A bit overlooked from last weekend’s race at ISM Raceway was that both Jimmie Johnson and Ryan Newman moved up a spot for most consecutive Cup starts.
Both started their 580th consecutive Cup race last weekend. That moved them ahead of Ken Schrader (579 career starts) into ninth on the all-time list. Kevin Harvick has 572 consecutive starts. He’s set to pass Schrader at Kansas in May.
Next for Johnson and Newman is Mark Martin, who made 621 career Cup starts.
Jeff Gordon is the record holder with 797 consecutive starts. At this point, both Johnson, who is 42 years old, and Newman, who is 40, would need six years to reach Gordon’s mark.
To put the streak Johnson and Newman have compiled into perspective, rookies William Byron and Darrell Wallace Jr. would each need to not miss a race for 16 years to match them (provided there continues to be 36 points races a year). Both Byron and Wallace will need 22 seasons to match Gordon’s mark.
Four-time champion Jeff Gordon headlines the list of nominees for the 2019 NASCAR Hall of Fame class, which was announced Tuesday on NASCAR America.
Gordon, who ranks third on the Cup all-time wins list with 93 and helped broaden the sport’s appeal, is in his first year of eligibility.
Should he be among the five selected for the 2019 Hall of Fame Class, he would follow team owner Rick Hendrick (2017 class) and crew chief Ray Evernham (2018 class).
There are 20 nominees for the class. Fifteen are holdovers from last year. Gordon is among the five new names to the list. Voting is expected to take place in May with the class inducted in January 2019.
Joining Gordon, 46, as first-time nominees are: Harry Gant, John Holman, Ralph Moody and Kirk Shelmerdine.
Gant, 78, competed in NASCAR from 1973-94, winning 18 races and 17 poles. He won four consecutive races in September 1991. He remains the oldest Cup winner. He was 52 years, 7 months, 6 days when he won at Michigan in August 1992. He’s also the oldest pole winner in series history. He was 54 years, 7 months and 17 days when he won the pole at Bristol in August 1994.
Shelmerdine, who turns 60 on Thursday, won four championships as crew chief for Dale Earnhardt in 1986-87 and 1990-91.
Holman and Moody formed one of the sport’s most famous teams. Between 1957-73, Moody and Holman built cars that earned 83 poles and won 96 times. They won the 1968 and ’69 titles with David Pearson. Holman died in 1975. Moody died in 2004.
The other 15 nominees from last year are:
Davey Allison … 19-time Cup winner who won the 1992 Daytona 500. He was the 1987 Rookie of the Year. He died in a helicopter crash in 1993 at Talladega.
Buddy Baker … 19-time Cup winner who won the 1980 Daytona 500. He was the first driver to eclipse the 200 mph barrier, doing so in 1970.
Red Farmer … Records are incomplete but the 1956 modified and 1969-71 Late Model Sportsman champ is believed to have won well more than 700 races. Continued racing beyond 80 years old.
Ray Fox … Renowned engine builder, car owner and race official. He built the Chevrolet that Junior Johnson won the 1960 Daytona 500 driving. Fox won the 1964 Southern 500 as a car owner with Johnson as his driver.
Harry Hyde … Crew chief for Bobby Isaac when Isaac won the 1970 series title. Guided Tim Richmond, Geoff Bodine, Neil Bonnett and Dave Marcis each to their first career series win.
Alan Kulwicki … 1992 series champion who overcame a 278-point deficit in the final six races to win title by 10 points, at the time the closet margin in series history. He was the 1986 Rookie of the Year. He was killed in a plane crash in 1993.
Bobby Labonte … 2000 series champion who won 21 Cup races. He was the first driver to win an Xfinity title and a Cup championship in a career.
Hershel McGriff … Made his NASCAR debut at age 22 in the 1950 Southern 500 and ran his final NASCAR race at age 84 in 2012. Was selected as one of NASCAR’s 50 Greatest Drivers in 1998.
