Determination, focus drive Martin to Hall of Fame
RELATED: Learn more about the Class of 2017 " Martin's top moments Mark Martin is respected and revered for a 31-year NASCAR racing career that includes 40 Cup victories, 49 XFINITY wins and five heralded IROC championships. He is considered one of the most talented, highly focused and broadly successful competitors in NASCAR history. And later this week, Martin will formally acquire a designation that makes him most proud of all: NASCAR Hall of Famer. "When I'm introduced at a function, now people can call me something, I'll have a title," Martin, 58, said this week with a laugh. "Prior to that, you kind of had to search for a title, although I had done a lot of cool and amazing things in my career." His long list of "cool and amazing things" is what earned Martin this highest of honors. He joins Benny Parsons, Richard Childress, Rick Hendrick and Raymond Parks in this year’s Hall of Fame class and will be formally inducted Friday in Charlotte (8 p.m. ET on NBCSN). RELATED: Parks set early standard " Prolonged excellence Childress' hallmark For Martin, it is a story of supreme determination and talent. In addition to his 40 wins and five championship runner-up finishes in NASCAR's highest level, Martin proved to be one of the series’ most diverse competitors -- ever. He won four GT class championships competing in the Rolex 24 during the 1990s. And his five IROC titles -- and four more runner-up IROC championship finishes -- showed Martin’s great ability bettering the best drivers across all forms of racing from NASCAR to IndyCar to sports cars to sprint cars. It is certainly something that separates and elevates him to the highest of standards through four decades of the best competition in multiple genres. So understandably, Martin had to really think about what in his vast career makes him most proud. "I don't know if there's a single thing," Martin said. "One thing, I would have to say the fact that I made it to NASCAR at such a young age (22). At the time it was an amazingly young age, then I fell on my face and had to go home and start my career again. "So I would say perseverance, if you want to sum it up in one word. Having to start my career all over again and building my way back. Having a second chance is probably the biggest thing." "And the second thing is what I did in the IROC Series." Martin has acknowledged that he was as focused and intense as they came. He was the first driver to seriously incorporate fitness training into his race preparation -- something that may have eased his ability to compete at such a high level even into his 50s. That determination to find an edge was apparent in the garage, even from an early age. He was among the rare drivers to frequently be seen looking into the hood of his car and working alongside the crew. It was the way he was raised by his father Julian, who took great care in guiding his son's passion. There are photos of Martin’s earliest racing days clearly showing how Julian Martin had gone so far to alter his son's first race cars out of love and safety -- mounting the steering wheel in the middle of the car instead of having it on the far left. Dad and son travelled from their native Arkansas throughout the Midwest following the racing dream and they were very close -- now the hard work rewarded with Martin’s long list of achievements and this highest of NASCAR's high honors. Heartbreakingly, Julian was killed when the plane he was piloting crashed in the Nevada mountains in August of 1998, also taking the life of Martin’s stepmother and 11-year old stepsister. Martin remembers immersing himself in competition as best he could to deal with the tragedy. Martin won the night race at Bristol two weeks after losing his father. Immediately after climbing out of his car in Victory Lane, he emotionally thanked the race fans for "their sympathy, love and support" saying their "love for our family has meant everything." "I felt it was my obligation and responsibility to go racing and that's what my dad would have wanted," Martin acknowledged last week. "It was tough, but it would have been tough sitting on a couch in a daze, too. "To me, racing was sort of a responsibility that I had. I felt responsibility toward the 50 or 100 people that supported the (then-Roush Racing) 6-car and a responsibility to race. I just didn't feel like missing a race because I was grieving. … To me, at the time, it just didn't seem like the right thing to do. "It did help me cope with the horrendous loss I was experiencing because I did have to pick up and go racing." And for Martin, the success he would later experience in the second half of his career is as impressive and inspiring as anything he accomplished. He came as close as he ever had to winning the Daytona 500 in 2007, losing the race to Kevin Harvick by a mere 0.02-seconds -- a hood-length -- in a photo finish that marked Martin’s best ever showing in the Great American Race. RELATED: Closest finishes in the history of the Great American Race Two years later, at the age of 50, Martin challenged Jimmie Johnson for what is now known as the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championship, winning five races and claiming seven pole positions. Martin led the standings after each of the opening three Chase races, only to finish runner-up to Johnson, a seven-time winner on the year. It marked the fifth and final time Martin was a championship runner-up in an amazing 20-year span of his career. It is a remarkable accomplishment and something he says he is at last comfortable enjoying, free of any near-miss regret. "I never scored enough points to win one, and that's that," Martin said, when asked about it last week. "I would have won one if I had scored more points than anyone else. … and I let that take an enormous amount of joy (from me). "It's something I let go of and I refuse to allow that to rob me of joy. I have a lot to be thankful of, be grateful for. I accomplished a lot in my career and I’m not sour about the things I didn't accomplish." The attitude accompanies good reason -- because by all standards Martin accomplished so much and is admired by so many. Later this week, he will be fittingly celebrated in all the glory he deserves for a career that showed everyone what hard work and mental focus could produce. Forever more, Mark Martin shall be known and introduced as a NASCAR Hall of Famer. "It means more than anything I achieved while I was racing because I was so busy racing, anything I achieved I never paid attention to," Martin said. "I was just storming ahead worried about how I would win the next race. "Now that I've had some time to soak it in, it's the last big deal, the big win, the crown jewel of my career. "Don't forget the people in the Hall of Fame are my heroes, the founders of the sport, the real men that did it with their bare hands. I'm a little bit uncomfortable going in there with them, to be honest with you, because I don't feel like I belong in that kind of company." Perhaps once he stands on stage -- properly celebrated and duly honored -- Martin will accept that he is absolutely a part of that good company. The best. &amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;gt;
JR Motorsports ramps up with 2017 expansion
