Dale Jarrett, Maurice Petty enter NASCAR Hall of Fame
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) -- NASCAR honored a pair of its most famous and successful families with inductions into the Hall of Fame on Wednesday.
Past champion Dale Jarrett joined father Ned in the hall and master mechanic Maurice "Chief'' Petty became the fourth member of one of NASCAR's most royal families to be selected for enshrinement.
Maurice joins older brother, "King'' Richard Petty; their father, championship driver Lee Petty; and cousin Dale Inman, Richard's longtime crew chief in the hall.
Tim Flock, a two-time premier series champion, also was selected along with Jack Ingram, who drove to success on what became NASCAR's Nationwide Series; and Fireball Roberts, the flashy showman from the 1950s who raced to 33 victories before his death in 1964.
The group will be inducted into the hall during ceremonies here next January.
Ned Jarrett jumped out of his seat and hugged Dale when his name was announced.
Dale Jarrett said he was dressed for his son's graduation party and expected to bolt out once the announcements were made. He was humbled to join the hall.
"I've always felt like it was an honor and a privilege to drive for NASCAR, and this sport has been such a huge part of the Jarrett life,'' Dale said. "Now to be part of something that my father is a part of, it just means the world to me.''
Dale, the 1999 Sprint Cup champion, was a three-time winner of the Daytona 500 and is 21st on the career list with 32 victories. He and Ned become the third father-son combo in the hall, following Bill France Sr. and Bill France Jr. and Lee and Richard Petty.
Ned was part of the 54-person voting panel and told the group earlier Wednesday that his son's talents should be why he's elected and not because of his father's backing. Brian France, NASCAR chairman and CEO, followed that Dale Jarrett's on-track success made him worthy of inclusion.
Former NFL coach and NASCAR team owner Joe Gibbs congratulated Jarrett, who brought JGR its first-ever Sprint Cup victory which came in the 1993 Daytona 500 - still the only time a Gibbs driver has won Sprint Cup's season-opening event.
Jarrett's "contributions to the sport are well documented and I can tell you his contributions to Joe Gibbs Racing really helped us to establish ourselves in the sport,'' Gibbs said in a statement. "The whole Gibbs family, J.D., Coy, and Pat really appreciated Dale taking a chance on us.''
Maurice Petty was the chief engine builder at Petty Enterprises and supplied the horsepower that led to most of his brother's record 200 NASCAR wins and seven series championships.
He also made the Petty family four-for-five in NASCAR Hall of Fame votes. Richard was part of the inaugural class enshrined in 2010, Lee went in the following year and Inman in 2012.
"It makes me happy because that means all of us are in. So I'm tickled to death with it,'' Maurice said.
Richard Petty said his younger brother earned his own way into the hall. "He won just as many races as anyone and probably more. He did it in an era where he did all the innovation himself,'' Richard said. "He didn't have a computer or anything else. He just did everything himself. It's good to see him join Dale and myself.''
Flock is 18th on NASCAR's career victory list with 39. He won series titles in 1952 and 1955. Flock put on a dominant display on the way to his second championship, winning 18 of 39 races that season. Flock died in 1998.
Flock received 76 percent of the vote, the highest total of this year's class.
Ingram is considered one of the career greats on what's become the Nationwide Series. He won three straight series titles from 1972-74 when it was called the Late Model Sportsman Division. When the circuit became the NASCAR Busch Series in 1982, Ingram won the first race and series championship.
Ingram added another Busch Series crown in 1985.
Roberts was nearly elected last season, losing out on a second, tiebreaking ballot to Baker. His nickname came from his pitching arm, but is considered one of the first fan favorites because of his go-for-broke style.
The five selected came from a group of 25 nominees. The Hall of Fame said the next three highest vote getters were small-track champion Jerry Cook; Joe Weatherly, who won two premier series championships in the early 1960s; and Wendell Scott, the first African-American driver to win on NASCAR's top series.
"All of the nominees will, in my view, one day be in the Hall of Fame,'' Brian France said before announcing the five selections.
Richard Petty said the entire group of honorees are worthy members of the hall.
"When you look up there at all of the wins these guys have had, the championships they've had together and the influence they've had on NASCAR over the period of years, from Tim Flock up to Dale Jarrett and everything in between, is when NASCAR grew,'' Richard Petty said.