Long: How voters could select next NASCAR Hall of Fame Class

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They will gather today at the Charlotte Convention Center. Champions Richard Petty and Ned Jarrett. Esteemed car owners Junior Johnson and Bud Moore. Series officials, including NASCAR Chairman Brian France. Media members, track operators and others all to select the seventh NASCAR Hall of Fame Class.

They’ll start with lunch, catching up and sharing stories about back in the day. The 50 or so voters in attendance then will gather for a group photo before the work begins.

I know. I’ve been there. I was a NASCAR Hall of Fame voter for the previous six classes.

What happens behind closed doors is fascinating, leading to the 6 p.m. ET announcement of the 2016 class on NBCSN’s NASCAR America.

Each year the temperature of the voting room changes. The inaugural year featured a mesmerizing debate on if Bill France Jr. should join his father in the inaugural year. The discussion went back and forth like a tennis match.

Other years, the debate can turn into a push for a particular candidate by a person or small group. Words are never heated, but passion underscores the debate.

How will voters select the next five inductees among 20 nominees?

Here’s how it might go today.

Take a look back to last year’s vote. The 2015 Class features all drivers – the first time it had happened: Bill Elliott, Fred Lorenzen, Wendell Scott, Joe Weatherly and Rex White.

Only 12 of the 20 nominees this time are drivers.

Don’t expect an all-driver group this time.

This could be the year an owner – or even two – gets in and/or a crew chief such as Harry Hyde or Ray Evernham. It’s been two years since voters selected someone who worked on the cars (engine builder Maurice Petty) and that could be a factor.

Another good clue is look at who were the highest vote getters who didn’t make it the previous year. Every year at least two of the four highest in votes who failed to make the Hall the previous year, make it the following year. Scott and Weatherly ranked in the top three who missed the cut for the 2014 Class but were elected to the 2015 Class.

The top three in votes who missed last year’s cut were Jerry Cook, Robert Yates and Benny Parsons.

It wouldn’t be surprising to see at least two of those three make it this year – if not all three.

Robert Yates is among five cars owners among the nominees. Rick Hendrick and Richard Childress have more championships but they’re still competing – and to some voters that has been reason enough to not vote for them even though both are deserving. With an influx of new voters this season, it will be interesting to see if that philosophy remains. If not, this could be Hendrick’s year.

source: Getty Images

Where Yates could hold advantage is that he was an engine builder and a champion owner. Voters like nominees that fall into multiple categories. If the voters decide to go back to earlier in the sport’s days, Ray Fox (engine builder, owner and official) could be that choice. Parks would need a big swing to be a candidate. There was a push for him for the 2012 class but little since.

Another topic that has come up in the discussion through the years is that this is the NASCAR Hall of Fame not Sprint Cup Hall of Fame. The point, some will note, is that there needs to be a driver from outside Cup to be in the Class.

In 2012, modified driver Richie Evans was the first non-Cup driver to make the Hall. In 2014, Jack Ingram, who drove in what is now the Xfinity Series, was selected.

There’s a pattern. This year there’s four non-Cup drivers among the nominees – Jerry Cook, Hershel McGriff, Larry Phillips and Mike Stefanik. This could be Cook’s year. He’s been among the top two receiving votes who didn’t make the Hall in each of the last four years. Voters could reward him after being so close before.

Parsons is an interesting case. He has one championship but many people recall him for his TV work as the sport grew in popularity. To many fans, he was a friend who came by on Sundays when the race was on and even shared some food tips in his jovial manner. Again, he’s an example of someone who can be viewed in multiple roles as a driver and a TV broadcaster.

If Parsons makes it, that could leave two spots.

Some will vote for Terry Labonte because the two-time champion is the only multi-time Cup champion eligible for the Hall not yet in.

What could hurt him is if voters decide to honor a driver from earlier in the sport’s history. Curtis Turner never won a title – having been barred from the sport for more than four years when he tried to unionize the drivers – but is considered among the sport’s greatest drivers. Or Bobby Isaac, the 1970 champ. His 37 wins are more than any other driver nominated this year.

And of course there are wild cards. If a nominee is in failing health, it could sway a few voters, who would want that person to get the chance to experience entering the Hall.

Another point for some voters is what nominees would do the best job promoting the Hall. If voters go with at least a couple of nominees who are deceased, one spot could go to someone they think could help draw people to the Hall of Fame. Would that be a Hendrick, Childress or Yates? Labonte, Buddy Baker or Mark Martin? Evernham?

If that becomes a key issue for some, it could help provide Hendrick with additional votes and be enough to get him in the Hall this year.

While one can never tell what direction the room is going until discussions start, here’s how the 2016 Hall of Fame Class might look – Robert Yates, Jerry Cook, Benny Parsons, Curtis Turner and Harry Hyde.