Roger Penske … Team owner whose organization has won 107 Cup races and one series title. Has been a car owner in auto racing for more than 50 years.
Larry Phillips … Weekly short track series driver believed to have more than 1,000 career wins. During an 11-year span, he won 220 of 289 NASCAR-sanctioned starts on short tracks.
Jack Roush … Team owner whose organization has won 137 Cup races and two series titles (Matt Kenseth in 2003 and Kurt Busch in 2004). Team has won more than 300 races across NASCAR’s three national series.
Ricky Rudd … Won 23 Cup races, including 1997 Brickyard 400. He is known most as NASCAR’s Ironman, once holding the record for consecutive starts at 788. He ranks second in all-time Cup starts with 906.
Mike Stefanik … Nine-time NASCAR champion with his titles coming in the Whelen Modified Tour and the K&N Pro Series East.
Waddell Wilson … Famed engine builder and crew chief. He supplied the power for David Pearson’s championships in 1968 and ’69 and Benny Parsons’ 1973 title. Wilson’s engines won 109 races. He won 22 races as a crew chief, including three Daytona 500 victories.
Nominees for the Landmark Award are Alvin Hawkins Sr., Barney Hall, Janet Guthrie, Jim Hunter and Ralph Seagraves.
Hawkins established Bowman Gray Stadium with NASCAR founder Bill France Sr.
Hall was a broadcaster for 54 years from 1960-2014.
Guthrie was the first woman to race in a Cup superspeedway event.
Hunter was a journalist, track promoter and longtime NASCAR executive.
Seagraves started RJ Reynolds Tobacco Company’s sponsorship of NASCAR.
Who is someone not in the NASCAR Hall of Fame that should be in it?
Nate Ryan: Smokey Yunick. Mechanics and crew chiefs were underrepresented in the first few years of the NASCAR Hall of Fame. That mostly has been addressed since then (notably with Ray Evernham’s recent induction), but Yunick’s name has yet to appear on the ballot. He certainly is worthy of candidacy and should be enshrined some day
Dustin Long: Harold Brasington, founder of Darlington Raceway. He was a visionary who created NASCAR’s first big paved track nearly a decade before Daytona emerged and helped change the sport. That’s worthy of a spot in the Hall of Fame.
Jerry Bonkowski: Ricky Rudd. He was the longtime iron man of NASCAR, not to mention a winner of 23 races. He’s long overdue to be inducted.
Daniel McFadin: I’m going with two men that deserve to go into the Hall of Fame together: Bob Jenkins and Dr. Jerry Punch. The election of Ken Squier has set the precedent for media members being selected. While Squier was the voice and narrator for a certain generation of NASCAR fans, Jenkins and Punch were more active and omnipresent with their ESPN and ABC coverage from the early ’80s to 2000. Outside the Daytona 500, Coke 600 and races on TNN, if you’re watching a highlight of a NASCAR race from that period, it’s likely being announced and reported on by Jenkins and Punch. Jenkins was even present in NASCAR video games in the late ’90s. For my generation, he was the voice of NASCAR in our formative years.
Who are you most worried about three races into the season?
Nate Ryan: Driving on a one-year deal and needing to produce results quickly, two crashes in three races is a tough start for Kurt Busch. Even though his teammate finished 15th at Las Vegas, AJ Allmendinger’s JTG Daugherty Racing ride has seemed well off the pace since a 10th in the Daytona 500.
Dustin Long:Clint Bowyer. Although it’s early and he’s 11th in points, he’s talked about he and the team needing to be consistent. Haven’t seen it yet. For him to match the success of teammate Kevin Harvick and be a contender to win races, that consistency needs to start happening.
Jerry Bonkowski: How can you not be worried about Jimmie Johnson, who is sitting in 29th place? Sure, he finished 12th at Las Vegas, but he needs a win — or at least a top-five — in the worst way.
