Ron Hornaday Jr.

Four-time Truck Series champion Ron Hornaday Jr. elected to NASCAR Hall of Fame (video)

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With 38 percent of the vote, Ron Hornaday Jr. was elected to the NASCAR Hall of Fame’s 2018 class.

Hornaday, 58, is a four-time champion of the Camping World Truck Series and holds the series’ wins record with 51 victories.

Hornaday raced in the series from its inception in 1995 through 1999 and then from 2005 through 2014.

He’s the first Truck Series champion to be elected to the Hall of Fame.

“There wasn’t even a Hall of Fame when I started racing, you just do it to put food on the table and enjoy it,” Hornaday told NASCAR America. “There’s so many people (to thank) … I don’t know who to thank and where to start.”

Hornaday won two of his championships driving for Dale Earnhardt Inc. and two for Kevin Harvick.

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.

(Getty Images)

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.

 

Ryan: Why the outcry over the All-Star Race location now? Many reasons for a tipping point

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The debate over moving the All-Star Race reached critical mass this past weekend.

At least a dozen drivers, media pundits and broadcast analysts (including NASCAR on NBC’s Jeff Burton in this compelling column) called on NASCAR to consider leaving Charlotte Motor Speedway.

The points are well-taken: The 1.5-mile track’s smooth surface (high grip plus high speeds = slot cars) magnifies aero-sensitivity at the expense of slam-bang action.

But why did the tidal wave of dissent finally crest this year?

It’s been no secret for many seasons that Charlotte hardly was conducive to holding this event.

Though Kyle Busch took the lead with a nifty pass to begin the final segment, he still led the last 10 laps – the fourth time in five years the winner has managed that feat. Aside from last year’s pass of Kyle Larson by Joey Logano with two laps remaining, the last All-Star Race whose outcome was in doubt after the green flag of the final segment was when Tony Stewart beat Matt Kenseth in 2009.

In 12 All-Star Races since Charlotte was repaved, there have been two lead changes in the final five laps.

Perhaps the cumulative dearth of action from the past decade was why this year became a tipping point. But there also might have been these factors that had many speaking out:

Stage racing: In case you missed it, NASCAR began splitting all of its races into segments in 2017. The enhancements have been a tremendous addition this season (stay tuned for a NASCAR on NBC podcast with Burton this week discussing their impact and origins), but they inadvertently have created another layer of redundancy for the All-Star Race.

It’s analogous to the addition of double-file restarts to points races nearly seven years ago. When two of the main features of the All-Star Race becoming part and parcel to the everyday routine, it’s worth asking if the approach and format of the event still makes sense.

–Swiftness of change: To its credit, NASCAR has become much more nimble over the past couple of years about 1) trying new ideas; and 2) quickly implementing them. This initially was illustrated in a fast and total reversal of its rules direction (resulting in lower downforce) midway through the 2015 season, and it’s been evident in many ways since then.

And those that don’t work also aren’t kept (good riddance to heat races in Xfinity and the caution clock in trucks), so there seems less tolerance for anything perceived as the slightest drain on NASCAR momentum (undoubtedly, much of this is driven by social media, but that’s a topic for another day). When something doesn’t meet the standards of quality, and the All-Star Race at Charlotte certainly qualifies in recent years, the drumbeat for revamping begins almost immediately.

Tire problem: There’s no getting around the fact that the option tires didn’t deliver as many had hoped. With the race predicated on a primary selling point that didn’t deliver, it naturally stoked a loud reaction.

This also held true with last year’s wacky and hastily assembled format, which actually delivered a decent race. But the much-ballyhooed rules were so impenetrable, they naturally became the focus.

–All-Star existentialism: NASCAR can find solace in having good company in seeking relevance for its all-star extravaganza. The NFL, the NBA, the NHL and Major League Baseball have wrestled with the same philosophical conundrums of events whose purposes have become diluted over the years.

Here is the question that needs to be answered well in advance of next year: What’s the main objective of a NASCAR All-Star Race?

Should it be nonstop action? Showcasing the drivers’ personalities? Highlighting their skills? Saluting the heritage of stock-car racing?

You can say all of the above, but this is a zero-sum game. There needs to be a singular focus.

Answering this question would go a long way toward solving one of NASCAR’s greatest identity crises. In the meantime, here is one certainty about the All-Star Race.

When the 2018 schedule is released Tuesday, expect Charlotte Motor Speedway to remain listed as the host.

For now.

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One consensus positive opinion about this year’s event: Ending it well before everyone’s bedtime on a Saturday night was a good move. Though event sponsor Monster brought many of its athletes, there was a decided reduction of the pomp and circumstance that prolonged past events (e.g., a concert happened after the race instead of before or during the event).

