Short tracks paved Ingram's Hall of Fame road
May 22, 2013, Kenny Bruce, NASCAR.com
If Jack Ingram attacks his duties as a member of the NASCAR Hall of Fame as tenaciously as he drove a race car, officials with the Hall may have their best ambassador yet.
Ingram, known as the Iron Man of NASCAR’s Busch (now Nationwide) Series, was one of five drivers chosen Wednesday for the class of 2014. He was joined by premier series champions Tim Flock and Dale Jarrett, legendary engine builder Maurice Petty, and Fireball Roberts, the first nationally recognized superstar in stock car racing.
“This is the finest thing,” a surprised Ingram said moments after his name had been called. “I’m not going to let this Hall of Fame or NASCAR down. I’m going to do everything I can to represent these people in the best kind of way, and will spend all my time doing that.”
Prior to the formation of the Busch Series in 1982, Ingram dominated the competition in what was then known as the Late Model Sportsman division, winning back-to-back-to-back championships in 1972, '73 and '74.
WHAT: Hall of Fame Voting Day
WHERE: Charlotte (N.C.) Convention Center
WHO VOTES: 21 members of Nominating Committee and 33 members of Voting Panel. In addition, one vote is generated by fan input.
WHO WAS CHOSEN: Tim Flock, Jack Ingram, Dale Jarrett, Maurice Petty and Fireball Roberts
WHEN THE 2014 INDUCTEES WILL BE INDUCTED: Wednesday, January 29, 2014 (Live television coverage provided by FOX Sports 1)
He captured the inaugural Busch Series title in 1982, and then scored a second championship in the series in ’85.
During his 10 years in the series, he won 31 times, a record that stood until 1997.
“He was very dedicated to the sport,” 2011 Hall of Fame inductee Ned Jarrett said of Ingram. “He was one of the first to win a lot of championships; he dedicated his life to it and even after he quit driving he continued to help others along the way.”
Ingram’s short-track prowess was legendary, and 29 of his 31 career victories came on tracks under 1 mile in length. That the series’ schedule was dominated by the smaller venues at that time had much to do with that -- only nine of the 27 races in ’85 were held on tracks one mile or longer.
His big-track wins were just as impressive -- and just as memorable.
In 1975, he beat rookie Joe Millikan to earn the win at Daytona International Speedway in a 300-mile Sportsman affair.
“The first time I won Daytona, I came down that pit road and it was like you had turned on an air conditioner; everything got real cool and quiet,” Ingram said. “This is about equal to that (feeling).
“You never know. You just never know what’s going to happen (in the voting process). This is probably the best feeling I’ve had in a long time.”
In addition to his 31 wins, Ingram ended his Busch Series career with 122 top-five and 164 top-10 finishes in 275 starts.
Ingram received 53 percent of the vote cast by members of the Hall of Fame voting panel. Flock led the voting for the five-member class with 76 percent, while Petty was named on 67 percent of the ballots.
Jarrett was named on 56 percent while Roberts appeared on 51 percent.
Those receiving votes but failing to make the top five included six-time Modified champion Jerry Cook, Joe Weatherly and Wendell Scott.
A single vote included in the 55 total votes cast was determined by the NASCAR.com fan vote. Results of that poll were (in alphabetical order) Richard Childress, Rick Hendrick, Jarrett, Benny Parsons and Roberts.
The five new members of the NASCAR Hall of Fame will be officially inducted Jan. 29, 2014.
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