Here’s Who Deserves To Be Voted Into The NASCAR Hall of Fame… And Who Doesn’t.

On Wednesday NASCAR announced it’s nominees for it’s 2018 Hall of Fame class, and it includes some mighty big names. Many of them are from my era, names I know and love, and there are a few on that list that are before my time. Each of them has their own list of accomplishments and set of credentials, but some of them are more worthy of a hall of fame ring than others.

My Ballot

Buddy Baker is almost an indefinite lock to get inducted into the hall of fame with this year’s class. He’s the first driver to ever break the 200mph barrier in a stock car. He’s also the winner of the 1970 Southern 500 and the 1980 Daytona 500. He rounds out his crown jewel wins with three victories in the Charlotte Coke 600, and three wins in the Talladega Winston 500. Although he does not have any championships on his resume, he only ran three full seasons in the sport. It’s his contributions to the sport in his media career, that seals the deal for me. He was one of my favorite commentators on TNN, which covered a select few races back in the 90s. He was also the co-host of a NASCAR talk show on SiriusXM radio, where he shared all kinds of great stories and insight from his more than 50 years of being around the sport. His impact on the sport will live on long after his passing in 2015.

Joe Gibbs is a tough one for me. He’s certainly got an impressive resume, with four Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Championships, to go along with his two Xfinity Series Championship, two Daytona 500 wins, as well as 230 wins in the top-three major NASCAR divisions. The part that is difficult for me, is that he is currently contributing to his legacy in the sport. Much like Rick Hendrick and Richard Childress who were inducted into the hall of fame recently, they still have time to add to their impressive resume. For me, the hall of fame is about encapsulating a person’s entire career, from start to finish. So while I think he is a lock to be an inductee for the hall of fame, I kind of wish he had to wait a few more years. He’s well within the criteria, so put him down and lock it in.

Ron Hornaday Jr. was one of my favorite truck series drivers. He had that Earnhardt-like attitude and demeanor that made him a tough competitor. His Monster Energy Cup Series career was less than impressive, and his Xfinity Series career didn’t really make any waves either. It was his Camping World Truck Series resume that makes him a surefire hall of fame inductee. He’s got four Truck Series Championships and leads the Series in race victories with 51. No other driver, with the exception of maybe Kyle Busch recently, has had more success in the Camping World Truck Series than Ron Hornaday Jr.

Ken Squier is an iconic voice and is unmistakable to race fans. He was there with the play by play for the first televised Daytona 500 in 1979. He’s the co-founder of The Motor Racing Network, the organization that broadcasts more than half of the NASCAR races, and he’s the one responsible for coining the phrase “The Great American Race” for the Daytona 500. He’s been a part of the broadcast team, as a member of CBS and TBS, for a number of the sport’s greatest moments, including every Daytona 500 from 1979-1997.

Not Time Yet

My last choice is the toughest of them all. Personally, I don’t think the rest of the finalist have quite enough of a resume to be considered this early in the history of NASCAR Hall of Fame. Guys like Roger Penske and Jack Roush surely should be considered with nine championships between them,  but at this rate every single car owner in the sport would be a NASCAR Hall of Famer. I don’t think that’s right. They will have their day, there’s no doubt, but lets leave them off a little longer for some exclusivity.

Ricky Rudd has neither a Daytona 500 win or a Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Championship. Sure, he has a win in the Brickyard 400 and 22 other race wins to go along with it, but by those standards Denny Hamlin would be a Hall of Famer. He’s got more wins than Rudd plus a Daytona 500, but I never even considered him in the discussion.

Bobby Labonte makes a stronger case to be in the hall of fame. He at least has a Championship in both the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series and the Xfinity Series and 21 total race wins in the Cup Series. I think he has a chance to make it in, but it might be a little early. If I had to use my 5th vote, Labonte would probably get it, but only because I’m not clear on the history of some of the older nominees. They’re a little bit before my time.

Davey Allison and Alan Kulwucki. No. No. One thousand times no. These two were promising stars who showed great success early in their careers, but their deaths in 1993 cut their stories short. Alan Kulwucki was a great underdog story of a single car owner driver overcoming the odds to beat the bigger, multi-car teams to win the Championship in 1992. It’s a great story, but it’s not Hall of Fame worthy. He only has 5 race wins to go along with that Championship and that is just not good enough. Davey Allison has a Daytona 500 win and 19 race victories. If Bobby Labonte is not in, then Davey Allison is not in. You have to induct a driver on concrete accomplishments and breakthroughs, not speculatively or based on promise or potential. Their stories need to be told and showcased in the Hall of Fame, there’s no doubt about it, but they do not have the credentials worthy to be side by side with the other legends of the sport.

