NASCAR Hall’s Class of 2014 announced

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Dale Jarrett (pictured), Maurice Petty, Tim Flock, Jack Ingram and Fireball Roberts will soon be known as NASCAR Hall of Famers.

The five NASCAR legends were voted into the Hall today and will officially be inducted as the Class of 2014 in ceremonies at the Charlotte, N.C.-based Hall next January.

The honors for Jarrett and Petty further burnish their families’ tremendous legacies in the sport. Dale joins father Ned in the Hall, while Maurice joins his father, Lee; older brother, Richard; and cousin Dale Inman.

“I’ve always felt like it was an honor and a privilege to drive for NASCAR, and this sport has been such a huge part of the Jarrett life,” Dale said according to the Associated Press. “Now to be part of something that my father is a part of, it just means the world to me.”

“It makes me happy because that means all of [the Pettys] are in,” said Maurice about his entry to the Hall. “So I’m tickled to death with it.”

Dale collected 32 wins in his driving career, as well as the 1999 Sprint Cup championship, while Maurice contributed to the Petty Enterprises dynasty as its chief engine builder for the majority of Richard’s 200 wins and seven Cup titles.

Flock and Roberts were early stars for the sport. The former won 39 times in his career and also claimed two series titles in 1952 and 1955, while the latter notched a healthy 33 victories and a status as one of the sport’s first fan favorites.

Ingram was honored for his career in what is now known as the NASCAR Nationwide Series. The North Carolina native won three consecutive titles (1972-74) during its time as the Late Model Sportsman Division; when the category became the Busch Series, Ingram grabbed two more crowns in 1982 and 1985.

Fernando Alonso likes NASCAR country, but he’s not leaving F1 any time soon

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) Jimmie Johnson strolled into the Charlotte Convention Center and did a double-take when he saw Fernando Alonso hanging out in a hallway.

“What’s he doing here?” NASCAR’s seven-time champion wondered.

Alonso made the trip to North Carolina to make an appearance at NASCAR’s annual preseason media tour. No, a ride in NASCAR is not imminent, but the two-time Formula One champion is about to embark on his first major sports car race .

Alonso will race this weekend in the Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona for United Autosports, the sports car team owned by his McLaren F1 boss, Zak Brown. It was Brown who paved the way for Alonso to compete in last year’s Indianapolis 500, and he is helping the Spaniard knock prestigious races off his wish list.

Alonso spent about 10 minutes chatting with Johnson, and the duo was eventually joined by sports car aces Scott Pruett and Joey Hand, who were brought to the NASCAR event by IMSA to help promote the Rolex, and then Cup champion Kevin Harvick.

The meet-and-greet with Alonso was a thrill for Johnson. Alonso was equally impressed.

“The first time I heard his name it was probably 2003 on the NASCAR video game,” Alonso said Tuesday. “I used to choose him, not knowing him, just because of the car. I remember playing with another friend of mine, he likes a chocolate company I will not name now, and he was choosing that car and I was choosing Jimmie’s car.

“But that was the first time I heard of him, and obviously the success that he has in the years in motor racing, he became a legend of our sport, and massive respect.”

Johnson said he’s always been a fan of Alonso’s and spent some time telling Alonso how well he ran in the Indianapolis 500 last May. Alonso led 27 laps and seemed to be in contention for the win until his engine expired 21 laps from the finish.

“He handled himself so well, really did a great job, and I think brought a lot to the table,” Johnson said. “He brought worldwide attention to motorsports and it was really good for us here stateside.”

While in NASCAR country, Alonso was asked about potentially trying a stock car someday. It’s not something that could happen soon, he said, but it is something he’d like to at least attempt.

“Right now, it looks quite far. The driving technique and the experience all those guys have, it’s difficult for me to achieve that level,” Alonso said. “I will never know until I try, so I would like one day to test a car and after that, driving the car, I will know how enjoyable it will be in racing.

“Outside (watching), the races are great because they are all in a group, it is not predictable at all and until the last lap, you don’t know what is going to happen. We love watching from the outside, but I don’t know from the inside.”

Alonso has so far only had three days of testing at Daytona in the sports car to adjust to a closed cockpit, as well as driving at night and in traffic. Trying different series has been a thrill for him, and he’s still eyeing a way to get Le Mans on his schedule.

“It’s one thing that I would like to do, I would like to compete in the best races in the world, and Le Mans and is one of the top races,” he said. “If that day will be this year or not is still to be discussed, but maybe yes.”

More AP Auto Racing: https://racing.ap.org/