Wendell Scott

Wendell Scott, Bill Elliott, Joe Weatherly, Rex White, Fred Lorenzen named to NASCAR Hall of Fame Class of 2015

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The five drivers for the sixth induction class of the NASCAR Hall of Fame Class were announced Wednesday afternoon. The inductees for the Class of 2015 are:

* Wendell Scott: One of NASCAR’s true trailblazers, Wendell Scott was the first African-American to race fulltime in NASCAR’s premier series, as well as the first to win a NASCAR premier series race. Scott posted a remarkable 147 top 10s and 495 starts during his 13-year premier series career. He won more than 100 races at local tracks before making his premier series debut, including 22 races at Southside Speedway in Richmond, Virginia, in 1959 en route to capturing both the Sportsman Division and NASCAR Virginia Sportsman championships. Part of Scott’s NASCAR legacy extends to present day with NASCAR’s Drive for Diversity program, the leading youth development initiative for multicultural and female drivers across the motorsport industry since 2004.

* Bill Elliott: In a 37-year driving career, Bill Elliott — with the colorful nickname of “Awesome Bill from Dawsonville (Ga.) — compiled a list of accolades that put him near the top of a number of NASCAR’s all-time lists. His 44 wins rank 16th all-time and his 55 poles rank eighth. But his most prestigious accomplishment came in 1988 when he won the NASCAR premier series championship with six wins, 15 top fives and 22 top 10s in 29 races. In addition, he won a record 16 Most Popular Driver Awards, in part because of his excellence on the big stage; he won the Daytona 500 twice and the Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway three times. Elliott posted seven victories at Michigan International Speedway, the third most in track history, including four in a row in 1985 and 1986. He also won the pole six times, trailing only David Pearson (10) for the most in track history. In his illustrious career, Elliott started a track-record 61 races at MIS.

“I don’t know what to say,” Elliott said on Fox Sports 1’s live telecast of the announcement. “I was totally blown away. I wish my mother and dad were here, and my brothers. So many people were instrumental to get me to this point. … The biggest point of our career is we did it kind of our way from Dawsonville, Ga., a group of small-town kids out of nowhere who built a race team.

“…There’s so many people that are deserving to be here today. I’m just blessed and just thankful that I am. I’ve seen a lot of guys that have come into this deal, there’s a lot of good names in this Hall of Fame, and I’m just proud to be one of them.”

* Fred Lorenzen: Fred Lorenzen was one of NASCAR’s first true superstars even though he was a “part-time” driver, never running more than 29 of the season’s 50-plus races. Lorenzen got his start in NASCAR as a mechanic with the famed Holman-Moody team in 1960, but was elevated to lead driver by the end of the year. Lorenzen won three races in only 15 starts the following season. Lorenzen’s best overall season came in 1963 as he finished with six wins, 21 top fives and 23 top 10s in 29 starts. Despite missing 26 races that season, he finished third in the standings. In 1965, he won two of NASCAR’s major events – the Daytona 500 and the World 600.

* Joe Weatherly: Joe Weatherly won two championships (1962-63) and 25 races in NASCAR’s premier series. But that’s only part of his story, which is long on versatility. A decade earlier in 1952-53, he won 101 races in the NASCAR Modified division, capturing that championship in 1953. He even tried his hand in NASCAR’s short-lived Convertible Division from 1956-59 winning 12 times. When he won his first NASCAR premier series championship, in 1962, he drove for legendary owner Bud Moore. When he repeated as champion a year later, he drove for nine different teams.

* Rex White: Consistency was the hallmark of Rex White’s NASCAR career. He finished among the top five in nearly a half of his 233 races and outside the top 10 only 30 percent of the time. White was a short-track specialist in an era in which those tracks dominated the schedule. Of his 28 career wins in NASCAR’s premier series, only two came on tracks longer than a mile in length. Driving his own equipment, White won six times during his 1960 championship season, posting 35 top 10s in 40 starts. He finished in the top 10 six of his nine years in the series including a runner-up finish in 1961. White is now 84 years old.

