Tuesday, October 12, 2010

NASCAR Hall of Fame: 2nd Round Announcement Forthcoming as Fans See History in the Making on the Track

This coming weekend amounts to “homecoming” for the NASCAR Sprint and Nationwide tour series for their second slot on the schedule in Charlotte, NC, the nerve center of NASCAR and operations headquarters for the vast majority of teams. This is now the time, for the second year in a row, that the next class of Hall of Famers will be announced. They’ll be inducted next May around the time the NASCAR series make their first stop in Charlotte. The voters’ results for the 2nd group of inductees into the NASCAR Hall of Fame will be broadcast Wednesday, October 13, 2010 on SpeedTV at 4:00 pm.

While we think of the Hall of Fame, can we tell we are seeing history in the making right before our eyes?

Jimmie Johnson is well-positioned to win his fifth championship in a row. Having won his fourth championship, he joined the company of only three other drivers, his teammate, Jeff Gordon, who holds four titles as well as Dale Earnhardt and Richard Petty, both of whom hold seven. Earnhardt won four out of his seven championships in a five year period. Consider Johnson is only 35 years old and has 53 victories since his first Sprint Cup appearance nine years ago at the Charlotte fall race, his feats are stellar beyond belief. Johnson also stands in 10th, one behind Lee Petty and two behind Rusty Wallace, on the all-time wins list. 8th place is not too far in his future, but the next step toward immortality would be exceeding Dale Earnhardt for 7th place who has 76 wins. Johnson is already ahead of Ned Jarrett and Junior Johnson both of whom have 50 victories and Darrell Waltrip, Cale Yarborough, and Lee Petty who have three championships each.

Accompanying Jimmie Johnson must be his crew chief, Chad Knaus who may only have one crew chief who is truly more accomplished that he is, Dale Inman, the man in charge for most of King Richard Petty’s reign and of course the “legendary” Wood Brothers.

Surely, there are other drivers and possibly crew chiefs who will have their time in the Hall of Fame too. Jeff Gordon with four championships and 83 wins belongs on any top ten lists of the sport’s greatest drivers. Tony Stewart has two championships and is one win short of 40 wins – more or less the “legend” status. Kyle Busch is young but given his combination of wins in the NASCAR’s top three series is well on his way. Mark Martin has never won a championship but between his 40 Cup wins record setting 48 Nationwide Series record makes him a noteworthy possibility.

Much discussion will surround the figures to be announced. One would think David Pearson, Bobby Allison, and Cale Yarborough could well be the next drivers inducted. Lee Petty and Darrell Waltrip with three championships should have their day soon. Ned Jarrett, Herb Thomas, Buck Baker, and Tim Flock are obvious inclusions. Rusty Wallace should not be far behind them.

Beyond that, crew chiefs, track owners and promoters, and participants from other series will deserve consideration as well. Won’t it be fun to watch the France family act gracious when Bruton Smith’s day comes.

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