NASCAR stars, drag racing legend join Int’l Motorsports Hall

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Three key NASCAR figures and a drag racing icon were inducted Thursday night into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in Talladega, Alabama. Rusty Wallace (pictured), Dale Inman and Rick Hendrick make up the stock car side of the IMHoF’s Class of 2013, joining the NHRA’s Don Schumacher.

All four have been champions in their respective categories. Wallace, who claimed 55 Cup wins in his driving career, took the 1989 series title over the late Dale Earnhardt and was named one of NASCAR’s 50 Greatest Drivers in 1998; Inman earned eight Cup titles as a crew chief (seven with Richard Petty and one with Terry Labonte); Hendrick has won 10 Cup titles and 14 titles across all three of NASCAR’s major national series (including the Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series) as owner of Hendrick Motorsports; and Schumacher has 11 NHRA world titles to his credit as a team owner, as well as five event titles as a driver — including a 1970 triumph in drag racing’s biggest event, the U.S. Nationals.

In order to be inducted into the IMHoF, a person must be retired from their particular line of work for at least five years. After said period has passed, he or she then needs 51 percent of the total number of votes to be inducted.

Neuville wins Rally Australia; Ogier takes FIA WRC title

Sebastien Ogier. Photo: Getty Images
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COFFS HARBOUR, Australia (AP) Belgium’s Thierry Neuville won Rally Australia by 22.5 seconds on Sunday as torrential rain added drama to the last day of the last race of the World Rally Championship season.

Neuville entered the final day with an almost 20 second advantage after inheriting the rally lead Saturday when his Hyundai teammate, defending champion Andreas Mikkelsen crashed and was forced to retire for the day.

His lead was halved by Jari-Matti Latvala early Sunday as monsoon-like rain made conditions treacherous on muddy forest stages on the New South Wales coast. The rain stopped on the short Wedding Bells stage where Neuville was almost 5 seconds quicker than his rivals, stretching his lead to 14.7 seconds entering the last stage.

COFFS HARBOUR, AUSTRALIA – NOVEMBER 17: Thierry Neuville of Belgium and Nicolas Gilsoul of Belgium compete in their Hyundai Motorsport WRT Hyundai i20 coupe WRC during Day One of the WRC Australia on November 17, 2017 in COFFS HARBOUR, Australia. (Photo by Massimo Bettiol/Getty Images)

That stage was full of incident. The driver’s door on Neuville’s Hyundai i20 coupe swung open in the middle of the stage and Neuville had to slam it closed as he approached a corner.

Latvala’s Toyota then crashed seconds from the end of the stage, allowing Estonia’s Ott Tanak, in a Ford, to take second place overall and New Zealalnd’s Haydon Paddon, in a Hyundai, to sneak into third.

Sebastian Ogier was fourth after winning the final, power stage but the Frenchman had already clinched his fifth world title before Rally Australia began. Neuville’s win was his fourth of the season, two more than Ogier, and was enough to give him second place in world drivers’ standings for the third time in five years.

Ogier owed his drivers’ title to his consistency: he retired only once and finished no worse than fifth all season.

Neuville admitted the last day was touch and go as the rain made some stages perilous, forcing the cancellation of the second to last stage.

“That was a hell of a ride,” Neuville said. “Really, really tricky conditions.

“I kept the car on the road but it was close sometimes. I knew I could make a difference but I had to be clever. You lose grip, you lose control and the car doesn’t respond to your input.”