Also, Anne Bledsoe France, who helped build the sport with husband Bill France Sr., was named the inaugural winner of the Hall of Fame’s Landmark Award. Affectionately known as “Annie B.,” she was the first woman to be nominated for induction into the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

* Anne Bledsoe France: Anne Bledsoe France, paired with her husband, NASCAR founder Bill France Sr., would create what today is one of the largest and most popular sports in the world. Anne played a huge role in the family business. “Big Bill” organized and promoted races; she took care of the financial end of the business. She first served as secretary and treasurer of NASCAR, and when Daytona International Speedway opened in 1959, served in the same roles for the International Speedway Corporation. She also managed the speedway’s ticket office. France remained active in family and business life until her passing in 1992.

The new Class will be formally inducted on Jan. 30, 2015.

The five inductees were chosen from a field of 20 nominees, a change this year from the previous eligibility of 25 candidates to choose from for the Hall’s first five classes. Debate for the class took more than five hours, according to NASCAR officials.

NASCAR Vice President of Corporate Communications Brett Jewkes said all selections came on the first ballot. There were no ties or need for tie-breaking secondary votes.

Voting for the Class of 2015 was as follows: Bill Elliott (87 percent), Wendell Scott (58 percent), Joe Weatherly (53 percent), Rex White (43 percent) and Fred Lorenzen (30 percent).

The next top vote getters were Jerry Cook, Robert Yates and Benny Parsons.

Results for the NASCAR.com Fan Vote, in order of votes received, were Wendell Scott, Bill Elliott, Benny Parsons, Rex White and Terry Labonte.

Failing to be chosen for induction were:

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

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

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

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”

Robert Yates, won NASCAR premier series championship as both an engine builder and owner

The four nominees who fell short for the inaugural Landmark Award were:

H. Clay Earles, founder of Martinsville Speedway

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

Check back for more updates.

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Big payday: Alexander Rossi earns $2.54 million for winning 100th Indianapolis 500

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Winning the milestone 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500 has not only changed Alexander Rossi’s life, it also has changed his tax bracket big time.

In only his sixth career Verizon IndyCar Series start, the 25-year-old Californian took home $2,548.743 in prize earnings for capturing the checkered flag in the Greatest Spectacle In Racing. That amount includes $50,000 for winning Sunoco Rookie of the Year honors.

If you don’t want to dig out your calculator, that amount breaks down to $12,743.72 per lap in the 200-lap event.

Rossi was the first rookie to win the 500 since Helio Castroneves in 2001, and the first American-born rookie champion since Louis Meyer in 1928.

The overall Indy 500 purse was $13,273,253, according to an Indianapolis Motor Speedway media release.

Rossi’s Andretti Autosport teammate, Carlos Munoz, won $788,743 for finishing second. Third-place finisher Josef Newgarden took home $574,243.

Tony Kanaan, who won the 500 in 2013, finished fourth and earned $445,743, while Charlie Kimball received $423,243 for finishing fifth.

Sixth-place finisher James Hinchcliffe won $502,993, including $100,000 for the Verizon P1 Award for earning the pole position for the race.

Last year’s Indy 500 winner, Juan Pablo Montoya, finished last in Sunday’s race after a single-car crash on Lap 64. He earned a mere $339,493.

The earnings were distributed Monday during the Victory Awards Celebration in Indianapolis.

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Highlights from the the Indianapolis 500, Runnings 91-100

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The Associated Press has compiled a list of highlights of all past Indianapolis 500 races, as the buildup to the 100th running presented by PennGrade Motor Oil took place this May 29.

Now with the 100th running complete, we can complete the links of all of the past AP roundups with rookie Alexander Rossi having taken a shock but amazing first win in the race.

Here are runnings 91-100, from 2007 through 2016.

Past pieces:

RACE: 91st Indianapolis 500

DATE: May 27, 2007

WINNER: Dario Franchitti

AVERAGE SPEED: 151.774 mph

WHAT HAPPENED: Once again, rain played havoc with “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.” There was a three-hour delay with Tony Kanaan, still chasing his first Indy 500 victory, sitting in the lead. The track was eventually dried and the race restarted, but a crash on Lap 162 between Dan Wheldon and Marco Andretti brought out the caution with Franchitti in the lead. He was declared the victor when rain halted the race.

NOTABLE: The race is broadcast in high-definition for the first time, rain delay and all. Less obvious to fans was the change in fuel from methanol to ethanol, and one team was fined for using a mixture of methanol on pole day. It was also the final race with Panoz chassis – Dallara would provide all of the chassis in the field the following year. Fans sang “Back Home Again in Indiana” when Jim Nabors had to miss the race due to illness.

