Hendrick humbled by NASCAR Hall of Fame selection
RELATED: Everything to know about Friday's NASCAR Hall of Fame induction Rick Hendrick is going into the NASCAR Hall of Fame , and the owner of Hendrick Motorsports might be the one most surprised by his selection. "It is more than just 'Hey, this is cool,'" the 67-year-old said recently. "It's more than that to me. It's humbling; it's just very humbling to me that I could even be looked at." Hendrick will be inducted into the Hall Friday (8 p.m. ET, NBCSN), along with fellow team owners Richard Childress and Raymond Parks and drivers Benny Parsons and Mark Martin. There hasn't been much time for reflection, Hendrick said, as he continues to oversee an organization that fields four Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series teams in addition to one of the nation’s most successful automotive sales groups. "I think when you are in the day-to-day and in a day-to-day race and you are going to the track and you are trying to win races … or you are running for a championship, all that other stuff is kind of back there, but it doesn't come to the forefront," Hendrick said. "But then when you get to an event like this and you are going into the Hall of Fame with Raymond Parks and Benny and Richard and Mark and all these guys and you look at who is in there and you look at what the sport has meant to you and your family, it is really special and it's very emotional. "You think about those things. It's humbling. I think the word is humbling because … I never thought I would ever race in NASCAR . I never thought I would ever win a NASCAR race. I never really thought we would win a championship and now to be in the position we are in to win as much and have the success we have had and to be recognized as doing something in the sport to get into the Hall it's a tremendous honor.” Parsons and Martin each drove for Hendrick at one time. Childress and his Richard Childress Racing organization were the benchmark when Hendrick arrived on the scene in 1984. RELATED: Racing lifer Childress ready for induction "Really when I first started I didn't think anybody would ever beat them," Hendrick said of Childress and his driver, Dale Earnhardt. "I thought they were just, basically, unbeatable." That changed with Jeff Gordon 's arrival at HMS in the early '90s, and for nearly a decade, the two organizations were the best in the NASCAR garage, winning seven championships between themselves from '93 through '01. The Hendrick organization continues to set the pace today, with Jimmie Johnson winning the 2016 championship to become just the third driver to win seven titles. Officially, HMS teams have won 12 championships in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series and 245 races. Previous programs in the XFINITY and Camping World Truck Series produced nearly 50 more victories and three additional championships. It's almost overwhelming for Hendrick, who built his first car (for drag racing) when he was a teenager with help from his father. "When you get something like this in life, when someone recognizes you, you think about going to Hillsborough (North Carolina) to watch a race on dirt," he said. "You think about all the sacrifices your Dad made to get you in the cars and your son's love for the cars, your brother, (engine builder) Randy Dorton, all those guys that aren’t here now that gave it all. "It's super emotional for me because I know how much they loved it, how much they sacrificed for it and this is almost like the culmination." Sixteen drivers have won at least one race while competing for HMS at the NASCAR Cup level. Johnson, Gordon and Terry Labonte won championships as well. RELATED: Johnson's seventh title leaves him speechless, but peers say plenty In spite of all his accomplishments and those of his organization, Hendrick said he still feels a bit awed by his selection. "I think it feels a lot like the first time I went to New York after I won a championship, the first championship," he said. "You feel … it's an unbelievable accomplishment when you dreamed about being involved in a sport or just watching the sport and to think that now you are being recognized in the Hall of Fame , it's a really emotional and a very special feeling." &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&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;
Hendrick thanks his NASCAR family in Hall of Fame speech
Rick Hendrick thanks his NASCAR family for the love and support throughout his Hall of Fame career during his induction speech.
Childress 'honored' to join the NASCAR Hall of Fame
On Friday, Richard Childress will be inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame . The legendary car owner won six championships with Dale Earnhardt behind the wheel.
