Kirk Shelmerdine

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2021 NASCAR Hall of Fame vote postponed

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Voting for the 2021 NASCAR Hall of Fame class has been postponed from its originally scheduled date of May 20, a NASCAR spokesperson confirmed.

The vote, usually held the week of the Coca-Cola 600, is the latest NASCAR postponement amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Fox Sports first reported the postponement.

The Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway is still scheduled for Sunday, May 24. It was announced last week as one of seven NASCAR national series races that will be held between May 17 and 27.

Nominees for the 2021 class were announced in early April.

The 2021 class will consist of three inductees, two from the Modern Era and one Pioneer.

Modern Era Nominees (10):

Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jeff Burton, Carl Edwards, Ricky Rudd, Kirk Shelmerdine, Neil Bonnett, Harry Gant, Harry Hyde, Larry Phillips and Mike Stefanik.

Pioneer Nominees (5): Jake Elder, Red Farmer, Banjo Matthews, Hershel McGriff and Ralph Moody

Landmark Award Nominees (5): Janet Guthrie, Alvin Hawkins, Mike Helton, Dr. Joseph Mattioli, Ralph Seagraves.

More: Hall of Fame fan vote open

NASCAR Hall of Fame fan vote open

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The fan vote for the NASCAR Hall of Fame’s 2021 class is open at NASCAR.com.

Like the rest of the voting committee, fans can vote on two of the 10 nominees on the Modern Era ballot and one of the five nominees on the Pioneers ballot.

You can vote once per day. All votes will be tabulated with the top three nominees and submitted as the fan ballot during the voting panel meeting. Voting day typically happens the week of the Coca-Cola 600. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, there’s is no update on when and how voting day will occur.

Modern Era Nominees

Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jeff Burton, Carl Edwards, Ricky Rudd, Kirk Shelmerdine, Neil Bonnett, Harry Gant, Harry Hyde, Larry Phillips and Mike Stefanik.

Pioneer Nominees: Jake Elder, Red Farmer, Banjo Matthews, Hershel McGriff and Ralph Moody

 

Carl Edwards ‘couldn’t believe’ NASCAR Hall of Fame nomination

Carl Edwards
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Just over three years after the surprise ending of a NASCAR career that included 72 national series wins and one Xfinity Series title, Carl Edwards was taken aback by his nomination for the 2021 NASCAR Hall of Fame class on Tuesday.

“I couldn’t believe it,” Edwards said Wednesday on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio’s “SiriusXM Speedway.”

Edwards, who shocked the NASCAR world when he stepped away from the sport in January 2017, was a nominee on the Modern Era ballot along with NASCAR on NBC analysts Jeff Burton and Dale Earnhardt Jr., crew chief Kirk Shelmerdine, Neil Bonnett, Harry Gant, crew chief Harry Hyde, Larry Phillips, Ricky Rudd and Mike Stefanik.

“I looked at the others guys on the list …. Harry Gant, Neil Bonnett, Jeff Burton, Dale Jr. and Larry Phillips, these guys are legendary,” Edwards told SiriusXM. “It’s humbling and it’s just an honor to be thought of next to those guys. I just can’t say enough. … I feel like for me, racing, I just had a blast. For me it was about the personal challenge and trying my hardest. I learned so many things from racing. This kind of thing I never even considered.”

Edwards began his full-time Cup career in 2005 with Roush Fenway Racing and drove there until he moved to Joe Gibbs Racing for his last two years.

Over the course of 445 career Cup starts, Edwards earned 28 wins. That’s more than the number earned by Earnhardt (26), Rudd (23), Burton (21), Gant (18) and Bonnett (18).

Among his accomplishments were victories in the 2015 Coca-Cola 600 and Southern 500, two Bristol night races, the 2011 All-Star Race, two runner-up finishes in the points and a trip to the Championship 4 in his final season.

In a NBC Sports poll from when Edwards announced his departure from NASCAR, 60.28% of voters said they thought Edwards’ was worthy of the Hall of Fame.

“But when those races are over and those years are over, that’s done,” Edwards told SiriusXM. “I got my awards and I had my fun. To me, I also took some others things away from racing. I’ve thought about this a lot in the last day. What has racing done for Carl Edwards? Racing taught me so many things.

“It got my life in order. I’d never have started worrying about my fitness if I hadn’t seen (former teammate) Mark Martin doing it. I never would have gotten my shop in order and known how to manage things if I hadn’t seen Jeff Burton and (Burton’s former crew chief) Frankie Stoddard in an article in Speedway Illustrated about how they did everything. I learned about business, I learned about competition. I learned how to win, how to lose, how to deal with adversity. I feel like I carried all these things from racing through to my life and I apply them every day. To me, racing did a lot for me. I just feel honored to have been a part of it.”

Voting for the NASCAR Hall of Fame usually happens on the Wednesday before the Coca-Cola 600. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a NASCAR spokesman told NBCSports.com Tuesday that there was no update on when the 2021 Voting Day would be scheduled or whether it would be held virtually.

More with less: Comparing records of Joe Gibbs Racing’s two best teams

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It took 13 races, but Martin Truex Jr. and Cole Pearn appear to have their groove back.

Sunday’s Coke 600 saw the driver-crew chief combo win for the third time in five races after a slow start to their first season with Joe Gibbs Racing.

Before their winning stretch, the No. 19 team had only two top fives (both runner-up finishes) and 12 laps led in the first eight races. By comparison, their JGR teammates Kyle Busch and crew chief Adam Stevens won three times and finished in the top 10 in every race.