RELATED: Driver Tracker " On the move: Changes in store for 2017 The encore for an organization that placed both of its full-time drivers into the Championship 4 field in the inaugural NASCAR XFINITY Series Chase last year has the chance to be even greater. JR Motorsports has that unique possibility, an opportunity granted by not sitting still. Elliott Sadler and Justin Allgaier return to the fold after prosperous debut years with the team, but that's where the offseason status quo ends. JRM plans a full-court press for the upcoming XFINITY season, expanding from two to four full-time drivers in an all-out push to bring home the championship it barely missed out on in 2017. "To have that opportunity to go up against three teammates, to see the growth in our shop, to see the growth in our teams, it's really, really fun to watch," Allgaier said. "I feel like if you came back here next year and said we'd have four cars from JR Motorsports in the final four, it wouldn't surprise me at all." A four-car sweep for the Homestead-Miami finale in November would mean stellar introductions by the two newest faces in the JRM stable: up-and-coming teenager William Byron, a NASCAR Next alum, and 30-year-old vet Michael Annett , back in XFINITY after a three-year stint in NASCAR's top division. The addition of Byron, a 19-year-old prospect in the Hendrick Motorsports system, actually counts as a reunion. The Liberty University student was a former driver for JRM's Late Model program on the weekly and touring level. His teammates have already seen what he can do in top-level equipment. Byron won seven times in his rookie NASCAR Camping World Truck Series season, with only a crucial engine failure in 2016's penultimate race keeping him from the championship fight. It's the reason Sadler has touted him as "a star of the future" and why Allgaier echoed the thought, calling Byron "an absolute class act and an amazing talent." Kelley Earnhardt Miller -- who co-owns JRM with her brother, Dale Earnhardt Jr . -- spoke with tones of regret in describing how Byron got away in late 2015, snapped up by Kyle Busch Motorsports and seemingly earmarked for an upward career arc in the Toyota pipeline. That changed last August when team owner Rick Hendrick brought him back into the Chevrolet camp, cognizant of the creeping advancement in age of his Monster Energy Cup Series roster. "For that to all come back full circle, we're real excited about it," Earnhardt Miller told SiriusXM NASCAR Radio last month. "He's just a great kid and a good family, and his story is just so cool -- doing the computer racing [on iRacing] and then telling his dad he wants to race and then not racing until he was 15. It's just a good story. But Mr. Hendrick deserves the credit there, trying to look at his next moves because he's going to have some drivers that are on the retirement horizon in the next several years, so smart move for him to make all that happen." Said Byron: "I just remember their ultimate goal for me when I started racing Late Models was so I could race an XFINITY car there. In a weird way, I got back to that and it's going to be really cool to return next year." To accommodate the escalated XFINITY Series growth, which Earnhardt Miller said has maxed out the team's resources, JR Motorsports has closed its truck series operation. Cole Custer , who drove the JRM No. 00 truck the last two seasons, has since moved on to Stewart-Haas Racing 's XFINITY program. As in past years, JR Motorsports plans to run an extra XFINITY entry in select races with Monster Energy NASCAR Cup drivers Earnhardt and Kasey Kahne behind the wheel for two races each. But at the heart of its growth are the core four XFINITY regulars, a direction chosen in light of new driver participation guidelines that go into effect in 2017. The continuity will keep JRM from scrambling to shuffle its roster once the Chase playoff begins and the limits on Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series drivers moonlighting in the XFINITY ranks become more stringent. But the organization will still need to make inroads against stout competition, especially Joe Gibbs Racing , which won 19 of the 33 XFINITY races last season and took the other two spots in the four-driver championship round. Reminded of the heady assignment a day after last season's finale, Allgaier was unwavering. "Even with the Gibbs guys," Allgaier said. "I don't know, I just feel like with the packages that we've seen of what's a possibility for the XFINITY Series next year, the work that we're doing at the shop and the cars and just all the things that we've been working on, I really think next year's an opportunity for us at JR Motorsports."
Stats advance: Analyzing Indianapolis
A statistical look ahead to the 20th race of the Sprint Cup season DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (July 20, 2015) -- Below is a look at some of the top statistical performers at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Speedway, Indiana going into Crown Royal presents the Jeff Kyle 400 at the Brickyard on July 26 (3:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN). INDIANAPOLIS-SPECIFIC STATISTICS Greg Biffle (No. 16 Lilly/American Diabetes Association Ford) · Three top fives, six top 10s · Average finish of 13.100, seventh-best · Average Running Position of 12.649, eighth-best · Driver Rating of 92.3, ninth-best · 60 Fastest Laps Run, seventh-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 169.968, eighth-fastest · 1062 Laps in the Top 15 (66.4), eighth-most · 217 Quality Passes, 10th-most Clint Bowyer (No. 15 5-Hour Energy Toyota) · Two top fives, two top 10s · Average finish of 13.556, ninth-best · Average Running Position of 14.450, 10th-best · Driver Rating of 85.0, 11th-best · 12 Fastest Laps Run, fifth-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 169.683, 13th-fastest · 845 Laps in the Top 15 (58.7), 11th-most · 194 Quality Passes, 11th-most Kyle Busch (No. 18 SKITTLES Toyota) · Three top fives, eight top 10s · Average finish of 10.600, fourth-best · Average Running Position of 12.311, seventh-best · Driver Rating of 98.5, sixth-best · 64 Fastest Laps Run, 10th-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 170.317, sixth-fastest · 1178 Laps in the Top 15 (73.6), sixth-most · 297 Quality Passes, fourth-most Carl Edwards (No. 19 STANLEY Toyota) · One top five, three top 10s · Average finish of 13.400, eighth-best · Average Running Position of 16.619, 13th-best · Driver Rating of 83.9, 13th-best · 44 Fastest Laps Run, sixth-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 169.725, 12th-fastest · 819 Laps in the Top 15 (51.2), 12th-most · 263 Quality Passes, sixth-most Jeff Gordon (No. 24 3M Chevrolet) · Five wins, 12 top fives, 17 top 10s; three poles · Average finish of 7.900, third-best · Average Running Position of 10.869, second-best · Driver Rating of 105.6, second-best · 157 Fastest Laps Run, 11th-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 170.820, series-fastest · 1252 Laps in the Top 15 (78.3), second-most · 315 Quality Passes, second-most Denny Hamlin (No. 11 FedEx Express Toyota) · Two top fives, four top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 15.333, 13th-best · Average Running Position of 15.540, 11th-best · Driver Rating of 90.6, 10th-best · 54 Fastest Laps Run, series-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 170.251, seventh-fastest · 851 Laps in the Top 15 (59.1), 10th-most · 227 Quality Passes, ninth-most