Bruce: Family theme flows through 2017 Hall of Fame inductions
RELATED: Class of 2017 enters Hall of Fame CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The name on the card for Friday night's NASCAR Hall of Fame induction ceremony read "Forever Legends." But after watching and listening to the Hall's eighth class as each was welcomed into the Hall, perhaps "Forever Family" would have been more fitting. "How great is that, to have your wife and your two grandsons to induct you into the NASCAR Hall of Fame?" asked Richard Childress, who rose to prominence as the owner of Richard Childress Racing , his teams winning 12 championships across NASCAR's three national series. Childress, fellow car owners Rick Hendrick and Raymond Parks, and drivers Mark Martin and Benny Parsons made up this year's Hall of Fame class. And much like Childress, others paid tribute to family and the family atmosphere that has permeated NASCAR practically since it's 1948 incorporation. NASCAR drivers Austin and Ty Dillon introduced their grandfather on the special night. Although Childress is 71, Ty Dillon noted that he doesn't believe his grandfather "will ever stop pursuing his passion." "He will continue to live his life, fighting to keep this ground which we stand on tonight the best in the world ," Dillon said. "He will always keep going to the track because that is what he loves to do, but most of all, he loves his family." Family was also what drove Mark Martin to never give up on his dream, returning to the sport to rebuild a career that was halted almost before it began. With a wife by his side and four young children, Martin feverishly worked his way back into NASCAR to earn a second chance. More than three decades later, after 96 wins in NASCAR's three top series and five runner-up finishes in what is now the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series points battle, Martin stood on stage and officially joined the list of racing legends. "Tonight," he said, "for me is about recognizing the VIPs that made this happen. But the MVP is Arlene Martin. "We met Christmas 1983, and Arlene, from that day, that day and every day since then, you have made me better. It's incredible what we've seen and what we've done to get here." RELATED: Martin recalls second chance, relishes induction Emotions were kept in check, somewhat. Voices did crack on occasion. No surprise there. This was, after all, a big, big deal. "We are like a big family, even though it's a lot of us, we care about each other, and I don't care if people think that's corny," Hendrick, who was a racer himself long before he built a successful auto dealership empire, said. "That's the way I was raised. It's worked for me, and it's worked in our companies, both of them." When Hendrick arrived at the Hall prior to the ceremony, one of the first people he saw was executive director Winston Kelley. Kelley, Hendrick said, told him that there was one thing he could tell the car owner and auto dealer about both his companies, that it was clear that his employees loved their boss. "And I said, 'You know what? Your telling me that means as much to me as getting into the Hall of Fame,'" Hendrick replied. It was every bit as much validation for what he had strived to become as the Hall of Fame ring he would receive just a few hours later. "I feel like 'job well done,'" Hendrick said, "because you look after your people and they look after you." Martin was still riding the adrenalin of the moment when he sat down with the media afterward. "I feel like I've had a cup of coffee or I've been playing some Gucci Mane," he said, grinning. Retired from racing since 2013, he now spends his days focused on more mundane matters. "How shiny can I get my motor home," he said. "I've got to get that trash and take it out. That lightbulb is burned out, damnit. ... "You know I just do all the things that I used to pay people to do. I still go like hell every day. That's the same ol' me." It had been an emotionally draining week for others. Those still entwined in the never-ending cycle of competition, where forward focus is key and there's no time for looking back. "It really was," Hendrick, a leukemia survivor, said. "... This has been the toughest week, besides losing a family member. "We're all emotions up and down, and we had a little champagne toast before I went in there, and the two doctors, the doctor that invented the medicine that saved my life was in there, and I lost it. I mean, Jeff Gordon said, 'I've never seen you that emotional in there since I've known you.'" NASCAR is one big extended family. Full of the quarrels that divide them and the emotional ties that draw them back together. "I meant what I said tonight about all the people in the sport," Hendrick said. "There are some great folks. Hendrick and Childress had spoken earlier in the day. Joe Gibbs phoned, unable to attend Friday's function but happy for his fellow team owner. So did Roger Penske. Just three short months earlier, Penske, Gibbs and Hendrick met with the media in Homestead, Fla., each having drivers competing for the championship. "We're racing each other and we're paying each other compliments," Hendrick said. "You wouldn't see that in the NFL. We want to beat each other just as bad as anybody, but it's really strange. It's a different deal. "I don't know what it is, but it's pretty special." Forever Legends? Sure. But forever family? There's no doubt. &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;
Martin enters 'the grandest victory lane of all'
Mark Martin recaps several milestones in his Hall of Fame career during his induction speech.
