Monday, May 23, 2016

2017 #NASCAR Hall of Fame Nominees

Ricky Rudd, Ken Squier, Mike Stefanik, Waddell Wilson, Robert Yates

Each year, five inductees are selected to the NASCAR Hall of Fame by a Voting Panel. Inductees are chosen from a list of 20 nominees that are determined by a Nominating Committee. The main criteria for nomination and induction into the NASCAR Hall of Fame include NASCAR accomplishments and contributions to the sport.

Here are the last five of the twenty nominees.

Ricky Rudd - Driver (b. 9/12/56)

Hometown: Chesapeake, Va.
NASCAR Whelan Modified Stats
Competed: 1975-2007
Starts: 906
Wins: 23
Poles: 29

Tough. As. Nails. There is no other way to describe Ricky Rudd. Known as NASCAR’s Ironman for more than a decade, the Virginia native held the premier series record for consecutive starts (788) before Jeff Gordon broke it in 2015. His 906 overall starts rank second in NASCAR history to Richard Petty’s 1,185. During his 32-year premier series career, Rudd posted 23 wins, 194 top fives, 374 top 10s (seventh all-time) and 29 poles. One of the few successful driver / owners in the modern era, Rudd won six races for his Rudd Performance Motorsports team he operated from 1994-99, including the 1997 Brickyard 400. Rudd, the 1977 premier series rookie of the year, earned a best points finish of second in 1991. He scored at least one win in 16 consecutive seasons (1983-98), which is tied for the third-longest streak in NASCAR premier series history. In 1998, Rudd was named one of NASCAR’s 50 Greatest Drivers.

Ken Squier – Broadcaster (b. 4/10/35)

Hometown: Waterbury, Vt. 

With a smooth voice, and knack for weaving a simple note into an epic tale, Ken Squier carved a massive footprint during NASCAR’s formative broadcast years. One of NASCAR’s original broadcasters, Squier co-founded the Motor Racing Network (MRN) in 1970. It was his golden voice that took NASCAR to a national audience thirsting for live coverage, giving his insider’s view of what he famously described as “common men doing uncommon things.” He is perhaps best-known for calling the 1979 Daytona 500, a milestone moment for the entire sport, as Squier’s voice on CBS welcomed millions to the first live flag-to-flag coverage of "The Great American Race" – a moniker he coined. Following that signature moment, Squier proceeded to call races for CBS and TBS until 1997 before shifting to the studio as host for NASCAR broadcasts until 2000. Squier continues to enlighten NASCAR fans to this day, mostly through special appearances. In 2012, NASCAR announced the creation of the Squier-Hall Award for NASCAR Media Excellence, which would be housed in the NASCAR Hall of Fame. Squier and MRN’s Barney Hall were inaugural winners of the award.

Mike Stefanik - Driver (b. 5/20/58)

Hometown: Coventry, R.I.
NASCAR Whelan Modified Stats
Competed: 1985-2014
Starts: 450
Wins: 74
Poles: 48

At the very top of the list of all-time NASCAR championships sit two men: NASCAR Hall of Famer Richie Evans … and Mike Stefanik. Each tallied nine in their exemplary careers, with Stefanik’s coming in both the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour and NASCAR K&N Pro Series East. Seven of his titles came in his primary racing series – the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour. In 2003, he was named one of the Tour’s 10 Greatest Drivers, an obvious choice if there ever was one – Stefanik holds the all-time series record in championships, wins, poles, top fives and top 10s. In 1997-98, Stefanik won back-to-back championships in the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour and the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East. That, along with a K&N Pro Series East win total that ties for ninth on the all-time list, earned him a spot on the Top 10 Drivers of the First 25 Years of the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East list in 2011. In addition, Stefanik spent one full-time season in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series – and it was a successful one. He captured the Rookie of the Year Award in 1999.

Waddell Wilson - Crew Chief/Engine Builder (b. 12/29/36)

Hometown: Bakersville, N.C.
Premier Series Crew Chief Stats
Competed: 1979-88, 1990-93, 1995
Starts: 287
Wins: 22
Poles: 32

A dual threat as an engine builder and crew chief, Waddell Wilson powered and guided cars to some of the biggest victories in NASCAR history. As an engine builder, he supplied the power that helped David Pearson (1968, ’69) and Benny Parsons (1973) to premier series titles. Overall, Wilson’s engines helped some of the greatest drivers to ever wheel a car – including NASCAR Hall of Famers Pearson, Fireball Roberts, Bobby Allison, Cale Yarborough and Darrell Waltrip – to 109 wins and 123 poles. He originally gained acclaim for building the engine Roberts used to win the 1963 Southern 500. Wilson guided three cars to Victory Lane in the Daytona 500 as a crew chief, winning The Great American Race with Buddy Baker (1980) and Cale Yarborough (1983-84). The famed “Grey Ghost” he assembled for Buddy Baker still holds the Daytona 500 record with an average speed of 177.602 MPH. Wilson directed his drivers to 22 wins and 32 poles as a crew chief. In 1982, Wilson built the first engine to help a premier series driver break 200 MPH when Benny Parsons turned a 200.176 MPH qualifying lap at Talladega for the Winston 500.

Robert Yates - Owner/Engine Builder (b. 4/19/43)

Hometown: Charlotte, N.C.
Premier Series Owner Stats
Competed: 1989-2007
Starts: 1,155
Wins: 57
Poles: 48

Robert Yates was the rare breed, exceling in any field he chose. But two in particular placed him among NASCAR’s greats – engine building (his first love) and team ownership. Yates, who began his career at Holman-Moody Racing in 1968, landed a job with NASCAR Hall of Famer Junior Johnson in 1971 – and the rest is history. He provided the power behind Bobby Allison and Cale Yarborough, later leading Allison to a series championship in 1983 with DiGard Racing. In the late 1980s, Yates launched his own team, Robert Yates Racing. Success came quickly – driver Davey Allison won the 1992 Daytona 500, and finished third in that season’s championship standings. In 1996, Yates expanded to a two-car team with NASCAR Hall of Famer Dale Jarrett and Ernie Irvan – and immediately won that year’s Daytona 500 with Jarrett. Jarrett would go on to win another Daytona 500 in 2000, a year after winning the NASCAR premier series championship – all in Yates-owned Fords. His lineage continues today, as son Doug carries on his legacy as one of the top engine builders in the sport.

 * * * * * *

The process begins with a 22-person Nominating Committee, who meets at Daytona International Speedway during Speedweeks to select the list of 20 nominees.

Then a 55-person Voting Panel, which includes the members of the Nominating Committee plus additional representatives, votes on five inductees from the list of 20 nominees. The Voting Panel submits a total of 56 ballots*, which includes one ballot from a nationwide fan vote, to determine the five inductees.

The number of ballots submitted may change if any member of the Nominating Committee or Voting Panel appears on the previous year’s ballot or current year’s ballot. These individuals are recused from participating in the nominating and/or voting process for as long as he/she appears on the ballot. If an individual who is currently on the Nominating Committee or Voting Panel is inducted, or is no longer included on a final ballot, he or she is immediately reinstated to active participation on the committee/panel.

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