In addition to their wins, Truex and Pearn have led 445 laps since their Richmond victory April 13.

“Looking at it now, it’s going well, but it’s come with a lot of hard work. It’s been a lot of adjustment,” Pearn said Sunday of the move from Furniture Row Racing to JGR.

They now have 20 wins in their five years and 156 starts together.

“It’s always been an easy relationship between the two of us,” Pearn said of Truex. “I never, ever dreamt that when I kind of took over as crew chief that we’d be sitting here with as many wins as we’ve had together. It just still blows my mind.

“Seemed like we were just hoping that we could knock out some top 10s, and looking back what we’ve been able to do is great, and just so fortunate to work with so many special people on our team and now be part of a big organization with that many more special people, it’s really cool. People are everything that makes this sport and makes the team, so it’s really cool.”

Truex and Pearn claimed three wins in fives races once before in 2016. They also had stretches of three wins in six races in both 2017 and 2018.

Busch and Stevens have been together just as long as Truex and Pearn, being paired together in Cup since 2015 after two years together in Xfinity.

But they have 15 fewer Cup races than Truex and Pearn, a result of Busch missing the first 11 races in 2015 due to injury and Stevens missing four races in 2017 due to a suspension over a lug nut violation (Pearn missed one race for suspension in 2016).

Despite the fewer Cup races together, Busch and Stevens have five more wins, 11 more top fives and six more top 10s than Truex and Pearn.

While Busch hasn’t won since Bristol, he has remained stubbornly consistent. Busch has 12 top 10s in 13 races. The only blemish came at Kansas when Busch had an unscheduled pit stop late for a tire rub and finished 30th.

“We’re fortunate enough to have strong teammates that make us better and hopefully we can do the same for them,” Pearn said Wednesday on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. “We’ve got some really tough competitors just in this building.”

Last June, after Truex won at Sonoma Raceway, NBC Sports took a look at his and Pearn’s record after 123 starts together and compared it to other historic and active driver-crew chief pairings at the same point, including Busch and Stevens despite them being behind in terms of starts.

With help from Racing Insights, NBC Sports has an updated look at the pace of Truex and Pearn and Busch and Stevens through 156 and 141 starts respectively.

Truex and Pearn trail their JGR teammates, as well as the historic pairings of Darrell Waltrip/Jeff Hammond, Jeff Gordon/Ray Evernham and Dale Earnhardt/Kirk Shelmerdine.

They remain narrowly ahead of the pace established at the same time by eventual seven-time champions Jimmie Johnson/Chad Knaus, along with Tony Stewart/Greg Zipadelli and Brad Keselowski/Paul Wolfe.

However, when it comes to Kevin Harvick and Rodney Childers, Truex and Pearn have them beat only in the wins category, with one more victory through 156 races.

See the complete state comparison below.

After 156 starts together

Dale Jr. Download: Kirk Shelmerdine on Hall of Fame, Dale Sr.

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There’s been a lot of buzz around Kirk Shelmerdine in the last week, probably more than at any point in the 27 years since he unexpectedly walked away from being Dale Earnhardt’s crew chief.

The reason? Shelmerdine was dropped from the nominee list for the 2020 NASCAR Hall of Fame class a year after he first appeared on it. It was a move that NBC Sport’s Nate Ryan wasn’t very fond of.

But Shelmerdine, who won four Cup titles with Earnhardt and 46 races before he turned 35, is taking it in stride.

On this week’s “Dale Jr. Download” (5 p.m. ET on NBCSN), Shelmerdine quoted Clint Eastwood’s character in the film Unforgiven to express his view.

“The way I look at it is, Clint Eastwood says, ‘Deserves got nothing to do with it,'” Shelmerdine said.

“The list of names, if you look in the record book for crew chief stuff, mostly, my name’s in there next to Smokey Yunick and Junior Johnson,” he continued. “All these people that were heroes to me or bigger than life people. Racing was this whole dimension that you never thought a kid from Philadelphia is going to even be involved in let alone do well. …

“The Hall of Fame sort of caps it off. It was really a great feeling being on that list last year. You look at the people who are there. ‘Holy smokes, how can I be not only on the list, but way up the list is some categories?’ That’s a super honor already. Whether someone officially recognizes it or not ever, that’s up to them. I already kind of know what I had to do to get there and how lucky I am to just be on that list. It’ll happy sooner or later.

“They’ll be running out of people before long.”

During his podcast appearance, Shelmerdrine shared stories of how he broke into the sport in the late 70s, teaming up with Richard Childress and Earnhardt and why he decided to step away from his crew chief role after the 1992 season.

Shelmerdine also told of the time Earnhardt served as his spotter in his first start in NASCAR’s Sportsman Division at Charlotte Motor Speedway in 1989

“He sat up there in the condo (in Turn 1) on the radio, and I wish I had a way to record that. It was gold,” Shelmerdine said. “I’m seeing the inside of his mind for two hours the whole time. He’s talking and mumbling, ‘Stay in that gas, boy.’ ‘What’s his name, he’s sideways. So what you got to do when you get to him is this.'”

After years of experience, Earnhardt also predicted when his crew chief would start to get uncomfortable in the cockpit.

“About 20 laps into the race he goes, ‘How’s your (expletive) neck right now?'” Shelmerdine said. “It was exactly the lap before I noticed, ‘Holy (expletive), my neck hurts.’ He said it the damn lap I felt it.”

Listen to the full podcast below and watch the TV version today at 5 p.m. ET on NBCSN.

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