As anticipated, two-time Daytona 500 winner, two-time NASCAR Xfinity Collection champion and perennial Most Well-liked Driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. was formally named a first-ballot NASCAR Corridor of Famer on Tuesday night.
Ageless driver Pink Farmer and short-track legend Mike Stefanik will be a part of Earnhardt within the NASCAR Corridor of Fame Class of 2021. Earnhardt and Stefanik have been chosen from a gaggle of 10 nominees on the Fashionable Period Poll. Farmer was chosen from 5 nominees on the Pioneer Poll, which featured nominees who established their careers previous to 1961.
Ralph Seagraves — a longtime official with the R.J. Reynolds Firm and regarded a company hero to the game for initiating and securing a 30-plus-year sponsorship settlement along with his firm’s Winston model — was named as recipient of the Landmark Award for Excellent Contributions to NASCAR.
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Earnhardt, 45, of Kannapolis, N.C., who now serves as a broadcast analyst for NBC Sports activities, joins his late father, Dale Earnhardt, within the sport’s prestigious corridor of honor — his dad, a seven-time NASCAR Cup Collection champion, was a part of the very first induction class. The Earnhardts are the sixth father-son pairing to obtain NASCAR Corridor of Fame honors.
Dale Jr. earned 76 p.c of the vote in receiving his induction honor.
After his choice, he advised the media he was extra nervous Tuesday after a morning root canal at his dentist than ready for the Corridor of Fame voting outcomes.
“When that checklist of nominees got here out, I used to be so honored to be on that sheet,” Earnhardt stated. “I couldn’t consider my title was on that sheet, to be trustworthy with you. I do know these guys and their physique of labor.
“I used to be good with simply being on the sheet and was going to be pleased with that.”
“It is such a terrific feeling that somebody seems like I made an influence on the game,” Earnhardt stated. “And I do know my numbers, the wins, the shortage of a championship, I do know what my numbers are. And I really feel like I used to be chosen based mostly on that but additionally based mostly on the influence off the race observe and being an envoy for the game.”
A back-to-back champion in his two full seasons (1998-99) within the NASCAR Xfinity Collection, Earnhardt rapidly established himself on the NASCAR Cup Collection stage as a grasp within the fashion of restrictor plate racing featured at each Daytona Worldwide Speedway and its superspeedway sister in Talladega, Ala. Earnhardt received 10 races on the two tracks — 4 at Daytona and 6 at Talladega.
His two Daytona 500 wins have been in 2004 and 2014. He received 4 consecutive races at Talladega from 2001-03 — a streak of excellence unequaled since. He led 133 of 188 laps to win the April 2002 race. Just one time since has the race winner led 100 laps at Talladega — Jeff Gordon led 139 laps en path to a 2005 victory.
Earnhardt earned 26 NASCAR Cup Collection victories in a profession that spanned from 2000 to 2017 and included stints with Dale Earnhardt Inc. and Hendrick Motorsports. The JR Motorsports workforce he co-owns along with his sister Kelley has earned three Xfinity Collection titles and received 47 races. His 15 consecutive Most Well-liked Driver awards is second all time to a different NASCAR Corridor of Famer, Invoice Elliott, who earned 16.
“There was a degree in my profession the place I began to assume, OK, I am not going to win seven championships, I am not perhaps even going to win one championship,” Earnhardt stated of his legacy. “I am not going to win 100 races, won’t even win 40 races. So what can I do?
“If I can not do this, and there have been lots of people that needed me to be Dale Earnhardt, not simply be the Intimidator however they needed me to be as profitable as he was and to drive like him, aggressively, spinning folks out. No matter they thought dad was, that’s what they needed me to emulate.
“And after I realized that I am not going to have the ability to win these races, I am not going to have the ability to win a championship, I began to think about what I may do outdoors of that. What else may I management that might assist the game and be a superb ambassador for the game?
“I wasn’t all the time excellent, however I began focusing in these areas and being accessible, being obtainable, being accountable, and I really feel like I did an honest job at that. I do not need to sit right here and measure it, that is as much as another person, however I am fairly pleased with that a part of my profession in terms of the influence I had on the game. I am very pleased with it contemplating the actual fact I did not have that success my father did however but I used to be capable of transfer the needle a bit bit within the mainstream media.”
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Stefanik, a Rhode Island native who was killed in an airplane accident final yr at age 61, has been on the Corridor of Fame poll for years and lengthy within the hearts of diehard, weekend short-track racers who appreciated his large expertise within the touring collection.
Stefanik earned a record-tying 9 NASCAR championships – seven of these coming within the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour and two within the NASCAR East Collection, a pair of extremely aggressive touring collection. He additionally received Rookie of the 12 months honors within the 1999 NASCAR Gander & RV Truck Collection.
He holds the document for championships (seven), wins (74), pole positions (48) and top-five (223) and top-10 (301) finishes within the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour and in 2003 was named one in every of its 10 biggest drivers.
Farmer, 89, was born in Hialeah, Fla., however is best referred to as an authentic member of the famed “Alabama Gang” after relocating to the state and teaming up with fellow Florida transplants Bobby and Donnie Allison and Alabama’s Neil Bonnett. Farmer, who’s estimated to have greater than 700 profession victories, continues to be competing on native quick tracks and was clearly moved by the chance to be named to the NASCAR Corridor of Fame bridging inventory automobile eras.
Talking with the media after his choice, Farmer advised a narrative about making his very first NASCAR begin in 1953 and driving the precise race automobile (a Hudson) from his residence in South Florida to Daytona Seashore – a 350-mile trek – with a toolbox within the automobile prepared for when he arrived to compete.
He raced in opposition to a few of NASCAR’s earliest superstars similar to Lee Petty, Fireball Roberts, Tiny Lund and Joe Weatherly. And right now he fits up at quick tracks across the nation primed to tackle the game’s subsequent superstars.
“I needed to catch my breath there for a minute,” a smiling Farmer stated of listening to the NASCAR Corridor of Fame information. “That is the largest honor you might ever get. … I began down there on the seaside in 1953. I have been in NASCAR a very long time and bought to run in opposition to a variety of nice drivers.”
Farmer smiled proudly on the considered his legendary profession, which has spanned 9 a long time by his estimation, and now having earned a spot of honor within the NASCAR Corridor of Fame.
Holly Cain writes for the NASCAR Wire Service.