Thursday, December 6, 2012

Three NASCAR legends to join NMPA Hall of Fame

   Three men who spent their careers making outstanding contributions to the sport of auto racing will be inducted into the National Motorsports Press Association’s Hall of Fame in January.

    Longtime NASCAR executive and former track president Jim Hunter and Pocono Raceway founder and patriarch Dr. Joseph Mattioli will be inducted posthumously and will be joined by pioneer sportscaster Ken Squier as the class entering the Hall during a ceremony on Jan. 19 in Charlotte, N.C.

    Hunter started his career as a journalist in South Carolina, then moved into the public relations field, eventually rising to the role of track president at Darlington Raceway. Hunter, one of the most trusted friends of longtime president Bill France Jr., then took on corporate roles with NASCAR and International Speedway Corp. and remained with NASCAR for the rest of his life.

    Mattioli founded Pocono Raceway in the early 1960s, a unique 2.5-mile facility that has hosted NASCAR events since 1974. Mattioli was a hands-on track operator, embracing drivers, crews and media members as part of his track family each time the race came to town. Keeping fans in mind, he worked to stay on top of enhancements and led NASCAR into a new era by building a solar energy system on 25 acres of the track’s property to make it a leader in environmental fields.

    Squier, a native of Vermont, began his racing career as a track announcer at the age of 14. One of the original founders of Motor Racing Network, he later became a fixture in the broadcast booth for CBS. Squier continues to be a part of racing through his radio station in Vermont and the Thunder Road track he built in his home state.

Brian Scott joins Richard Childress Racing

   Richard Childress Racing announced Thursday that driver Brain Scott had signed a multi-year contract with the organization and will drive the No. 2 Chevrolet in the 2013 NASCAR Nationwide Season.

   Scott most recently drove for Joe Gibbs Racing. Last season, he finished with two top-five and 11 top-10 finishes and finished ninth in points.

   Phil Gould, car chief for the No. 2 team in 2012 at RCR and previously a car chief in the Sprint Cup series, has been promoted to crew chief for the team.

   "RCR has proven over the past 13 years that it can build and prepare winning cars in the NASCAR Nationwide Series and has for a variety of drivers," Scott said. "I just want to be the next name on that list.

   "RCR has a rich tradition of winning races and championships at the highest level of our sport and I am excited about being a part of an organization, like theirs, that is committed to winning.”

   Scott replaces Elliott Sadler in the No. 2, who has moved to JGR for the 2013 season.

Brad Keselowski named Driver of the Year

   Brad Keselowski was voted both the 2012 Driver of the Year and Fourth Quarter winner, respectively, by an elite panel of broadcasters and journalists.

    Keselowski was almost a unanimous choice in the annual award, earning 18 of the 19 votes cast by journalists and broadcasters. Ryan Hunter Reay, the 2012 IndyCar champion, received the remaining vote.

    Keselowski, 28, won his first NASCAR Sprint Cup championship and the first for Penske Racing.

    "To be honored with the 2012 Driver of the Year is a great way to cap off our championship season,” said Keselowski. “The (drivers’) list is definitely a 'Who's Who' in the history of racing. It gives me great pride to see my name there with the likes of Mark Donohue and Mario Andretti, drivers who have transcended one particular discipline or series, and are considered some of the best to ever sit in a race car."

   In the quarterly voting, Keselowski beat the NHRA’s Antron Brown and five time Cup champion Jimmie Johnson.

   In its’ 46th year, the Driver of the Year title is unique because it is the original award of its' type that encompasses all of the racing series and all of the drivers in the United States. A panel of 19 journalists and broadcasters from across the U.S. are eligible to vote.