Relive Labonte's sideways win at Bristol
Relive the 1995 Goody's 500 as Terry Labonte grabs the win after contact with Dale Earnhardt Sr. in the final lap at Bristol Motor Speedway.
Trio of NASCAR Hall of Famers named Darlington grand marshals
Richard Childress, Rick Hendrick and Mark Martin , all of whom will be inducted into the 2017 class of the NASCAR Hall of Fame, will serve as Grand Marshals for the Bojangles’ Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway on Sunday, Sept. 4. All three will give the command to start engines accompanied by Bojangles' CEO Clifton Rutledge. Childress, Hendrick and Martin's involvement in the Bojangles' Southern 500 further enhances the track's throwback platform of celebrating the history and heritage of the sport. Childress and Hendrick are two of the most successful owners in NASCAR Sprint Cup Series history. " Darlington Raceway is one of my favorite racetracks. I remember going there when I was very young and seeing some of my heroes race there," Childress said. "Now, it's really neat to say that I'm going to be the grand marshal for the race, and I couldn't think of two better people to do it alongside of than Mark Martin and Rick Hendrick. The race weekend is already special enough with the 'throwback' theme, but this will make it that much more special." Childress and his team, Richard Childress Racing , have posted 105 NSCS wins since he founded the team in 1969. His team has recorded 472 top-five NSCS finishes and won 12 national series championships, which is second all-time in the sport's history. RCR is the first organization to win championships in all three of NASCAR's national series. Much of his success came with driver Dale Earnhardt, who won 67 career Cup races for RCR, including eight victories at Darlington Raceway . Hendrick, founder of Hendrick Motorsports in 1984, owns an all-time record 11 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series car owner championship titles -- six with Jimmie Johnson , four with Jeff Gordon and one with Terry Labonte . Hendrick also has 14 total NASCAR national series owner championships, which is most in NASCAR history. His drivers have won 242 NSCS races with 1,000 top-five finishes. He has 14 NASCAR Cup wins at Darlington Raceway , including seven with Gordon. Johnson's victory at Darlington in 2012 gave Hendrick his 200th career NSCS win in the sport. "Darlington is very special to me, and I'm so grateful to the track for this honor," Hendrick said. "It’s still sinking in that I'm a part of such an incredible Hall of Fame class. Richard and Mark are great friends and competitors, and it means a lot to share these experiences with them." In a 31-year career, Martin won 40 career NASCAR Cup races, including the 1993 and 2009 Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway . He also won eight NASCAR XFINITY Series races at Darlington, which is still the most in series history. "It is my honor to be co-grand marshal for the Bojangles' Southern 500 with two of my heroes," said Martin. "Richard Childress and Rick Hendrick are two of my favorite people in racing. I'm also looking forward to being inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame with them, along with Benny Parsons and Raymond Parks in January." Rutledge, who has served as Bojangles' CEO for the past three years, will say the command alongside three of the sports legends. Rutledge gave the command with 2016 NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee Terry Labonte before last year's Bojangles' Southern 500 . "I am blessed to represent Bojangles' and give the command to start the Bojangles' Southern 500 alongside three legends of the sport, Richard Childress, Rick Hendrick and Mark Martin ," Rutledge said. "Bojangles' is proud to be the entitlement partner of the Southern 500, a partnership we've enjoyed since 2012." The Famous Chicken 'n' Biscuits restaurant chain has more than 680 locations throughout the Southeast. Bojangles' has the naming rights to the Southern 500 through the 2019 season. The NASCAR Hall of Fame inductions ceremonies will take place in January of 2017 in Charlotte, N.C. The Tradition Continues on Labor Day weekend as the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Bojangles' Southern 500 ® is set for Sunday, Sept. 4, 2016. The NASCAR XFINITY Series VFW Sport Clips Help A Hero 200 will race on Saturday, Sept. 3, 2016. Tickets are still available for all events.
