Dave Blaney, 7 others inducted into Sprint Car Hall of Fame

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Only one driver missed Saturday’s Happy Hour final practice for Sunday’s FedEx 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup race.

But Dave Blaney had a good reason for not taking part.

While the rest of his fellow drivers were logging more practice time, Blaney was in Knoxville, Iowa, where he was inducted into the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame during ceremonies Saturday afternoon.

(Personal note: It’s about time!)

Blaney and seven others – Dave Argabright, Bobby Davis Jr., Mark Kinser, William “Windy” McDonald, Chuck Merrill, the late George Nesler and the late Larry Beckett – were inducted into the Hall, the 25th class to be honored.

Blaney had a very successful career in sprint cars, including being crowned the 1984 USAC Silver Crown Champion and the 1995 World of Outlaws Champion, before moving to NASCAR racing.

In 1997, Blaney enjoyed one of his best seasons ever, winning the Gold Cup, at Eldora Speedway and the Knoxville Nationals, the most notable race on the sprint car schedule.

According to a press release from the Hall, 18 prior inductees will be on hand to congratulate Blaney and the rest of the 2014 class.

Congratulations to Dave and the other inductees on a well-deserved honor.

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Here’s who were picking to win the Indy 500 — who are YOU picking?

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Several members of the NBC Sports motorsports staff have made their predictions on who will win Sunday’s 102nd Running of the Indianapolis 500.

Of the six voters, two are going with 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series champ Josef Newgarden, while two others are going with Helio Castroneves to win a fourth 500, which would tie him with A.J. Foyt, Al Unser and Rick Mears.

Here’s our picks. Who are YOU picking?

Leigh Diffey: Helio Castroneves — He drives the place better than anyone else. For me (for what its worth) he deserves a fourth 500 ring for the frustration he went through never getting the IndyCar title!

Townsend Bell: Josef Newgarden

Nate Ryan: Simon Pagenaud — All of his 2018 misfortune on the track has disappeared in May, and it culminates in the biggest victory of his career.

Jerry Bonkowski: Helio Castroneves – There’s no pressure as he pursues his fourth Indy 500 win. All Helio has to do, as late NFL owner Al Davis would say, is “Just win, baby!” (But if Helio falls short, watch for Marco Andretti)

Kyle Lavigne: Josef Newgarden — I think he has everything he needs to get it done this year.

Dan Beaver: Robert Wickens – Has driven like anything except a rookie and his second-place finish at Phoenix proves he’s just as good on an oval as the road courses.

Follow: Jerry Bonkowski