Kevin Harvick (No. 4 Jimmy John's/ Budweiser Chevrolet) · One win, four top fives, eight top 10s; two poles · Average finish of 12.500, fifth-best · Average Running Position of 13.532, ninth-best · Driver Rating of 92.7, eighth-best · 34 Fastest Laps Run, ninth-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 169.740, 11th-fastest · 1057 Laps in the Top 15 (66.1), ninth-most · 254 Quality Passes, seventh-most Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 KOBALT TOOLS Chevrolet) · Four wins, five top fives, six top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 13.800, 10th-best · Average Running Position of 10.911, third-best · Driver Rating of 108.1, series-best · 173 Fastest Laps Run, fourth-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 170.814, second-fastest · 1192 Laps in the Top 15 (74.5), fifth-most · 248 Quality Passes, eighth-most Kasey Kahne (No. 5 Farmers Chevrolet) · Three top fives, six top 10s · Average finish of 14.400, 12th-best · Average Running Position of 11.911, fifth-best · Driver Rating of 100.1, fifth-best · 102 Fastest Laps Run, second-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 170.415, fifth-fastest · 1237 Laps in the Top 15 (77.3), fourth-most · 299 Quality Passes, third-most Matt Kenseth (No. 20 Dollar General Toyota) · Seven top fives, nine top 10s · Average finish of 12.600, sixth-best · Average Running Position of 12.194, sixth-best · Driver Rating of 96.6, seventh-best · 18 Fastest Laps Run, eighth-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 169.948, ninth-fastest · 1238 Laps in the Top 15 (77.4), third-most · 282 Quality Passes, fifth-most Brad Keselowski (No. 2 Miller Lite Ford) · Two top 10s · Average finish of 14.000, 11th-best · Average Running Position of 16.489, 12th-best · Driver Rating of 84.2, 12th-best · 30 Fastest Laps Run, third-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 169.882, 10th-fastest · 371 Laps in the Top 15 (46.4), 13th-most · 104 Quality Passes, 12th-most Kyle Larson (No. 42 Target Chevrolet) · One top 10 · Average finish of 7.000, series-best · Average Running Position of 9.212, series-best · Driver Rating of 104.4, third-best · 2 Fastest Laps Run, 13th-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 170.538, third-fastest · 148 Laps in the Top 15 (92.5), series-most · 36 Quality Passes, 13th-most Tony Stewart (No. 14 Mobil 1 / Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet) · Two wins, seven top fives, 11 top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 7.800, second-best · Average Running Position of 11.608, fourth-best · Driver Rating of 101.9, fourth-best · 98 Fastest Laps Run, 12th-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 170.478, fourth-fastest · 1095 Laps in the Top 15 (68.4), seventh-most · 319 Quality Passes, series-most The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series 2015 Top 16 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway Driver Races Poles Wins Top Fives Top 10s DNFs Average Finish Driver Rating 1 Kevin Harvick 14 2 1 4 8 0 10.7 92.7 2 Joey Logano 6 0 0 1 3 0 15.3 83.8 3 Dale Earnhardt Jr 15 0 0 1 5 3 18.6 82.5 4 Jimmie Johnson 13 1 4 5 6 3 15.5 108.1 5 Martin Truex Jr 10 0 0 0 1 1 20.8 73.2 6 Brad Keselowski 5 0 0 0 2 0 14 84.2 7 Matt Kenseth 15 0 0 7 9 2 14.3 96.6 8 Kurt Busch 14 0 0 1 4 2 20 73.9 9 Jamie McMurray 12 0 1 3 5 0 14.6 78.8 10 Jeff Gordon 21 3 5 12 17 1 8.4 105.6 11 Denny Hamlin 9 1 0 2 4 0 15.3 90.6 12 Kasey Kahne 11 0 0 3 6 2 13.5 100.1 13 Ryan Newman 14 1 1 2 3 2 17.2 79.6 14 Paul Menard 8 0 1 1 1 0 20.6 65.3 15 Aric Almirola 3 0 0 0 0 0 19 70.8 16 Clint Bowyer 9 0 0 2 2 0 13.6 85.0 * – Based on last 10 races at Indianapolis Motor Speedway (2005 – 2014). Indianapolis Motor Speedway Data Season Race #: 20 of 36 (07-26-15) Track Size : 2.5-miles Banking/Turns 1 & 2 : 9 degrees Banking/Turns 3 & 4 : 9 degrees Banking/Straights : 0 degrees Frontstretch Length : 3,330 feet Backstretch Length : 3,300 feet Race Length : 160 laps / 400 miles Top 10 Driver Ratings at Indianapolis Jimmie Johnson ........................ 108.1 Jeff Gordon .............................. 105.6 Kyle Larson ............................... 104.4 Tony Stewart ............................. 101.9 Kasey Kahne ............................. 100.1 Kyle Busch ................................. 98.5 Matt Kenseth .............................. 96.6 Kevin Harvick .............................. 92.7 Greg Biffle .................................. 92.3 Denny Hamlin ............................. 90.6 Note: Driver Ratings compiled from 2005-2014 races (10 total) among active drivers at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Qualifying/Race Data 2014 pole winner : Kevin Harvick , Chevrolet 188.470 mph, 47.753 secs. 07-25-14 2014 race winner : Jeff Gordon , Chevrolet 150.297 mph, (02:39:41), 07-27-14 Track qualifying record: Kevin Harvick , Chevrolet 188.889 mph, 47.647 secs. 07-25-14 (Set in Round 1 of 3) Track race record: Bobby Labonte , Pontiac 155.912 mph, (02:33:56), 08-05-00 At Indianapolis Motor Speedway: History · Indianapolis Motor Speedway has existed since 1909, and is the original "Speedway," the first racing facility to incorporate the word into its name. · With a permanent seating capacity for more than 250,000-plus people and infield seating that raises capacity to an approximate 400,000, it is the largest and highest-capacity sporting facility in history. · The first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway was August 6, 1994 – won by Jeff Gordon . Starts · There have been 21 NASCAR Sprint Cup races at Indianapolis Motor Speedway; one per year from 1994 through 2012. · 138 drivers have competed in at least one NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway; 107 in more than one. · Two drivers have competed in all 21 races at Indianapolis: Jeff Gordon and Bobby Labonte . Poles · Rick Mast won the inaugural Coors Light pole at Indianapolis in 1994 with a speed of 172.414 mph. · 17 drivers have Coors Light poles at Indianapolis, led by Jeff Gordon with three. · Two drivers have won consecutive Coors Light poles at Indianapolis: Jeff Gordon (1995-96) and Ernie Irvan (1997-98). · Youngest Indianapolis Coors Light pole winner: Reed Sorenson (07/29/2007 – 21 years, 5 months, 24 days). · Oldest Indianapolis Coors Light pole winner: Mark Martin (07/26/2009 – 50 years, 6 months, 17 days). · Reed Sorenson (07/29/07) is the only active driver to post his first career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coors Light pole at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Wins · 12 different drivers have won at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, led by Jeff Gordon with five; followed by his Hendrick Motorsports teammate, Jimmie Johnson , with four. · Jimmie Johnson is the only driver to have posted consecutive wins at Indianapolis Motor Speedway (2008 and 2009). · Youngest Indianapolis winner: Jeff Gordon (08/06/1994 – 23 years, 0 months, 2 days). · Oldest Indianapolis winner: Bill Elliott (08/04/2002 – 46 years, 9 months, 27 days). · Hendrick Motorsports leads the series in wins at Indianapolis in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series with nine; followed by Richard Childress Racing and Joe Gibbs Racing with three each. · Four different manufacturers have won at Indianapolis; led by Chevrolet with 16 victories; followed by Ford (three), Dodge and