Wall of Fame nominees announced
First of all I want to thank everyone for their prayers and thoughts during the last week. On Tuesday of last week I got the call that most people dread. My little brother called and said that our mom had died. She had been in bad health for a while but this was totally unexpected. I missed the first issue of this column since we have started it.
There is a lot of racing news even though most tracks have fallen into winter sleep. Each year for the past 40 years the best racers in the country visit Five Flag Speedway in Pensacola, Florida, for the Snowball Derby.
This race brings together the best late model racers from across the nation who compete on the weekly short tracks. However a few of the NASCAR stars usually try to compete also.
This year Kyle Busch grabbed the victory. He has tried several years to win this prestigious event and had been disqualified after his win last year. Many people don’t think Cup drivers should race in this event but the entry list and win list truly is a who’s who of motorsports. I think it gives those Saturday night racers a chance to shine against the very best in the sport. This race should be on each race fan’s bucket list.
In local Elkins Raceway news, the nominees for the 2018 Wall of Fame have been announced by the committee. Ten more competitors and special people from the history of our track are honored.
In no particular order, they are as follows: longtime sponsors and supporters of the track the Brown family and Pepsi drivers, Rick Burrows of Clarksburg, Terry Conrad of Mill Creek, Bob Defibaugh of Mill Creek,, Frank Lewis of Oakland, Maryland, Randy McCartney of Oakland, Marylandd, Chet Moody of Clarksburg, Neil Paugh of Elkins, Frank Wilson of Pennsboro and Dave Wright of Nestorville.
If you know any of these folks or their family please let them know and congratulate them. Also ask them to get in contact with Jimmy Henry or Pete Secret if they haven’t been contacted because contact info is sometimes hard to find. We would love to have each nominee represented at the awards ceremony later in the year. Special thanks to the track and committee for their efforts in preserving the history of racing at Elkins Raceway and the area.
Now for the NASCAR silly season news — who is in, who is moving around and who will be leaving the sport.
First of all, Dale Earnhardt Jr., is trading his helmet for a microphone and will be covering the races from the broadcast booth. Matt Kenseth finds himself without a ride for next season. Danica Patrick will only race at Daytona and the Indy500 if she is able to work out the details for that situation.
The Kenseth situation is troubling. Sources close to the sport say that his situation is a product of the financial state of the sport. Kenseth was making approximately $10 million a year. His replacement, Erik Jones, came for less than a million a year.
It has been stated that all the younger drivers could be paid with Kenseth’s salary. Many of these younger drivers come to the sport with rich families and are not worried about large salaries. Is this good for our sport? Time will tell.
I personally think they are selling themselves short compared to other athletes. This is something to discuss in the days leading up to the next season.
Now back to silly season. Here’s the list.
Car number 95, Levine Family racing picks up Kasey Kahne and loses Michael McDowell.
Front Row Motorsports picks up Michael McDowell for their 34 car, replacing Landon Cassill. Landon is looking for a seat to fill.
The biggest changes are happening at Richard Petty Motorsports. Aric Almorola is out and Darrell “Bubba” Wallace Jr. fills the famous 43 car seat. They are also changing brands, leaving Ford for Chevrolet, and are moving their shops to Welcome, North Carolina, to partner up with Richard Childress Racing at his complex.
There is a lot of shuffling around at Hendrick Motor Sports. Jimmie Johnson is the only returning driver in his 48 car. Chase Elliot returns but the 24 car will be number 9, reflecting the number his father made famous. The old number 5 team now becomes the 24 and Xfinity Champion William Byron will be running for Rookie of the Year in Cup in the famous 24. Alex Bowman moves into the 88, replacing the retiring Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Stewart Haas Racing will have Aric Almorola taking over the seat of the number 10 car. Kurt Busch has signed for one more year in the 41 car. Clint Bowyer and Kevin Harvick will return in their cars.
Penske Racing becomes a three-car team with the addition of Ryan Blaney and the number 12 car. Menards and Motorcraft will be the primary sponsors. Paul Menard brings daddy’s money to the Wood Brothers number 21, filling the seat left by Blaney.
Finally, Joe Gibbs Racing will have Erik Jones, who moves from the Furniture Row Racing number 77, taking the seat of the 20 car vacated by Kenseth.
Wow, are you confused? I sure hope not.
It won’t be long ’til the high banks of Daytona will be echoing the sounds of 800 horsepower stock cars and all the Speedweek action kicks off.
The 24 Hours of Daytona is just a few short weeks away and there will plenty of news until then.
Remember, at the end of the straightaway there’s always Another Left Turn.