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2018 NASCAR Hall of Fame class: Yates, Byron, Evernham, Squier and Hornaday Jr.

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The 2018 NASCAR Hall of Fame induction class was announced Wednesday night at the Hall of Fame in Charlotte, North Carolina.

The class includes Robert Yates, Red Byron, Ray Evernham, Ken Squier and Ron Hornaday Jr.

This year was the second time there was a tie for the fifth induction spot. The tie was between Hornaday and 1992 Cup Series champion Alan Kulwicki. A tie breaker vote went to Hornaday.

Here’s your look at the ninth induction class for the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

(Photo by Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images for NASCAR)

Robert Yates – Percent of vote: 94

Hometown: Charlotte, North Carolina
Premier Series Owner Stats
Competed: 1989-2007
Starts: 1,155
Wins: 57
Poles: 48

Won NASCAR premier series championship as both an engine builder and owner. Began Robert Yates Racing in the late 1980s. Won the Daytona 500 three times with Davey Allison (1992) and Dale Jarrett (1996, 2000). Yates and Jarrett won the 1999 Cup series championship.

 

Red Byron (Born: 3/12/15 – Died: 11/11/60) – Percent of vote: 74

Hometown: Anniston, Alabama
Premier Series Stats
Competed: 1949-1951
Starts:  15
Wins: 2
Poles: 2

Byron won NASCAR’s first race in 1948 on the Daytona beach road course. He won NASCAR’s first season championship in the NASCAR Modified Division. The following year, he won NASCAR’s first Strictly Stock title – the precursor to today’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series – driving for car owner Raymond Parks. The Strictly Stock schedule had eight races; Byron won two of them. Wounded in World War II, the injury contributed to Byron’s brief career.

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Ray Evernham – Percent of vote: 52

Hometown: Hazlet, New Jersey
Premier Series Crew Chief Stats
Competed: 1992-1999
Starts: 213
Wins: 47
Poles: 30

With Jeff Gordon as his driver, the No. 24 team for Hendrick Motorsports won three championships (1995, ’97, ’98), and 47 wins in the 1990s, including two Daytona 500s (1997, ’99) and two Brickyard 400s (1994, ’98). In 2001, Evernham tried his hand at ownership, leading the return of Dodge to NASCAR. His team won 13 times, including NASCAR Hall of Famer Bill Elliott’s win in the 2002 Brickyard 400.

(Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images for NASCAR)

Ken Squier – Percent of vote: 52

Hometown: Waterbury, Vermont.

One of NASCAR’s original broadcasters, Squier co-founded the Motor Racing Network (MRN) in 1970. He is perhaps best-known for calling the 1979 Daytona 500, a milestone moment for the entire sport, as Squier’s voice on CBS welcomed millions to the first live flag-to-flag coverage of “The Great American Race” – a moniker he coined. Squier called races for CBS and TBS until 1997.

 

 

(Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Ron Hornaday Jr. – Percent of vote: 38

Hometown: Palmdale, California
Truck Series Driver Stats
Competed: 1995-99, 2002, 2004-14
Starts: 360
Wins: 51
Poles: 27

One of the forefathers of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, few drivers can be mentioned in the same breath as Hornaday when it comes to wheeling a truck around a race track. The second-generation racer boasts a record four Truck Series championships and 51 wins. Hornaday also holds the Truck Series all-time marks for top fives (158) and top 10s (234). In 2009, Hornaday won five straight Truck Series races, a feat matched only three other times in NASCAR national series history.

The 2018 Landmark Award winner:

(Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

Jim France – Vice chairman/executive vice president of NASCAR and is also chairman of the board at the International Speedway Corporation (ISC). A steady influence behind the scenes for decades, he helped build the sport with his father Bill France Sr., the founder and first president of NASCAR, and brother Bill France Jr., NASCAR’s former president, chairman and CEO. Joining ISC in 1959, Jim France worked in all phases of operations in his early years with the company. He was elected to the ISC board in 1970 and has served as the company’s secretary, assistant treasurer, vice president, chief operating officer, executive vice president and president.

 

ThorSport Racing partners with Ford in Truck Series

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ThorSport Racing has partnered with Ford in a multi-year deal in the Camping World Truck Series, the team announced Monday.

The team’s announcement comes a week after it revealed the mutual decision to part ways with Toyota.

“With 23 years in the NCWTS, we look forward to our new partnership with Ford Performance in NASCAR,” team owner Duke Thorson said in a press release. “Our pursuit of wins and championships remains at the forefront of our objectives.”

ThorSport, based in Sandusky, Ohio, had been paired with the Toyota for six years, winning two titles with Matt Crafton.

“We’re excited that ThorSport Racing has decided to switch to a F-Series truck for the 2018 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series,” said Mark Rushbrook, global director of Ford Performance Motorsports in a press release. “ThorSport is a proven championship-level team in the series, and we look forward to providing them the aero and simulation technical support that will ensure they remain at the top level of the Truck Series.”

In 2017, Brad Keselowski Racing fielded the only two full-time Ford entries in the series. That team shut down following the end of the season.

Crafton will be returning to ThorSport for his 17th season – and 14th consecutive – with the team. The rest of the team’s driver lineup will be announced at a later date.

The Truck Series season begins Feb. 16th at Daytona International Speedway.