Pontiac each have one. · Chevrolet has won the last 12 consecutive NSCS races at Indianapolis – the longest active win streak by a manufacturer in the NSCS at a single track. · Only three of the 21 (14.2%) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Indianapolis have been won from the Coors Light pole: Kevin Harvick (2003), Jimmie Johnson (2008) and Ryan Newman (2013). · The pole and the third-place starting positions are the most proficient starting positions in the field, each producing three winners - more than any other starting positions at Indianapolis. · Five of the 21 (23.8%) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Indianapolis have been won from the front row: three from the pole and two from second-place. · 13 of the 21 (65%) NASCAR Sprint Cup races at Indianapolis have been won from a top-10 starting position. · Three of the 21 (14.2%) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Indianapolis have been won from a starting position outside the top 20. · The deepest in the field that a race winner has started at Indianapolis is 27th, by Jeff Gordon in 2001. · Six of the seven active NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race winners at Indianapolis Motor Speedway participated in at least one or more races before visiting Victory Lane. Jeff Gordon won the Brickyard 400 in his first start at Indianapolis. · Ryan Newman competed at Indianapolis Motor Speedway 12 times before winning in 2013; the longest span of any the seven active NASCAR Sprint Cup Series winners. · Dale Earnhardt Jr . and Matt Kenseth lead the series among active drivers with the most NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts at Indianapolis without visiting Victory Lane at 15 each. · Paul Menard (07/31/11) is the only NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver to have posted his first career NSCS win at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Additional Finishing Positions · NASCAR Hall of Famer Rusty Wallace leads the series in runner-up finishes at Indianapolis with three; followed by Kyle Busch , Bobby Labonte , Mark Martin and Matt Kenseth with two each. · Jeff Gordon leads the series in top-five finishes at Indianapolis with 12; followed by Tony Stewart and Matt Kenseth with seven each. · Jeff Gordon leads the series in top-10 finishes at Indianapolis with 17; followed by Tony Stewart and Mark Martin with 11 each. · Ryan Newman leads the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in average starting position at Indianapolis with a 7.143. · Jeff Gordon leads NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in average finishing position at Indianapolis with a 8.381. Track Specific Stats · Since the advent of electronic scoring the closest margin of victory (MOV) in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Indianapolis Motor Speedway was the August 3, 1997 race won by Ricky Rudd over Bobby Labonte with a MOV of 0.183 second. · Four out of the last five NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races have had a MOV larger than one second. · Only one of the 21 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races have resulted with a green-white-checkered finish at Indianapolis Motor Speedway (Scheduled No. of Laps/Actual No. of Laps): 2004 (160/161). · None of the 21 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Indianapolis Motor Speedway have been shortened due to weather conditions. · Qualifying has not been cancelled due to weather conditions in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. · Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in laps led at Indianapolis with 528 laps led in 21 starts. Female Competitor Stats · Danica Patrick became the first female driver to compete in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 2013. · Shawn
Stats advance: Analyzing the Goody's Headache Relief Shot 500
A statistical look ahead to the opening race of the Eliminator Round RELATED: Follow your picks in the Perfect Chase Grid Challenge for chance at $100,000 prize DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Below is a look at the eight Eliminators – and beyond – at Martinsville Speedway in Martinsville, Virginia going into the Goody's Headache Relief Shot 500 on October 26. MARTINSVILLE-SPECIFIC STATISTICS 1 - Joey Logano (No. 22 Shell Pennzoil Ford) · Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 106.6 2014 Rundown · Five wins, 15 top fives, 20 top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 11.5 · Led 20 races for 916 laps Martinsville Speedway Outlook: · Two top fives, three top 10s · Average finish of 14.8 in 11 races · Average Running Position of 16.0, 13th-best · Driver Rating of 82.3, 14th-best 2 - Kevin Harvick (No. 4 Outback Steakhouse Chevrolet) · Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 109.7 2014 Rundown · Three wins, 11 top fives, 17 top 10s; eight poles · Average finish of 13.4 · Led 24 races for 1,817 laps Martinsville Speedway Outlook: · One win, three top fives, 12 top 10s · Average finish of 15.8 in 26 races · Average Running Position of 13.7, eighth-best · Driver Rating of 93.2, eighth-best · 956 Green Flag Passes, eighth-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 91.163 mph, eighth-fastest · 6,348 Laps in the Top 15 (66.6%), sixth-most · 578 Quality Passes, sixth-most 3 - Ryan Newman (No. 31 Quicken Loans Chevrolet) · Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 85.1 2014 Rundown · Three top fives, 14 top 10s · Average finish of 13.3 · Led 7 races for 41 laps Martinsville Speedway Outlook: · One win, seven top fives, 11 top 10s; three poles · Average finish of 15.5 in 25 races · Average Running Position of 15.1, 10th-best · Driver Rating of 86.9, 10th-best · 1,008 Green Flag Passes, fifth-most · 5,419 Laps in the Top 15 (56.8%), ninth-most · 528 Quality Passes, ninth-most 4 - Denny Hamlin (No. 11 FedEx Freight Toyota) · Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 90.0 2014 Rundown · One win, six top fives, 14 top 10s; two poles · Average finish of 15.1 · Led 14 races for 218 laps Martinsville Speedway Outlook: · Four wins, nine top fives, 13 top 10s; three poles · Average finish of 8.8 in 17 races · Average Running Position of 9.0, third-best · Driver Rating of 109.6, third-best · 580 Fastest Laps Run, third-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 91.467 mph, third-fastest · 7,007 Laps in the Top 15 (82.1%), fourth-most · 609 Quality Passes, fifth-most 5 - Matt Kenseth (No. 20 Dollar General Toyota) · Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 91.6 2014 Rundown · 12 top fives, 19 top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 13.6 · Led 18 races for 468 laps Martinsville Speedway Outlook: · Four top fives, 10 top 10s · Average finish of 15.0 in 29 races · Average Running Position of 16.0, 12th-best · Driver Rating of 84.2, 12th-best · 173 Fastest Laps Run, 12th-most · 1,023 Green Flag Passes, fourth-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 91.042 mph, 11th-fastest 6 - Carl Edwards (No. 99 Ford Ecoboost Fusion Ford) · Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 81.7 2014 Rundown · Two wins, seven top fives, 13 top 10s · Average finish of 14.5 · Led 11 races for 135 laps Martinsville Speedway Outlook: · One top five, five top 10s · Average finish of 15.7 in 20 races · Average Running Position of 15.9, 11th-best · Driver Rating of 81.4, 