NASCAR Hall of Fame Class of 2017 honored, inducted
RELATED: Learn more about the Class of 2017 CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The enshrinement of three car owners of paramount importance to stock car racing, a driver who proved a prolific winner in NASCAR’s top-two series and a former Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion who would become one of the most beloved storytellers in the history of the sport highlighted Friday night’s induction of the Class of 2017 into the NASCAR Hall of Fame. Not only did the emotional proceedings usher one of NASCAR’s first car owners, Raymond Parks, into the Hall. Also recognized were the ongoing accomplishments of two owners -- Richard Childress and Rick Hendrick -- whose efforts have helped to produce a pair of seven-time champions. Friday night also brought the induction of driver Mark Martin, who won 40 races in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series , another 49 in the NASCAR XFINITY Series and who finished second in the championship standings at NASCAR’s highest level no less than five times. WATCH: Martin enters the 'grandest Victory Lane' Perhaps the most gripping moment of the night was the enshrinement of 1973 Cup champion Benny Parsons, a man of indefatigable good humor who flourished after his driving career as one of the most beloved broadcasters the sport has known. Parsons lost his life on Jan. 16, 2007 after a courageous battle against lung cancer. Appropriately, Parks was first to be enshrined. Introduced by Kevin Harvick and inducted posthumously by family friend Kyle Petty, Parks was a close friend of NASCAR founder Bill France Sr. and a pillar of the sport in its formative years. Born in the mountains of north Georgia, Parks shares "moonshine" roots with such NASCAR pioneers as Junior Johnson. Parks later grew successful jukebox and vending machine businesses in Atlanta before venturing into NASCAR ownership. Parks won NASCAR's first two championships, in modifieds in 1948 and in Strictly Stock (NASCAR's top division) with Red Byron behind the wheel and Red Vogt as crew chief. RELATED: 'Lost' films restored, reveal Parks' talent "He put his money where his mouth was, investing in our great pastime as an owner," Harvick said. "The World War II veteran captured NASCAR's first premier series championship in 1949 and nearly 70 years later has earned the highest honor from the sport he always believed in." "Without Raymond Parks, there would be no Richard Petty -- there’s nothing to build on," Kyle Petty said. Introduced by fellow Michigander Brad Keselowski , Parsons won his only championship in 1973, an achievement that came during a string of nine straight years (1972-1980) in which Parsons finished in the top five in the final standings. All told, Parsons won 21 races, including the 1975 Daytona 500 , during a career whose hallmark was remarkable consistency. In 526 starts at NASCAR’s highest level, Parsons finished in the top 10 283 times, an enviable 54 percent. "He's from Detroit, and he came from being a Michigan taxi driver to a NASCAR champion," Keselowski said. "Think about that. That seems like the script from a Hollywood movie. "But that is exactly what Benny Parsons accomplished in 1973." WATCH: Childress says his story's possible 'only in America' Childress’ grandsons, Austin and Ty Dillon -- both of whom are racing in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series this year -- introduced their "Pop Pop," the car owner with whom inaugural NASCAR Hall of Fame class member Dale Earnhardt won six of his seven championships. "My brother and I are so proud and honored to introduce Pop Pop," Austin Dillon said. "There are countless family stories I could share of his true grit, persistence, determination, and love for others." Including Earnhardt’s six with RCR, Childress has won 11 titles combined in NASCAR’s top three touring series, second only to fellow inductee Hendrick’s 15. "I’m honored to go into the NASCAR Hall of Fame with my heroes," said Childress, who was inducted by his wife, Judy Childress. "Just look around this wall and look at the greats that we'll be going in the Hall of Fame with. Unbelievable. And to go in the Class of 2017 with so many great inductees is quite an honor." Seven-time champion Jimmie Johnson and four-time titleholder Jeff Gordon did the introduction honors for Hendrick, their car owner. "The stats speak for themselves: 15 national series championship, 245 Cup wins, certainly impressive numbers, but more important than the wins and the championships is the person behind them," Gordon said. "He's the most loyal man I know. He'll take the shirt right off his back for you. His accomplishments are endless, and his character is unrivaled." Hendrick accepted induction from his wife, Linda Hendrick. WATCH: Hendrick thanks NASCAR family "I humbly accept this tonight, and all the drivers that have been involved in our company, all the mechanics, everybody that's ever been a part of it, I accept this on your behalf, past and