Jones, Hayley also post top speeds Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live RELATED: See full practice results HAMPTON, Ga. -- After propelling his No. 29 Toyota at 178.695 mph around Atlanta Motor Speedway, BK Racing team owner Brad Keselowski soared to the top of the leaderboard during Friday's final NASCAR Camping World Truck Series practice for the Hyundai Construction Equipment 200 (Saturday, Feb. 28 at 5:30 p.m. ET, FS1). Kyle Busch Motorsports' Erik Jones came in second, circling the Georgia track at 178.677 mph in his No. 4 Toyota. ThorSport Racing's Cameron Hayley made a late run during the session, ultimately propelling his No. 13 ride to third-fastest on the board with a top speed of 178.482 mph. Kyle Busch Motorsports' Daniel Suarez and Athenian Motorsports' John Wes Townley rounded out the top five, recording high speeds of 178.040 mph and 177.903 mph, respectively. Halfway through the session, Ray Black Jr. scraped the wall in Turn 2 in his No. 07 Team Scuba Chevrolet. Cody Ware followed up the incident with a loss of power in his No. 50 Rick Ware Racing Chevrolet, which brought out the caution flag for the second time during the two-hour session. The yellow flag was displayed earlier in practice for debris. Black and Ware ended up with 21st and 25th-place rankings on the leaderboard, respectively. The Camping World Truck Series is back on the track on Saturday, Feb. 28 at 10:40 a.m. for Keystone Light Pole Qualifying, with coverage on FOX Sports 1. MORE: READ: Latest NASCAR news PLAY: Sign up for Fantasy Live WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView today FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
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
Nominee for the NASCAR Hall of Fame
This week's host, Matthew Strickert takes you on a stroll of the NASCAR XFINITY Series garage at a sunny, but chilly Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Evernham, Kulwicki, Martin added to ballot; Landmark Award nominees named Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live DAYTONA BEACH, Fla.— Legendary engine builders, crew chiefs, owners and drivers. Their roles and responsibilities may have differed, but they all have one trait in common – each made an everlasting mark on NASCAR history. NASCAR today announced the 20 nominees for the NASCAR Hall of Fame’s Class of 2016, as well as the five nominees for the Landmark Award for Outstanding Contributions to NASCAR. Included among the list are five first-time nominees – legends all – who exceled in various disciplines, at various levels. RELATED: Photo gallery of the Class of 2016 nominees Among them are three-time NASCAR premier series championship crew chief Ray Evernham; 1970 NASCAR premier series championship crew chief Harry Hyde; 1992 NASCAR premier series champion Alan Kulwicki; winner of a combined 96 NASCAR national series races, Mark Martin; and 1986 NASCAR west series champion Hershel McGriff. For a full list of nominees, please see below. The nominees were selected by a nominating committee consisting of representatives from NASCAR and the NASCAR Hall of Fame, track owners from both major facilities and historic short tracks and the media. The committee's votes were tabulated by accounting firm Ernst & Young. From the list of 20 NASCAR Hall of Fame nominees, five inductees will be elected by the NASCAR Hall of Fame Voting Panel, which includes a nationwide fan vote on NASCAR.com. Voting Day for the 2016 class will be Wednesday, May 20. The five nominees for the Landmark Award are Harold Brasington, H. Clay Earles, Raymond Parks, Ralph Seagraves and Ken Squier (more on each below). Potential Landmark Award recipients include competitors or those working in the sport as a member of a racing organization, track facility, race team, sponsor, media partner or being a general ambassador for the sport through a professional or non-professional role. Award winners remain eligible for NHOF enshrinement. Following are the 20 nominees for induction into the NASCAR Hall of Fame, listed alphabetically: Buddy Baker, won 19 times in NASCAR's premier (now Sprint Cup) series, including the Daytona 500 and Southern 500 Red Byron , first NASCAR premier series champion, in 1949 Richard Childress, 11-time car owner champion in NASCAR’s three national series Jerry Cook , six-time NASCAR Modified champion Ray Evernham , three-time NASCAR premier series championship crew chief Ray Fox , legendary engine builder and owner of cars driven by Buck Baker, Junior Johnson and others Rick Hendrick, 14-time car owner champion in NASCAR's three national series Harry Hyde , 1970 NASCAR premier series championship crew chief Bobby Isaac , 1970 NASCAR premier series champion Alan Kulwicki , 1992 NASCAR premier series champion Terry Labonte , two-time NASCAR premier series champion Mark Martin , 96-time race winner in NASCAR national series competition Hershel McGriff, 1986 NASCAR west series champion Raymond Parks , NASCAR's first champion car owner Benny Parsons , 1973 NASCAR premier series champion Larry Phillips , only five-time NASCAR weekly series national champion O. Bruton Smith , builder of Charlotte Motor Speedway and architect of Speedway Motorsports Inc. Mike Stefanik , winner of record-tying nine NASCAR championships Curtis Turner, early personality, called the "Babe Ruth of stock car racing" Robert