Ryan: Who will be in the 2018 NASCAR Hall of Fame class? One voter’s early read

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The official discussion about the ninth class of the NASCAR Hall of Fame will take place sometime in late May when more than 50 voters will gather together.

But more than eight weeks before that meeting (and subsequent vote) in a windowless room at the Charlotte Convention Center, the discussion of potential 2018 inductees began Wednesday night with the unveiling of the 20 nominees on NASCAR America.

Joe Gibbs, Roger Penske, Davey Allison, Bobby Labonte and Red Farmer have been added to a ballot that will include holdovers Buddy Baker, Robert Yates, Ricky Rudd, Mike Stefanik, Waddell Wilson, Harry Hyde, Jack Roush, Alan Kulwicki, Larry Phillips, Ray Fox, Ray Evernham, Red Byron, Ken Squier, Herschel McGriff and Ron Hornaday Jr.

For this voter, every candidate’s resume and record carefully will be considered, but the ballot seems clear cut.

LOCKS. My general rule is once you have my vote, your name stays on my ballot as long as you are eligible. So there are two names that fit that category.

Evernham: It isn’t so much his three championships as a crew chief as his role as an influencer. So many parts of modern-day management of a race team – including pit crews, strategies and car building – began with Evernham, who also had a successful run as team owner and TV analyst.

Byron: His statistics aren’t gaudy, but he is the first champion of NASCAR’s premier series, and that counts for something.

LIKELY. I’m leaning toward these names on my ballot.

Baker: In the same category as 2017 inductee Benny Parsons, Baker was a respected Daytona 500 winner before becoming a beloved broadcaster

Yates: His current battle with cancer has put a spotlight on his career achievements as both an ace engine builder and a championship car owner.

POSSIBLES. The last name could come from this group.

Gibbs: The election of Rick Hendrick and Richard Childress underscored that a team owner’s greatness can be respected even while still active.

Roush: See above.

Penske: Ditto.

Kulwicki: One of NASCAR’s greatest underdog stories.

NASCAR America: Parker Kligerman takes to simulator to show Xfinity changes at Indy (video)

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While Saturday will mark the sixth straight year the NASCAR Xfinity Series will race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, there will be significant changes. 

Among the changes: the use of restrictor plates, as well as adding aero ducts to aid cars with the draft.

On Tbursday’s edition of NASCAR America, Parker Kligerman took a spin around the hallowed Indianapolis Motor Speedway — on the NBCSN iRacing Simulator, that is — to show how some of those changes will impact the cars and potentially the race.

Check it out in the video above.

Friday’s NASCAR schedule at Indianapolis Motor Speedway

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Friday will be somewhat of an easy, relaxing day at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Cars will only take to the track twice in the afternoon — both being Xfinity Series practice sessions, which will be on the NBC Sports App.

IMS will host the NASCAR Cup Fan Fest from 4:30 – 8 p.m. ET, followed by the NASCAR Cup hauler parade that will see transporters enter the Speedway around 9 p.m. ET.

Here’s the rest of Friday’s schedule (all times Eastern):

FRIDAY, JULY 21

9:30 a.m. – 7 p.m. – Xfinity garage open

1 – 1:55 p.m. – First Xfinity practice (NBC Sports App)

3 – 3:55 p.m. – Final Xfinity practice (NBC Sports App)

NASCAR America: Pit crew members share their hidden talents

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What does a sky diver and Olympic-caliber swimmer have in common?

They make their living on NASCAR’s pit road, that’s what.

Check out two of this week’s pit crew all-star nominees, as seen on Thursday’s edition of NASCAR America.

NASCAR America: Xfinity drivers react to restrictor plates at Indy (video)

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On Thursday’s edition of NASCAR America, several of the stars of the NASCAR Xfinity Series tried to explain in three words what to expect with the use of restrictor plates in this Saturday’s Lilly Diabetes 250 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

See what they said and what they’re thinking about Saturday’s race in the video above.