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D.J. Kennington to attempt to qualify for Daytona 500 with Gaunt Brothers Racing

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Canadian driver D.J. Kennington will try to qualify for the Daytona 500 with Gaunt Brothers Racing for the second year in a row, the team announced Monday.

Kennington, a native of St. Thomas, Ontario, will drive the No. 96 Toyota sponsored by Lordco Auto Parts and Castrol.

The team, sponsor and driver combination made the 2017 edition of the race, making Kennington the first Canadian driver to compete in the Daytona 500 in 29 years.

Kennington started 28th and finished 36th following a multi-car crash at the start of Stage 2.

“Last year was an awesome experience for my sponsors, Lordco and Castrol, and me,” Kennington said in a press release. “We knew once it was over, we wanted to do it again. (Team owner) Marty (Gaunt) and everybody at GBR is pulling out all the stops for us this year. I’m looking forward to getting back behind the wheel of the Lordco/Castrol Toyota Camry and seeing the difference a year makes.”

The 40-year-old driver has five Cup starts with a best finish of 26th in last November’s race at Phoenix.

Gaunt Brothers Racing does not own a charter, meaning Kennington is not guaranteed a starting spot in the Feb. 18 Daytona 500.

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Love’s Travel Stops returns as Front Row Motorsports sponsor

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Front Row Motorsports and Love’s Travel Stops have extended their relationship into a sixth year, the team announced Monday.

The company will sponsor the No. 34 Ford of Michael McDowell in 18 races, including the Feb. 18 Daytona 500.

It will also be on the No. 34 for both races at Texas Motor Speedway, the night race at Bristol Motor Speedway and the Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway.

“We look forward to kicking off another great season in Daytona with Front Row Motorsports and welcoming our new driver of the No. 34 Love’s Ford, Michael McDowell,” said Dave Frankenfield, vice president of marketing for Love’s Travel Stops, in a press release. “(Team owner) Bob Jenkins and (General Manager) Jerry Freeze continue to provide great value and flexibility in our partnership while working tirelessly to put a competitive car on the track each week. They also help create a unique race-day experience that allows our customers and employees to be a part of the Love’s race team.”

The team also announced McDowell, entering his first year with FRM, will be paired with crew chief Derrick Finley. The veteran crew chief has been with the team since 2011 and worked with David Ragan last season.

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New car buoys hopes for Chevrolet to avoid ‘unacceptable’ Cup result last year

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A Chevrolet executive calls it “unacceptable” that the manufacturer did not have a car racing for the Cup championship last year at Homestead-Miami Speedway but says he expects Chevrolet to have “at least a car or two” in the title race this season with the new Camaro ZL1

Pat Suhy, Chevrolet’s NASCAR Group Manager, made the comments Sunday after a luncheon at the National Motorsports Press Association Convention.

Chevrolet had no Cup car finish higher than fifth (Chase Elliott) last year and did not score a win in the 10-race playoffs — Toyota won eight races and Ford two. Toyota won the championship with Martin Truex Jr. and Furniture Row Racing.

“If you look at the car count and just do a ratio of the car count, we were (seven) out of 16 going into the playoffs last year and to not have one make it in the final round was not good,’’ Suhy said.

“I expect us to have at least a car or two in the Final Four this year. There’s no reason we shouldn’t.’’

Suhy and others at Chevrolet are buoyed by the Camaro ZL1 and look to repeat the success Toyota had last season (16 wins in 36 races) with its updated Camry.

Suhy said a key to the Camaro ZL1 is that Chevrolet engineers found ways to move more downforce from the front to the rear of the car.

“As teams make more downforce, they tend to make more and more front downforce, they don’t gain rear downforce as much,’’ Suhy said. “With the old car, as they made more and more front downforce, it got more and more aero loose, so it got harder to keep the car from being too loose and unstable going into the turns.’’

Suhy said that while there were some Chevrolets that were strong last season — Kyle Larson won four races to lead the manufacturer — many teams had a challenge with the setup.

“I would say the loose to relative looseness of the car didn’t feel as comfortable getting into the corners,’’ Suhy said of last year’s car. “So I think a lot of it is really about driver comfort and how they feel going 210 mph down the frontstretch at Michigan and lifting and turning left and having the confidence that the car is actually going to turn left and not lose the front end. I think those are the things this car will help feel more settled, more stable and less twitchy.’’

Any new car can have its struggles. Despite its dominance last year, Toyota won only two of the first 17 races before winning 14 of the final 19.

“I think some of the things that we’ve done with our car and what we’ve done since it was approved, working together with our teams and with the teams working separately, I’d like to think that we’re not going to struggle that badly that early,’’ Suhy said. “I guess we’ll see. We’re prepared. If we do struggle, it’s not because of the fundamental design of the car, it’s really just a matter of more time development needed. We’re ready to address that if needed.’’

Chevrolet enters this new era without its NASCAR program manager. Alba Colon joined Hendrick Motorsports earlier this month to oversee the team’s competition systems group. She was among those from Chevrolet at the track most weekends who worked with the teams.

Suhy said he’s temporarily filling Colon’s job, along with his other duties, until a replacement can be found. Suhy said the team that developed the car remains and that Kevin Bayless, Chevrolet Racing NASCAR Chassis and Aerodynamics Program Manager, will play a greater role. Bayless will be at the organizational test Jan. 31-Feb. 1 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Each Cup organization is allowed to have one team test. 

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