Yates , won NASCAR premier series championship as both an engine builder and owner The five nominees for the Landmark Award are as follows… Harold Brasington , founder of Darlington Speedway H. Clay Earles , founder of Martinsville Speedway Raymond Parks , NASCAR's first champion car owner Ralph Seagraves , formed groundbreaking Winston-NASCAR partnership as executive with R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company Ken Squier , legendary radio and television broadcaster; inaugural winner/namesake of Squier-Hall Award for NASCAR Media Excellence The 22-person Nominating Committee are as follows... NOMINATION COMMITTEE NASCAR Hall of Fame: Executive Director Winston Kelley; Historian Buz McKim. NASCAR Officials: Chairman / CEO Brian France; Vice Chairman Jim France; Vice Chairman of NASCAR Mike Helton; Chief Operating Officer Brent Dewar; Executive Vice President / Chief Racing Development Officer Steve O’Donnell; Executive Vice President / Chief Marketing Officer Steve Phelps; Senior Vice President of Competition Robin Pemberton; Competition Administrator Jerry Cook (Note: Due to Jerry Cook's inclusion on the ballot for the NHOF Class of 2015, he was recused from voting for the Class of 2016 nominees.) Track Owners/Operators: International Speedway Corporation CEO Lesa Kennedy; Martinsville Speedway President Clay Campbell; Texas Motor Speedway President Eddie Gossage; Atlanta Motor Speedway President Ed Clark; former Indianapolis Motor Speedway President Tony George; Dover Motorsports CEO Denis McGlynn; Pocono Raceway board of directors member Looie McNally; Bowman Gray Stadium operator Dale Pinilis; Holland Motorsports Complex operator Ron Bennett; Rockford Speedway operator Jody Deery; West Coast representative Ken Clapp. Media: Mike Joy, FOX. MORE: READ: Latest NASCAR news PLAY: Sign up for Fantasy Live WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView today
From the feathers to the wins, driver has left lasting impression Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- A young Jeff Gordon preferred to let his No. 24 car do the talking for him. Consequently, he didn't have to tell his '90s crew when he was ready to take the checkered. Instead, the crew interpreted the two simple signs. First, Gordon would grow quiet on the radio, fading to eventual silence. The iconic No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet whirled around the track, providing plenty of nonverbal commentary with its vibrant, rainbow-colored exterior. And when Gordon passed by his pit box seconds later, one final action let his crew know it was winning time. “The story was, he had the feathers on his helmet, and when he would get really focused, he would lean over and you could see the feathers through the window net,” No. 5/24 Team Manager Brian Whitesell recalled. “And you knew he was getting serious. So you would always joke about ‘OK, we’re seeing the feathers, it’s about to get on now.’” Gordon’s competitive nature and intensity in the car are two of the many qualities that Whitesell and other Hendrick Motorsports shop employees will miss when Gordon retires from full-time competition in 2016. Many No. 5/24 shop employees have called the sprawling campus of Hendrick Motorsports “home” for over 20 years, spending their days laboring Gordon's race cars upon the spotless white floors of the shop. And each of these veterans can recount stories about a young Gordon from a different era of racing. “He’s changed the perception of the sport by his actions and by what he’s done,” Whitesell said while sitting in his office overlooking the No. 5/24 shop of Gordon and teammate Kasey Kahne. “I’m sure there will be stories 10 years from now on what this change manifested and what he’s able to do in his new role.” Whitesell recalls Gordon’s career with fondness and familiarity -- unsurprising, as he’s been with the No. 24 driver from the very beginning. The young engineer took a job with Hendrick Motorsports back in 1992 as the initial truck driver for the newly minted No. 24 team. Whitesell later served as Gordon’s engineer and transitory crew chief after Ray Evernham left the team midway through the 1999 Cup season. The pair won two back-to-back races in 1999 -- at Charlotte Motor Speedway and Martinsville Speedway -- following Evernham's departure. “Knew he was a very special, talented driver,” Whitesell said of his first impression of Gordon. “That’s what we knew. Now where it went from there, no one knew because a lot of talented drivers come in the series and for one reason or another, they don’t make it. “The whole combination of (team owner) Mr. ( Rick ) Hendrick and it ended up being Ray and Jeff -- the whole thing worked very well and obviously took off.” For the shop workers, co-owner Gordon's similarities to Hendrick help make the No. 24 driver an incredible leader. “He’s like a miniature Rick ,” said No. 5/24 Mechanic Darrell McDonald, who took brief break from the shop's Daytona 500 preparations to offer his commentary on Gordon. Moments later, the 24-year shop veteran found the perfect analogy: “… He brings this calm to everybody. He’s the first one to clap; he’s a good motivator. "It’s like when you have a meeting with Rick , when he’s done…man, if I was in the military, we’d be taking over countries.” So when their long-time fearless leader Gordon told his devoted