NASCAR Hall of Fame unveils new lineup of iconic cars
RELATED: More on the Hall of Fame " Fan Appreciation Day CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- For just the third time since the NASCAR Hall of Fame first opened its doors in 2010, race fans will see a new Glory Road exhibit encircling the Great Hall in the museum's main level. Glory Road "ICONS" features 18 cars representing some of NASCAR's most recognizable vehicles as well as its legendary drivers. The exhibit will officially open to the public Jan. 7. Friday, Hall officials held an unveiling for members of the media and various local dignitaries. Seventeen of the vehicles were on display when the hour-long event got underway. The wraps on the 18th, the No. 28 Ford Thunderbird piloted by Davey Allison for Ranier-Lundy Racing, were removed during the program. Among those in attendance for the unveiling were Allison's father, Bobby Allison, the 1983 series champion and winner of 84 races, Davey's son Robbie Allison, Joey Knuckles (Allison's crew chief for 19 races in 1987), Larry McReynolds (Allison's crew chief at Robert Yates Racing from '91-93) and Lorin Ranier, son of team owner Harry Ranier. "I notice in this general area Alabama is represented really well," Robbie Allison said, noting his father's car sits between those of his grandfather and fellow Alabama Gang driver Neil Bonnett. "We're doing pretty well I think. "When I look at this car, one thing that stands out is I always see the snippet online of him driving down pit road at Talladega and the whole crew is on top of the car. ... I see it all the time. All the good times that he and his team shared and our family was able to share through racing." Davey Allison scored his first NASCAR win in the top series in '87 at Talladega Superspeedway . He would add 18 more victories, including two more at the 2.66-mile Talladega track, before his death in 1993. Bobby Allison's racing career had ended in 1988 when his Buick slammed into the wall and was then struck by another race car on the first lap of a race at Pocono Raceway . Clifford Allison, Davey's brother, was killed in a crash during practice in 1992 at Michigan International Speedway . "Something that my granddad says to me all the time is that racing has taken a lot away from us but it's also given us an awful lot at the same time,” Robbie Allison said. "There are so many good memories ... "The words that everybody that knew (my dad) on and off the track, determination, hard work, obsession even, always willing to put in that extra effort to be better every day. ... He was definitely as good of a father as he was a racer.” McReynolds, now a NASCAR on FOX analyst, said Allison "actually made my job pretty easy because … I think a lot of it was the way Bobby brought him up through the racing ranks he knew what was going on with that race car and he had a pretty good idea what we needed to do to make it better. ... "He obviously did a phenomenal job in that race car but he did a really unbelievable job outside the race car. He loved his race fans." The 18 cars featured on the new Glory Road "ICONS" exhibit span the history of NASCAR , from the 1952 Hudson Hornet driven by Marshall Teague -- a dominant combination in the sport's formative years -- to the 2015 Joe Gibbs Racing No. 18 Toyota Camry that carried Kyle Busch to the series championship. Other entries in the exhibit include: • 1957 Ford Fairlane driven by Fireball Roberts • 1964 Plymouth Belvedere of Richard Petty • 1966 Ford Galaxie owned and driven by Wendell Scott • 1966 Dodge Charger fielded by Cotton Owens and driven by David Pearson • 1939 Chevrolet Coupe piloted by Richie Evans in 1970-71 • 1976 Chevrolet Monte Carlo driven by Darrell Waltrip • 1978 Ford Thunderbird driven by Bobby Allison • 1982 Oldsmobile Omega driven by Sam Ard • 1989 Ford Thunderbird driven by Neil Bonnett • 1991 Oldsmobile Cutlass driven by Harry Gant • 1992 Ford Thunderbird driven by Bill Elliott • 1995 Chevrolet Silverado driven by Mike Skinner • 1999 Chevrolet Monte Carlo driven by Dale Earnhardt • 2005 Chevrolet Monte Carlo driven by Jeff Gordon • 2013 Chevrolet SS driven by Jimmie Johnson Winston Kelley, executive director of the NASCAR Hall of Fame , said his group began with a notebook of "100 to 120 cars" that had to be trimmed considerably before beginning the process of selecting and obtaining the final 18. "If I handed you that notebook you would probably agree that 80-90 are iconic cars," Kelley said. "There are others that are noteworthy of acknowledging at some point in time, but would it pass the sticker test ... would you say 'yeah that's iconic?' " As with previous Glory Road exhibits, the "ICONS" exhibit will remain on display for three years. &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;
NASCAR Fan Appreciation Day returns to NASCAR Hall of Fame
NASCAR announced Wednesday that it will again host its annual NASCAR Fan Appreciation Day at the NASCAR Hall of Fame on January 21, 2017. Current national series drivers, NASCAR Hall of Famers and members of the NASCAR Next Class are expected to be in attendance for a day-long celebration that will include autograph sessions, opportunities for fan-driver photos and question-and-answer sessions. NASCAR Fan Appreciation Day will follow Friday night's NASCAR Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony (8 p.m. ET on NBCSN), where Richard Childress, Rick Hendrick, Mark Martin, Raymond Parks and Benny Parsons will be officially inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame as its Class of 2017. Also part of Saturday's festivities, the NASCAR Hall of Fame will unveil each inductees' granite markers in the gardens just outside the Hall's doors. Further information about autograph session schedules plus ticket/wristband information will be announced at a later date.
