NASCAR Hall of Fame set to make call
Today is NASCAR Hall of Fame selection day in Charlotte.
What will be interesting to see is whether the 55 voters decide to put first-time nominees such as track corporation head Bruton Smith, engine builder Maurice Petty and one-time Cup champion Dale Jarrett in ahead of a group of holdover nominees featuring top division drivers such as two-time champs Tim Flock and Joe Weatherly; one-time champs Bobby Isaac, Benny Parsons and Rex White; early big-track stars Fireball Roberts and Fred Lorenzen; inaugural-year champion car owner Raymond Parks and driver Red Byron; and Wendell Scott, whose win at Jacksonville, Fla. in the early 1960s remains the only one by an African-American in NASCAR’s top series.
Among the other notable holdovers are Jack Ingram, the two-time Nationwide Series and three-time Late Model Sportsman champ; car owners Richard Childress and Rick Hendrick; and former engine builder Ray Fox.
How the group of drivers that includes Flock, Weatherly, Roberts, Lorenzen and Isaac is handled is the key. They are among the next group on the top division’s all-time wins list not in.
Flock’s ratio of wins to starts is approximately 1 in every 4.75 (38 in 187), better than Hall members Richard Petty and David Pearson (who both scored a victory in about every five starts). Roberts and Lorenzen won once in about every six starts. Roberts won two Southern 500s, one Daytona 500 and four of the first July races on Daytona’s high banks before his death in 1964. Lorenzen was a star in the 1960s as his 26 wins included four of the first 10 races at Atlanta and four of the first 14 at Charlotte Motor Speedway, a Daytona 500 and six events at Martinsville Speedway.
Weatherly, Isaac and White each posted a win about every 10 races. Parsons and Jarrett were more in the one win in every 20 races category but are known for their television work.
Smith runs Speedway Motorsports, which has eight tracks that hold Cup races and helped spur improvements in track facilities. He probably didn’t earn any brownie points this week with his statement that there is a 70 percent chance that he will try to shift his October race at Lowe’s Motor Speedway to get a second date at his track in Las Vegas — which would further alienate fans still stung by the loss of Cup races at North Wilkesboro, Darlington, Rockingham and Atlanta.
Petty built engines that powered the cars driven by Richard Petty to six of his seven championships.
Also worth strong consideration: Ralph Seagraves and T. Wayne Robertson, who served stints running R.J. Reynolds’ sports marketing arm when it helped transform the Cup Series from a struggling regional circuit to a national sport.
Who I would like to see elected — Flock, Roberts (who lost a tiebreaking vote to Buck Baker last year), Lorenzen, Petty and Smith (with Ingram a strong sixth).
Who I think will be elected — Flock, Roberts, Petty, Jarrett and Scott.
Bowman Gray Stadium’s card for Saturday night features a 100-lap Sportsman race, the longest of the year for that division. Burt Myers is now the Modified points leader thanks to his win in a 104-lap Modified race while Tim Brown was caught in a wreck. Brown is six points ahead of John Smith, with Brown another seven back. Barry Edwards is 2 ahead of Derek Stoltz in Sportsman standings. Whitney Clifton and David creed are tied at the top in Street Stock. ... The PASS South Series for Super Late Models visits Caraway Speedway for a 150-lap race on Friday night. ... The UARA Late Model race was rained out at Dillion (S.C.) Speedway on Saturday.