15th-best · 1,036 Green Flag Passes, third-most · 5,181 Laps in the Top 15 (54.3%), 11th-most · 555 Quality Passes, eighth-most 7 - Jeff Gordon (No. 24 Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet) · Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 108.4 2014 Rundown · Four wins, 12 top fives, 20 top 10s; two poles · Average finish of 10.3 · Led 23 races for 743 laps Martinsville Speedway Outlook: · Eight wins, 27 top fives, 34 top 10s; seven poles · Average finish of 7.0 in 43 races · Average Running Position of 6.7, second-best · Driver Rating of 119.0, second-best · Series-high 1,034 Fastest Laps Run · 933 Green Flag Passes, 11th-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 91.684 mph, second-fastest · 8,375 Laps in the Top 15 (87.8%), second-most · Series-high 691 Quality Passes 8 - Brad Keselowski (No. 2 Alliance Truck Parts Ford) · Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 104.3 2014 Rundown · Six wins, 14 top fives, 17 top 10s; five poles · Average finish of 12.9 · Led 26 races for 1,518 laps Martinsville Speedway Outlook: · One top five, five top 10s · Average finish of 13.4 in nine races · Average Running Position of 16.2, 14th-best · Driver Rating of 84.5, 11th-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 91.102 mph, 10th-fastest 9 - Kyle Busch (No. 18 M&M's Halloween Toyota) · Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 90.0 2014 Rundown · One win, eight top fives, 14 top 10s; three poles · Average finish of 17.0 · Led 15 races for 453 laps Martinsville Speedway Outlook: · Eight top fives, nine top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 15.9 in 19 races · Average Running Position of 13.3, seventh-best · Driver Rating of 96.1, sixth-best · 409 Fastest Laps Run, fifth-most · 952 Green Flag Passes, ninth-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 91.342 mph, fifth-fastest · 6,587 Laps in the Top 15 (69.1%), fifth-most · 616 Quality Passes, fourth-most 10 - Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet) · Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 99.2 2014 Rundown · Three wins, 10 top fives, 18 top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 14.7 · Led 16 races for 1,119 laps Martinsville Speedway Outlook: · Eight wins, 18 top fives, 22 top 10s; three poles · Average finish of 5.2 in 25 races · Series-best Average Running Position of 5.6 · Series-best Driver Rating of 124.8 · 1,010 Fastest Laps Run, second-most · Series-best Average Green Flag Speed of 91.737 mph · Series-high 8,833 Laps in the Top 15 (92.6%) · 680 Quality Passes, second-most 11 - Kasey Kahne (No. 5 Great Clips Chevrolet) · Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 89.1 2014 Rundown · One win, three top fives, 11 top 10s · Average finish of 16.3 · Led 12 races for 218 laps Martinsville Speedway Outlook: · Three top fives, four top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 20.2 in 21 races · Average Running Position of 20.4, 20th-best · Driver Rating of 77.7, 19th-best · 255 Fastest Laps Run, ninth-most 12 - AJ Allmendinger (No. 47 Clorox Chevrolet) · Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 70.2 2014 Rundown · One win, two top fives, four top 10s · Average finish of 20.2 · Led 5 races for 68 laps Martinsville Speedway Outlook: · One top five, two top 10s · Average finish of 20.6 in 12 races · Average Running Position of 21.3, 23rd-best · Driver Rating of 70.8, 22nd-best 13 - Dale Earnhardt Jr . (No. 88 National Guard Chevrolet) · Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 96.6 2014 Rundown · Three wins, 11 top fives, 17 top 10s · Average finish of 12.8 · Led 15 races for 300 laps Martinsville Speedway Outlook: · 11 top fives, 16 top 10s · Average finish of 12.8 in 29 races · Average Running Position of 10.8, fourth-best · Driver Rating of 99.9, fourth-best · 471 Fastest Laps Run, fourth-most · Series-high 1,111 Green Flag Passes · Average Green Flag Speed of 91.374 mph, fourth-fastest · 7,393 Laps in the Top 15 (77.5%), third-most · 668 Quality Passes, third-most 14 - Greg Biffle (No. 16 3M Ford) · Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 78.6 2014 Rundown · Three top fives, 10 top 10s · Average finish of 16.1 · Led 7 races for 110 laps Martinsville Speedway Outlook: · Five top 10s · Average finish of 20.1 in 23 races · Average Running Position of 20.6, 21st-best · Driver Rating of 70.5, 23rd-best · 1,068 Green Flag Passes, second-most 15 - Kurt Busch (No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet) · Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 86.5 2014 Rundown · One win, six top fives, nine top 10s · Average finish of 19.4 · Led 12 races for 183 laps Martinsville Speedway Outlook: · Two wins, three top fives, five top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 20.8 in 28 races · Average Running Position of 18.2, 18th-best · Driver Rating of 79.0, 18th-best · 987 Green Flag Passes, sixth-most 16 - Aric Almirola (No. 43 Smithfield Ford) · Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 72.4 2014 Rundown · One win, two top fives, seven top 10s · Average finish of 21.6 · Led 5 races for 23 laps Martinsville Speedway Outlook: · One top five, three top 10s · Average finish of 24.0 in 11 races · Average Running Position of 23.9, 30th-best · Driver Rating of 64.8, 27th-best The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series 2014 Eliminator Eight at Martinsville Speedway Driver Races Poles Wins Top Fives Top 10s DNFs Average Finish Driver Rating 1 Joey Logano 11 0 0 2 3 0 14.8 82.3 2 Kevin Harvick 26 0 1 3 12 1 15.8 93.2 3 Ryan Newman 25 3 1 7 11 2 15.5 86.9 4 Denny Hamlin 17 3 4 9 13 1 8.8 109.6 5 Matt Kenseth 29 0 0 4 10 2 15.0 84.2 6 Carl Edwards 20 0 0 1 5 0 15.7 81.4 7 Jeff Gordon 43 7 8 27 34 0 7.0 119.0 8 Brad Keselowski 9 0 0 1 5 0 13.4 84.5 * – Based on last 19 races at Martinsville Speedway (2005 – 2014). Martinsville Speedway: History · Opened in September 1947 by H. Clay Earles , Martinsville, originally a dirt track, is one of the oldest continuously-operating race tracks in the United States. · The first NASCAR-sanctioned race at Martinsville was on July 4, 1948. · The first NASCAR Sprint Cup race was Sept. 25, 1949. · The track was paved in 1955. · The first 500-lap event at Martinsville was in 1956. · Concrete corners were added atop asphalt in 1976. Notebook · There have been 131 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Martinsville Speedway , one in the inaugural year and two races per year since 1950. · 599 drivers have competed in at least one NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Martinsville; 376 in more than one. · NASCAR Hall of Famer Richard Petty has the all-time most NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts at Martinsville with 67 starts; Jeff Gordon has the most among active drivers with 43. · Curtis Turner won the inaugural Coors Light pole at Martinsville Speedway in 1949. · 58 drivers have Coors Light poles at Martinsville, led by NASCAR Hall of Famer Darrell Waltrip with eight; Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers with seven. · 12 drivers have won two or more consecutive Coors Light poles at Martinsville Speedway . Four of the 12 have won three consecutive poles at Martinsville: Glen Wood (Fall of 1959 and 1960 sweep); Darrell Waltrip (1979 sweep and spring 1980); Mark Martin (fall of 1990 and 1991 sweep); Jeff Gordon (2003 sweep and spring 