RACE: 92nd Indianapolis 500

DATE: May 25, 2008

WINNER: Scott Dixon

AVERAGE SPEED: 143.567 mph

WHAT HAPPENED: The split that nearly ruined American open-wheel racing was a memory when the flag dropped on the first Indy 500 after unification. Marco Andretti again led the race as he tried to end the “Andretti curse,” but Vitor Meira took the lead on a restart with 41 laps to go. Dixon took the lead and held it the final 24 laps, with Meira finishing second and Andretti third. Helio Castroneves was fourth in his bid for his third victory.

NOTABLE: Ryan Briscoe tagged Danica Patrick as they were exiting pit road on the final sequence of stops, ending both of their days. Patrick tried to walk toward Briscoe’s pit stall before security intervened, and both drivers were summoned to the IndyCar trailer. They were ultimately fined $100,000 apiece and placed on probation. Meanwhile, Dixon became the first New Zealander to win.

RACE: 93rd Indianapolis 500

DATE: May 24, 2009

WINNER: Helio Castroneves

AVERAGE SPEED: 150.318 mph

WHAT HAPPENED: Castroneves won from the pole to become the first foreign-born three-time winner of the race. Former winner Dan Wheldon finished second and Danica Patrick, a year after her pit-road dust-up with Ryan Briscoe, finished third for the best result ever by a woman.

NOTABLE: The race began a three-year centennial celebration leading up to 2011, the 100th anniversary of the first edition of the race. Tony Kanaan wrecked when his driveshaft failed him near the midpoint of the race, leaving him visibly shaken afterward. Paul Tracy also returned for the first time since 2002, when his pass of Castroneves for the lead on Lap 199 was determined to have come after the caution flew for a wreck on another part of the track.

RACE: 94th Indianapolis 500

DATE: May 30, 2010

WINNER: Dario Franchitti

AVERAGE SPEED: 161.623 mph

WHAT HAPPENED: Franchitti took the lead on Lap 192 when the leaders, having chosen not to pit when Sebastian Saavedra spun 31 laps earlier, had to stop for fuel. Franchitti also began to conserve fuel over the final laps, but he was able to hold off Dan Wheldon. Marco Andretti wound up with his third top-three finish in five starts. Ryan Hunter-Reay ran out of fuel on the last lap and was hit by Mike Conway, who broke his leg in the accident.

NOTABLE: It was the first race with four female starters. Danica Patrick finished sixth and Simona de Silvestro won rookie of the year after finishing 14th. Franchitti’s victory eventually gave team owner Chip Ganassi a sweep of the Daytona 500 (Jamie McMurray), the Indy 500 and the Brickyard 400 when McMurray won at Indianapolis later in the year.

RACE: 95th Indianapolis 500

DATE: May 29, 2011

WINNER: Dan Wheldon

AVERAGE SPEED: 170.265 mph

WHAT HAPPENED: American rookie J.R. Hildebrand was poised to take the checkered flag when his car drifted high on the final turn of the last lap and he hit the wall. Wheldon slipped by as Hildebrand skidded down the front stretch, winning his second Indy 500. Hildebrand finished second in his wrecked car.

NOTABLE: The race capped a three-year centennial celebration of the Indy 500. Donald Trump was supposed to drive the pace car but stepped away due to “time constraints,” though there was a public campaign to prevent him from participating. Wheldon won for one-off team Bryan Herta Autosport, much to the chagrin of Hildebrand’s team Panther Racing – which fired Wheldon before the season. Wheldon was killed that October in a wreck at Las Vegas.

RACE: 96th Indianapolis 500

DATE: May 27, 2012

WINNER: Dario Franchitti

AVERAGE SPEED: 167.734 mph

WHAT HAPPENED: Franchitti was getting pushed by Takuma Sato on the final lap when Sato challenged him low in Turn 1. Sato lost control as the cars touched, sending him into the wall. Franchitti went on to victory with Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Scott Dixon finishing second. The victory was Franchitti’s third at Indy.

NOTABLE: Franchitti dedicated the victory to two-time winner Dan Wheldon, who had been killed in a crash at Las Vegas the previous October. The race featured the new Dallara chassis and reintroduced turbocharged engines. It also marked the return of engine manufacturer Chevrolet. Tony Kanaan led the race during a late caution as he tried to secure his first win, but he faded on the restart and finished third.

