Greer Smith: Smith, Jarrett among Hall of Fame nominees
Speedway Motorsports president Burton Smith finally received recognition from the NASCAR Hall of Fame nominating panel on Wednesday.
Smith, who at times has been at odds with NASCAR, was among the five people added to the Hall of Fame ballot for this year. A number of people on the nominating committee are NASCAR officials or have close ties to the sanctioning body.
Others on the ballot for the first time are 1999 Cup champion and 32-time race winner Dale Jarrett, 1960 champion Rex White, Petty Enterprises engine builder Maurice Petty and five-time NASCAR Weekly Series national short-track champion Larry Phillips
The five join 20 who were carried over from last year.
LABONTE SEARCHING FOR ANSWERS
Bobby Labonte is off to one of the slowest starts in his career as he is still searching for his first top-20 finish after six races.
Labonte admits that the JTG/Daugherty team for which he driver is not coming up to speed as quickly as he expected in making the new generation cup car go fast.
“We’re further off than we thought we’d be,” Labonte said during a teleconference on Tuesday. We just got out of a meeting and were talking about between a Martinsville short track where we might have had too much of one thing, not enough of something else, and then on the big tracks that we feel like we’re not using all of our potential that we had last year, . “It just seems like we’ve actually stepped back one step. Just a matter of trying to look back at a little different angle on it because we’ve got a great group.”
Labonte said part of the problem is the team has tested the new car just once and that an extra day of practice leading into this Sunday’s race at Texas will be helpful.
“Our challenges this year have just really been we haven’t been to the racetrack to test but one time, so we really haven’t found any ‑‑ maybe we haven’t seen the nuances that we need to have with the body style that’s different,” Labonte said
“But compared to last year’s car, the car is not quite as stable as it was last year for me. We’ve got to figure that out. . . . We’re working on that as we go. And then the fact, too, that in comparison to the car before that there is no comparison. The older body style I’ll call it, the car before, was really a lot different driving than the new one.”
Brian Vickers will sub for injured Denny Hamlin beginning his week at Texas. Vickers is expected to stay in the No. 11 until Hamlin returns, which is projected to be in early May.
“I welcome the opportunity and the challenge,” Vickers said last week. “I look forward to being in it. Obviously, that team and car have run good for a long time. Darian Grubb has won championships and is a very good crew chief. . . It’s very sad how this happened. I’m happy to jump in and do the best I can.”
The battle at the top of Late Model stock standings at Caraway Speedway is turning into an early two-man race.
Dan Moore leads Ryan Wilson by four points. They are both more than 30 ahead of third place Gene Keplay, who trails Moore by 36.
Ryan Moore is the Limited Late Model leader by 14 over Paul Wark. Mark Baker and John Davis are tied for the Mini-Stock lead, 16 points ahead of third-place Zach Bralley. Jimmy Wallace is the Southern Modified Lites leader by four points over Austin Thompson.
Caraway will be in action on Saturday with a Late Model Truck race as the feature. Buddy Allred won the only previous event for that division this season.
The NASCAR Southern Modified Tour returns to action on Saturday at South Boston Speedway in Virginia. . .Justin Labonte finished third in the Crate Late Model race at 311 Speedway. . .NASCAR announced it will follow dirt-track tradition by having qualifying heats set the field for the Truck Series’ first dirt-track race in July at Eldora Speedway. . .The UARA-STARS series will be in a action on Saturday at Rockingham Speedway as a preliminary to Sunday’s NASCAR Truck race.