2004). · Youngest Martinsville pole winner: Ricky Rudd (4/26/1981 – 24 years, 7 months, 14 days). · Oldest Martinsville pole winner: Morgan Shepherd (4/26/1987 – 45 years, 6 months, 14 days). · 47 different drivers have won at Martinsville Speedway , led by Richard Petty with 15; Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon lead the series among active drivers with eight wins each. · 24 drivers have multiple wins at Martinsville Speedway only five active drivers have multiple wins: Jimmie Johnson (eight), Jeff Gordon (eight), Denny Hamlin (four), Tony Stewart (three) and Kurt Busch (two). · Hendrick Motorsports leads the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in wins at Martinsville Speedway with 21. · 21 of 131 races (16.0%) at Martinsville Speedway have been won from the Coors Light pole; seven of those 21 wins came from active drivers: Tony Stewart (2000), Jeff Gordon (2003 twice), Jimmie Johnson (2008, 2012, spring 2013) and Denny Hamlin (2010). · The Coors Light pole is the most proficient starting spot in the field at Martinsville producing more wins (21) than any other starting position. · 36 of the 131 (27.4 %) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Martinsville Speedway have been won from the front row: 21 from the pole and 15 from second-place. · 95 of the 131 (72.5%) NASCAR Sprint Cup races at Martinsville Speedway have been won from a top-10 starting position. · Six of the 131 (4.5%) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Martinsville Speedway have been won from a starting position outside the top 20. · The deepest in the field that a race winner has started was 36th, by Kurt Busch in the fall of 2002. · Youngest Martinsville winner: Richard Petty (04/10/1960 – 22 years, 9 months, 8 days). · Oldest Martinsville winner: Harry Gant (09/22/1991 – 51 years, 8 months, 12 days). · NASCAR Hall of Famer Dale Earnhardt leads the series in runner-up finishes at Martinsville Speedway with seven; Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson lead all active drivers with four each. · Richard Petty leads the series in top-five finishes at Martinsville Speedway with 30; Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers with 27, followed by Jimmie Johnson with 18. · Richard Petty leads the series in top-10 finishes at Martinsville Speedway with 37; Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers with 34, followed by Jimmie Johnson with 22. · Jeff Gordon leads active drivers in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in average starting position at Martinsville Speedway with a 7.186. Ryan Newman (9.680) and Denny Hamlin (9.765) are the only two other active drivers with an average starting position at Martinsville inside the top-10. · Three active drivers have a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series average finish in the top-10 at Martinsville: Jimmie Johnson (5.200), Jeff Gordon (6.953) and Denny Hamlin (8.765). · There have been five NSCS green-white-checkered finishes at Martinsville Speedway : fall 2007 (500/506), fall 2008 (500/504), fall 2009 (500/501), spring 2010 (500/508), and spring 2012 (500/515). · Qualifying has been cancelled due to weather conditions eight times in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Martinsville Speedway ; the most recent was the fall race of 2011. · Jeff Gordon has participated in the most NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Martinsville Speedway without a DNF (43). · Tony Stewart (4/18/1999) and Scott Riggs (4/10/2005) won their first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coors Light poles at Martinsville Speedway . · Mike Bliss (09/27/1998), Travis Kvapil (10/24/2004), Michael McDowell (3/30/2008) and Scott Speed (10/19/2008) made their first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series career starts at Martinsville Speedway . · 12 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers have posted consecutive wins at Martinsville Speedway . Fred Lorenzen won four NSCS races straight (the most) from the fall of 1963 through the spring of 1965. · All eight active NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers who have won at Martinsville Speedway participated in at least two or more races before visiting Victory Lane. Tony Stewart won at Martinsville with the fewest previous appearances (three). · Ryan Newman competed at Martinsville Speedway 20 times before winning in the spring of 2012; the longest span of any the eight active NASCAR Sprint Cup Series winners. · Four drivers have made eight or more attempts before their first win at Martinsville Speedway : Kevin Harvick (19) and Ryan Newman (20). · Since the advent of electronic scoring the closest margin of victory in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Martinsville Speedway is the 4/1/2007 race won by Jimmie Johnson with a MOV of 0.065 second. · Danica Patrick is the only female driver to compete at Martinsville Speedway in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Driver Starting Position Finishing Position Date Danica Patrick 10 32 3/30/2014 Danica Patrick 41 17 10/27/2013 Danica Patrick 32 12 4/7/2013 · Seven car numbers have produced five or more Martinsville Speedway NSCS wins: Car Number – Drivers – (Years) o No. 43 – Richard Petty (1960, ’62, ’63, ’67 sweep, ’68, ’69 sweep, ’70, ’71, ’72 sweep, ’73, ’75 and ’79); John Andretti (1999) o No. 11 – Cale Yarborough (1974, ’76, ’77 sweep, ‘78); Darrell Waltrip (1981, ’82, ’83, ’84); Geoff Bodine (1990 sweep); Denny Hamlin (2008, ’09, ’10 sweep) o No . 28 – Fred Lorenzen (1961, ’63, ’64 sweep, ‘65 and ‘66); Buddy Baker (1979); Ernie Irvan (1993). o No . 2 – Dale Earnhardt (1980); Rusty Wallace (1993, ‘94 sweep, ’95, ’96 and ‘04) o No . 48 – Jimmie Johnson (2004, ’06, ’07 sweep, ’08, ’09, ’12, ‘13) o No . 24 – Jeff Gordon (1996, ’97, ’99, ’03 sweep and ’05 sweep, fall 2013) o No . 3 – Ricky Rudd (1983); Dale Earnhardt (1985, ’87, ’88, ’91, ’95) NASCAR in Virginia · There have been 285 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races among nine tracks in Virginia. Track Name City NSCS Martinsville Speedway Martinsville 131 Richmond International Raceway Richmond 117 South Boston Speedway South Boston 10 Langley Field Speedway Hampton 9 Old Dominion Speedway Manassas 7 Southside Speedway Richmond 4 Starkey Speedway Roanoke 4 Norfolk Speedway Norfolk 2 Princess Anne Speedway Norfolk 1 · 172 drivers in NASCAR national series history have their home state recorded as Virginia. · 19 drivers from Virginia have won at least one race in NASCAR’s three national series. 11 of the 19 Virginia native NASCAR winners have won in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Driver NSCS NNS NCWTS Joe Weatherly 25 0 0 Denny Hamlin 24 11 2 Ricky Rudd 23 1 0 Jeff Burton 21 27 0 Curtis Turner 17 0 0 Ward Burton 5 4 0 Glen Wood 4 0 0 Elliott Sadler 3 10 1 Emanuel Zervakis 2 0 0 Lennie Pond 1 0 0 Wendell Scott 1 0 0 Tommy Ellis 0 22 0 Jimmy Hensley 0 9 2 Rick Mast 0 9 0 Hermie Sadler 0 2 0 Elton Sawyer 0 2 0 Stacy Compton 0 0 2 Jon Wood 0 0 2 Jeb Burton 0 0 1 MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL CHASE COVERAGE • Chase hub page • Chase Grid games • #MyChaseNation
Rick Hendrick honored to win 12th NSCS Championship
Rick Hendrick looks back on Hendrick Motor Sports' spectacular 2016 season which includes Jimmie Johnson's record-tying seventh NSCS title.