Daniel McFadin: Any Chevrolet driver not named Kyle Larson. He was the only Chevy driver to finish in the top 10 in Las Vegas and one of three to finish in the top 15 at Atlanta. Like Toyota teams early last year, Chevy teams seem to be struggling to figure out the new Camaro body so far. Unless you’re the No. 42 team, which is keeping the same pace it had in Homestead in November.
Kyle Larson finished no worse than second in each race of last year’s West Coast swing and he started this tour with a third-place finish. How likely is he to score another top-five finish on West Coast swing.
Nate Ryan: The odds are good. He qualifies so well at Phoenix, and Fontana suits his style superbly.
Dustin Long: Count on it.
Jerry Bonkowski: He loves Phoenix and Fontana. Not only do I see him getting top fives at both places, he’s a good candidate to win both races, as well.
Daniel McFadin: Larson has won the last four races at 2-mile speedways and should be the favorite to win next week at Auto Club Speedway.
War hero, legendary NASCAR team owner Bud Moore dies
Walter M. “Bud” Moore humbly referred to himself as “an old country mechanic who loved to make (race cars) run fast,” but he was so much more.
He was a highly decorated World War II veteran, who founded an engineering company and went on to become one of the most successful team owners in NASCAR history.
A lifelong resident of Spartanburg, South Carolina, Moore passed away at the age of 92.
Born May 25, 1925, Moore enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1943 at the age of 18, shortly after graduating high school. He was a machine gunner assigned to the 90th Infantry Division.
One year later, Moore was among more than two million American and Allied forces who took part in D-Day, the largest military invasion in history.
By the time the war ended in 1945, Moore would earn two Bronze Star Medals for heroic actions and five Purple Hearts for being injured in combat – sustaining shrapnel wounds four separate times and the fifth for being shot.
While he typically downplayed his injuries or how many considered him a war hero, Moore said one of his highlights during the war was serving under General George S. Patton.
“If you asked any man in the Third Army, they’d have followed (Patton) into hell,” Moore said. “He was a commanding general who wouldn’t send you anywhere he wouldn’t go himself.”
Moore returned to Spartanburg after the war and formed Bud Moore Engineering in 1947.
“Three of us from Spartanburg, Bill Eubanks, Cotton Owens and I decided that racing was a way to make a living with this sport,” Moore said.
After serving as crew chief for Buck Baker’s NASCAR Grand National championship effort in 1957, Moore began his own team in 1961, one that would last through 2000, including more than 30 years with Ford.
Moore had a stellar list of drivers that raced for him including Joe Weatherly, Fireball Roberts, David Pearson, Johnny Rutherford, Rex White, Dale Earnhardt, Bobby and Donnie Allison, Bobby Isaac, LeeRoy Yarbrough, Cale Yarborough, Darrell Waltrip, Buddy Baker, Benny Parsons and Ricky Rudd.
Weatherly won back-to-back NASCAR Grand National championships for Moore in 1962 and 1963, while Tiny Lund won the inaugural NASCAR Grand American championship for Moore in 1968.
Among other highlights of Moore’s ownership career: Parnelli Jones won the 1970 Sports Car Club of America Trans-Am championship and Bobby Allison won the 1978 Daytona 500.
In addition to his two Grand National championships and one Grand American title, Moore earned 63 wins, 298 top fives and 463 top 10s in 958 races as an owner in NASCAR’s premier series.
Moore was part of the second class to be inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame in 2011.
“It’s an honor to be one of the first 10 inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame,” Moore said in his acceptance speech. “It means a lot to see my contribution as a car owner recognized like this.
“My daughter-in-law once asked me how I wanted to be remembered. The answer is simple: One who made many contributions to building the sport, whose handshake was good as any contract, who always gave a straight answer. Most of all to be remembered as a man who loved his family, his country and the sport of racing.”
