NASCAR notes: Petty feels founders should get HOF nod

  • By Mark Long Associated Press
  • Saturday, July 4, 2009 9:29pm
  • SportsSports

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Seven-time NASCAR champion Richard Petty believes the inaugural Hall of Fame induction class should include the people who started the sport and not the ones who carried it forward.

That could leave the King out of the Hall of Fame when the inductees are announced.

“I don’t know how they’re going to look at,” Petty said this week. “It’s going to be a tough decision. Do you put both Frances in or do you put one in? Do you put Richard Petty in? Do you put (Dale) Earnhardt in? If you start looking at records, then some of our records are different and first thing you know, if you’re not careful, you’re going to put personalities in.

“That’s not what you need in a Hall of Fame. You need the people that done the job. If I’m not one of them, that’s fine with me.”

Petty, Earnhardt, NASCAR founder Bill France Sr. and son Bill France Jr. are considered front-runners for the inaugural five-person class.

But Petty said car owner Raymond Parks and driver Robert “Red” Byron, who teamed up to win NASCAR’s first championship in 1949, should receive strong consideration from the selection committee.

“We don’t want to get into a deal where it’s a popularity contest,” Petty said. “It’s going to be really hard and it’s not going to be accepted by all people, no matter who they put it. … I would put the people that got it started, the ones that planted the seed. Those are the people I think that need to go into the Hall of Fame to begin with.”

The 25 nominees were announced Thursday. The inductees will be announced in October and honored next May at the new Hall of Fame facility in Charlotte, N.C.

MARTIN’S MISERY: Mark Martin has never enjoyed Daytona International Speedway, not even when he nearly won the 2008 Daytona 500.

Martin, who despises restrictor-plate racing that keeps cars bunched together and often leads to big wrecks, now has more reason to hate the famed track. Martin was involved in the first accident of the Coke Zero 400 on Saturday night. Former Roush Racing teammate Matt Kenseth tapped the rear off Martin’s car coming off turn two on lap 13 and sent the 50-year-old driver spinning across the track.

Martin was taken to the infield care center, treated and released.

CARTER’S CHALLENGE: Vince Carter’s off-the-court driving skills don’t even compare to his on-the-court driving skills.

Carter spent several hours driving a car back and forth in his driveway one night this week, trying to perfect his stick-shift prowess before serving as the honorary pace-car driver for Saturday’s Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway.

The eight-time NBA All-Star, the Orlando Magic’s biggest offseason addition, said he had never driven a car with a stick shift before this week. So his first few attempts left a lot to be desired, so he went to the practice court — his driveway.

“If I have a bad night in basketball, I go practice the next day,” Carter said before the race. “That night, my friend who works at a car dealership, I made him put a car in my driveway when I got home and I was riding up and down, up and down the driveway. All my neighbors were looking at me like, ‘Something has to be wrong with that guy.’

“I just didn’t want to stall.”

Carter, a Daytona Beach native, accepted the invitation to drive the pace car before the Magic acquired him in a draft-day trade with the New Jersey Nets last week.

“So much has happened for me in the last week,” Carter said. “It’s been a whirlwind, and it hasn’t all hit me. I think becoming a Magic player, first off, probably won’t really hit me until that first day of practice because every morning I wake up it’s like, ‘This can’t be real.’ I’m excited by it. I’ve been there, talking with the other guys and everything. But it’s nothing like actually putting that uniform on and starting the season. I can’t wait.”

WORRIED WINSLOW: Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end Kellen Winslow served as an honorary race official for Saturday’s race.

A budding NASCAR fan, Winslow jumped at the opportunity to be part of a race at NASCAR’s most famous track. But he stopped short of getting behind the wheel. That’s right. The guy who wrecked his motorcycle attempting tricks, damaging his knee and shoulder in Cleveland a few years ago, passed on a chance to try something many would consider a little dangerous.

He even refused a ride in the NASCAR simulator.

“The simulator was a little too shaky for me so I didn’t go through it,” he said. “Looked like a bad car wreck, so I said no.”

LUG NUTS: Three drivers had to start at the back of the pack in Saturday’s race. Greg Biffle and Sam Hornish Jr. went to the rear of the field because they switched to backup cars following an accident during practice Thursday. David Reutimann joined them back there because his team swapped engines following practice. … It was a short night for drivers Dave Blaney and Patrick Carpentier. No one expected them to finish the race in the low-budget teams often referred to as “start-and-park” cars, but few could have anticipated them heading home this early. Blaney took his No. 66 Toyota to the garage after just two laps. Carpentier wasn’t much better. He turned 18 laps before calling it quits.

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