NASCAR Illustrated - Growing Up NASCAR: Labonte
Kristy Labonte shares stories from a childhood in the infield
Throwback Thursday: Labonte not easily broken
In this edition of Throwback Thursday, Terry Labonte fought to a third place finish at Phoenix in 1996 with a broken hand and went on to win his second NSCS Championship.
Elliott, Labonte top NASCAR Hall of Fame nominees
20 nominees for 2015 NASCAR Hall of Fame class revealed
Five legends unveiled as 2017 NASCAR Hall Of Fame Class
RELATED: See all of the nominees DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (May 25, 2016) – NASCAR announced today the inductees who will comprise the NASCAR Hall of Fame Class of 2017. The five-person group -- the eighth since the inception of the NASCAR Hall of Fame in 2010 -- consists of Richard Childress, Rick Hendrick, Mark Martin, Raymond Parks and Benny Parsons. In addition, NASCAR announced that Martinsville Speedway founder H. Clay Earles won the Landmark Award for Outstanding Contributions to NASCAR. The NASCAR Hall of Fame Voting Panel met today in a closed session at the Charlotte Convention Center to debate and vote upon the 20 nominees for the induction class of 2017 and the five nominees for the Landmark Award. NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France and NASCAR Vice Chairman Mike Helton announced the class and Landmark Award winner, respectively, this evening in the NASCAR Hall of Fame's "Great Hall." The Class of 2017 was determined by votes cast by the Voting Panel, including representatives from NASCAR, the NASCAR Hall of Fame, track owners from major facilities and historic short tracks, media members, manufacturer representatives, retired competitors (drivers, owners, crew chiefs), recognized industry leaders, a nationwide fan vote conducted through NASCAR.com and, for the third year, the reigning NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion ( Kyle Busch ). In all, 54 votes were cast, with four additional Voting Panel members recused from voting as potential nominees for induction (Ricky Rudd, Robert Yates, Waddell Wilson and Ken Squier). The accounting firm of EY presided over the tabulation of the votes. Voting was as follows: Benny Parsons (85%), Rick Hendrick (62%), Mark Martin (57%), Raymond Parks (53%) and Richard Childress (43%). The next top vote-getters were Robert Yates, Red Byron and Alan Kulwicki. Results for the NASCAR.com Fan Vote, in alphabetical order, were Buddy Baker, Alan Kulwicki, Mark Martin, Benny Parsons and Larry Phillips. The five inductees came from a group of 20 nominees that included, in addition to the five inductees chosen: Buddy Baker, Red Byron, Ray Evernham, Ray Fox, Ron Hornaday Jr., Harry Hyde, Alan Kulwicki, Hershel McGriff, Larry Phillips, Jack Roush, Ricky Rudd, Ken Squier, Mike Stefanik, Waddell Wilson and Robert Yates. Nominees for the Landmark Award included Earles, Janet Guthrie, Raymond Parks, Ralph Seagraves and Ken Squier. Class of 2017 Inductees: Richard Childress Long before he became one of the preeminent car owners in NASCAR history, Richard Childress was a race car driver with limited means. Childress, the consummate self-made racer, was respectable behind the wheel. Between 1969-81 he had six top-five finishes and 76 top 10s in 285 starts, finishing fifth in the NASCAR premier series standings in 1975. Having formed Richard Childress Racing in 1972, Childress retired from driving in 1981. He owned the cars that NASCAR Hall of Famer Dale Earnhardt drove to six championships and 67 wins between 1984-2000. In addition to Earnhardt’s championships, Childress drivers have given him five others. Childress was the first NASCAR owner to win owner championships in all three of NASCAR’s national series, and his 11 owner titles are