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NASCAR HoF inducts its class of 2014
Charlotte, NC (SportsNetwork.com) - Former Sprint Cup Series champion Dale Jarrett and legendary engine builder Maurice Petty of the famous auto racing Petty family were among the fifth five-member class inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame on Wednesday night.
Drivers Tim Flock, also a former Cup champion, Jack Ingram and Glenn "Fireball" Roberts were inducted during the two-hour ceremony as well.
Petty, the chief engine builder for Petty Enterprises, powered his brother, Richard Petty, to most of his record 200 wins and all seven of his championships in NASCAR's premier series. He became the first engine builder as well as the fourth member of the Petty family to be enshrined into the NASCAR HofF, joining Richard, father Lee Petty and cousin Dale Inman.
"It's an honor and a privilege for me to be inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame," Maurice Petty said. "Who would have thought growing up that there would be four of us out of a small, rural country community that would be in the [NASCAR] Hall of Fame."
Petty was the first person to be enshrined. He was inducted by Richard, who is a member of the NASCAR HofF 2010 inaugural class.
Jarrett is the 1999 Cup champion, a three-time Daytona 500 winner and two-time winner of the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He currently serves as a commentator for ESPN and ABC's coverage of NASCAR. Jarrett's father, Ned, is a two-time champion in NASCAR's top series and was inducted into the HofF in 2011. They became the third father-son duo inducted, following Bill France Sr. and Bill France Jr., as well as Lee and Richard/Maurice Petty.
"My dad has been everything a son would want his father to be - successful, a leader by example, a teacher you can believe in and always there to support me," an emotional Jarrett said during his induction speech. "My dad was and still is today my hero. That's what really makes this night so very special. I'm joining my father in the NASCAR Hall of Fame."
Jarrett was inducted by his longtime friend and country music artist Blake Shelton.
Before the inception of the NASCAR Busch Series in 1982, which is now known as the Nationwide Series, Ingram won three consecutive championships, from 1972-74, in its precursor -- the Late Model Sportsman Division. He captured the first Busch title in '82 and again in '85. All but two of Ingram's 31 career wins in the series came on short tracks.
Ingram's fellow competitor, Harry Gant, inducted him.
"I'm honored to be here tonight beyond words," Ingram said. "This is a major lifetime achievement for me. While I've won driving the car, I had plenty of help and support along the way. Otherwise I wouldn't be here tonight."
Roberts and Flock were both honored posthumously.
Roberts, who got his legendary nickname, Fireball, from his days as a pitcher in high school, is arguably the first superstar in NASCAR. During Roberts' career, he won seven races at Daytona International Speedway, starting with the Firecracker 250 in the summer of 1959, the year the speedway opened. His lone Daytona 500 victory came in 1962. He also won the Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway in 1958 and '63. Roberts died 39 days after an accident during the 1964 World 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Waddell Wilson, who was Roberts' former engine builder, inducted him. Roberts' grandson, Matt McDaniel, accepted the honor.
"We are proud that our grandfather, who sacrificed his life to racing, is being honored by NASCAR, the organization that set the scene for a life well lived," McDaniel said.
Flock was one of the first dominant drivers in NASCAR. He won two Cup titles and recorded 39 race victories during his career. Flock's first championship came in 1952. When he claimed his second title in 1955, his 18 race wins stood as a single-season victory record until Richard Petty surpassed it with 27 wins in 1967. Flock died in 1998 at the age of 73.
"He would be so proud and humbled to receive this honor tonight and is still remembered for his racing career," said Frances Flock, Tim's widow. "I would like to thank NASCAR, the [NASCAR] Hall of Fame and all of his friends and fans who voted for him. I am very flattered that Tim was selected to be a part of NASCAR's legend class."
Flock was inducted by former Charlotte Motor Speedway president and general manager H.A. "Humpy" Wheeler.
During the induction ceremony, the second Squier-Hall Award for NASCAR Media Excellence was awarded to Chris Economaki. Known as the "Dean of American Motorsports," Economaki was the editor, publisher and columnist for National Speed Sport News for more than 60 years, a weekly racing publication he began selling at racetracks at the age of 14. He began his television broadcast career with ABC in 1961 and with CBS Sports helped make the Daytona 500 one of racing's marquee events. Economaki was 91 years old when he passed away in 2012.
01/29 23:10:39 ET