Prolonged excellence has Childress Hall of Fame bound
RELATED: Learn more about the Class of 2017 MORE: Photos from voting day, of class Journeyman stock car racer Richard Childress caught lightning in a bottle, not once but twice. NASCAR's only driver strike, on the eve of the 1969 inaugural race at Talladega Superspeedway , gave Childress the opportunity to earn enough money to build his first race shop and lay the foundation for Richard Childress Racing , the powerhouse Chevrolet organization which to date has claimed 11 owner titles across NASCAR’s three national series. Nearly a decade later, the Winston-Salem, North Carolina native met Dale Earnhardt. Together, the pair won six NASCAR premier series championships along with 67 races between 1984 and 2000. Earnhardt entered the NASCAR Hall of Fame as a member of its 2010 inaugural class. Childress will be enshrined in the hall on Jan. 20 in Charlotte, N.C. (8 p.m. ET on NBCSN), along with Rick Hendrick, Mark Martin, Raymond Parks and Benny Parsons. Childress, 71, grew up selling peanuts and popcorn at Winston-Salem's legendary Bowman Gray Stadium. Soon after, he bought a 1947 Plymouth for $20. "That's where it started," he said in a Grainger.com interview. "It's the best investment I ever made." Top drivers – those with factory contracts – made a decent living while independents like Childress barely scraped by. He went to Talladega in the fall of 1969 to compete in a preliminary event but was asked by NASCAR founder Bill France Sr. to enter the Talladega 500 when Professional Driver Association members withdrew, citing high speeds and tire failures. "I had made three or four thousand dollars on Saturday," Childress told The Birmingham News in 2009. "The money that (France) paid us to run – we called it deal money in those days – plus my winnings, I came back with seven, eight, 10 thousand dollars. In those days it was big money. "It was my big break. Life’s all about the breaks and when you take advantage of them. That was the difference between making it and not making it." Childress never won a race as a driver but was able to secure enough sponsorship to keep going. His equipment generally was immaculate and pleased supporters, who ultimately would provide much greater – and crucial – financial backing. Earnhardt, who'd won his first championship in 1980, chose not to accompany Rod Osterlund's team upon its sale to J.D. Stacy. He joined Childress for 11 races, replacing the owner in the driver's seat. "I didn't want to get out of the car but I knew the opportunity was there – and I didn't want to pass it up," Childress told Foxnews.com last year. "I knew Dale was a championship driver. That was one of the biggest breaks in the history of RCR and Richard Childress. "I was maxxed out. I did everything I could do on my home. I sold everything I thought I had that I could sell just to run Dale in those (11) races." Earnhardt left to race for Bud Moore, and Childress – thanks to a bail-out from primary sponsor Wrangler Jeans – was able to continue. With Ricky Rudd, RCR scored its first victory in June 1983 at Riverside International Raceway. Earnhardt returned to RCR the following season, capturing the team’s first premier series title in 1986. Additional championships followed in 1987, 1990-91 and 1993-94. Longtime racing executive and Charlotte Motor Speedway promoter H.A. “Humpy” Wheeler credited Childress for molding Earnhardt into one of NASCAR's greatest drivers. "In his own, quiet Southern way, Richard instilled in Dale all he knew," Wheeler wrote in "Growing Up NASCAR." "Richard knew what to say and when to say it and he knew how to get the best out of his driver. Richard was a brilliant, brilliant coach, something most drivers never get." Earnhardt and Childress finally won the long-elusive Daytona 500 in 1998, three years before the driver's death on the final lap of the "Great American Race." Childress considered leaving the sport – "Probably all the way up until Tuesday. Sunday night, definitely," he said – but recalled a hunting incident after which he and Earnhardt agreed each would go on if something happened to the other. RCR promoted its NASCAR XFINITY Series driver Kevin Harvick to drive its Chevrolets – retiring the iconic No. 3 in deference to the late Intimidator. Childress returned the number to its cars several years ago when his grandson, Austin Dillon , moved to the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series after winning NASCAR Camping World Truck and XFINITY titles. To date, RCR has won 105 NASCAR premier series races. The organization counts four XFINITY owner titles and the inaugural NASCAR Camping World Truck Series owner championship in 1995 with Mike Skinner. RCR also captured the XFINITY Series driver championship in 2013 and the Camping World Truck Series driver title in 2011, both with Austin Dillon . Childress, recipient of the 1986 Bill France Award of Excellence, is a member of the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America, International Motorsports Hall of Fame and North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame. &amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;
Darlington Raceway now hosts 'Official Throwback Weekend of NASCAR'
RELATED: See all of last year's paint schemes DARLINGTON, SOUTH CAROLINA (Jan. 10, 2017) -- It's now official! Darlington Raceway and its Labor Day race weekend are now being recognized as “The Official Throwback Weekend of NASCAR." The designation ensures that the official historical celebration of the sport will continue to take place at the famed 1.366-mile superspeedway in Darlington, South Carolina. "We have worked closely with NASCAR to ensure that Darlington Raceway now has the exclusive rights to the Official Throwback Weekend of NASCAR for promotions and advertising of our event," said Kerry Tharp, Darlington Raceway president. "Our return to Labor Day weekend, coupled with the Throwback theme has elevated our event across the entire sport and this move only solidifies that among our fans, race teams, sponsors, broadcast partners and media, among others." The track's award-winning throwback campaign has earned rave reviews throughout the industry since its inception in 2015. The campaign has aligned all key stakeholders in the sport and provided a historical celebration that has earned much praise from fans and corporate partners. It was because of this collaboration over the past two seasons that NASCAR recognized the importance of the track's throwback weekend and in turn will now celebrate The Official Throwback Weekend of NASCAR at the sport's original paved superspeedway, which opened and began hosting NASCAR events in 1950. The track's 2016 throwback campaign last season featured a celebration of 1975-84 including the following highlights: • Over 35 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race teams competed with throwback paint schemes for the Bojangles' Southern 500 , the most in any single NASCAR event in the sport's history. • Over 18 NASCAR XFINITY Series teams competed with throwback paint schemes. • Use of NASCAR's famed "NASCAR International" logo for the second consecutive year. • For the second straight year, Goodyear put the original white lettering on its race tires specifically for the Bojangles' Southern 500 . • NBC did another throwback broadcast of the race featuring old station logos and graphics. NASCAR legends Ken Squier, Ned Jarrett and Dale Jarrett did a special throwback broadcast during the race for the second straight year. • Honored 14 NASCAR Hall of Fame members at the Bojangles' Legends Breakfast. • 2017 NHOF inductees Rick Hendrick, Richard Childress and Mark Martin served as the Bojangles' Southern 500 grand marshals. • Unique food offerings from the 1975-84 time period, including the pimento cheese sandwich. • Pre-race concert by rock legends KANSAS and national anthem performance by Barry Williams (of Brady Bunch fame). The Tradition Continues on Labor Day weekend as the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Bojangles' Southern 500 ® is set for Sunday, Sept. 3, 2017. The NASCAR XFINITY Series VFW Sport Clips Help A Hero 200 will race on Saturday, Sept. 2, 2017. You can keep up with all of the latest news from Darlington Raceway at DarlingtonRaceway.com , on Facebook at Facebook.com/DarlingtonRaceway and on Twitter at Twitter.com/TooToughToTame . &amp;lt;/p&amp;gt;
Parks set the standard during NASCAR's early era
