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Sunday, October 3, 2010

Who should be in second NASCAR Hall of Fame class?

Voting is fast approaching for the second class of the NASCAR Hall of Fame. Last year saw the two Bill Frances, Richard Petty, Dale Earnhardt and Junior Johnson go in, so who should be next? Here’ s my take.

-- Lee Petty: The first big star in the sport, he won three titles and paved the way for his son to make history. Created one of the longest-lasting teams in the sport, Petty Enterprises.
-- Cale Yarborough: Won three straight titles, and could have won a bunch more if he hadn’t left the Junior Johnson team.
-- David Pearson: In my view, the best driver the sport has ever seen. Should have been in last year.
-- Bobby Allison: When you win 80+ races, you deserve to be in the Hall of Fame
-- T. Wayne Robertson: He is credited with bringing Winston to NASCAR as title sponsor in 1971, which helped propel it from a regional sport to something the whole nation watches.

Other nominees are Buck Baker, Red Byron, Richard Childress, Jerry Cook, Richie Evans, Tim Flock, Rick Hendrick, Jack Ingram, Dale Inman, Ned Jarrett, Fred Lorenzen, Bud Moore, Raymond Parks, Benny Parsons, Fireball Roberts, Herb Thomas, Curtis Turner, Darrell Waltrip, Joe Weatherly, Glen Wood. All of them will make it eventually, but this isn’t their year.

I’m a little disappointed at the lack of including Smokey Yunick, legendary mechanic who always found a way to outsmart NASCAR. Is this payback to leave him off the list?

Wendell Scott documentary
Wendell Scott, the only African-American to win a NASCAR race at the Cup level, will be the subject of a documentary. Scott’s story, an inspiring tale of overcoming barriers and racism in the sport, will be told in a documentary produced by NASCAR Media Group, Max Siegel and ESPN, and will air in February during Black History Month.

Wendell Scott started racing on dirt tracks in 1947 and in 1961 he moved to NASCAR's top division (at the height of racial tension in America). He ran more than 500 races, before Talladega wreck in 1973 ended his career. His final numbers were 147 top-10s, and 20 top-5s.

The racism he endured during his career extended to his winning day, because even though he won at Jacksonville, Fla., in 1963, the trophy was presented to Buck Baker because NASCAR did not want to give the trophy to a black man. (he was later announced as the real winner.)

I look forward to this documentary, which will shed light on a man who probably battled more than any other driver has to race in the sport he loved.

Biffle needs consistency

Pop quiz: Who has won the most races in the Chase besides that logic-defying win robot named Jimmie Johnson?

The answer: Greg Biffle, who won Sunday at Kansas.

He has 7 wins, more than 10 less than Super-Jimmie, but he has only made one serious run at the title. Biffle needs to figure out how to be more consistent, though, as he is still mired in the lower half of the points.

Wins are nice, but in the Chase you won’t come out on top unless you are running up front every week, and that’s not been the case with Biffle in the previous Chases. He’s great one week, and average the next, and that won’t get the job done.

Biffle addressed this issue after the race, saying he will do everything he can to win each week.

"You know, everybody asked us last week if we're out the Chase, have we given up, whatever the case was. The 16 team will never give up. We're just going to approach each race like we did today, qualify the best we can, do the best we can in practice, execute the best we can at the racetrack,” he said.

“We're going to go to California and do the same thing, Charlotte Motor Speedway, you know, see what happens. I've still got a thorn in my side right in between my rib cage from Dover. We had a sixth, seventh, eighth place car, which is nothing to brag about, but that's what we did. That's not very good for us. Normally we're better than that. We got caught by that caution. We finished 19th. We passed the 13th, 12th, 11th and 10th place car on the last run of the day easily. If we just had track position, we'd be sitting here 30 points out of the lead for the championship right now instead of 80. We lost 50 points last week just because we got trapped by one caution. It was unfortunate for us. A win here propelled us up there. Maybe we'll go do the same next week."

Points are tight
Jimmie took his familiar spot atop the points, but only by single digits. And almost everyone else is hanging in so far. With so many Chase drivers finishing in the top-10 each week, it’s hard to gain any kind of sizable gaps.

At this point, Clint Bowyer is the only driver I would say is completely out of the hunt, and he even admitted that this weekend to the media. And Matt Kenseth and Tony Stewart better keep running up front or they’ll both be pretty much dead in the water within the next couple weeks.

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