Ray Evernham is person who I was very surprised to even see on the list. He is a 3-time championship winning crew chief with driver Jeff Gordon (guaranteed future Hall of Famer) and 2-time winning crew chief in the Daytona 500 and the winning crew chief in 47 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series races. He’s one of the better crew chiefs in the history of NASCAR, but is he the third best crew chief in the history of NASCAR? Only Dale Inman and Murice Petty are crew chiefs in the Hall of Fame. Guys like Smokey Yunick (57 wins, 2 Championships) Tim Brewer (53 wins, 2 Championships) and Kirk Shelmerdine (46 wins, 4 Championships) need to also be considered in the conversation with Ray Evernham. These are guys who had their success long before Ray Evernham even got to the NASCAR garage, and I think they need to be acknowledged first.

Who do you think should be inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame?

Racin’ Rewind w/ Cody Rose Podcast – Episode 1

It’s the first edition of The Racin’ Rewind w/ Cody Rose and in today’s episode we break down this weekend’s race at Atlanta Motor Speedway. The show starts by breaking down the disappointing result for Kevin Harvick and the way he handled his defeat. Kyle Larson looks like he has some promise, but it also looks like he’s got some work to go if he wants to get back to victory lane. Meanwhile, Chase Elliott looks like he could win his first career race any week now. Is moving another race to Las Vegas a good idea? Take a listen and tell me what you think using #racinrewind on Twitter or sending me a tweet @cody_rose

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Defining The NASCAR Eras

I’ve been following NASCAR since 1994. I watched my first Daytona 500 in 1995, 22 years ago, and I haven’t missed a single Daytona 500 since. I’m not new to this sport by any means. However, I feel like today’s NASCAR looks nothing like the NASCAR I grew up with. In my day, NASCAR was referred to as being in “the modern era.” This modern era, was often times defined as 1972-present, which made complete sense in the mid-90s. It was a way of separating the old way of crowning it’s champion, with the new modern way which had a very different points payout.

In 2004, when Nextel (Sprint) took over the sport, the points system changed again. Rather than defining the champion based on an accumulation of the full season’s races, like it had for the previous 55 years, it reset the top 10 drivers in the standings with 10 races to go, and those 10 drivers “Chase” for the championship. It was a new innovative way of creating a playoff style system that has worked so well for the other major sports in America. The system has been tweaked, adjusted, and renamed over the past 15 years, but the overall concept has remained the same since 2004.

Shop for Jimmie Johnson 2016 Sprint Cup Champion

What we are in now, I’d like to call the Chase-era. To me it’s important to differentiate the sport’s three eras. Richard Petty won his seven championships during a time when the competition was not a close. There were just a handful of guys who could compete every single week. In some cases these guys would run up to 62 races in a season. These guys would run Daytona on Saturday, Manassas, Virginia on Wednesday, Old Bridge Stadium in New Jersey on Friday, and Bridgehampton, New York on Sunday. That’s four races in a week. Race winners would win by two, three, sometimes even 10 laps. Things were way different back then.

Even the seven championships that Dale Earnhardt won, were won in a completely different way than they were won in Petty’s era. Sure, the competition was much closer, and there were upwards of 8-10 drivers who had a legitimate chance of winning on any given race weekend. The champion was decided after the full season of 28-36 races were completed. In some cases, the championship was decided several weeks before the final race of the season. It’s also been decided in the final moments of the season like it did in that famous 1992 season.

Jimmie Johnson, the most recent seven-time champion, earned every one of his crowns during the Chase-era of the sport. At the end of 26 races, everybody’s points were reset and they made a dash for the cup in the final 10 races. You could have a fantastic spring and summer, winning races and pulling away in the standings, only to lose your footing in the playoffs and come up short of the title. Bad races in March and July could essentially become throw away races, as long as you earned a win and clinched a playoff spot. As long as you’ve won a race in the first 26 races, you get to hit the reset button and make another run at the title. In fact, Kyle Busch won his championship in 2015 after missing much of the season due to injury.