RACE: 97th Indianapolis 500

DATE: May 26, 2013

WINNER: Tony Kanaan

AVERAGE SPEED: 187.433 mph

WHAT HAPPENED: After 11 failed attempts and numerous close calls, Kanaan finally got his face on the Borg-Warner Trophy. The popular Brazilian overtook Ryan Hunter-Reay on a restart with three laps to go, then led Carlos Munoz and Hunter-Reay across the finish line when Dario Franchitti crashed to bring out the final caution. Marco Andretti finished fourth in yet another close call for his famous family.

NOTABLE: The average speed made the race he fastest in Indy 500 history, beating the mark set by Arie Luyendyk in 1990. There were an astounding 68 lead changes and 14 different leaders, both records, and the 26 cars running at the finish was also a record. Chevrolet dominated the month of May and swept the top four spots, breaking Honda’s streak of nine consecutive Indy 500 wins. Jim Nabors was back at the Brickyard to sing “Back Home Again in Indiana” after missing the previous year with an illness.

RACE: 98th Indianapolis 500

DATE: May 25, 2014

WINNER: Ryan Hunter-Reay

AVERAGE SPEED: 186.563 mph

WHAT HAPPENED: Trying once again to join the exclusive club of four-time winners, Helio Castroneves pushed Hunter-Reay hard in the final laps. The first American to win the Indy 500 since Sam Hornish Jr. in 2006 held off Castroneves by 0.600 seconds, the second-closest finish in race history.

NOTABLE: The month began with the inaugural Grand Prix of Indianapolis on the road course, which was won by Simon Pagenaud. Ed Carpenter won his second straight pole, but it was Kurt Busch who made headlines in his bid to run the Indy 500 and Coca-Cola 600 on the same day. Busch finished sixth in the Indy 500 but could not finish the NASCAR race because of a blown engine that night in Charlotte. Jim Nabors sang “Back Home Again in Indiana” for the 35th and final time.

RACE: 99th Indianapolis 500

DATE: May 24, 2015

WINNER: Juan Pablo Montoya

AVERAGE SPEED: 161.341 mph

WHAT HAPPENED: His career at a crossroads, Montoya returned to open-wheel racing from NASCAR with Penske Racing. He swapped the lead with Scott Dixon and Will Power four times in the final 13 laps, the final move coming with four laps to go as Montoya slipped outside of Power in Turn 1 for the lead. He held off Power for the remaining three laps to win his second Indy 500.

NOTABLE: Three crashes during practice sent cars outfitted with new aerokits airborne, forcing safety to the forefront for IndyCar. Among those hurt in a crash was James Hinchcliffe, who nearly lost his life after his leg was impaled by a piece of equipment. Some changes addressed the issue by race day. An a cappella group sang “Back Home Again in Indiana” after the retirement the previous year of Jim Nabors.

RACE: 100th Indianapolis 500

DATE: May 29, 2016

WINNER: Alexander Rossi

AVERAGE SPEED: 166.634 mph

WHAT HAPPENED: Rossi was a 66-to-1 longshot, an IndyCar rookie who had chased a ride in Formula One since he was 10. Stuck without one, the California native returned to the U.S. and landed a ride with Andretti Autosport. He stunned his faster rivals by outlasting them in a fuel-mileage showdown, his car running out of gas during his victory lap.

NOTABLE: Ryan Hunter-Reay and Townsend Bell combined to lead 64 of the first 119 laps, but the Americans were knocked from contention when they got tangled with each other on pit road. It was the first sellout in Indy 500 history, with more than 350,000 in attendance, and the race was televised locally for the first time since the 1950s.

Haas, Renault forego supersofts in Canadian GP tire selections

during the Spanish Formula One Grand Prix at Circuit de Catalunya on May 15, 2016 in Montmelo, Spain.
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With today being the Tuesday two weeks before the Grand Prix, it means the tire selections are in for the Canadian Grand Prix.

Pirelli’s ultrasoft compound takes precedence for the run at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal.

So much so, in fact, that the Haas F1 Team and Renault Sport F1 Team have gone only for ultrasofts as their alternate compound, and foregone the supersofts.

See Pirelli’s full breakdown below and my colleague Luke Smith’s more humourous take on the breakdown below.

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NBCSN’S Townsend Bell’s 10th Indy 500 fun to watch, but ends P21

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INDIANAPOLIS – NBCSN Verizon IndyCar Series analyst Townsend Bell seemed poised to break through several times in Sunday’s 100th Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil, but a finish of 21st place wasn’t what the doctor ordered.