It’s unclear if that was by design, but for the pace of the show (particularly given Saturday’s mediocrity), this was certainly an improvement.

The goal should be ending every All-Star Race by 10 p.m.

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Though a change in venue would be a wise move for the All-Star event, how about switching up the surface, too?

Kyle Larson’s slide job on Jimmie Johnson for second place on the final lap conjured images of Cup cars … on dirt.

If only there were a dirt track that already had been playing host to a NASCAR national series for the past, oh, four seasons.

A dirt track that already is built around segmented races.

A dirt track where aerodynamics matter so little, hitting the wall actually can be an advantage instead of an impediment.

Hmmm.

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Whether it’s Jordan Anderson’s truck at Atlanta or Erik Jones’ Toyota in the All-Star Open, the splitter has become the new scourge of drivers and mechanics everywhere because of its incompatibility with grass on the straightaways and car setups in general.

What is amusing: When the much-maligned Car of Tomorrow was being introduced, the splitter was hailed as the key to its aerodynamic success.

Many of the rules for the COT were written around the splitter. At an October 2005 test of the new model at Atlanta Motor Speedway, much of the work was devoted to finding the “sweet spot” of the splitter and trying to mimic the success NASCAR felt it had in the truck series with splitter designs.

This isn’t a defense of the splitter (an aesthetic blemish that deservedly seems headed for the boneyard) but a reminder the “fix” assuredly won’t be as simple as just removing it. That probably is a good start for Cup cars, though.

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The return of the souvenir haulers at Charlotte Motor Speedway seemed a big hit with longtime fans, per the anecdotal evidence available. But it also highlights another example of the tug of war between keeping the old-guard fan base happy while appealing to Millennials and younger.

There’s a distinct dichotomy in the push to make the races shorter (for the youth with shorter attention spans) while making the race days longer (for those who have grown up spending several hours on the midway before the green flag).

The downsizing of the souvenir truck fleet was sold in part as a way that NASCAR would reduce its carbon footprint, which matters to a younger set that has rallied around environmentally conscious topics. Many of today’s youth also have come of age in the on-demand era of same-day shipping and drone delivery.

While the souvenir haulers might hold some sentimental value and offer a natural gathering place, how many of the fans of tomorrow would prefer to buy at-track retail instead of shopping via online or mobile, where they spend most of their waking hours anyway?

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Speaking of mobile, a good guide for the success of an event these days is how easy it is to follow via social media.

If you kept abreast of the All-Star Race with only a Twitter feed, Saturday night was borderline incomprehensible in 140-character dispatches. That needs to be fixed.

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The ouster of Ford CEO Mark Fields shouldn’t have any impact on NASCAR in the short term. Team Penske and Stewart-Haas Racing are in long-term deals with the manufacturer.

But the reason for Fields’ exit – Ford’s sluggishness in developing autonomous cars – should be watched by those in NASCAR and the racing industry.

In an environment where electric car maker Tesla recently became worth more than General Motors (becoming the most valuable automaker despite selling about 9.9 million fewer cars), the discussion about the evolution of the street car — and its potential impact on stock-car racing – will remain an important one.

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With an aggregate win total of 173 in Cup, Xfinity and truck, there’s been much talk about Kyle Busch reaching 200 wins across the three national series. Largely unnoticed is that Busch has 48 wins in the Camping World Truck Series, three short on the circuit’s all-time list behind Ron Hornaday Jr. The all-time winner in the Xfinity Series (87 victories) hinted after Friday night’s win at Charlotte that the truck series might be an eventual victory lap.

“I look forward to hopefully being able to pass Ron and be able to set that (mark) a little bit higher,” said Busch, who has titles in Cup (2015) and Xfinity (’09). ”Hopefully, one day when I’m all said and done with the Cup stuff, maybe I’ll run my retirement tour in the truck series and win the championship and get the trifecta.”

Busch takes his share of grief for “stealing” wins from the regulars of the junior circuits. But his commitment to the series (and reinvesting millions through Kyle Busch Motorsports) is around racing and building roots, and the purity of essence should be lauded.

Dustin Long contributed to this report

Kyle Busch wins Charlotte Truck race for second straight victory

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CONCORD, N.C. – Kyle Busch swept all three stages and ran away with the North Carolina Education Lottery 200 for his second Camping World Truck Series win in a row.

Busch led 90 of 134 laps on the way to his seventh Truck win at Charlotte Motor Speedway. In both his wins this year, Busch has swept all three stages.

Busch held off the field on a three-lap shootout following a late caution.

