venue also represents a bridge between the longtime NASCAR purists and the new generation of fans. "I think it's really important to understand where you came from to know where you're going, and what a perfect weekend to do it,'' NBC analyst and former Darlington winner Jeff Burton said. "At a time we look back and celebrate the past, we can celebrate what's going on now too." Fellow analyst Petty agreed the weekend would please those who hang onto the memories of Richard Petty battling David Pearson, Ned Jarrett's record 14-lap margin of victory, Dale Earnhardt's afternoons charming "The Lady in Black" and Bill Elliott winning $1 million in the old Winston Million incentive program. At the same time, there is hope the attention generated this weekend will pique the interest of new fans who have a wide field of young new talent ready to follow in the legends footsteps here. "It's a time to wax nostalgic, but also an opportunity to educate fans to the history of the sport at a place that has that much history … and at the same time introduce them to what the sport has now," Petty said. "There are certain places that evoke history and the guys that came before you, and Darlington's that place. It's still the exact same place my granddad drove around 50-60 years ago. "I was ecstatic when they moved it back to Labor Day. ... This is where it should be. "All is right with the world this week for me because we'll be in Darlington and it's Labor Day."
Higgins honored to receive Squier -Hall Award
Veteran motorpsports journalist Tom Higgins will join the 2015 NASCAR Hall of Fame class as the Squier -Hall Award recipient.
Squier -Hall Recognized for NASCAR Media Excellence
Ken Squier and Barney Hall will be recognized as the first two recipients of the Squier -Hall Award for NASCAR Media Excellence nwhich is named in their honor.
NASCAR Unveils Squier -Hall Award
NASCAR Unveiles the Squier -Hall Award for NASCAR Media Excellence in honor of famous broadcasters Ken Squier and Barney Hall.
The Story Behind the Squier -Hall Award
Take a look back at the legendary careers of Ken Squier and Barney Hall as they prepare to be recipients of the Squier -Hall Award.
Nominee for the Landmark Award