second all-time. Childress also owned the vehicles driven by NASCAR XFINITY Series driver champions Clint Bowyer (2008) and Austin Dillon (2013), as the 2011 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driver champion Austin Dillon . Rick Hendrick The founder and owner of Hendrick Motorsports , Rick Hendrick’s organization is recognized as one of NASCAR’s most successful. Hendrick Motorsports owns an all-time record 11 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series car owner championship titles -- six with Jimmie Johnson , four with Jeff Gordon and one with NASCAR Hall of Famer Terry Labonte . Hendrick also has 14 total NASCAR national series owner championships, most in NASCAR history. Gordon and Labonte combined to win four consecutive titles from 1995-98. In 2010, Johnson won a record-extending fifth consecutive championship. Hendrick also owned the car driven by 2003 NASCAR XFINITY Series driver champion Brian Vickers . Hendrick’s 242 owner wins in the premier series rank second all-time. Mark Martin He is often described as the "greatest driver to never to win a championship," but Mark Martin 's legendary career is so much more than that. He came incredibly close to that elusive title many times -- finishing second in the championship standings five times. Over the course of his 31-year premier series career, Martin compiled 40 wins (17th all time) and 56 poles (seventh all time). Martin saw success at every level of NASCAR. He won 49 times in the NASCAR XFINITY Series, holding the series wins record for 14 years. He retired with 96 wins across NASCAR’s three national series, seventh on the all-time list. In 1998, Martin was named one of NASCAR’s 50 Greatest Drivers. Raymond Parks Raymond Parks is one of stock-car racing’s earliest -- and most successful -- team owners. Funded by successful business and real estate ventures in Atlanta, Parks began his career as a stock-car owner in 1938 with drivers Lloyd Seay and Roy Hall. His pairing with another Atlantan, mechanic Red Vogt, produced equipment good enough to dominate the sport in the late 1940s and early 1950s. Red Byron won the first NASCAR title (modified, 1948) and first premier series title (1949) in a Parks-owned car. Parks’ team produced two premier series wins, two poles, 11 top fives and 12 top 10s in 18 events. Benny Parsons Benny Parsons won the 1973 NASCAR premier series championship and could be called an everyman champion: winning enough to be called one of the sport’s stars but nearly always finishing well when he wasn’t able to reach Victory Lane. He won 21 times in 526 career starts but finished among the top 10 283 times -- a 54 percent ratio. One of Parsons’ biggest victories came in the 1975 Daytona 500 . He was named one of NASCAR’s 50 Greatest Drivers in 1998. Parsons also was known as a voice of the sport making a seamless transition to television following his NASCAR career. He was a commentator for NBC and TNT until his passing in 2007, at the age of 65. Landmark Award for Outstanding Contributions to NASCAR: H. Clay Earles One of the original pioneers of stock car auto racing, H. Clay Earles played an integral role in the early years of NASCAR's development. Earles built and opened Martinsville Speedway in 1947, and the short track remains the only facility to host NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races every year since the series’ inception in 1949. The speedway held its first race on Sept. 7, 1947 -- three months before the creation of NASCAR. That initial race drew more than 6,000 fans to the track, which had just 750 seats ready. In 1964, Earles decided it was time for a "different" type of trophy for his race winners. He gave winners grandfather clocks, a tradition that continues today.
