NASCAR announces changes to Hall of Fame eligibility

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Multiple changes have been announced this morning by NASCAR regarding drivers’ eligibility for being elected into the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

Going forward, drivers that have competed for at least 10 seasons and have turned 55 years old on or before Dec. 31 of the year prior to the nominating year are eligible.

Additionally, drivers that have competed for at least 30 seasons (again, on or before Dec. 31 of the year prior to the nominating year) are now eligible regardless of age. Drivers also can continuing competing after surpassing those milestones without compromising eligibility.

These tweaks in particular will widen the pool of potential inductees as Sprint Cup legends such as Mark Martin, Bill Elliott, and Terry Labonte are now in line for induction.

Other tweaks were made in regards to naming nominees for the Hall of Fame. The nomination committee’s ballots will now select just 20 nominees each year, down from its previous mark of 25.

Also, the committee will now meet in-person to vote on those nominees; previously, the committee had submitted their choices to an independent accounting firm that tallied the nominations to create the final ballot. Hall of Fame nominees are now recused from the nominating and voting process as well.

The Hall of Fame will also create a new “Landmark Award,” which will go into effect with the Class of 2015. The award will recognize outstanding contributions to the sport and winners can range from competitors to those working in the sport in other roles (racing organization, tracks, media, sponsors, et al.).

Five nominees will be chosen for the “Landmark Award” and will then be voted on by the Hall of Fame’s voting panel.

NHRA Gatornationals: John Force has another spectacular motor explosion

Photo courtesy NHRA
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Legendary NHRA Funny Car driver John Force endured yet another spectacular motor explosion – his third in the NHRA’s first three national event races – during Friday’s qualifying at the Amalie Motor Oil Gatornationals in Gainesville, Florida.

It’s the kind of consistency the 16-time NHRA Funny Car champ could do without.

The 68-year-old Force came to Gainesville hoping to break the jinx that saw him endure explosions in both the season-opening Winternationals and the second race of the season in Phoenix.

Both motor explosions sent Force to the hospital for examination before he returned to the race track.

Friday, even though the motor in his Chevrolet Camaro blew up again (in the second round of qualifying), at least this time, Force didn’t wind up in the hospital.

He did have his right hand bandaged from a cut suffered in the explosion, but did not have to go to the hospital this time.

He even joked about not having to add yet another ambulance bill to the nearest Gainesville hospital.

But the explosion still proved costly.

“That was another body and that hurts the financial (bottomline),” Force said. “I was out $500,000 to $600,000, and now we are probably out $800,000, going on a million. In drag racing, you have to be tough.”

He ended the day qualifying 14th, not a very comfortable position with two more rounds of qualifying set for Saturday.

Force continues to be mystified why the motors keep exploding.

“I really thought we had it, I thought we were there,” Force said. “In the first round we drove it 500 feet and shut it off. It looked great. We ran it again that run and I was only going to drive it 800 feet even if we didn’t make The Show.”

Force will attempt to improve his qualifying spot during Saturday’s final two rounds to make Sunday’s eliminations.

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