Davey Allison, Bobby Labonte among new NASCAR Hall of Fame nominees

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Davey Allison and former champion Bobby Labonte are among the new nominees for the 2018 NASCAR Hall of Fame class.

The 20 nominees were announced Wednesday on NASCAR  America.

The 15 nominees that remain from last year are joined by five new nominees: Car owners Joe Gibbs and Roger Penske and drivers Red Farmer, Allison and Labonte.

Allison, who died July 13, 1993, from injuries suffered in a helicopter accident at Talladega Superspeedway, won 19 times in 191 Cup starts. He was the 1987 Cup rookie of the year and won the 1992 Daytona 500.

Labonte won the 2000 Cup title and 21 series races. He won a Coca-Cola 600, a Southern 500 and a Brickyard 400 and was the 1991 Xfinity Series champion.

Farmer continues to compete into his 80s. He began racing in 1949 and is an original member of the famed “Alabama Gang.” He won the 1956 NASCAR modified championship and the NASCAR Late Model Sportsman title in 1967, ’70 and ’71.

Gibbs formed Joe Gibbs Racing in 1992. The team has won 140 Cup races and four Cup titles: Labonte in 2000, Tony Stewart in 2002 and 2005 and Kyle Busch in 2015. Gibbs’ teams have won 132 Xfinity races and five owner titles.

Penske first entered NASCAR in 1972. He was a car owner through 1977, returned for two races in 1980 and has been a Cup car owner since 1991. Team Penske won the 2012 Cup title and has 104 series wins, including Brad Keselowski’s victory last weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

Here are the 15 nominees who remain from last year:

Buddy Baker: Won 19 times in NASCAR’s premier (now Sprint Cup) 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.

Ray Fox: Legendary engine builder, crew chief and car owner.

Ron Hornaday: Four-time NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion.

Harry Hyde: 1970 NASCAR premier series championship crew chief.

Alan Kulwicki: 1992 NASCAR premier series champion.

Hershel McGriff: 1986 NASCAR west series champion.

Larry Phillips: Only five-time NASCAR weekly series national champion.

Jack Roush: Eight-time car owner champion in NASCAR’s three national series, winning two Cup titles, five in Xfinity and one in Trucks.

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.

Also, the five nominees for the Landmark Award were announced. They are (in alphabetical order):

Jim France: Executive vice president of NASCAR and son of NASCAR founder Bill France Sr. has played a key role behind the scenes in the sport.

Janet Guthrie: First female to compete in the Daytona 500 (1977).

Alvin Hawkins: NASCAR’s first flagman who helped establish NASCAR racing at Bowman Gray Stadium with NASCAR founder Bill France Sr.

Ralph Seagraves: Formed groundbreaking Winston-NASCAR partnership as executive with R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company.

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

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Cup starting lineup at New Hampshire has Brad Keselowski, Kyle Busch on front row

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Rivals Brad Keselowski and Kyle Busch will share the front row for Sunday’s Cup race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway (4 p.m. ET on NBCSN).

Keselowski won his 15th career pole – and first since August 2017 – on Friday. He will have Busch start next to him.

MORE: Cup starting lineup

The rivals have had numerous run-ins throughout the their career.

Kurt Busch, who won last weekend at Kentucky, qualified third and is followed by Erik Jones and Ryan Blaney.

Three drivers will start at the rear: Denny Hamlin (backup), Alex Bowman (backup) and Ryan Newman (backup).

Brad Keselowski wins Cup pole at New Hampshire

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Brad Keselowski scored his first Cup pole since 2017, taking the top spot Friday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

Keselowski topped the field with a lap of 136.384 mph. This is Keselowski’s 15th career Cup pole and first since Michigan in August 2017, a span of 68 races.

Keselowski’s run denied Toyota its first pole of the season. Keselowski will be joined on the front row by Kyle Busch (136.311 mph).

MORE: Cup qualifying results

Kurt Busch, who won last weekend at Kentucky, will start third after a lap of 136.238 mph. Erik Jones qualified fourth with a lap of 136.189 mph.

Jones’ performance is part of a promising week for him. He stated Friday that he is “close” to signing an extension with Joe Gibbs Racing. Jones’ contract expires after this season.

Ryan Blaney completed the top five with a lap of 136.116 mph. Martin Truex Jr. qualified sixth at 136.082 mph, and Matt DiBenedetto qualified a career-best seventh at 135.990 mph. DiBenedetto’s previous best Cup start was ninth in this year’s Daytona 500.

Alex Bowman had a driveshaft failure on his qualifying run and did not complete a lap. He will start at the rear of the field.

“Just a big boom going down the front straightaway and smoke and oil everywhere,” Bowman told NBCSN.

Bowman will go to a backup car.

Denny Hamlin and Ryan Newman also will start at the rear of the field because they both went to backup cars after separate incidents late in Friday’s only Cup practice session.

Andy Seuss (qualified 35th) and Austin Theriault (36th) both will be making their Cup debut Sunday.

Daniel Hemric qualified 19th. HIs car failed inspection twice before qualifying and a crew member was ejected.

 

Erik Jones ‘close’ to re-signing after meeting with Joe Gibbs this week

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LOUDON, N.H. – After meeting with team owner Joe Gibbs this week, Erik Jones believes he finally is “close” to signing an extension with the team after a few months of negotiations.

“We’ve had some good meetings, positive meetings, so we’re moving in the right direction,” Jones said during Friday afternoon’s qualifying session at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. “I’d love to get it done here soon. We’ve had good meetings between my guys and JGR. I’ve had good meetings with Coach talking about it and moving forward. I know I keep saying it, but I feel like we’re pretty close to getting it done.”

The uncertainty for the 2020 season seemingly has been no distraction in 2019 for Jones, who believes he is close to ending a yearlong winless streak. He has notched six top 10s in the past nine races to move into the 16th and final provisional spot for the playoffs with seven races remaining in the regular season.

The Byron, Michigan, native said he told Gibbs “I want to get (the extension) done. We both want to get it done and move forward and stop worrying about it and stop focusing on it, but we’re close. Hopefully here soon.”

An extension for Jones would mean JGR has a full lineup of four drivers signed for 2020 and shift the focus to what is next for Xfinity driver Christopher Bell, who is under contract to JGR next season.

“I think you know as much as I do,” Bell said Friday morning when asked about what series he will race next year. “Actually, you probably know a little bit more than I do. Ultimately, it’s not up to me. I can’t make the decisions, so I’m just along for the ride.”

Bell indicated his desire to move to Cup last season, and a Leavine Family Racing Toyota could be an option if JGR wants to farm him out for 2020 in NASCAR’s premier series.

“I learned early on in my career that a race car driver is only as good as the equipment,” Bell said. “I definitely want to make sure that I’m in equipment that can win.”

Jeffrey Earnhardt releases his remaining races for 2019

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Jeffrey Earnhardt announced his schedule for the rest of the season Friday.

He is scheduled to run six Xfinity races and one Cup race the rest of this season.

His Xfinity races will be Mid-Ohio (Aug. 10), Bristol (Aug. 16), Road America (Aug. 24), Darlington (Aug. 31), ISM Raceway (Nov. 9) and Miami (Nov. 16). He’ll drive the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Xfinity car at Mid-Ohio, Road America, ISM Raceway and Miami. He’ll drive the No. 81 Xtreme Concepts Racing car at Bristol and Darlington.

He’ll also drive the No. 81 Xtreme Concepts Racing Cup car at Talladega on Oct. 13.