Moore is survived by sons Daryl (wife Carol), Brent (wife Nancy) and Greg (fiancé Roberta), grandchildren: Melissa Moore Padgett (Tommy), Candace Moore Glover (Tommy), Benjamin Moore (Kristen), Thomas Moore, and Brittany Moore, along with seven great-grandchildren and three great-great grandchildren.
He is also survived by brothers, Ralph, William, and Richard Moore and sister, Ann Moore Elder. He was preceded in death by his wife of 64 years, Betty Clark Moore, and his brothers, Charles, Cecil and Donald Moore and sisters, Edith Moore Gregory and Helen Moore McKinney.
Services and arrangements will be announced at a later date.
NASCAR Chairman Brian France said: “Many choose the word ‘hero’ when describing athletes who accomplish otherworldly sporting feats. Oftentimes, it’s an exaggeration. But when detailing the life of the great Bud Moore, it’s a description that fits perfectly. Moore, a decorated veteran of World War II, served our country before dominating our sport as both a crew chief and, later, an owner.
“On behalf of all of NASCAR, I offer my condolences to Bud’s family, friends and fans. We will miss Bud, a giant in our sport, and a true American hero.”
NASCAR Hall of Fame Executive Director Winston Kelley said: “First and foremost, on behalf of everyone at the NASCAR Hall of Fame, we offer our most sincere condolences to the entire Moore family. Walter “Bud” Moore was truly a hero in every sense of the word. Merriam-Webster’s dictionary describes a hero as: ‘A person who is admired for great or brave acts or fine qualities.’ Many may fit one of these categories but very few fit into each. Bud left an indelible mark on NASCAR. We are humbled that he considers his crowning achievement as his induction in the second class of the NASCAR Hall of Fame, one of our first 10 inductees. That alone speaks to the magnitude of his accomplishments and contributions to NASCAR as both a championship owner and crew chief.”
Edsel B. Ford II said, “All of us involved in Ford’s racing program mourn the passing of Bud Moore. He embodied the true meaning of the word hero, from storming the beaches of Normandy during D-Day in World War II to working his way up to the top levels of both the SCCA and NASCAR as a championship car owner. Bud changed the lives of countless drivers and crew members for several decades on his way to the NASCAR Hall of Fame, but he was a humble, simple man who never forgot his South Carolina roots. A loyal Ford man and a man of honor. We send our deepest condolences to his sons Greg, Daryl and Brent.”
Talladega Superspeedway Chairman Grant Lynch said, “I got to know Bud back in the 1980s and he was one of a kind. He was a teacher of our sport, a blue-collar team owner who helped many drivers become legends and better men. Oh, the stories he would tell about the early days of the sport when he, (MRN’s) Barney Hall, Dick Brooks (former driver and MRN analyst) and I would play golf. He would always put a smile on your face. Bud was a true pioneer and building block of our sport. And his legacy, especially here at Talladega, will live on.”
WALTER M. “BUD” MOORE
Hometown: Spartanburg, S.C.
Born: May 25, 1925
NASCAR championships: 1962 and 1963 Grand National title; 1968 Grand America title; also was crew chief on Buck Baker’s 1957 championship team.
Career starts: 958
Daytona 500 wins: 1 (1978) plus three qualifying races (1961, 1962 and 1965)
Most wins at one track: 7 at Richmond (1961, 1962, 1963, 1979, 1980, 1981, 1984)
Second-most wins at one track: 5 at Talladega(1975, 1975, 1976, 1979, 1983)
Wood Brothers’ lifeline started with a phone call: ‘I’m going to fix that’
DOVER, Delaware — Shortly after the Coca-Cola 600 ran without the Wood Brothers for the only time in the event’s history, co-owner Eddie Wood’s cell phone rang.
On the other end was Edsel Ford II, great-grandson of Henry Ford, founder of Ford Motor Company, a longtime supporter of the Wood Brothers.
Edsel Ford called for other reasons, but the conversation turned to the team’s struggles. Although it was late May, the 2008 season already had been difficult for the team.