Edwards' resume makes strong Hall of Fame case
RELATED: Full coverage of JGR changes NASCAR Hall of Fame discussion and debate is typically expected and generally prevalent as talented and high-profile drivers step away from competition. And such is the natural consideration for Carl Edwards , who announced -- quite unexpectedly -- Wednesday that he was stepping away from competing in the sport. Edwards, at only age 37, joins former NASCAR multi-time champions Jeff Gordon , 45, and Tony Stewart , 45, in making this career decision in just the last two years. The four-time champion Gordon ended his full-time career in 2015 only to fill-in for injured Hendrick Motorsports teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr . in eight races last season. Stewart, a three-time champ, stepped away from the NASCAR driver's seat at the end of 2016, but is still competing in other forms of racing. For both Gordon, a 93-time winner in NASCAR ’s premier series and Stewart, a 49-race winner in what is now the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series , Hall of Fame induction seems to be a given. As a contemporary of the two, Edwards' credentials also will naturally give rise to Hall of Fame discussion even though he competed 12 fewer years than Gordon at the top level and five fewer years than Stewart, an IndyCar champion before he arrived in NASCAR . CAIN: Edwards exits with focused, sincere class "I would say that his career, he'll probably come under strong consideration for everything he did," Edwards team owner Joe Gibbs said of Hall of Fame talk Wednesday following Edwards' news conference. Edwards' NASCAR statistics -- highlighted by 28 Cup wins, the 2007 XFINITY Series title to with 38 wins in that series as well as six Camping World Truck Series victories -- are certainly impressive even though they don't include a championship at the Cup level or a Daytona 500 victory. Three times Edwards came painstakingly close to hoisting the Cup trophy. He won a season-high nine races in 2008 only to finish runner-up to seven-time winner Jimmie Johnson , who was right in the middle of a five-year championship run. RELATED: All of Edwards' wins " Carl in his own words Edwards was a season runner-up again in 2011, actually tying Stewart in the points standings for the title but losing on a tie-breaker. Stewart won five of the 10 Chase races, Edwards had only one victory on the year. It remains, obviously, the tightest championship battle in NASCAR history. And of course, Edwards was leading the final race at Homestead-Miami Speedway in November, poised to perhaps at last claim that oh-so elusive championship. But contact with fellow Championship 4 driver Joey Logano with what turned out to be 12 laps remaining, led to a wreck and a fourth-place finish in the standings. "It's ironic for him that in the two championship bids that he was right there, one of them he lost by one point and the other one, 15 laps to go and he had it, he was pulling away from everybody," Gibbs said. "I think that it's not my place to judge all that, but I think those guys will give strong consideration for him in the future." Since Edwards began full-time premier series competition in 2005, only the newly-crowned seven-time champion Johnson has bettered Edwards' nine race wins in a single season (2008). Gordon had a string of double digit wins in 1996 (10), 1997 (10) and 1998 (13). In 2015 Edwards won two of the series' most iconic races, Charlotte's Coca-Cola 600 and Darlington Raceway 's Bojangles' Southern 500 . He's won races at 14 tracks on the Cup circuit and proven himself among the most diverse with multiple victories on short tracks like Bristol, intermediate venues such as Texas and has a win on the Sonoma road course. MORE: Edwards' decision caught Kenseth by surprise There is also immediate precedent that Hall of Fame nominees don't necessarily need a Daytona 500 trophy or a championship ring. Mark Martin, who will be inducted in NASCAR ’s great Hall later this month, earned 40 Cup victories but none came in the Daytona 500 , nor did he win a Cup title. One of Martin's Daytona near-misses, however, is legendary as he came painfully close in 2007 finishing runner-up to Kevin Harvick in a photo finish. He was a five-time runner-up in the Cup series championship. His 40 wins came in 882 starts, compared to Edwards' 28 wins in 445 starts. Fred Lorenzen, a 2015 Hall of Fame inductee, won fewer races than Edwards (26) -- the 1965 Daytona 500 among them. Both Edwards and Martin had similar good fortune in the XFINITY Series. Edwards earned 27 pole positions and won 38 times in 245 starts; Martin had 30 poles and won 49 times in 236 starts. Edwards won the 2007 championship and finished runner-up four times -- all while running full time in the Cup ranks too. He finished in the top-10 in 174 of those 245 starts -- an incredible 71 percent of the time. And for all of this, Edwards may be a viable Hall of Fame candidate. And he has left the door open to competing in the future. The one thing that is certain, is whether or not Edwards ends up in the Great Hall , he stepped away this week feeling absolutely fulfilled. "It's more than I ever expected," Edwards said. "I've accomplished more than I ever dreamed of accomplishing. I have the satisfaction that I don't know how to express. MORE: Top quotes from Edwards' new s "Everybody has worked hard at something and been nervous and insecure but kept digging and leaned all those lessons to get to a point, where you’re like, 'I've done this.' "This is way more than I ever expected. So yeah, I'm very satisfied with that." &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;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;
