A third Petty joins NASCAR Hall nominees
April 10, 2013, Kenny Bruce, NASCAR.com
He began building engines in a tiny room off to the side of a tiny shop in the tiny, sleepy little township of Level Cross, N.C.
But by the time the last bolt had been tightened and the last seal checked, the man known simply as “Chief” was a giant in the engine-building business.
"There is no one that comes even close to accomplishing what Maurice did."
Maurice Petty, 74, built the engines for more than 200 NASCAR race-winning entries, and helped power his brother Richard to seven Cup championships and seven Daytona 500 titles.
Petty is one of five new nominees on this year’s list of 25 that will be considered for induction into the NASCAR Hall of Fame for 2014.
He is the fourth member of the highly successful Petty Enterprises organization to be nominated. Patriarch Lee Petty, son Richard and cousin Dale Inman are already members of the hall.
Other first-time nominees are 1999 NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Dale Jarrett, 1960 champ Rex White, Speedway Motorsports Inc., founder O. Bruton Smith and Larry Phillips, the only driver to win five NASCAR Weekly Series national titles.
Richard Petty said it was only fitting that his younger brother be among those nominated.
“There is no one that comes even close to accomplishing what Maurice did,” Petty said.“Just like Dale was so far out there as a crew chief, Maurice was just as far ahead of the rest of them when it came to building engines.”
Inman won eight championships as a crew chief, seven with Petty.
“Leonard (Wood), he was in that same class as Dale,” Petty said of the Wood Brothers’ crew chief who joined the Hall last year. “But to me, there’s not anyone in the same ballpark with Maurice.”
Marvin Panch, Pete Hamilton and Buddy Baker also earned Cup wins with engines built by Petty.
Jarrett is the son of two-time champion Ned Jarrett, who was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2011. In addition to his '99 title, the younger Jarrett, now a NASCAR commentator for ABC and ESPN, won 32 Cup races, including the Daytona 500 on three occasions. He is also a two-time winner of the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and won 11 races in the NASCAR Busch (now Nationwide) Series.
White won six races and scored an amazing 35 top-10 finishes in 40 starts en route to the 1960 championship. His ability to come away with solid finishes is apparent -- in nearly one-half of his 233 career starts, White placed inside the top five. During a nine-year campaign at the top level, he finished in the top 10 in points six times, including a runner-up effort in 1961 and retired with 28 career victories.
A racer turned promoter, Smith was one of the original partners of Charlotte Motor Speedway. The 1.5-mile track became the base for Smith’s Speedway Motorsports empire, an organization that today owns eight tracks hosting 12 NASCAR Sprint Cup events. CMS is also the home of the series’ annual all-star race. SMI became the first motorsports organization to be traded on the New York Stock Exchange, as Smith took the company public in 1995. In addition to CMS, the company also owns Bristol, Texas, Atlanta, Las Vegas and New Hampshire Motor Speedways, Kentucky Speedway and Sonoma Raceway.
There are no accurate records of Phillips’ total number of wins, but the racer who dominated the competition across the Midwest is said to have captured more than 1,000 short-track victories during his amazing driving career.
He was a standout in the NASCAR Weekly Racing Series, where he trounced the competition while winning five titles between 1989 and 1996. He boasts a winning percentage of 76 percent with victories in 220 of 289 NASCAR-sanctioned starts and in 2006 he was named one of the top 25 drivers in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series.
In addition to this year’s five new faces, this year’s list also includes nine nominees that have been on the ballot since the inaugural vote in 2010: car owners Rick Hendrick, Richard Childress and Raymond Parks; two-time Cup champions Joe Weatherly and Tim Flock; Red Byron and Benny Parsons, each with one championship to their credit; and early stars Curtis Turner and Glen “Fireball” Roberts.
Others on the list are: Jerry Cook, H. Clay Earles, Anne B. France, Ray Fox, Jack Ingram, Bobby Isaac, Fred Lorenzen, Les Richter, T. Wayne Robertson, Ralph Seagraves and Wendell Scott.
The 21 members of the Hall of Fame nominating committee, along with a 31-member panel of former drivers, crew chiefs, owners, manufacturer representatives and members of the media will meet May 22 to consider this year’s nominees and cast votes for the 2014 class. One vote is also provided through a nationwide fan vote initiative.
The names of the five inductees will also be announced May 22, after the votes have been tallied and verified.
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