It’s Busch’s 48th career Truck win.

Busch was followed by Johnny Sauter, Christopher Bell, Ryan Truex and Timothy Peters.

Bell, the pole-sitter, competed for the win after he lost a tire on Lap 4 and went a lap down.

“I struggle on restarts, I don’t know why,” Bell told Fox Sports 1. “It seemed like one time I would spin the tires and the next time I wouldn’t spin the tires. Overall bummed that I finished third with a second-place car.”

MORE: Race results

MORE: Points standings

STAGE 1 WINNER: Kyle Buch

STAGE 2 WINNER: Kyle Busch

WHO HAD A GOOD NIGHT: Ryan Truex finished fourth after a pit penalty for the third top-five finish of his career … Johnny Sauter’s second-place finish is his best result at Charlotte in nine starts. It’s his second top-three finish in a row here. … Parker Kligerman finished 10th for his first top 10 since the April 2016 Martinsville race. Pit strategy allowed him to lead six laps in Stage 2.

WHO HAD A BAD NIGHT: Austin Cindric, who graduated from high school Friday morning, spun on Lap 32 to cause the second caution. He finished 19th … Kaz Grala was the cause of two cautions, getting involved in a wreck with Brandon Jones on Lap 60 and single-truck accident on Lap 69. He finished 30th. … John Hunter Nemechek and Brett Moffitt got into each other on Lap 78. Nemechek pitted after pit road had been closed and was penalized. He finished 22nd, two laps down  … Regan Smith wrecked with 33 to go after being turned on the frontstretch and hitting the wall on the driver’s side. He finished 29th.

NOTABLE: The No. 24 of Justin Haley failed height measurements in post-race inspection. Any penalties will come later in the week … With his win, Busch is three shy of Ron Hornaday Jr.‘s series record of 51 … Sauter is winless but has finished in the top three in four straight races.

QUOTE OF THE NIGHT: “The record is just a number I guess. I remember when I passed Mark Martin on the Xfinity side and that was a lot of fun and pretty interesting. Look forward to hopefully passing Ron on the Truck side and be able to set that a little bit higher. Maybe one day when I’m all said and done on the Cup stuff, maybe I’ll run my retirement tour in the Truck Series, win the championship and get the trifecta.” – Kyle Busch on getting closer to Ron Hornaday Jr.’s Truck win record.

WHAT’S NEXT: Dover 200 at Dover International Speedway at 5:30 p.m. ET on June 2 on Fox Sports 1.

NASCAR Hall of Fame fan vote for 2018 class now open

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The official fan vote for the NASCAR Hall of Fame’s 2018 class is officially open.

Fans who participate between now and May 24 will help contribute to one of the 54 ballots that will be cast in the voting process.

When voting at nascar.com fans can choose up to five nominees and they can vote up to 50 times a day.

There are 20 nominees on the ballot this year. Joe Gibbs, Roger Penske, Davey Allison, Bobby Labonte and Red Farmer are the newest additions to the ballot.

MORE: Nate Ryan breaks down the 2018 NASCAR Hall of Fame ballot

Here are the 20 nominees:

Davey Allison, won 19 times in NASCAR’s premier series, including the 1992 Daytona 500.

Buddy Baker, won 19 times in NASCAR’s premier series, including the Daytona 500 and Southern 500.

Red Byron, first NASCAR premier series champion, in 1949.

Ray Evernham, three-time NASCAR premier series championship crew chief.

Red Farmer, three-time Late Model Sportsman champion; 1956 Modified champion.

Ray Fox, legendary engine builder, crew chief and car owner.

Joe Gibbs, combined for nine car owner championships in premier and Xfinity series.

Ron Hornaday Jr., four-time NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion.

Harry Hyde, 1970 NASCAR premier series championship crew chief.

Alan Kulwicki, 1992 NASCAR premier series champion.

Bobby Labonte, won a championship in both the premier series and Xfinity Series.

Hershel McGriff, 1986 NASCAR west series champion.

Roger Penske, combined for four car owner championships in premier and Xfinity series.

Larry Phillips, only five-time NASCAR weekly series national champion.

Jack Roush, five-time car owner champion in NASCAR’s three national series.

Ricky Rudd, won 23 times in NASCAR’s premier series, including the 1997 Brickyard 400.

Ken Squier, legendary radio and television broadcaster; inaugural winner/namesake of Squier-Hall Award for NASCAR Media Excellence.

Mike Stefanik, winner of record-tying nine NASCAR championships.

Waddell Wilson, won three NASCAR premier series championships as an engine builder.

Robert Yates, won NASCAR premier series championship as both an engine builder and owner