With long history in sport, Childress ready for Friday's Hall of Fame induction
RELATED: Mark Martin on what drove him to success Richard Childress will go into the NASCAR Hall of Fame Friday night with perhaps a bit more of an appreciation than most, having spent the better part of his life tied snugly to the sport of stock car racing. It's been his livelihood and his lifeblood. From selling snacks as a youngster in the grandstands at a local track to overseeing a racing organization today that boasts more than 500 employees, Childress is one of the few still around that has seen and done it all. Childress, 71, will be inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame Friday along with fellow team owners Rick Hendrick and Raymond Parks and former drivers Mark Martin and Benny Parsons (8 p.m. ET, NBCSN). Incredible stories shadow each of this year's inductees. The story of Childress' rise from dropout to multi-millionaire is no less so. Today, his Richard Childress Racing organization fields three full-time teams in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series and three in the NASCAR XFINITY Series . His teams have won 12 championships and 214 races across NASCAR's three national series (Monster Energy NASCAR Cup, XFINITY and Camping World Truck). Six of his championships came with driver Dale Earnhardt, an inaugural member of the NASCAR Hall of Fame and regarded by many as one of the sport's most talented and influential drivers. "I'm sure every one of the inductees are very proud," Childress said last week during a round of media availabilities for this year's Hall of Fame Class. "My feeling is, I started out selling peanuts and popcorn at Bowman-Gray Stadium watching my heroes, Billy and Bobby Myers, Curtis Turner and Glen Wood, these guys race and that's all I ever wanted to do was become a race driver." He worked full time to live his dream part-time until the pull of the racing won out and for the longest time it looked like a fool's errand. Money didn't flow and bills piled up but like everyone else chasing a dream, Childress was undeterred. At 24, he got his first big break, competing at Talladega Superspeedway after many of NASCAR's top stars, citing tire concerns, boycotted the race. He returned home to purchase a small parcel of land with the money he earned from that weekend's races, and started his own auto repair business. "I left there with more money than I'd ever seen at one time," he said. Being his own boss also kept his NASCAR dream alive. He jumped in full time in 1976 as an owner/driver at a time when only a handful of teams had the support and the finances to contend for wins on a consistent basis. "I can remember the days when we had to syphon the fuel out of the race car to get home, put it in the tow car," Childress said. "A lot of people don't understand how it was back in the early '70s … what not just me but everyone was going through. You had the Pettys, Junior Johnson, Bud Moore, there were about four big teams … those were the guys you were racing against." His second big break came in the early '80s when he made the decision to focus on ownership and leave the driving to someone else. Earnhardt came and went, driving a handful of races at the end of the '81 season. A two-year stint with Ricky Rudd helped the team turn the corner and build the consistency necessary to compete for wins on a regular basis. By '84, Earnhardt had returned and RCR had improved its product tremendously. "Ricky was a young, up and coming driver and I think we both helped each other a lot," Childress said. "He helped me as a car owner and I think we helped him as a driver, with the past driving experience I had and as an owner being able to work with a driver was totally different. I think it was a learning experience for all of us. "When Dale came back in '84 I was much more comfortable as an owner at that point." It's been three years since a driver for RCR won in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series although all three of its current drivers -- Austin Dillon , Paul Menard and Ryan Newman -- have qualified for the Chase on one or more occasions. Childress, winless as a driver in 285 career starts, remains positive and focused. No different than when he was just starting out with little more than a dream and a desire. "You had to have a passion," he said. "Even when I was driving and wasn't winning … I never started a race that I didn't think this was going to be the day that the big boys had a problem and I was going to be able to come in there and win. "Just the sheer drive of wanting to succeed, that's what kept me going." And it's led him right into the NASCAR Hall of Fame . &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;
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;
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