present," Hendrick said. "I know my son (Ricky Hendrick, killed in a 2004 plane crash) is watching tonight, and he's so proud. Congratulations to Jimmie for winning No. 7, dedicating it to him … "But I can tell you that the feelings that I have for this sport and for all the people in it, all the sponsors -- and I've got so many here tonight I can't name them all, don't want to do that -- but it's your faith, it's your family and your friends that get you through life, and that's the most important thing. When it's all over, it's the people that you touch and the lives you change that make a difference in this world ." Introduced by former Roush Fenway Racing teammate Matt Kenseth and inducted by team owner Jack Roush, Martin chronicled a career that began in 1981 and ended at Michael Waltrip Racing in 2013. In between, Martin finished second in the standings four times with Roush -- the first in 1990 -- and once with Hendrick, in 2009, during Johnson’s run of five straight titles. Martin won 96 races across all three NASCAR national touring series, currently seventh all-time. He credited Roush with giving him a welcome opportunity to drive RFR Fords in 1988, after his career had stalled. "He was hell-bent and determined as I was to make a name for himself winning races and competing for championships at NASCAR's highest level," Martin said. "Jack Roush gave me that second chance." During Friday night’s ceremony, Martinsville Speedway founder H. Clay Earles was recognized with the Landmark Award for Outstanding Contributions to NASCAR. Opened in 1947, Martinsville is the only track to have hosted races at NASCAR’s highest level in the sanctioning body’s formation in 1949. The late Benny Phillips, former reporter and sports editor for the High Point (N.C.) Enterprise received the Squier-Hall Award for NASCAR Media Excellence. Overcoming polio to pursue his career as a journalist, Phillips also wrote for Stock Car Racing magazine for 27 years and spent 12 years covering racing with TBS. &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;
Hendrick thanks his NASCAR family in Hall of Fame speech
Rick Hendrick thanks his NASCAR family for the love and support throughout his Hall of Fame career during his induction speech.
Parsons' life is celebrated with Hall of Fame induction
Terri Parsons, the widow of the late Benny Parsons, inducts him into the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
Parks' granddaughter inducts him into the Hall of Fame
Patricia DePottey, granddaughter of the late Raymond Parks, inducts the famous NASCAR team owner into the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
Father-son Nemechek duo set to compete at Daytona
MOORESVILLE, N.C. -- NASCAR has always been known as a family sport where the love of racing has been passed from generation to generation. In the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) NextEra Energy Resources 250 at the Daytona International Speedway on Friday, February 24, John Hunter Nemechek will have the opportunity few sons have enjoyed: competing against his father, 1992 NASCAR XFINITY Series champion Joe Nemechek . Should both Nemecheks qualify for the race, it would be the first time a father and son have competed in the same NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race since Dave Blaney and Ryan Blaney started the 2013 Inaugural Mudsummer Classic at the Eldora Speedway . It will also be the first time a father and son have competed in any of NASCAR's top three series at the Daytona International Speedway since the 2006 in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series with Bobby Hamilton and Bobby Hamilton Jr. The Nemecheks will even be running for the same team -- family-owned NEMCO Motorsports -- which will field John Hunter Nemechek full-time in the No. 8 Fire Alarm Services, Inc., Chevrolet for 2017, and will also field Joe Nemechek in the No. 87 Fleetwing Chevrolet in a select number of NASCAR Camping World Truck Series events. Joe Nemechek and John Hunter Nemechek have competed against each other on the race track just three times before, twice in the Allison Legacy Race Series, and once in the ARCA Midwest Tour. The first time the duo competed against each other was in the Allison Legacy Race Series at the Concord Speedway in 2011 where the son finished first, and the father second. In a rematch at the Carolina Motorsports Park John Hunter Nemechek finished third, and Joe Nemechek finished fourth. The other was in an ARCA Midwest Tour event at the Milwaukee Mile in 2013, where neither driver won but experience outran youth. John Hunter Nemechek , who posted two NASCAR Camping World Truck Series victories and captured his first pole award during the 2016 season, may be at a disadvantage in Daytona. Joe Nemechek has comprehensive experience at the " World Center of Racing," having five pole awards and two victories (1998, 2002), four top-five and seven top-10 finishes in the NASCAR XFINITY Series . In addition, he has the all-time NASCAR XFINITY Series most starts record, including