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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.

 

Staff picks for today’s Cup race at Kansas Speedway

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Here’s a look at who the NBC Sports staff is picking to win today’s Cup race at Kansas Speedway.

Nate Ryan

Kevin Harvick. His first oval win since Kansas Speedway a year ago validates the team’s 1.5-mile speed in the playoffs.

Dustin Long

Kyle Busch. Mark it down, he wins and advances to the next round to continue his quest for a second title.

Daniel McFadin

Martin Truex Jr. keeps his foot on the throat of the competition and gets his sixth win of the year at a 1.5-mile track.

Jerry Bonkowski

Kyle Larson is starting 13th but expect him to get to the top five within the first 20-30 laps. He needs a strong run to give him momentum heading into the Round of 8 and he gets it Sunday.

Furniture Row Racing crew member dies of heart attack

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KANSAS CITY, Kansas – James “Jim” Watson, a fabricator for Furniture Row Racing, died Saturday night after suffering a heart attack, the team stated Sunday morning. Watson was 55.

A native of Greenfield, Wisconsin, Watson had been a member of Furniture Row Racing since February. He worked for Roush Fenway Racing from 2006-15 and spent last season with HScott Motorsports. He was a long-time racer, competing in dirt late models and asphalt super late models throughout Southeast Wisconsin.

Watson was with the team this weekend at Kansas Speedway.

He is survived by wife Laurie and daughter Brittany.

“On behalf of Furniture Row Racing we extend our deepest sympathies to Jim’s family,” said Joe Garone, president of Furniture Row Racing. “He was an outstanding and talented member of our racing family, whose life was dedicated to racing since his early days as a race-car driver in Wisconsin. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Jim’s wife Laurie, daughter Brittany and to his entire family and friends. Our No. 77 and 78 teams will be racing with heavy hearts today.”

Ryan Blaney ready to prove doubters wrong

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KANSAS CITY, Kansas — Ryan Blaney has a bit of a chip on his shoulder this weekend.

The 23-year-old driver for the Wood Brothers seeks to hold off three former champions today at Kansas Speedway (3 p.m. ET, NBCSN) for a spot in the next round of the Cup playoffs.

Even though former champions Jimmie Johnson, Kyle Busch and Matt Kenseth trail Blaney in the points, some say Blaney won’t hold them off and advance to the Round of 8.

“I’ve heard that all week that we don’t really deserve to be here, so that kind of ticked me off a little bit,’’ Blaney said Friday after qualifying.

“They just say we’ve been kind of overachieving or they didn’t expect us to be here. Those little things kind of make you a little bit irritated because our guys do just as good a job as anybody. They deserve to be here. They work their tails off like anybody else. Hopefully, we can prove that Sunday.’’

MORE: Wood Brothers lifeline started with a phone call

Blaney’s job, though, will be more difficult. He will start last in the 40-car field because his car failed inspection after qualifying. Kenseth (third), Busch (seventh) and Johnson (13th) all start in the top 15 and should be able to work their way into the top 10 to score stage points by Lap 80 when the first stage ends. Blaney will be challenged to do so and could see his advantage on each shrink. 

There’s hope for Blaney because he posted the fastest lap in Saturday’s final Cup practice. But he ranked ninth in average over 10 consecutive laps — behind Busch and Kenseth.

“There’s definitely things we can improve on,’’ Blaney said after placing third in Saturday’s Xfinity race. “(In the Cup race) everyone is going to be kind of married to the wall pretty early in a run. It might be hard to pass. Hopefully, we can work the bottom. I think the Cup cars might wear the top out, might over-rubber it where we have to move down a little bit.’’

With starting in the rear of the field, changing weather conditions (the wind is not expected to be as prevalent today as Saturday) and facing an elimination race, it would be easy for the pressure build on a driver and team.

“I really don’t feel that it’s a different weekend,’’ he said, alluding to the battle for the final playoff spots. “More people are paying attention to it because it’s a big deal. There’s four cars pretty much going for two spots. We try to approach it as any other weekend. It will be more challenging coming from the back.’’

Along with starting at the rear for the penalty, Blaney’s team had to pick last for pit stalls for failing inspection after qualifying.

His team would have had the third pick and he would have had an opening either before or after his stall, making it easier to either enter or exit. Now, he’ll be sandwiched between Kasey Kahne and Dale Earnhardt Jr. Provided both stay on the lead lap, Blaney could face challenges squeezing into his stall throughout the race.

“It doesn’t help our situation for sure,’’ Blaney said. “Those are two good cars. We’ll kind of be pitched between them all day. Dale actually sent me a text. Teams work well with each other about that. That will be tough for us. That will be another challenge.’’

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Today’s Cup race at Kansas: Start time, weather, TV/radio info

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It’s once again elimination time in the NASCAR Cup Series.

The playoff field will be cut from 12 to eight drivers following today’s Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway.

Pole-sitter Martin Truex Jr. will be looking to earn his sixth win on a 1.5-mile track this year. He won the last visit to Kansas Speedway in May.

Here’s all the important info you need ahead of the race, which will air on NBCSN.

(All times are Eastern)

START: Jay Hernandez will give the command to start engines at 3:07 p.m. Green flag is scheduled for 3:16 p.m.

DISTANCE: The race is scheduled for 267 laps (400 miles) around the 1.5-mile oval.

STAGES: Stage 1 ends at Lap 80. Stage 2 ends at Lap 160.

COMPETITION CAUTION: Lap 30

PRERACE SCHEDULE: Garage opens at 9:30 a.m. Driver-crew chief meeting is at 1 p.m. Driver introductions are at 2:20 p.m.

NATIONAL ANTHEM: Angie Rosner will perform the anthem at 3:01 p.m..

TV/RADIO:  NBCSN will broadcast the race at 3 p.m. Coverage begins at 1 p.m. on NBCSN with NASCAR America, followed by Countdown to Green at 2:30 p.m. Motor Racing Network will broadcast the race on radio and at mrn.com, starting with its pre-race show at 2 p.m. SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will carry the MRN broadcast.

FORECAST: The wunderground.com site predicts a temperature of 67 degrees and no chance of rain at race time.

LAST TIME: Martin Truex Jr. led the final 19 laps to win in May. He beat Brad Keselowski and Kevin Harvick. Harvick is the defending winner of this race. He beat Carl Edwards and Joey Logano last October.

STARTING LINEUP: Click here for starting lineup