army on Jan. 22 that he wouldn’t be competing full-time after 2016, it was a tough pill to swallow for the shop members. “I don’t think it’s sunk in yet,” said No. 5/24 shop foreman Steve Hlinak, who has been with the team since 1998. “When you see a 24 on the track and they don’t say Jeff Gordon, it’s going to be weird.” Gordon caught Hlinak’s eye even before he joined the Hendrick Motorsports family. He remembers watching Gordon nab his record-setting pole at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 1995 in a fashion that was simply extraordinary. “That’s one of my favorite memories of Jeff in years past,” Hlinak said. “I wasn’t even working on that team and it jacked me up. When he got sideways and got the pole, it was incredible. His dominance at Indy is pretty spectacular.” Gordon’s supremacy at Indianapolis Motor Speedway is universally celebrated around the shop -- last season, the shop's non-traveling employees even participated in their own brick-kissing ceremony on the floors of the 5/24 shop following Gordon's impressive Brickyard 400 victory. Naturally, it’s also the track where Whitesell immediately pinpoints his favorite memory with the No. 24 driver. “The favorite memory was just that inaugural Brickyard,” Whitesell said, referring to Gordon’s renowned win in 1994. “It’s just hard to beat that. As we prepared for that race and did everything, it was just so special. And how well he drove that day. The determination of him doing that -- it was a huge accomplishment for him and the team.” Less than a year after that historic Brickyard 400 victory, Gordon was winning races like the shop employees had never seen before and bringing an unfamiliar feeling to the shop; a championship fever. “That was the first championship we ever had,” McDonald said, referring to Gordon’s first Cup title in 1995. “Before him and Terry (Labonte) came along, we won one race a year. “There are a lot of drivers that can win, but never win a championship. So it was great to see him put the whole year together as a driver and win the championship (in 1995). That’s basically what you’re here for.” • • • While legendary on the track, to these dedicated shop members, Gordon isn’t just a talented driver who has stacked their fingers with championship rings. He is someone they respect and care for both on and off the race track because of his character. “At a very young age, he knew he had a lot of people depending on him," McDonald explained. "This company depended on him to win. And he went out and performed. So I feel like that (first) year showed his maturity at such a young age and then (he) won a championship. “It was a tough era back then … let’s face it, you can only do so much for him as a crew chief, pit crew -- he’s got to drive that race car. Once you put them tires on there and put that thing full of fuel, it’s up to him.” But the task of hoisting the 2015 Sprint Cup trophy at the end of the year is not one that solely rests on Gordon's shoulders -- everyone in the 5/24 shop has a fire lit under their bellies and is ready for battle on the race track. “To me, it inspires us to do even better,” Hlinak said, referring to Gordon’s announcement. “A last chance to get him that championship here.” “At the end of this year, we just want to say, ‘You know what? We’ve done all we can do.” McDonald said. “…That’s all we want to do right now -- we’re not even thinking about when he’s done. We’ve got this year to race. We’re not done yet.” And after watching him race last season, they know that Gordon will do all he can to make that #DriveforFive championship dream a reality. “I think my favorite season was last year actually,” Hlinak said. “He showed his youthfulness now. We talked about showing his maturity back then, but now he’s showing his personality and his feelings. He’s still scrappy and youthful. He can get it done.” “Little of a redneck side last year,” McDonald added. “Yeah…” Hlinak said with a slight smile and a wink. “Everyone in this building has got his back.” But after the 2015 season is in the books, don’t use the r-word in regards to Gordon around these veteran shop members. Because to them, he’ll still be just as big a part of the Hendrick Motorsports team. “He’s not going to live in a some trailer park, living in a retirement home down in Florida,” McDonald said. “He’s not retiring, he’s just changing obligations.” "Changing obligations" will put Gordon in a managerial role of Hendrick Motorsports. In this facet, he'll still be heavily involved with the organization, closely supervising his replacement in the No. 24 car: Chase Elliott. "I see a lot of Jeff (in Elliott), I really do," McDonald said. "But I think Jeff’s going to be good for him because he’s going to let him know that he’s got to be Chase. He can’t be Jeff Gordon. He may be better than Jeff. He may win a lot of races, may win a lot of championships, we still don’t know yet. But Jeff will tell him to be him -- ‘Don’t worry about my stuff, you just go out there and do what you’re supposed to do.’" • • • After a few more minutes of conversation, these shop employees are back to work on the floor, immediately busying themselves with Daytona 500 preparations. With a championship to win and a new driver sitting in the wings, breaks are few and far between around here. But it's that devoted mindset that has made them so