Legendary NASCAR announcer Barney Hall dies

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Barney Hall, the legendary Motor Racing Network announcer whose voice was synonymous with Sunday afternoons for NASCAR fans, died Tuesday from complications following a recent medical procedure. He was 83.

Hall was the longtime play-by-play voice of MRN and had been a part of the network’s NASCAR race coverage since its founding in 1970.

His homespun style and distinctive delivery made him a favorite among fans and competitors alike. Upon Hall’s retirement, Dale Earnhardt Jr. tweeted, “Barney Hall is a legend. Grew up listening to him. Forever grateful.” Seven-time champion Richard Petty was among those who paid tribute to Hall by stopping at the MRN trailer before his last broadcast for the July 6, 2014 race at Daytona International Speedway.

He called his first Daytona 500 in 1960 and missed only four broadcasts of NASCAR’s biggest race in 57 years, retiring after being diagnosed with early onset Parkinson’s Disease. In the drivers meeting before his final race, Hall’s signature flair for storytelling was singled out by NASCAR executive Mike Helton, who said his early knowledge of stock-car racing was derived from listening to Hall.

“It is with heavy hearts and deep sadness that Motor Racing Network must today convey the passing of our friend and colleague, longtime MRN anchor Barney Hall,” MRN President David Hyatt said in a release. “For many of us in the racing and broadcasting industries, Barney was more than just ‘The Voice’ who brought us the NASCAR action each week on the radio.  He was an inspiration, a teacher and mostly, a friend.  Barney was a consummate professional whose style and honesty made him one of the most revered voices of the sport and perhaps the most trusted reporter of his day.

“In a world that can have its share of egos, Barney’s humor and humility kept everyone around him firmly grounded.  His smooth and easygoing delivery was the mark by which others were measured.  His co-anchor, Joe Moore, once commented that ‘Barney was the calming force in the midst of a raging storm and simply by listening to him, you knew there was safe passage through it.’  Barney Hall was the true voice of NASCAR and although his own voice has gone silent, his presence will live on in the many current motor sports broadcasters who learned at the knee of such a great storyteller.”

An MRN release said at the time of Hall’s death, he was in the company of longtime companion Karen Carrier, “the love of his life.”

In a June 2015 interview with NASCAR Talk‘s Jerry Bonkowski, Hall said walking away from NASCAR broadcasting “after 54 was probably the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life.”

“I miss the people really a bunch, especially the people I worked with,” Hall said.

He laughed when asked how many races he called in his career. “Lord, I wouldn’t have any idea,” Hall said. “I’m not sure I’d want to know such a thing.”

Three years ago, the NASCAR Hall of Fame created the Squier-Hall Award in honor of Hall and TV broadcaster Ken Squier. The award, which salutes accomplishments and excellence in NASCAR media, was awarded Saturday to the late Steve Byrnes.

“First and foremost, I want to offer our most sincere condolences to the longtime love of Barney’s life and best friend for more than 35 years, Karen Carrier, and their families on Barney’s passing,” NASCAR Hall of Fame executive director Winston Kelley, who worked with Hall on MRN broadcasts, said in a statement. “Barney’s accomplishments and contributions to NASCAR are immeasurable and without parallel. Covering NASCAR for nearly 55 years through seven decades, he became known by millions as ‘The Voice of NASCAR.’ He was that recognizable voice that you would hear with every broadcast. You may not have known the face, which he would joke with his ever-present wit that it was “made for radio,” but his voice was unmistakable.

“Whether you met him or not, you felt like you knew him. His easy, conversational delivery made you feel like you were listening to one of your closest friends or relatives tell you a story – the story of the very NASCAR race he was describing. He could paint a picture that would make Picasso or Rembrandt proud and tell a story that would awe Hemingway or Twain. He was not just a trusted voice to listeners and race fans, he became what many believe is the most trusted journalist in NASCAR by the sport’s competitors for decades. Barney has also tutored dozens of broadcasters throughout his career, many of whom you hear on the air today on both radio and television.

“NASCAR has lost its most recognizable voice and one of the greatest broadcasters ever of any sport; and I have lost one of my dearest friends. His legacy and legendary calls of NASCAR racing will live in our minds, our archives and at the NASCAR Hall of Fame forever.”

Hall was born June 24, 1932 in Elkin, North Carolina, where he called home for the rest of his life. He served four years of active duty in the Navy after graduating high school, returning to North Carolina to work as a disc jockey for 13 years at WIFM.

Before joining MRN, he also worked as the first public address announcer at Bristol Motor Speedway, leaving a lasting impression around the country with his plainspoken and pleasing pipes that instantly were recognizable.

In a 2014 interview with Dustin Long for MRN.com, Hall shared an amusing anecdote about being stopped by a highway patrol officer for speeding.

“He recognized the voice, and he said, ‘Mr. Hall, you were speeding a little bit, but I’m going to give you a break,’ ” Hall said. “He said, ‘I’m going to give you some good advice that you need to pay attention to.’ He said, ‘If you ever decide to rob a bank, don’t say this is a stick-up. Hand them a note because the minute you speak, they’ve got you.’ ”

It was that famous intonation that resonated so strongly with his lifetime fans.