Cain: Bigger and more memorable at Texas
RELATED: Gallery of memorable moments at Texas " Full weekend schedule FORT WORTH -- From track "weepers" and multicar inaugural-lap pileups to a winner's circle confrontation between two Indianapolis 500 champs, Texas Motor Speedway has been the site of some of the most remarkable, memorable and bizarre story lines of any circuit on the NASCAR circuit. The 1.5-mile oval outside Fort Worth celebrates its 20th year hosting a NASCAR race this week with Saturday night's Duck Commander 500 (7:30 p.m. ET, FOX, PRN, Sirius XM NASCAR Radio.) And for those of us around at the very beginning, it seems a fitting time to reminisce a bit about the facility's famously storied early history. As they like to remind you in Texas, everything is "bigger" there. And it has been. The track's early trials and tribulations have only contributed to its great character and esteem. In my 25 years of sports journalism, the opening races at Texas Motor Speedway still remain among the most unforgettable times of my career. Never before and never since have I covered a specific beat that provided as much sensation, controversy and must-see-TV as TMS in the early years. Two decades later, the track located at the intersection of an interstate and two major Texas highways has evolved into one of the sport's most prestigious venues. It boasts the largest HD screen, named "Big Hoss," fantastic spectator seating and the most condominiums of any track on the circuit. Plus really great racing. Nearly 195,000 people showed up for the inaugural Texas race in 1997 and most of those who were ticket holders then still are, two decades later proving they are as faithful and optimistic as they were devoted. It turns out those have been good traits for this endeavor. MORE: Paint scheme preview for Texas I had just started work at The Dallas Morning News newspaper in the spring of 1997 a few weeks after Jeff Burton took the checkered flag for NASCAR's first Cup series race at Texas in April. The new facility was considered the "home track" to cover. After reporting on the Indianapolis 500 in May, I was immediately back home in Dallas, ready for the Indy Racing League's night-time debut at TMS the next week. There, a 26-year old future three-time NASCAR Cup champion Tony Stewart put on an open-wheel show for the ages, racing wheel-to-wheel lap-after-lap with Buddy Lazier. Stewart -- who went on to win two Cup races at Texas (2006 and 2011) -- led a race-high 100 of the 208 laps only to suffer an engine failure that night. But toward the end of the race there were questions regarding the scoring shown on the monitor in the press box. And soon after making my way down to the infield to prepare for a super-tight Saturday night newspaper deadline, the real craziness began. While trying to get post-race quotes from the apparent first-time winner Billy Boat ( XFINITY Series driver Chad's dad) and Boat's team owner, Texan A.J. Foyt, I was standing a few feet away when driver Arie Luyendyk confronted Foyt in Victory Lane. After questioning the results, challenging Foyt and suggesting he was actually the legitimate race winner, Luyendyk tumbled into the victory flowers. Boat and Foyt hoisted the trophy. It was surreal. I was on a crazy tight deadline. But the next day in a hastily called press conference, Luyendyk was declared the winner after USAC conceded a scoring error. After USAC officials suggested problems with the track's scoring system, TMS President Eddie Gossage took the press conference podium and strongly reminded that the speedway wasn't responsible for the scoring. "I got home at 3 in the morning knowing we gave the trophy to the wrong winner and had a press conference for 8 in the morning," said Gossage. "I go in to the press conference with two hours of sleep and I'm sitting in the back row and the head scorer for USAC says that the speedway's timing and scoring equipment didn't work. "He says it again and then a third time so I just walked up on stage and stepped up to the podium and eased him to the side and said, " Texas Motor Speedway doesn't own a stop watch. ... People have a right to know when they leave the race track who the winner is and we all didn't get what we paid for." Then after a dramatic exit and door slam, Gossage recalls, "My dad called from Tennessee and said, 'You were raised better, acting like an idiot on television for all the world to see, embarrassing me and your mom.' I said, 'What?' He said, 'You didn't know it was live on ESPN?' "I didn't. And then I was like, 'You're right, sir. I'm sorry. I know better.' " Gossage has a good laugh recalling the whole ordeal now. Foyt, who still disputes the result, kept the trophy and Luyendyk was given another one. A year later, Boat recalled of the evening, "We went into Victory Circle knowing nothing about a scoring error, only that someone was talking derogatory about our race team. You don't do that in a big Texan's Victory Circle." Luyendyk, of Holland, said the incident -- replayed repeatedly all over the world at the time -- actually made him and the Texas Motor Speedway more famous overseas. MORE: Gossage and drivers try to draw state of Texas And then in 1998 