‘Rapid Roman’ Richie Evans Named To 2012 Nascar HOF Class
Charlotte, NC (Sports Network) - After being snubbed from its second class of inductees, Cale Yarborough and Darrell Waltrip were among those voted into the next five-member class for the NASCAR Hall of Fame on Tuesday. Dale Inman, Richie Evans and Glen Wood will also be inducted into the NASCAR HOF in 2012.
The NASCAR Hall of Fame's 54-member voting panel met in a closed session earlier in the day in Charlotte. A fan vote made up the panel's 55th and final ballot. The voters had a spirited debate over the 25 nominees before selecting the new five-member class.
Yarborough became the first driver to win three consecutive championships in NASCAR's premier series (1976-78). Jimmie Johnson topped that record with his fourth title in a row in 2009. Johnson claimed his fifth straight last year.
Yarborough's 83 career victories, including four in the Daytona 500, rank him sixth on the series' all-time race winners list.
Yarborough did not attend the announcement, but released a statement shortly after.
"I am very happy about this honor today," he said in the statement. "It caps off a good career that I had. It puts me in the company with some of the best in the world. To be selected to the NASCAR Hall of Fame and now be alongside those that founded the sport and made it what it is today is a tremendous thrill and honor for me."
Nicknamed "Jaws" for his outspoken demeanor during his career, Waltrip also won three titles in the series (1981, '82 and '85). He is tied with Bobby Allison and Jeff Gordon for third most career victories with 84. Waltrip won his first and only Daytona 500 in 1989. He currently serves as a commentator on FOX and Speed television's coverage of NASCAR.
After his name was announced by NASCAR chairman Brian France, an emotional Waltrip walked up on stage to hug France and give him a kiss on his right cheek.
"It just shows you how emotional I got," Waltrip said. "I just kissed him on the cheeks. Let's just say I embraced him, because it felt good to get embraced by the committee today."
Yarborough and Waltrip were overlooked by the panel last October when they voted David Pearson, Bobby Allison, Lee Petty, Ned Jarrett and Bud Moore to the NASCAR HOF second class.
Inman became the first crew chief to be voted into the NASCAR HOF. He served as a crew chief at Petty Enterprises for nearly three decades, setting records for most championships (eight) and wins (193). Inman guided Richard Petty to seven titles. He won a championship with Terry Labonte when Labonte drove for car owner Billy Hagan in 1984.
"If they wanted to get a crew chief in, I thought I had a good shot at doing that, just maybe from the numbers that we've accumulated and the longevity that I've had in this sport," Inman said.
Evans is recognized as the "king" of Modified racing. He captured nine NASCAR Modified championships in a 13-year span, including eight in a row from 1978-85. Evans was killed in an accident while practicing for a Modified race at Martinsville Speedway in October 1985.
Wood laid the foundation for the famed Wood Brothers racing team as a driver in NASCAR's top circuit. Wood Brothers Racing, which dates to 1950 and remains active, has amassed 98 victories, including one in this year's Daytona 500, with 20-year-old driver Trevor Bayne.
"I couldn't believe it," Wood said. "Actually, I hadn't even thought that I would get in this. There are so many out there that I thought should have been ahead of me."
Yarborough led with 85 percent of the vote, followed by Waltrip (82), Inman (78), Evans (50) and Wood (44).
Jerry Cook, Cotton Owens, Raymond Parks and Herb Thomas also received votes.
The NASCAR Hall of Fame induction ceremony for the class of 2012 will be held in January.
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