Jimmie Johnson has won 80 races in his 17-year career, against a field of cars that can see any number of 18-20 different cars that have a legitimate chance of winning. He’s won those 80 races in an era with double-file restarts, and a free pass to the lead lap if you’re the first car one lap down. More cautions fly today than have ever flown in the history of the sport, offering more chances at these double-file restarts and earning laps back. The competition is as close as it has ever been.

That’s not to say that Jimmie Johnson was a better champion than Richard Petty. I’m not saying that Dale Earnhardt’s championships were harder earned than Jimmie Johnson’s. What I’m saying, is that these three champions must be compared like apples, oranges, and watermelons. They are all completely different eras that required their own special skill sets and strategies. The history of the sport is important, but it can’t be compared to the very different sport that it has evolved into. The Chase-era has been exciting and it’s been entertaining to watch, but we can’t compare it to the NASCAR of yesteryear.

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Playoff Predictions

Although the season already started, I thought it would be good to lay down some predictions for the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season.  Some of these predictions are no-brainers, meaning they are almost certain locks to earn a berth into the NASCAR playoffs, but there are a few surprises in my list too. Read more

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Kurt Busch Wins Crash Filled Daytona 500

Daytona Beach, FL- Kurt Busch managed his fuel and was in the right place at the right time to win his first career Daytona 500. In a Stewart-Haas Racing Ford sponsored by Monster Energy, Kurt Busch was able to make a last lap pass to secure the win at the world famous Daytona International Speedway. It was also the first Daytona 500 win for owner Tony Stewart of Stewart-Haas Racing and the first Daytona 500 win for Ford since Joey Logano won The Great American Race in 2015. Stewart-Haas Racing changed from Chevrolet to Ford for the start of the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season.

Chase Elliott started from the pole and was leading in the final moments of the race, but ran out of fuel on the last lap and fell back to 14th place. Many of the lead pack cars were close on fuel after pitting with around 50 laps to go. Drivers like Ryan Blaney and A.J. Allmendinger, who finished second and third respectively, were able to conserve their fuel and bring home solid top-5 finishes. Aric Almirola and Paul Menard, who are not consistently front running cars, were also able to secure fourth and fifth place finishes when some of the leaders had fuel troubles.

There were some fast cars that were unable to finish the race due to crashes. Those include Kyle Busch, who led 18 laps and won the first segment of the race, who also collected Dale Earnhardt Jr., Matt Kenseth, and Erik Jones, when his tire went down and he spun into the turn-3 wall. These drivers fell victim to the newly implemented “5-minute clock” which prevented drivers from repairing damaged cars beyond the posted time limit.

Kevin Harvick who led a race high 50 laps and won the second stage of the race, was involved in a crash on lap 128 involving 17 cars, including race winner and Stewart-Haas Racing teammate Kurt Busch. Harvick was able to remain in the race, but finished a disappointing 22nd after losing three laps.

The series moves on to Atlanta Motor Speedway for the race two of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule, where 7-time champion Jimmie Johnson is the defending race winner.

Kurt Busch 2017 Daytona 500 Championship Gear is now available at Fanatics

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NASCAR New Format Explained

The 2017 NASCAR season begins a new era in the sport. There are many new changes that can be quite confusing if you aren’t paying attention. I will attempt to break some of these changes down and help get you caught up if you’re just tuning in.

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series

The first major change involves the title sponsor of the premier series. Sprint announced at the end of the 2014 season that the company would not renew it’s title sponsorship after it’s contract expired in 2016. That left the sport looking for a major company to jump in and take over the role. Enter Monster Energy. Monster Energy is no stranger to high octane, high adrenaline, and extreme sports as it has sponsored drag racing, formula one racing, rally cross, motogp, rallycross, and super cross for years. It’s even been in NASCAR before as sponsor of Kurt Busch’s #41 Stewart-Haas Racing entry for a few years. The multi-year deal is believed to be worth an estimated $20 million.

Race Stages and Points Payouts

This is where things begin to get tricky. NASCAR has introduced a format to all three of it’s top series that rewards drivers points mid-race rather than only at the conclusion of the event. They are doing it by breaking each race up into 3 segments, officially referred to as stages. The length of each stage is different from track to track, and more information can be found here. The top-10 finishers in each of the first two stages will be award points based on their order, with the winner receiving 10 points and the 10th place finisher earning 1 point. Additionally the winners of the first two segments will each be credited with a playoff point. These points will essentially determine the seeding order of the 16 driver playoffs that begin in September.