came NASCAR's second Cup try. After two multi-car accidents in the inaugural race, conventional wisdom promised this one just had to go down more smoothly. NASCAR's biggest stars such as Rusty Wallace, Ernie Irvan, Dale Earnhardt and Mark Martin were among those who crashed in the opening race. Darrell Waltrip finished last after being involved in a 13-car wreck on the very first turn of the very first lap of Cup competition there. And Burton ended up winning by 4 seconds. Surely, everyone figured, the second race would be smoother. It wasn't. "Weepers" became a familiar word. The water seeping through the track caused qualifying to be completed a day late. And of all things, there was a huge 10-car accident on the second lap of the race. Jeff Gordon and yes, Waltrip, were collected in that melee. Mark Martin won the race by a half-second over Chad Little and Robert Pressley. Shortly after, TMS went through a re-paving and re-fitting, track owner Bruton Smith and Gossage committed to correction. "The first year it was just terrible and everything seemed to go wrong," Gossage conceded this week. "And the second year, obviously you try to improve so all of a sudden here's these weepers that came through. "I remember driving into the infield and in the rearview mirror saw Lake Speed knock the wall down in Turn 1 in qualifying. I thought, 'Oh no.' "I'm always the worst critic," Gossage said, logging the long hours readying for the weekend's big events. "There are things other people might not have noticed but I did. For some reason things worked really well in 1999 when Terry Labonte won and it's been better since then. That's the way a race weekend was supposed to go." Not only has it been better, it's typically a discussion point in every season review. In 2005, Texas finally got the second date it had longed for since I worked at the Dallas paper nearly a decade earlier. And the facility -- big enough to fit every Texas sporting stadium in its infield -- is also a big-time player in the Chase for the Sprint Cup . It's still providing those jaw-dropping, television highlight moments seemingly born with the track. Dale Earnhardt Jr . scored his first Cup win at TMS in April 2000. And Chase Elliott got his first XFINITY Series win here in 2014 driving for Junior at JR Motorsports. Gordon, who won this race in 2009, has starred in a couple TMS highlight reels, too. He was involved in a pair of high profile skirmishes from taking on Burton on-track after a wreck in 2010 to a crazy pit road scuffle with Brad Keselowski in 2014. "You have to be honest," Gossage said. "And looking back, it's just how things occurred. I wouldn't trade any of it, if it is what got us where we are. I'll take where we stand in our success as the most successful major market speedway in the history of this sport. I'll take that. "I won't trade my job with the guy running any other race track because I'm just so proud of what's been accomplished here."
Lives renewed: Hmiel, Saunders forged friendship through racing, adversity
A picture of a race track hangs above the fireplace in the living room of Shane Hmiel's home in Greensboro, North Carolina. Smoke fills most of the shot, the result of a celebratory burnout. Barely visible in the center of the smoke is a truck from the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. Invisible under the smoke and inside the truck is the man driving it -- Hmiel. As a NASCAR driver in the early 2000s, Shane Hmiel was on the rise. He won that Truck Series race at Las Vegas in 2004 and had 10 top-five finishes in 83 races in what is now known as the XFINITY Series. He made seven starts in the Sprint Cup Series, including two for Braun Racing, which was co-owned by Ralph Braun, founder and CEO of BraunAbility, the world's largest manufacturer of wheelchair accessible vehicles. Hmiel was cocky, mouthy and fast, the kind of driver loved and loathed in equal measure. Hmiel was also a drug addict, and after he failed three drug tests, NASCAR banned him for life in 2006, the first time the sanctioning body ever did that to anybody. Hmiel was only 25, and already his career at the highest level of American motorsports was over. "Getting kicked out of NASCAR was a total embarrassment for my parents," he says now, sitting in front of that picture. His father is Steve Hmiel, who was the first employee of Roush Racing and a crew chief for Terry Labonte , Mark Martin and Dale Earnhardt Jr ., among others, in a career that spanned four decades. As Shane Hmiel fought his drug addiction, he was diagnosed as bipolar, which was in a way a relief, an explanation for the mood swings he had experienced his whole life. After a trip to rehab, Hmiel got clean and says he has been so since October of 2007. "When I got kicked out, I was so driven to get back," Shane Hmiel says. He knew he couldn't go back to NASCAR, but he could get back into racing. Though he had never raced on dirt -- and thought it was, as he put it, "stupid" -- he started entering sprint car races on the USAC (United States Auto Club) circuit. He was fast. The wins piled up. He had fallen down in life and gotten back up. "I was on a higher mountain than I had ever been," he says. • • •