The Wood Brothers failed to qualify for the Daytona 500, marking the first time since 1962 the family didn’t have a car in NASCAR’s most prestigious race.
The team failed to make the races at Las Vegas, Atlanta and Bristol in consecutive weekends. The Woods had the most wins among any team in NASCAR history at Atlanta at that time. They also didn’t qualify at Richmond before failing to make the 43-car field at Charlotte.
All that hung over Wood when he answered his phone in the Pocono Raceway garage during a test two days after the 600.
“Why haven’t we talked lately?’’ Edsel Ford asked Wood.
“Mr. Ford, we’ve run so bad and I’m so ashamed,’’ Wood said. “I’m ashamed to call you.’’
“So you’re telling me my 21 is broke?’’
“Yes sir. It’s broken. Really bad.’’
“I’m going to fix that.’’
When Ryan Blaney held off 2014 series champion Kevin Harvick to win at Pocono in June, he gave the Wood Brothers their 99th career Cup victory and qualified them for the playoffs for the first time.
For as storied as Wood Brothers history is — nine NASCAR Hall of Famers have run at least one race for the team — the organization has only one championship. The team won the 1963 car owner’s title less than three weeks before President John F. Kennedy’s assassination.
Blaney enters Sunday’s race at Dover International Speedway in position to advance to the next round. That the Wood Brothers are competing for a championship is remarkable considering what they overcame to remain in a sport that left many contemporaries behind.
More than 30 teams that competed in the Daytona 500 at one time or another between 2006-16 have faded away. They ranged from powerhouses to low-budget endeavors put together on a hope and a prayer.
Those teams relegated to history include Dale Earnhardt Inc., Petty Enterprises, Yates Racing, Evernham Motorsports, Bill Davis Racing, Michael Waltrip Racing and Red Bull Racing. They combined for 10 Cup titles and 16 Daytona 500 victories.
While they are gone, the Wood Brothers remain.
Edsel Ford II calls the No. 21 Wood Brothers car Ford’s “company car.’’
He’s not exaggerating. The Wood Brothers always have run Fords, starting with Glen Wood. He and a friend paid $50 for a 1938 Ford Coupe to race in 1950.
In Glen Wood’s first race, contact in his heat bent the rear-end housing. It didn’t seem major until afterward when they towed the car back to Stuart, Virginia. The axle broke. Gas spilled and ignited from the sparks as the car’s rear end scraped the ground. Flames shot from the back of the car and spread.
The fire eventually burned out and the damage was minimal to the engine. So a few weeks later, Glen Wood again was racing that car, beginning a legacy with Ford.
For as much loyalty as the Wood Brothers have shown Ford Motor Company, Edsel Ford II felt the same way with the team.
“We were dedicated to them, and they were dedicated to us,’’ Ford told NBC Sports.
Loyalty, though, doesn’t pay the bills and can’t always prop a team back up when it has fallen.
The Wood Brothers’ falloff was gradual, more like water dripping from a faucet instead of flowing.
Elliott Sadler led them to a 20th-place finish in the points in 2001, but the team’s performance yo-yoed through Sadler and Ricky Rudd before declining with a series of other drivers.
The organization expanded, adding a Truck team, but that didn’t prove effective. Decisions didn’t work out as hoped, and soon the Wood Brothers fell further behind the leading teams.
While they attempted to run every race in 2007, the Wood Brothers failed to qualify for two races. At Talladega, they were among nine teams that didn’t make the field. That included Red Bull Racing (AJ Allmendinger and Brian Vickers), Bill Davis Racing (Dave Blaney) and Michael Waltrip Racing (Michael Waltrip).
Then came the woes of 2008. The team failed to qualify for eight of 36 races.
“As far as racing goes, that’s about as bad a spot as you can be in, going to a race track and not being fast enough to qualify and race,’’ Eddie Wood said.
