Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson and Tony Stewart. Between them these active former champions have already claimed a dozen Cup crowns and 187 race victories. One day, hopefully a good number of years from now, this trio will gain entry into the Hall of Fame on their first attempt. Just as Maurice Petty and Dale Jarrett experienced this week.
Petty, who joins his father Lee, brother Richard, and cousin Dale Inman into the Hall, was the master engine builder of the dynastic operation. Jarrett joins his dad, Ned, in the Hall. While he had “just” 32 wins to his credit, the 1999 Cup champion won three Daytona 500 races, two at the Brickyard in Indianapolis, and a World 600. Just about anywhere that would make you famous, Jarrett was a winner.
After five ballots, Jack Ingram finally made it. What is now the Nationwide series was his home, and he won 31 races after passing the age of 45. Tim Flock won two NASCAR crowns in the 1950’s, won 18 of 45 events in 1955, and claimed two of the ten Daytona Beach races under the NASCAR banner. Pretty good credentials, and I didn’t even mention the monkey.
The final inductee to take his place in the Hall this January was a former baseball pitcher who went by the name of Fireball. Edward Glenn Roberts Jr was never the Cup champ, finishing second in 1950, but he claimed the Daytona 500 and a pair of Southern 500 contests. With his colorful nickname, good looks, and winning smile, he was a fan favorite. His loss 39 days after a fiery crash during the 1964 World 600 at the age of 35 was a blow to the sport.
The 2013 running of that race in Charlotte takes place this Sunday, with Jimmie Johnson still holding the hot hand over the past ten events. Carl Edwards and Matt Kenseth remain close, and while Tony Stewart still has work to do he rebounds six spots to get back into our Top 20. That is due largely from a 26 point boost as he replaces his Daytona experience with that from Darlington. Brad Keselowski slides six positions, to 12th, as his 4th place Daytona result was a far cry from his 32nd place finish at Darlington.
Going back to the fall of 2008, we have had nine different winners in as many races at Charlotte. However, the winner of last spring’s event, Kasey Kahne, will be seeking his fifth win on this track since he swept the pair in 2006. He is definitely a driver on the move as you can see as we head into Sunday.
|Dale Earnhardt, Jr.||317||5||3||0||2||6|
|Martin Truex, Jr.||281||14||13||0||2||4|
|Ricky Stenhouse, Jr.||250||17||16||0||0||0|