successful in the past and will keep them whistling and working inside the gray and white walls of the championship-winning shop for years and years to come. “I’m looking for my second (Rolex) watch,” said McDonald with a grin, referring to the gift Hendrick gives to employees on their 20-year anniversaries. “I’m hoping it’s the gold.” FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Reigning XFINITY champion looks to balance title run, Sprint Cup slate Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – The car looks familiar, and the driver is a year older but otherwise unchanged. The team that helped carry Chase Elliott to the 2014 NASCAR XFINITY Series title, however, has undergone a major overhaul. Gone is spreadsheet-wielding crew chief Greg Ives, who can now be seen heading up the efforts of JR Motorsports founder and namesake Dale Earnhardt Jr. in NASCAR’s Sprint Cup Series. Likewise, car chief Travis Mack has departed, and has assumed the same duties with Earnhardt Jr.'s No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports outfit. Veteran crew chief Ernie Cope, who previously handled the organization’s third team that featured several Cup drivers (Earnhardt Jr., Kevin Harvick, Kasey Kahne), is now overseeing the No. 9 team as Elliott begins preparations to defend his series title. Christopher Allen is the team's new car chief, while Tristan Smith (lead engineer), Seth Kookier (assistant race engineer) and Rick Pennington (rear end mechanic) are also new to the team. HMS’ Brad Thompson will serve as engine tuner. "I think it's kind of like starting over a little bit, I guess, with Ernie and really a whole new group of guys," Elliott, 19, said. "I think there are only two or three of us that are back with the team from last year, and that includes me. "Last year we worked pretty closely together. We tried to stay on the same page with setup stuff; we were usually very, very similar last year to (their) car and whatever they were running. I think that relationship helped. "And we got to work with them firsthand at Road America when Greg was at home with his (new) baby. Having that race behind us will hopefully help us get going." A three-time race winner last season, Elliott is attempting to become only the seventh driver in the history of the series to capture back-to-back titles. His first opportunity to get a leg up on the competition comes here on Saturday with the running of the Alert Today Florida 300 (FOX Sports 1, 3:30 pm ET) at Daytona International Speedway. The son of NASCAR Hall of Fame member Bill Elliott (himself a champion in NASCAR's premier series), the younger Elliott admits he's a long way from being an expert in the series. One season and one championship taught him plenty, but there's still much more to absorb. "It still kind of feels new to me; I definitely don't feel like a veteran, that's for sure," he said. "It's crazy to think that it's already been a year since that first (series) start and that we're back at Daytona. A year goes by fast. "I still have a lot to learn, still a lot of new things I'm experiencing, especially with the personnel changes this season." Elliott’s journey up the racing ladder has been slow and steady by design. He competed in a mixture of ARCA, NASCAR K&N Pro Series and Camping World Truck Series races – and winning on more than one occasion – while filling the racing void with a Late Model effort. That schedule, he said, helped prepare him for the rigors of last year’s 33-race XFINITY Series schedule. "I can think back to a couple of years ago when we were running Late Model stuff and we ran something in the mid-40s," he said. "The number of (XFINITY) races, that didn't feel like a ton to me; the biggest difference was just the traveling." His Late Model efforts were primarily in the Southeast. There were no West Coast trips, or stops in the Midwest. In addition to defending his series championship, Elliott is also scheduled to make his Sprint Cup Series debut this season. He will drive a fifth car for Hendrick Motorsports in five events before sliding into the group’s No. 24 car in '16, replacing four-time champion Jeff Gordon. The five Sprint Cup races are Martinsville (March 29), Richmond (April 25), Charlotte (May 24), Indianapolis (July 26) and Darlington (Sept. 6). This schedule might be a bit more hectic on those weekends, but it's something Elliott said he’s eager to attempt. "The good part about it is that the first race at Martinsville is an off-weekend for the XFINITY Series," he said. "Having that opportunity to just try to get your feet wet a little bit will be a good time to do that – not having going back and forth. "But at the same time, I've always enjoyed running two races a weekend. I can remember from the go-karting days, I used to always run a couple of races. In Late Model races, the weekend where they had their bigger shows, I used to always try to run the Super and the Pro races as well. I've always really liked that." MORE: READ: Latest NASCAR news PLAY: Sign up for Fantasy Live WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView today FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Jeff Gordon and Ray Evernham talk with Rick Hendrick about restoring the car they last won a race together with.
Drivers reminisce on chaotic 1994 Brickyard 400 qualifying
Breaking down driver statistics, history