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Guthrie, Earnhardt voted into Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame

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Seven-time NASCAR champion Dale Earnhardt and Janet Guthrie, the first female to compete in the Indianapolis 500, make up the 2020 inductees of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame.

The two drivers will be honored at the 2020 IMS Hall of Fame induction ceremony and Indianapolis 500 Oldtimers Dinner on Thursday, May 21 in downtown Indianapolis.

The two motorsport legends were chosen from a ballot of 14 nominees by a distinguished panel of 140 auto racing journalists, participants and historians.

“Once again the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame voting panel has chosen two outstanding people who played direct roles in elevating the Speedway, both behind the scenes and in the public eye,” said Indianapolis Motor Speedway Foundation Chairman Tony George. “Dale Earnhardt’s embrace of the Brickyard 400, especially in 1995 Victory Lane, further elevated the race as a premier NASCAR event, while Janet’s courage, professionalism and driving talent led the way for greater female participation in motorsport.”

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A true pioneer, Guthrie became the first female to be assigned to a car on the Indianapolis 500 entry list in 1976. She didn’t make a qualifying attempt that year, but returned the following year and became the first female qualifier in race history. Guthrie finished ninth in 1978, which stood as the best female finish in race history until Danica Patrick’s fourth-place finish in 2005.

She was also the first female to ever compete in a NASCAR event on a superspeedway, competing in the 1976 World 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. The following February, she became the first female competitor in the Daytona 500, finishing a respectable 12th. Later that season, Guthrie recorded her career-best NASCAR finish of sixth place at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Guthrie also earned her pilot’s license at age 17 and was a candidate for NASA’s space program before the agency made it mandatory for astronauts to possess a Doctoral degree.

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Earnhardt made his NASCAR Cup Series debut in the 1975 World 600 but did not run a full-time season until signing on with Rod Osterlund Racing in 1979.

His rise to stardom was almost immediate. In his first full-time season, Earnhardt won his first race at Bristol Motor Speedway and was declared Rookie of the Year. One year later, in 1980, Earnhardt his first Cup Series championship.  He also won the title in 1986, 1987, 1990, 1991, 1993 and 1994.

The Kannapolis, North Carolina, native won 76 total Cup Series races, including the 1998 Daytona 500. Earnhardt was incredibly talented at Indianapolis, scoring five top 10 finishes in seven Brickyard 400 starts, with a victory in the 1995 edition of the race.

Founded in 1952 as the Auto Racing Hall of Fame, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame honors and celebrates the achievements of an exclusive group of individuals at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The museum is located in the infield of its namesake speedway, and features one of the most extensive motorsport and automotive collections in the world.

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IndyCar will eliminate double points from the 2020 season finale

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Though the NTT IndyCar Series hasn’t confirmed the date of its 2020 season finale, it has determined that double points won’t be in play.

An IndyCar official confirmed Monday to NBCSports.com that whether the season ends at Weather Tech Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, California, or on the streets of St. Petersburg, neither race will feature double points. Team owners were informed of the change during a conference call last week.

The news was first reported by RACER.com.

With the original 17-race schedule having been shortened by the cancellation of at least three races (Circuit of The Americas, Barber Motorsports Park, the Long Beach Grand Prix), using double points in the finale would have carried even greater weight (and perhaps more so if more races are unable to be run because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

IndyCar has been using double points at select races since the 2015 season. The 104th Indianapolis 500 will remain a double-points event.

In rescheduling the Indy 500 to Aug. 23 last week, IndyCar unveiled a revised schedule that listed Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg as TBD for its season finale. The race originally had been scheduled to open the season before being called off because of the COVID-19 outbreak.

IndyCar CEO Mark Miles told reporters last week that St. Pete probably would be slotted into the first two weeks October after the Sept. 20 race at Laguna Seca that had been slated to be the season finale for the second consecutive year.