Get your computers fired up, NASCAR fans, because now it’s time to make your vote count.
The Fan Vote part for the NASCAR Hall of Fame Class of 2015 opened Wednesday, with balloting continuing until Tuesday, May 20, at Noon ET.
Fans can choose from any of the 20 nominees, with the five nominees receiving the highest percentage of votes ultimately comprising the fan vote that will be included among those cast by the 54-member Hall voting panel. The panel meets the following day after the fan voting closes, Weds. May 21, to select the final five inductees for the 2015 Hall class.
“The NASCAR Hall of Fame is the only hall of its kind where fans have had a voice in the induction process since its inception,” said Brett Jewkes, NASCAR chief communications officer. “And the reason is simple. NASCAR fans are extremely passionate and knowledgeable about the sport and its history, and have demonstrated that with their selections for the first five classes.”
Here’s the 20 nominees for the five-member 2015 Hall class, as well as five nominees for the inaugural Landmark award:
* Buddy Baker, won 19 times in NASCAR’s premier (now Sprint Cup) series, including the Daytona 500 and Southern 500
* Red Byron, first NASCAR premier series champion, in 1949
* Richard Childress, 11-time car owner champion in NASCAR’s three national series
* Jerry Cook, six-time NASCAR Modified champion
* Bill Elliott, 1988 premier series champion, two-time Daytona 500 winner and 16-time Most Popular Driver
* Ray Fox, legendary engine builder and owner of cars driven by Buck Baker, Junior Johnson and others
* Rick Hendrick, 14-time car owner champion in NASCAR’s three national series
* Bobby Isaac, 1970 NASCAR premier series champion
* Terry Labonte, Two-time NASCAR premier series champion
* Fred Lorenzen, 26 wins and winner of the Daytona 500 and World 600
* Raymond Parks, NASCAR’s first champion car owner
* Benny Parsons, 1973 NASCAR premier series champion
* Larry Phillips, only five-time NASCAR Whelen All-American Series national champion
* Wendell Scott, NASCAR trailblazer was the first African-American NASCAR premier series race winner, and first to be nominated for induction into the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
* O. Bruton Smith, builder of Charlotte Motor Speedway and architect of Speedway Motorsports Inc.
* Mike Stefanik, winner of record-tying nine NASCAR championships
* Curtis Turner, early personality, called the “Babe Ruth of stock car racing”
* Joe Weatherly, two-time NASCAR premier series champion
* Rex White, 1960 NASCAR premier series champion
* Robert Yates, won NASCAR premier series championship as both an engine builder and owner
The five nominees for the inaugural Landmark Award are:
* H. Clay Earles, founder of Martinsville Speedway
* Anne Bledsoe France, helped build the sport with husband Bill France Sr. Affectionately known as “Annie B.,” she is the first woman to be nominated for induction into the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
* Raymond Parks, NASCAR’s first champion car owner
* Ralph Seagraves, formed groundbreaking Winston-NASCAR partnership as executive with R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company
* Ken Squier, legendary radio and television broadcaster; inaugural winner / namesake of Squier-Hall Award for NASCAR Media Excellence
The two-day Chris Griffis Memorial Mazda Road to Indy Test concluded on Sunday at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.
Combined times after the two days of running are below, with Nico Jamin (Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires) and Oliver Askew (Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires) remaining on top from Saturday to Sunday, and Darren Keane (Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda) supplanting Andres Gutierrez at the head of that field.
Previous notebooks are linked here (Friday, Saturday), with additional Sunday notes to follow.
Several drivers pulled double duty between series, namely Parker Thompson (Exclusive Autosport in Pro Mazda and USF2000), Carlos Cunha (Juncos Racing in Indy Lights and Pro Mazda) and Aaron Telitz (Team Pelfrey in Pro Mazda, RJB Motorsports in USF2000). Telitz (above) added a run in Pro Mazda in Team Pelfrey’s No. 82 car; the Wisconsinite has done a lot of the series’ testing for the new Pro Mazda Tatuus PM-18, and had hoped to run all three series. We’ll have more meanwhile on Thompson and Exclusive’s double in the days to come; the Michael Duncalfe-led team out of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan was one of three new Pro Mazda teams adding those cars to USF2000 efforts (Pabst Racing, BN Racing) this week.
There were a handful of drivers that changed cars or teams for Sunday’s second day of the test, primarily in USF2000. While Keane ran both days at Newman Wachs, the Brian Halahan-managed team ran David Osborne and Oscar DeLuzuriaga in the Nos. 37 and 38 cars, taking over from Jake Craig and Max Peichel. Osborne switched from Team Pelfrey, where he ran Saturday, and where Jacob Loomis ran Sunday. Justin Gordon ran a second Exclusive Autosport chassis, switching to the No. 90 on Sunday after running the No. 92 Saturday.
The PM-18 best lap set by Askew is more than three seconds faster than the series’ official track record (Pato O’Ward in 2016, at 1:22.8800, 105.941 mph). Askew’s best time of 1:19.8142 averages 110.010 mph around the 2.439-mile circuit. Neither the Indy Lights nor USF2000 cars eclipsed the existing lap records in those categories.
Drivers largely extolled the PM-18’s outright pace and potential with the horsepower upgrade, in what is a significant step forward for the series. “Following prototype testing of the new PM-18, I believed that we had a special race car and this weekend’s testing confirms that,” said Dan Andersen, Owner and CEO of Andersen Promotions. “Based on team and driver comments, this is a fantastic race car and I am very pleased with what Tatuus, Elite Engines and my team have assembled. It fits perfectly in between the USF-17 and the IL-15 in terms of lap times and, more importantly, it takes what a driver learns in the first step and introduces higher HP, higher grip and higher aero. This will be a great training car for years to come, and seeing our program now with three excellent and well-designed cars is very satisfying to me.”
Keane, one of the few veterans (relatively speaking) within USF2000 was plugged in this weekend as the only driver outside Pabst Racing to threaten the top of the timesheets. “It’s a good boost in confidence for me heading into next year. I am really happy with how everything is going with the team. They are a great group of guys and it’s just really good to see us improving and being where we want to be,” he said.
Rinus Veekay hailed the Indy Lights Dallara IL-15 Mazda this weekend in his first test there, although the talented Dutch teenager may well focus on Pro Mazda next season and shoot to win that championship, and continue his battle with Askew established in USF2000. “The car is very nice, quick,” noted VeeKay. “You can really feel the downforce and it was a pleasure to drive.”
The MRTI is done with official running for the year, but the $200,000 MRTI Scholarship Shootout remains in December at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park, the former Firebird Raceway, outside Phoenix. The winner of that will get a ticket into USF2000 for the 2018 season.
Full MRTI spring training will take place at Homestead-Miami Speedway in February 2018, with undoubtedly a bevy of driver and team announcements to come over the following months.