RELATED: Learn more about the Class of 2017 MORE: Photos from Voting Day DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- As one of early stock car racing's most successful car owners, it is appropriate that Raymond Parks captured the first two championships offered by the fledgling National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing, an organization Parks helped form in 1947. Parks and his driver, Red Byron, won NASCAR's modified title in 1948. The pair, along with mechanic Red Vogt, became the sanctioning body's 1949 Strictly Stock champions -- the initial season of what is now the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. The Dawson County, Georgia, native and his racing team were gone from NASCAR after 1955, winning just twice. But Parks, who died in 2010 at the age of 96, was seen as one of the sport's seminal figures and a visionary. "He set the standard. Mr. Parks brought the sport class," said NASCAR Hall of Famer Richard Petty in a speedwaymedia.com interview shortly after Parks' death. "It took people like Mr. Parks to lay the foundation we're living off of. "And without him, we wouldn't have the history we have and we wouldn't be where we are today." Parks' contributions will be celebrated Jan. 20 in Charlotte, North Carolina, when he will be inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame (8 p.m. ET on NBCSN). His fellow inductees among the Hall's Class of 2017 are Richard Childress, Rick Hendrick, Mark Martin and Benny Parsons. Parks was born in the north Georgia mountains in 1914, the eldest of his father's 16 children. By age 14, Parks had run away from home, landing in Atlanta where he worked at a still and later went into business for himself, bringing liquor from Dawsonville to Atlanta restaurants. He later branched out into legitimate enterprises supplying businesses with vending machines and jukeboxes. "He always kept his dignity and his kindness, always behaved more like one of Atlanta's most sophisticated businessmen, always was dapper in his finest hats and tailored suits," wrote Ed Hinton for ESPN.com in June 2010, shortly after Parks' passing. In the 1930s, Parks added stock car racing to his resume, fielding some of the region's fastest cars with a driver's roster that included Byron, Lloyd Seay, Roy Hall, Bob and Fonty Flock and NASCAR Hall of Famer Curtis Turner. He was instantly visible at the track, always dressed in wool suit, tie and fedora hat. A famous photograph shows Park changing tires on one of his cars during the inaugural Southern 500 at Darlington, South Carolina, still wearing his white shirt and tie. Parks served with the U.S. Army's 99th Infantry Division during World War II, fighting in the 1944-45 Battle of the Bulge in Belgium. Returning home, Parks resumed racing, frequently fielding two and three cars. His team won all five Daytona Beach beach-road course races in 1945 and 1946. "He came back with a vengeance, more determined to do and accomplish things he felt like he already should have done," said Ray Fox, a master mechanic, engine builder and NASCAR official. Parks was among some three dozen racing figures who gathered in December 1947 at the Streamline Hotel in Daytona Beach to create NASCAR, under direction of fellow driver and race promoter William "Big Bill" France. Like France, Parks believed that a rough and tumble, frequently disorganized activity could become a nationally recognized sport like baseball or football. Parks financially supported the organization during its early years and boosted NASCAR's image apart from jalopy racing. "He kept his cars clean and neat like they do today," said NASCAR Hall of Famer Glen Wood in 2010. "The rest of us just kind of beat them out if they got banged up. He would have still been around today if he had kept on until the factories got into it. "He opened a lot of doors and windows to how to do things and taught a lot of racers how to do it better." Fellow NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee Junior Johnson concurred. "Anywhere he showed up, he had the best cars," said Johnson in the ESPN.com obituary. "He's been an asset (to the sport) all his life to it." Parks left NASCAR to become a successful developer and owner of service stations and convenience stores. Parks was inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in 2009. He also was part of the inaugural class inducted into the Georgia Racing Hall of Fame. &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;gt;
Driver lineup set for NASCAR Fan Appreciation Day
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- In what has become a much-anticipated season kick-off event, NASCAR will offer FREE admission to the NASCAR Hall of Fame as part of NASCAR Fan Appreciation Day. That's just one of the many exciting offerings during the day-long celebration of NASCAR's passionate fans, scheduled for Saturday, Jan. 21 in Charlotte, North Carolina. NASCAR stars past and present will participate in autograph and Q&A sessions throughout the day, in addition to free access to the Hall. Fans will be admitted into the Hall on a first-come, first-served basis in lieu of needing a ticket. Doors open at 8 a.m. However, tickets to the below autograph sessions, featuring stars from all three NASCAR national series, must be secured in advance. Tickets for these autograph sessions will be available for free on NASCARHall.com starting at 10 a.m. ET on Saturday, Jan. 7. Each fan can secure up to two tickets for one of the seven autograph sessions (one ticket for an individual or two tickets for an individual and their guest). Session 1 (9:30 a.m. ET): Richard Childress, Austin Dillon , Ty Dillon Session 2 (10:30 a.m. ET): Aric Almirola , Ryan Reed , Timothy Peters Session 3 (11:30 a.m. ET): Kasey Kahne , Daniel Suarez , John Hunter Nemechek Session 4 (12:30 p.m. ET): Martin Truex Jr., Brandon Jones , Noah Gragson Session 5 (2 p.m. ET): Chase Elliott , Blake Koch , Kaz Grala Session 6 (3 p.m. ET): David Ragan , Brennan Poole , Christopher Bell Session 7 (4 p.m. ET): Paul Menard , Brendan Gaughan , Johnny Sauter Q&A sessions with all of the above drivers will begin 30 minutes prior to their autograph session and are open to all guests. In addition, members of the NASCAR Next program and NASCAR Hall of Fame Class of 2017 inductees Rick Hendrick and Mark Martin will participate in Q&As for all those in attendance. NASCAR Fan Appreciation Day will follow the previous evening's NASCAR Hall of Fame Class of 2017 Induction Ceremony on Jan. 20 (8 p.m. ET on NBCSN). As in previous years, current Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series stars will help present each inductee. Scheduled to present at this year's induction ceremony are seven-time premier series champion Jimmie Johnson , Matt Kenseth , Kevin Harvick , Brad Keselowski , Austin Dillon and Ty Dillon . For tickets to the Induction Ceremony, visit nascarhall.com/inductees/induction-ceremony .
Rick Hendrick: Dale Jr. 'on track' for Daytona 500
MORE: Buy tickets for Homestead-Miami Championship Weekend HOMESTEAD, Fla. -- Team owner Rick Hendrick shed light Friday on Dale Earnhardt Jr .'s timetable to return to NASCAR competition, saying he anticipated his driver to be on pace to compete in time for the 2017 Daytona 500 . Earnhardt Jr., 42, has been sidelined from the Hendrick Motorsports No. 88 Chevrolet since July after two severe crashes left him with concussion-like symptoms. He was ruled out for the remainder of the Sprint Cup season in September. "I think sometime in December the doctor's going to give him the final clearance and then we'll get him in a car," Hendrick said Friday after a news conference with the Sprint Cup Championship 4 car owners at Homestead-Miami Speedway . "He feels great. Everything's on track. I mean, every step that we supposedly need to go through, we've gone through, and I don't see anything holding us back." Earnhardt, who has been working on rehabilitation of his neurological conditions since this summer, reiterated that intention last month at Martinsville Speedway , saying in a pre-race interview that "we're booking things as normal" ahead of the 2017 season. That included sponsorship plans, photo shoots and other logistical agreements in preparation for next year. But Earnhardt Jr. also indicated he was eager to return to NASCAR's premier series, something Hendrick reaffirmed Friday. "He sent me a text the other day that he was excited and waiting for Daytona," Hendrick said. "I think we've just got a couple more hurdles to clear." Jeff Gordon and Alex Bowman have split time in Earnhardt's No. 88 this season, with Gordon filling in for eight races and Bowman set to make his 10th start of the year in Sunday's season-ending Ford EcoBoost 400 (2:30 p.m. ET, NBC, MRN, SiriusXM) at Homestead-Miami Speedway . Gordon has indicated that he's likely to resume his retirement from racing next season unless called upon by Hendrick. As for Bowman, the 23-year-old racer who competes part-time in the XFINITY Series has said he's still uncertain what his driving responsibilities -- beyond simulator work for Hendrick's team -- will be in 2017. Friday, Hendrick was uncertain as well. "Alex is a good guy. He's helped us in a lot of ways," Hendrick said. "We're just kind of taking that one a day at a time. He's done testing for us, he's done simulation for us and he's really done a good job. We're just kind of taking it a day at a time. We don't really have any certain plan." &amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;