At the end of the final segment, or the end of the race as we’ve always known it, will reward points to drivers, beginning with the winner who will earn 40 points, plus an additional 5 playoff points. The driver who finishes 2nd will receive 35 points, and every driver thereafter will earn one less point than the driver who finished ahead of him until there are 0 points left to issue. The regular season points standings will continue to work the way it always has. The driver with the most regular season points is the points leader, and the driver who is the points leader at the end of the regular season will earn an additional 15 playoff points, ensuring a high rank seeding going into the playoffs. I’ll get more detailed about the playoffs in a little bit.

Damage Rule and the 5-Minute Clock

In an effort to keep the track free of debris from damaged race cars, and to reduce some of the risk of injury from teams trying to hurry their repairs to get their cars back on track, NASCAR has introduced a 5-minute clock. This clock begins when the driver crosses the commitment line at the beginning of pit road, and stops when the driver reaches the line at the end of pit road. Speeding on pit road and missing the commitment line will reduce the driver’s clock by 15 seconds. Damage must be repaired within this 5 minute window and must be completed on pit road. If a driver enters the garage, his race is over.

Teams can not replace body panels, but they can hammer and tape any damage, but the car must be able to maintain the minimum speed during race conditions otherwise it will be disqualified from the race. When the damaged car reaches minimum speed, his 5 minute clock is reset and he can return to pit road to make additional repairs if necessary. If a team sends too many pit crew members over the wall to make repairs, the car will be disqualified from the race.

The Playoffs

Much of the same basics of the old Chase format remains. 16 drivers will make the playoffs based on wins and points. These 16 drivers will all begin the playoffs with 2000 total points with each of their playoff points carrying over. If a driver earned 30 playoff points during the regular season, he will start the playoffs with a total of 2030 points. Four drivers will be eliminated after the first three races of the playoffs, four more drivers will be eliminated after the next three, and four more after that, leaving the final four drivers to battle for the championship at the season finale in Homestead. The highest finishing driver of the remaining four contenders will be the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Champion.

Farewell to Carl Edwards

Carl Edwards shocked the NASCAR world on Wednesday by announcing his retirement in front of a room of reports at the Joe Gibbs Racing headquarters. In his press conference, he cited three main reasons for his departure, but stopped short at calling it a retirement.

Photo: Nascarking

“I’m not using the ‘R’ word,” Edwards says which could leave an opening for him to return to racing at a later date. “If I am going to get back in a race car, I’m calling Coach (Joe) Gibbs first. … I don’t have any intention going back to full-time racing. … But I know how things work. Iif it comes up and the right opportunity is there and it is the right thing, for sure I would entertain it.”

Edwards claims that he is satisifed with his career and that he does not race entirely for the trophys. His accomplishments include 28 career wins, (5th among active drivers), the 2007 NASCAR Nationwide Series championship, and two runner up finishes in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series standings. What his stat line is ommiting, is a Daytona 500 win and the coveted Sprint Cup Series Championship.

“I am truly, I am personally satisfied with my career, and I know right now you’re thinking, well, you don’t have a championship.  Well, Jimmie (Johnson) has got some extras if he wants to send one my way, but truly, you guys know that I don’t race just for the trophies.”

His second reason has much to do with how the sport can consume someone’s time.

“This is an all‑encompassing thing. You guys, we do this, and it’s full‑time. And not just the physical time, but I wake up in the morning thinking about racing. I think about it all day. I go to bed thinking about it. And I have dreams about racing. And that’s just how it is. I’ve been doing that for 20 years, and I need to take that time right now and devote it to people and things that are important to me, things I’m really passionate about,” said Edwards.

Edwards also mentions how his health is another major factor in his decision to walk away from the sport. Edwards currently has a streak of 437 consecutive starts in the sport, and has never missed a race due to injury. He has plans to keep it that way.

“I can stand here healthy, and that’s a testament after all the racing I’ve done and all the stupid stuff I’ve done in a race car. … I don’t like how it feels to take the hits that we take, and I’m a sharp guy, and I want to be a sharp guy in 30 years. So those risks are something that I want to minimize.” Edwards was leading the top four championship contenders at Homestead when he was involved in a vicious crash and was taken out of the race.