1987 Winston: Where Are They Now?
RELATED: Elliott will 'never forget' Earnhardt move The starting grid for the 1987 Winston All-Star Race looked a lot like an exhibit befitting the NASCAR Hall of Fame. This was The All-Star Race for the ages. Hall of Famers Richard Petty, Dale Earnhardt, Bobby Allison, Darrell Waltrip, Cale Yarborough, Terry Labonte , Rusty Wallace and Bill Elliott all competed. Greats such as Neil Bonnett, Harry Gant, Ricky Rudd, Buddy Baker, and Benny Parsons were on the 20-driver starting grid, too. A young Davey Allison and a new Daytona 500 winner Geoffrey Bodine lined up alongside these iconic names. The fast and famed Tim Richmond was on the grid, too, in what was his final season of NASCAR competition. And don't forget about Kyle Petty, Bobby Hillin Jr. and Greg Sacks. The only driver on that famed All-Star lineup still NASCAR racing today is Morgan Shepherd, who drove a car fielded by drag racing legend Kenny Bernstein -- and his seventh-place finish that day in his first All-Star Race remains his best showing. That starting lineup was a true convergence of NASCAR's best -- sentimental favorites, crusty veterans, future Hall of Famers and young stars out to make their big names. It had personality. It had top-line credentials. In only its third running, the 1987 race showed exactly the pizzazz that would help forge the All-Star Race into the can't-miss annual event that will be on full display Saturday in the Sprint All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway . For all its historical allure, amazingly in that famed 1987 race only four drivers even led a lap -- the winner Earnhardt (10), the day's dominant driver Elliott (121), Bodine (3) and Kyle Petty (1). The great seven-time Cup champ Richard Petty crashed with the late superstar Neil Bonnett on Lap 66. As dominant and successful as Petty was, it's easy to forget he never won an All-Star Race. Among the most memorable aspects of this race will undoubtedly be the day's winner Earnhardt's "Pass in the Grass" of Elliott. It wasn't actually a pass at all, but Earnhardt maneuvering to hold onto his late race lead over Elliott in the day's most dominant car. It was the first of three All-Star wins for Earnhardt. And the gritty, hard-nosed final laps racing launched this -- then still young -- event into a bona fide can't-miss rite of spring. The above photo itself has become quite a piece of NASCAR lore. When this group of 20 drivers came together for this indelible image, these are the numbers they would leave behind: 812 premier series victories, 26 premier series championships, 11 All-Star Race wins ... and one urban legend.
Hall of Fame induction ceremony postponed due to weather
RELATED: Official NASCAR release on postponement Wintry weather postponed Friday night's NASCAR Hall of Fame induction ceremony, pushing the Class of 2016's enshrinement to Saturday afternoon. The Hall's seventh class -- Jerry Cook, Bobby Isaac, Terry Labonte , Bruton Smith and Curtis Turner -- will be inducted at 2:30 p.m. ET Saturday. The event will be broadcast live on NBCSN and NBC Live Extra, with radio coverage from MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. Plans to hold the induction as scheduled were in place until Friday morning, but accumulations of snow and ice that made travel around the Charlotte, North Carolina area treacherous forced the postponement. The NASCAR Hall of Fame planned an early closing Friday at 2 p.m. ET with Hall of Famer autograph sessions canceled. Saturday's altered schedule will kick off with a 1 p.m. ET luncheon. With winter precipitation expected to continue overnight Friday and into the morning hours, the NASCAR Hall of Fame also canceled Saturday's Fan Appreciation Day. Autograph sessions and driver meet-and-greets were canceled. According to a release provided by the venue, the Hall is exploring options to accommodate fans who obtained autograph session tickets, with a decision to be announced later next week. The Hall announced reduced hours Saturday from noon-5 p.m. ET with free admission. The postponement means a mere one-day delay for five stock-car legends. Modified stalwart Cook, early star Isaac, two-time premier series champ Labonte , speedway mogul Smith and the hard-charging Turner will have their names called Saturday, bringing the NASCAR Hall of Fame's list of inductees to a total of 35. RELATED: For more updates see Official NASCAR release