“All of them always say, even if it’s a guy with a beard down to his navel, they’ll say, ‘I’ve been listening to you since I was 2 years old,’ and they look like they’re 150,” Hall told Long. “It’s always a good feeling … when the fans pat you on the back or shake your hand and say, ‘I really enjoy listening to MRN.’ I get a bigger kick out of that than almost anything.”

Starting lineup for Texas Cup race: Brad Keselowski wins pole

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Brad Keselowski will be at the front of the field to start Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series playoff race at Texas Motor Speedway (3:30 pm ET, USA Network).

Keselowski, who is not a part of the 12-driver playoff group, won the pole Saturday afternoon with a speed of 188.990, edging Joey Logano‘s 188.805.

MORE: Texas Cup starting lineup

The race is the first of three in the second round of the Cup playoffs. Round of 12 races will follow at Talladega Superspeedway Oct. 2 and the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval Oct. 9.

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Also starting in the top five Sunday will be William Byron, Tyler Reddick and Michael McDowell.

Brad Keselowski wins Cup pole at Texas Motor Speedway

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Brad Keselowski, hoping to extend Roush Fenway Keselowski Racing’s turnaround, won the pole Saturday for Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series playoff race at Texas Motor Speedway.

It was the second piece of good news for RFK Racing in two weeks. Chris Buescher,  Keselowski’s teammate, won last week’s race at Bristol Motor Speedway, the first victory for the team under the RFK banner.

Keselowski, who ran 188.990 mph, is not a part of the 12-driver playoff group. Nine of the first 14 starting positions were filled by playoff drivers.

MORE: Texas Cup qualifying results

Following in the top five Saturday were Joey Logano, William Byron, Tyler Reddick and Michael McDowell. Playoff point leader Chase Elliott will start sixth.

“Texas is a really tough track,” Keselowski told NBC Sports. “As hot as it’s going to be, that will be even tougher.”

Race-time temperatures are expected to be in the mid-90s Sunday.

The race (3:30 p.m. ET), the first event in the second round of the playoffs, will be televised by the USA Network.

Sunday Texas Cup race: Start time, TV info, weather

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The first race in the second round of the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs is scheduled Sunday at Texas Motor Speedway.

Twelve drivers are racing for eight spots in the next round. Chase Elliott leads the standings by 15 over Joey Logano entering Sunday’s 500-mile event, the only Cup points race at TMS this year. Ryan Blaney, who is in the playoff group, won the All-Star Race at the track in May.

Chase Briscoe, Alex Bowman, Daniel Suarez and Austin Cindric are below the cutline entering the 3:30 p.m. ET (USA Network) race.

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The playoffs will continue at Talladega Superspeedway (Oct. 2) and the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval (Oct. 9).

Details for Sunday’s Cup race at Texas Motor Speedway:

START: The command to start engines will be given by “Top Gun: Maverick” actors Jay Ellis and Lewis Pullman at 3:38 p.m. (ET) … Green flag is scheduled to wave at 3:49 p.m.

PRERACE: Cup garage opens at 12:30 p.m. … Driver introductions are at 3 p.m. … The invocation will be given by Bret Shisler of Texas Alliance Raceway Ministries at 3:30 p.m. … The 1st Cavalry Division Band will perform the anthem at 3:31 p.m.

DISTANCE: The race is 334 laps (501 miles) on the 1.5-mile speedway.

STAGES: Stage 1 ends at Lap 105. Stage 2 ends at Lap 210.

MORE: Ryan Blaney’s team to appeal penalty

TV/RADIO: USA Network will broadcast the race at 3:30 p.m. Countdown to Green begins at 2:30 p.m. on USA Network. The post-race show will air on USA Network. … Performance Racing Network coverage begins at 2:30 p.m. and also will stream at goprn.com. SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will carry the PRN broadcast.

STREAMING: NBCsports.com

FORECAST: Weather Underground — Partly cloudy skies. High of 96 with a 5% chance of rain.

LAST TIME: Kyle Larson won by .459 of a second over William Byron last October. Larson led 256 of the race’s 334 laps.

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Brandon Jones wins Xfinity pole at Texas Motor Speedway

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Playoff driver Brandon Jones won the pole position Saturday morning for Saturday afternoon’s NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Texas Motor Speedway.

Jones was clocked at 185.637 miles per hour. He has won three of the past four Xfinity poles.

MORE: Texas Xfinity qualifying results

MORE: Texas Xfinity starting lineup

Scheduled for 3:30 p.m. ET Saturday on the USA Network, the race is the opening event of the Xfinity playoffs.

Following Jones in the top five were Noah Gragson (winner of three consecutive Xfinity races), Daniel Hemric, John Hunter Nemechek and Sam Mayer.

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The race is 200 laps (300 miles) on the 1.5-mile track. Drivers will be battling heat in the mid-to-high 90s.