the most laps completed record, and number of pole awards record at the Daytona International Speedway . Across the top three NASCAR divisions Nemechek has 74 total starts at the Daytona Beach, Florida, facility. The NextEra Energy Resources 250 will mark NEMCO Motorsports' fourth and fifth NASCAR Camping World Truck Series start at the 2.5-mile tri-oval superspeedway. Joe Nemechek posted a team best finish of eighth-place at the Daytona International Speedway on February 21, 2014. The elder Nemechek last competed in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series in 2015 at the Texas Motor Speedway , finishing in the sixth-place. It is not unusual for family to compete against one another in NASCAR's premier series as sets of brothers have been the norm rather than the exception. Joe Nemechek competed together with younger brother John Nemechek in three ( Watkins Glen International , Phoenix International Raceway and Walt Disney World Speedway) NASCAR Camping World Truck Series events. This will be the second NASCAR season-opening event Joe Nemechek has competed against Nemechek lineage. In the 1997 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series season-opener at the Walt Disney World Speedway, Joe Nemechek in the No. 87 finished nine positions ahead of John Nemechek in the No. 8 -- both as owner-driver entries. Both father and son have collected victories, pole awards, and claimed the title of Most Popular Driver in their respective series, but only Joe Nemechek has claimed the series championship trophy. Without the dedication Joe Nemechek has had towards his son's career, John Hunter Nemechek knows he might not have had the chance to show his talents, and have the opportunity to team up with his dad at the Daytona International Speedway . Joe Nemechek and John Hunter Nemechek look to add their names to the short list of fathers and sons who have won races head-to-head in NASCAR's premier series, and be listed alongside Lee and Richard Petty, Richard and Kyle Petty, Bobby and Davey Allison, Dale and Dale Earnhardt Jr ., and Buck and Buddy Baker.
Rick Ware Racing to field Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series team
THOMASVILLE, N.C. -- Officials from Rick Ware Racing (RWR) announced today the team’s intent to compete in the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series as an "open non-chartered" team beginning with next month's 59th annual Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway . RWR's return to the elite level of NASCAR will have Timmy Hill aboard the No. 51 Chevrolet for Speedweeks with a rotating list of drivers to follow throughout the season including longtime RWR drivers Stanton Barrett , Cody Ware and road course veteran Kevin O’Connell to name a few. "We've been eyeing our return to the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series since the end of last year," said RWR team principal Rick Ware. "We knew with the competition level stronger than ever, we needed to take the steps to make sure we could come to the track and be as competitive as possible, while focused on building our organization as the season presses on.” RWR also announced the team has acquired assets from Tommy Baldwin Racing (TBR) for use this season, including cars, pulldown rig and technology support. Additionally, longtime industry veteran Joe Lax, also previously with TBR will serve as crew chief, while pro-motor engineering (PME) will supply the horsepower during the season. Furthermore, Mike Hillman Sr., a longtime fixture in NASCAR joins RWR in a newly created role as team consultant. "I feel like we've done a great job getting our stars aligned for this year," Ware added. "Between acquiring cars from Tommy Baldwin Racing and having a good open relationship with them, plus being able to bring key personnel aboard who have the desire and drive to make our team the best it's ever been. "One component I'm really proud about is our initiative to bring our body work in-house. We really have hired some talented and experienced personnel overall and I couldn't be more excited to get our season underway." Hill is hopeful to make his " World Center of Racing" debut in next month's Super Bowl event. The 23-year-old hopes to make his 49th Cup race in his first ever Daytona 500 . Despite no Cup starts at Daytona, the Port Tobacco, Maryland native has four XFINITY starts at the 2.5-mile oval with two career top-10 finishes including back-to-back top-10 runs for Rick Ware Racing in 2012 with a career-best seventh in the season-opening race. "I'm thankful to continue my relationship with Rick Ware Racing for the 2017 season," said Hill. "I've always wanted the chance to compete in the Daytona 500 and thanks to Rick and Lisa (Ware), I'll have that opportunity. It won't be easy, but as a team and Joe (Lax) leading the way, we’re focused and will give it all we have and hope we’ll be one of the 40 cars running in the Daytona 500 !" In addition to their effort in the Cup Series, Rick Ware Racing will also compete in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) this season with recently announced driver Spencer Boyd at the wheel. Sponsorship for the team’s Cup entry will be announced at a later date. </p>
