Established in the North Carolina city of Charlotte in May 2010, the NASCAR Hall of Fame honors exceptional drivers, crew chiefs, owners and other players in this exciting sport. The 2014 NASCAR Hall of Fame inductees are Tim Flock, Maurice Petty, Dale Jarrett, Jack Ingram and Fireball Roberts, who will join the likes of Dale Earnhardt, Bill France (Senior and Junior), Richard Petty, Lee Petty, Darrell Waltrip, Cale Yarborough, Ned Jarrett, Bud Moore, Cotton Owens, Herb Thomas, Rusty Wallace and Leonard Wood, among others, in the history annals of NASCAR.
Coming from a family of auto racing enthusiasts which included his sister Ethel Mobley (NASCAR’s second female driver) and bothers Bob Flock and Fonty Flock, Tim Flock (1924–1998) is considered to be one of the early pioneers of NASCAR. Tim Flock finished NASCAR’s first official season in 1949 in eighth place, with brothers Fonty in fifth and Bob in third overall points. After sitting out the 1950 season, Flock won seven races in 1951, and eight in 1952, the year he won his first Grand National Championship title. In 1995, Flock won his second Grand National Championship title, with 19 poles and 18 wins in the 45 races he completed that year. In 1998, shortly before his death at the age of 73, Flock was honored as one of NASCAR’s 50 Greatest Drivers. Other achievements include induction in the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in 1991; the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America in 1999; the National Motorsports Press Association Hall of Fame in 1972; the State of Georgia Hall of Fame in 1972; the Charlotte Motor Speedway Court of Legends in 1994; and the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame in 2006.
Known to many simply as “Chief” Maurice Petty was the engine builder and crew chief for Petty Enterprises for many years. He is the fourth member of the Petty family to be inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame, the others being his father Lee, older brother Richard, and cousin Dale Inman. Although he had a brief driving career which included seven top five and sixteen top ten finishes, his talent in the auto racing industry lay in engine building, which he did with remarkable skill.
Currently a sport commentator for ESPN/ABC , Dale Jarrett’s racing career includes winning the Daytona 500 three times and the Brickyard 400 twice. He won 32 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races and was winner of the 1999 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship. With his father Ned having been inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame in May 2011, the Jarretts are the third father-son inductees, the other two being Bill France Sr. and Jr., and Lee and Richard Petty.
Former NASCAR Busch Series race car driver Jack Ingram won 31 races and five poles, along with the 1982 and 1985 championships, during eight Busch Series seasons. It’s worth noting that Ingram was over the age of 45 when he claimed his victories, and held the record for the most Busch Series wins until Mark Martin broke the record in 1997. In addition to being inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame, Ingram was inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in 2007.
Nicknamed “Fireball”, Edward Glenn Roberts (1929-1964) was one of NASCAR’s pioneering drivers who gathered a host of achievements during his career, including winning the Daytona 500 in 1962 and twice winning the Southern 500 (1958 and 1963). He was voted 1957 Grand National Series Most Popular Driver and named as one of NASCAR’s 50 Greatest Drivers in 1998. He was inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in 1990 and the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America in 1995. Sadly, Roberts crashed in the World 600 in Charlotte on May 24, 1964, and died from complications related to his extensive burn injuries on July 2, 1964. His accident prompted NASCAR to introduce more stringent fire-related safety measures and his memory lives on in NASCAR history.
Denny Hamlin crossed the finish line in first place at the Ford EcoBoost 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup race on Sunday at Homestead-Miami Speedway, but it was Jimmie Johnson who stole the show by winning his 6th NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship in eight years, making him one of the most successful competitors in the history of the sport. Johnson only needed to finish above the 23rd spot to win the championship, and with his only challenge being brief contact with Matt Kenseth following a restart, which put him back in the field, Johnson finished the race in 9th place, beating Kenseth to the Championship title by 19 points.
Driving for Joe Gibbs Racing, Kenseth led for 144 laps of the 267 lap race, finishing the race a close second to teammate Denny Hamlin. Having suffered a fractured vertebra earlier this year, which kept him out of action for more than a month, Hamlin’s victory on Sunday was especially sweet. In a post-race interview, Hamlin noted that racing during the ‘Jimmie Johnson era’ was unfortunate for competitors as Johnson was, in his opinion, the best that there ever was.
Statistics reinforce this viewpoint as Johnson is the youngest driver to win six Sprint Cup Champion titles, beating Richard Petty by 83 days. His record of six titles in the space of eight years is a first in the sport, and his 66 Sprint Cup victories since 2002 put him 30 wins above any other driver in the last eleven years. His crew chief Chad Kraus has a record of 62 wins, all of which have been with Johnson.
Jeff Gordon can be credited for introducing Johnson to Hendrick Motorsports and the Sprint Cup series. He discovered Johnson racing in the Nationwide Series in 2001 and persuaded Rick Hendrick to hire him. Gordon was quoted as saying that as a team – Johnson, Kraus and Hendrick Motorsports – they are “unbelievable”. Many would agree!
The top five places in the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship went to (in order) Jimmie Johnson, Matt Kenseth, Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch and Dale Earnhardt Jr.