 

Daytona road course trophy: Handle with care

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A word of warning for the Cup Series driver who wins Sunday’s inaugural race on the Daytona road course (3 p.m. ET on NBC).

When you’re celebrating the victory, don’t get too excited with the trophy.

It could wind up all over Victory Lane.

That’s because the trophy waiting at the end of the 65-lap/234.65-mile-race is made out of glass.

More: Will chaos (and rain) reign on the Daytona road course?

Via: NASCAR

The 18” tall/4.5” wide trophy for the Daytona road course race was produced by the Corning Museum of Glass in Corning, New York. It’s the same institution that’s been responsible for designing the Watkins Glen International trophy since 2012.

Sunday’s race is being held in the place of the Cup Series’ annual visit to Watkins Glen.

Incorporating a blown glass cup, the trophy is inspired by the history of NASCAR and racing at Daytona.

“Thinking about the history of the track and long-held traditions, I was reminded that historically, trophies used to be cups and have evolved into sculptural forms,” said Eric Meek, Sr. Manager of Hot Glass Programs at The Corning Museum of Glass, said in a media release. “We took this trophy back to a more traditional shape. Daytona is the most historical track, and in thinking about a trophy design for a race held in this storied location, I was transported back to the golden age of speed. I wanted to design something that felt like a bit of a throwback – like it belonged in the era of streamline racers and the quest to go faster.”

NASCAR Pinty’s Series 2020 TV schedule released

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The NASCAR Pinty’s Series, which competes in Canada, will get its season under way this weekend after it was postponed back in April due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The shortened season will consist of three doubleheaders with twin 125-mile races.

The races will be held at Sunset Speedway (Aug. 15), Flamboro Speedway (Aug. 29) and Jukasa Speedway (Sept. 12).

More: Xfinity Series start time for Daytona road course

No NASCAR Pinty’s Series champion or Rookie of the Year will be crowned in 2020 due to the shortened schedule. There will be special recognition for the overall winner of the shortened season.

All races will air delayed on TSN and RDS in Canada and MAVTV in the United States. Fans in the United States can stream races after they air on TrackPass on NBC Sports Gold.

Here is the full schedule with TV information.

 

Saturday’s Xfinity race at Daytona road course: Start time, forecast and more

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Saturday’s Xfinity race at Daytona will mark the first time the series has competed in the track’s road course circuit.

Austin Cindric, who has won four of the last five races, is on the pole. He is joined on the front row by fellow Ford driver Chase Briscoe.

Here are the details for the Xfinity race at the Daytona road course (all times ET):

START: The command to start engines will be given at 3:07 p.m by Dr. Jeff Jarvis, president of UNOH. The green flag is scheduled to wave at 3:19 p.m.

PRERACE: Garage access health screening begins at 8:30 a.m. Drivers report to their cars at 2:50 p.m. The invocation will be given at 3 p.m. by Chaplain Farzad Nourian. The national anthem will be performed at 3:01 p.m. by Temecula Road.

DISTANCE: The race is 52 laps (187.72 miles) around the 3.61-mile road course

PACE LAP: At the direction of race control, the entire field will go down pit road during a pace lap for pit road speed verification. If a driver stops in the pit box for any reason, pulls over or slows down, they will start at the rear of the field.

STAGES: Stage 1 ends on Lap 15. Stage 2 ends on Lap 30.

TV/RADIO: NBCSN will televise the race. Its coverage begins at 2:30 p.m. with Countdown to Green followed by the race broadcast at 3 p.m. ET. Motor Racing Network’s radio broadcast will begin at 2:30 p.m. and also can be heard at mrn.com. SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will carry MRN’s broadcast.

STREAMING: Watch the race on the NBC Sports App by clicking here.

FORECAST: The wunderground.com forecast calls for cloudy skies, a high of 88 degrees and a 70% chance of rain and thunderstorms at the start of the race.

LAST RACE: Austin Cindric beat AJ Allmendinger and Chase Briscoe to win at Road America.

STARTING LINEUP: Click here for Xfinity starting lineup

Justin Marks planning to start new Cup team

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Former NASCAR driver Justin Marks is in the process of starting a new Cup Series team and competing as early as 2021, Marks detailed to the Sports Business Journal.

Marks, who has 80 NASCAR starts and last competed in 2018, is building a team called Trackhouse that would have a “cause-marketing focus around promoting STEM education” according to SBJ.

More: Bubba Wallace lands multi-year deal with DoorDash

Marks, who once was a co-owner of an ARCA Menards West team with the late Harry Scott, said a goal of the team is to “serve America’s minorities and underrepresented youth population”

Marks told SBJ he is in negotiations to acquire a charter for the team, that his family foundation will use investment capital to fund 50% of the team’s budget and that a “nationwide family entertainment business” will be a sponsor.

One of Marks’ partners will be Ty Norris, a former executive at Michael Waltrip Racing.

Click here for more from Sports Business Journal.