Predicting where Daniel Suarez could get first win
MORE: Track Suarez's path to NASCAR star Daniel Suarez 's rise to Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series competition following the abrupt departure of Carl Edwards from full-time racing has us wondering how the incoming Sunoco Rookie of the Year contender will fare in his first season at the big league level. Let's take a look back at how the reigning NASCAR XFINITY Series champion has performed throughout his NASCAR career in lower series across tracks he'll be racing at in 2017. (Note: While success at certain tracks as a driver moves up the ranks doesn't necessarily guarantee similar results at the Cup level, it can give a bit of insight into a driver's strengths and weaknesses.) First and foremost, Suarez picked up three wins over two full-time seasons in his XFINITY Series career, all three of which came en route in 2016 to his first NASCAR national series title. The three victories came at Michigan (four laps led), Dover (123 laps led) and, of course, Homestead, where Suarez led a dominating 133 of 200 laps from the pole to secure the race victory and the championship. Three distinct tracks, three different lengths (2 miles, 1 mile, 1.5 miles, respectively.) Tough to draw much from that other than point out that Suarez, clearly, isn't a one-trick pony. Let's dig a little deeper. Over his 68 total XFINITY Series starts, Suarez had multiple top-five finishes at six tracks. Guess what? None of them were the ones he won at, muddying the picture a bit more. Phoenix and Kentucky top the list with three apiece, followed by two each at New Hampshire, Bristol, Charlotte and Darlington. All of these tracks range 1-mile to 1.5-miles in length, save for the half-mile Bristol. We may be getting warmer. Suarez has four tracks on his resume at which he averages a finish inside the top five in Darlington, Homestead, New Hampshire and Indianapolis. He's led more than 100 laps at Homestead and Dover, and has a pole at Kentucky, Homestead, Auto Club and Daytona. Moving onto the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series , Suarez has just a single win at Phoenix, but has only compiled a total of 27 starts across three part-time seasons. Still, he has multiple top-five finishes at Texas (three), Phoenix and Dover, with multiple top-10 finishes at those tracks and Martinsville. The new driver of the No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota also has a pole at Kentucky, where he's led a total of 77 laps -- tied for the most he has at any track in the series with Bristol. Suarez averaged starts in the top five at three Camping World Truck Series tracks (Kentucky, Chicago and Phoenix), while averaging a finish inside the top five at Dover, Phoenix and Texas. And, hey, for good measure -- he won at Daytona in the K&N Pro Series East in 2014. Alright, now that our heads are good and dizzy from a blizzard of numbers and facts, let's digest and make some bold semi-predictions. If Suarez is able to win a Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race -- don't forget, an unexpected rookie won in 2016 ( Chris Buescher ) and two made the Chase (Buescher and Chase Elliott ), so it's certainly a distinct possibility that he could -- it appears the most likely tracks will be in that 1-mile to 1.5-mile range. Tracks of this stature make up exactly half the schedule, with 10 races before the Chase begins. Given that Suarez is stepping into a competitive ride immediately -- one that nearly won the 2016 championship just two months ago -- the talented incoming rookie will have an excellent shot at securing his first win. Look specifically to Dover, Phoenix, Texas, Kentucky, New Hampshire and -- *gulp* -- Homestead as the tracks most likely to see Suarez land in Victory Lane.
Lost film showcases Raymond Parks' talent ahead of Hall induction
Raymond Parks' name will finally ring out in Friday night's NASCAR Hall of Fame induction ceremony. His contributions to the sport will be recognized some 80 years after he first became involved in stock-car racing's rough-edged formative years. While his classmates have had their stories told to national audiences through advancements in modern video, very little exists about Parks but the stories themselves. Save for some fading, sepia-toned photographs and interviews conducted much later in Parks' long life, the living, moving history of the sport before NASCAR's formation was often left to the imagination. A chance discovery nearly 20 years ago changed that. "I've told some people it's my great white whale," said Ken Martin, video historian and archivist for NASCAR Productions. He says this as he scrolls through computer files, painstakingly restored and digitized from the original 16-millimeter film that Parks first commissioned in 1941, seven years before NASCAR's founding.