He and brother Len stayed at the track for the Daytona 500, Coca-Cola 600 and Brickyard 400 (they also would miss that race that year) without a car competing.
“That’s the hardest part,’’ Len said. “You have no hauler, nowhere to go, no car to show anybody, nowhere to sit down.’’
Said Eddie: “You have nowhere to be.’’
The day after Edsel Ford’s call to Eddie Wood, another call came. Eddie and Len were told to fly to Detroit that day to meet with a Ford executive. Four hours later, they were in the air, but there was a problem. Neither had proper clothes for an executive meeting since they had been at a race. So after landing, they went to a Dillard’s department store for proper clothes.
Their meeting was postponed a day, but when it was held, it began a process for the Wood Brothers to become more competitive.
“They’re such an important part of our family, they’re an important part of our sport, Ford Motorsports,’’ Edsel Ford II said. “To lose them would have been inconceivable to me.’’
More engineering help was added. Later, another idea emerged from Edsel Ford II.
Maybe the team should not run a full season beginning in 2009.
“Eddie and Len knew that the future was going to be there, now it was just a question of hanging on and how do we get there,’’ Ford said. “I think the three of us spent a lot of time strategizing, what does the long-term look like, so we’ll have to make some short-term sacrifices in order to get to the long-term. We all knew that some of these half-seasons were not what they wanted, certainly not what we wanted, but it was going to get us there.’’
But what races to skip? Len Wood examined the costs incurred at each track from hotel bills to tire bills and more. Eventually, the team decided it would be best to run the Daytona 500 and focus on tracks from 1.5 to 2.5 miles. That way they didn’t have to prepare cars for short tracks or road courses, saving costs there.
After having attempted to run every race from 1985-2008, the team ran 13 races in 2009 and 2010.
They met at a Steak ‘n Shake for lunch.
There sat the heirs to one of the most famous teams in NASCAR history and one of the sport’s most popular drivers. Eddie and Len Wood sat with Bill Elliott.
The Wood Brothers were aligned with Roush Fenway Racing. Through it, they acquired a couple of cars and a new crew chief when they parted ways with their crew chief late in the 2010 season. Soon after, Roush requested that Trevor Bayne drive for the Wood Brothers in the fall Texas race to be eligible for the 2011 Daytona 500. It was at that lunch the Woods told Elliott, their current driver, about the change of plans. Elliott said he’d help Bayne any way he could.
After the season, there was more talk about Bayne running for the team in 2011. He ended up in the No. 21 car for the Wood Brothers at Daytona.
Bayne’s Speedweeks did not go smoothly. A rookie, few would run with him in the tandem style of that period. Then his car was damaged in an accident on the last lap of his qualifying race. With help from Roush Fenway Racing, the team repaired the car instead of going to a backup.
The repairs were perfect. The race went beyond the scheduled 200 laps, and Bayne took the lead for the first time on Lap 203. He led the final six laps to win in just his second series start. Bayne’s victory provided one of the more memorable scenes that season when Richard Petty escorted Glen Wood to victory lane.
The feel-good moment didn’t turn into much more money. The team added a few more races in hopes of enticing sponsors to come on so it could run a full season. It didn’t happen. While the team ran 17 of 36 races that season, it would be five more seasons until there was the sponsorship and support to run a full season.
Eddie and Len Wood won’t think about the possibility that in less than two months, the Wood Brothers could be champions. When you spend your life in the sport, it is dangerous to look too far ahead. Instead, focus on the what needs to be done and worry about what’s down the road when you come upon it.
Edsel Ford II can’t contain himself. For as much as he doesn’t want to look too far ahead, he smiles and his eyes widen at the thought of the Wood Brothers and Ryan Blaney winning the championship at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
“What does nirvana look like?’’ Ford asks.
Then he answers the question.
“I think to go to Las Vegas and be with them,’’ he said of where NASCAR celebrates its champion, “it would be pretty close to nirvana for me.’’