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Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Cooler heads prevail ... Darrell Waltrip, Cale Yarborough among latest NASCAR Hall of Fame inductees

There was some rumblings heading into this round of Hall of Fame voting that a movement against NASCAR legends Cale Yarborough and Darrell Waltrip was afoot.

Thankfully, cooler heads prevailed, and these two all-time greats with three Cups and 80+ wins were allowed their rightful place in the Hall of Fame.

Overall, the voters did a great job this year. Waltrip and Yarborough arguably should have gone in ahead of Bobby Allison, who only has one title but got in last year. Apparently, some people don't like DW (understandable, he's always been a bit polarizing) and many say Cale won't show for any NASCAR event without a paycheck promised.

But the fact remains that they are among the sport's all-time greats, and excluding them would have been silly, and DW especially would have been devastated.

In addition, legendary crew chief Dale Inman is rightfully the first pit boss voted in, and he is deserving after leading Richard Petty to 7 titles and Terry Labonte to 1 Cup.

Modified series legend Ritchie Evans was a sentimental favorite among those close to the sport, though he is less well-known than the others, and Glen Wood helped create the Wood Brothers team -- one of the greatest teams in NASCAR history, which still runs today and six decades and won the Daytona 500 in 2011 with Trevor Bayne.

Yarborough led with 85 percent of the vote, followed by Waltrip (82%), Inman (78%), Evans (50%) and Wood (44%). Also receiving votes were Jerry Cook, Cotton Owens, Raymond Parks and Herb Thomas.

The fans’ five picks, in alphabetical order, were Richard Childress, Benny Parsons, Fireball Roberts, Waltrip and Yarborough. The five inductees came from a group of 25 nominees for induction into the 2012 NASCAR Hall of Fame class that included:
Buck Baker, Red Byron, Richard Childress, Jerry Cook, H. Clay Earles, Richie Evans, Tim Flock, Rick Hendrick, Jack Ingram, Bobby Isaac, Dale Inman, Fred Lorenzen, Cotton Owens, Raymond Parks, Benny Parsons, Les Richter, Fireball Roberts, T. Wayne Robertson, Herb Thomas, Curtis Turner, Darrell Waltrip, Joe Weatherly, Glen Wood, Leonard Wood and Cale Yarborough.

Great picks all around I say, and here are full bios of the inductees.

Cale Yarborough
William Caleb Yarborough was the first driver to win three consecutive NASCAR premier series championships, from 1976-78. During his three-year dominance, Yarborough won 28 races – nine in 1976, nine in ’77 and 10 in ’78. His final championship points margin in those three years was never fewer than 195 points and was as much as 474 in 1978. Yarborough totaled 83 victories in his 31-year career, which ranks sixth all-time. His 69 poles rank fourth all-time. He also won the Daytona 500 four times (1968, ’77, ’83-84), a mark that ranks second only to Richard Petty’s seven. He was named one of NASCAR’s 50 Greatest Drivers in 1998.

Darrell Waltrip
A three-time NASCAR premier series champion (1981-82, ’85), Waltrip won all three with legendary driver/owner Junior Johnson. Waltrip is tied with Bobby Allison and Jeff Gordon for third all-time in series victories with 84. His 59 poles rank fifth all-time in NASCAR premier series history. He competed from 1972-2000, which included a 1989 Daytona 500 victory in a Rick Hendrick-owned Chevrolet. He currently is a commentator on FOX’s NASCAR broadcasts. He was named one of NASCAR’s 50 Greatest Drivers in 1998.

Dale Inman
Dale Inman, NASCAR Hall of Famer Richard Petty’s crew chief at Petty Enterprises for nearly three decades, set records for most wins (193) and championships (eight) by a crew chief. Inman won seven of those championships with Petty (1964, ’67, ’71, ’72, ’74, ’75 and ’79), and a final one in 1984 with Terry Labonte.

Richie Evans
The recognized “king” of Modified racing, Evans captured nine NASCAR Modified titles in a 13-year span, including eight in a row from 1978-85. In the first year of the current NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour format in 1985, Evans won 12 races, including a sweep of all four events at Thompson, Conn. Evans ranked No. 1 in the 2003 voting of the NASCAR All-Time Modified Top 10 Drivers, and he was named one of NASCAR’s 50 Greatest Drivers in 1998.

Glen Wood
Glen Wood laid the foundation for the famed Wood Brothers racing team as a driver in NASCAR’s premier series. Competing on a semi-regular basis, mostly at tracks close to his southern Virginia home, Wood won four times – all at Bowman-Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem, N.C. Wood, of course, is best known for his collaboration with brothers Leonard and Delano in Wood Brothers Racing. The Stuart, Va.-based team, which dates to 1950 and remains active, has amassed 98 victories.

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