Driving the No. 29 California Pizza Kitchen/Robert Graham Honda for Andretti Autosport, Bell started fourth, then ran third for most of the opening stint before his first stop.

His car was even better after the first round of adjustments as he got into second immediately after and then into the lead on Lap 42. Bell for seven laps then and a further five laps (57, 113 to 116) while maintaining a top three position.

It marked the first laps Bell has led since the only prior lap led in his IndyCar career, one lap in the 2013 Indianapolis 500 then driving for Panther Racing.

Bell had several interesting moments during the race. At one point when defending against Josef Newgarden, Bell took a low line into Turn 1 and Newgarden drove well to avoid contact.

On Monday morning, Bell addressed a tweet from Ryan Briscoe, a veteran IndyCar and sports car competitor.

Then, on Lap 93, Sage Karam had gotten up to fourth in the No. 24 Gas Monkey Energy Chevrolet for Dreyer & Reinbold – Kingdom Racing with Bell back to fifth.

Bell got back by into Turn 1, while Karam ran high following minor contact and then crashed hard into the Turn 1 wall. The 21-year-old American had started 23rd and gained 19 spots in the car that Bell had driven last year.

Bell was still in win contention until the final death knell for his race occurred on Lap 117, when making another round of pit stops, and it came after he and teammate Ryan Hunter-Reay were running one-two.

Bell and Hunter-Reay launched at nearly the identical time, with Bell then trying to accelerate out into the fast lane in trying to avoid Hunter-Reay, but also hitting Helio Castroneves, who continued unscathed.

Meanwhile the two Andretti Autosport teammates two collided and spun in the pit lane. At that point, arguably two of the best cars in the race – went down a lap and fell to 25th and 26th, respectively.

For this incident, Bell was assessed a pit safety infraction penalty and issued a stop-and-go penalty.

“It was a pretty straightforward day,” Bell told NBC Sports on Monday. “We had a race-winning car, running at the front. We saved fuel early on while Hinch and RHR took chance to lead. We tried to get ourselves in position for end of race.

“I had control off the car throughout the entire stint. Then I came in for the pit stop from the lead. Came off the jacks, the crew sent me, then RHR, then I thought, ‘I don’t want to hit my teammate,’ and he was going aroud Newgarden. Then I had no idea Castroneves was there. It just ping-ponged at that point. I fought hard to get us back on the lead lap. But from there, our day was pretty much done.”

Here were Bell’s quotes via Sunday’s post-race release:  “He (Ryan Hunter-Reay) was pulling out and I’m not going to stop. What a shame. We had a great race car and we were saving fuel early on. The pit stops seemed pretty good.

“All of a sudden I’m leading, I think, when I come in. We pit, I get out before Ryan and he starts going. So I’m going around him outside and I didn’t know a car (Castroneves) was coming down. I guess the three of us were trying to occupy space for two cars. It took me and Ryan out. I’ll look at it but I don’t know what I could have done differently.”

Hunter-Reay’s post-race comments sung a similar tune: “Something out of our control happened. They said, ‘Go, go, go!’ It looked like Townsend (Bell) got into Helio (Castroneves) and bounced into me. At that point I would have just have waited until they got by. As a driver you can’t see anything (beside you in the pits). When you’re released, you go.

“The car was so strong. The only time we ever spent any time (slower) was because I was saving some fuel. Other than that, it was a rocket ship. Such a shame when you have a car like that. The car was great. We could have won this thing today.”

Bell briefly made it back to the lead lap despite a second penalty assessed for entering a closed pit on Lap 158. He was on the lead lap until his last stop and ultimately ended 21st; Hunter-Reay was 24th.

In the next couple weeks, Bell will resume his NBCSN broadcast booth responsibilities for the Verizon IndyCar Series’ Firestone 600 (June 11, 8 p.m. ET, NBCSN) at Texas Motor Speedway, and is also preparing for the 24 Hours of Le Mans with Scuderia Corsa. He has both the test day (June 5) and the race (June 18-19) scheduled.

He and his teammates, Sweedler and Jeff Segal, were all present together this month at IMS for qualifying.

Sunday’s result will likely be a tough one for Bell to swallow, because he had a fantastic month with Andretti Autosport, but ultimately too many incidents that reduced a potential winning run to a forgettable finish.