Rex White of Fayetteville and Bruton Smith, majority owner of Atlanta Motor Speedway, are among the five people nominated Wednesday to be considered for the fifth induction class of the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte, N.C.
Also being added to the 20 already on the list are former Sprint Cup champion Dale Jarrett, engine builder Maurice Petty and the late short-tracker Larry Phillips.
In his relatively short, 233-race career in the series now known as Sprint Cup, White won 28 races, 36 poles and the 1960 championship. He had 110 top-five and 163 top-10 finishes, most of them coming as a driver-owner.
“It’s pretty good company to be in,” White said of his nomination to the NASCAR Hall. He’s already in the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in Talladega, Ala., the Stock Car Hall of Fame in Darlington, S.C., and the Georgia Auto Racing Hall of Fame in Dawsonville — and several others.
Smith, considered by many to be the most innovative track owner in motorsports, started in racing as a promoter and often hosted events at Atlanta’s old Lakewood Speedway. His first major track-building effort was in Charlotte, where he and the late Curtis Turner built Charlotte Motor Speedway. Today his Speedway Motorsports, Inc. owns and operates Atlanta Motor Speedway, Bristol Motor Speedway, Charlotte Motor Speedway, Kentucky Speedway, Las Vegas Motor Speedway, New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Sonoma Raceway and Texas Motor Speedway.
Jarrett, the son of Hall of Famer Ned Jarrett, won 32 Sprint Cup races, including three Daytona 500s and two Brickyard 400s, and the 1999 championship. He’s now a TV analyst.
Phillips, from Springfield, Mo., won five NASCAR Weekly Racing championships and 220 of 289 NASCAR-sanctioned starts. His victory total is estimated at more than 1,000.
Petty built the engines for the majority of his brother Richard Petty’s record 200 Cup victories.
The inductees for the 2014 class will be determined next month by a 54-member voting panel.
Labonte in home state: Sprint Cup veteran Bobby Labonte has some significant races coming up. This weekend, the Texas native will race in his home state in the NRA 500 at Texas Motor Speedway, and on May 5, he’s set to make his 700th career Cup start, at Talladega Superspeedway.
Labonte has two NASCAR championships, a Nationwide title in 1991 and a Cup trophy in 2000, plus 21 Cup victories, 10 in the Nationwide Series and one in trucks.
He hasn’t won a Cup race since the 2003 finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway, and his last Nationwide win was at Talladega in 2007, but he still has a strong fan following, which he attributes to his low-key persona.
“I try not to be too vocal … try not to cause a big ruckus on the track,” he said. “I don’t claim to be a guy that’s going to go around and try to figure out (how to) make more out of me than I am. …
“I’ve been blessed to be put in the right place at the right time for being able to start 700 races here shortly and to have a fan following that people hopefully appreciate the integrity of me, how I am.”
Another on the way: Jimmie Johnson used his Twitter account to announce an upcoming addition to his family. “We are so happy to share news that we’re having another baby in September. Genevieve is so excited to be a big sister!”
Smaller tracks: Bubba Pollard of Senoia led 105 of 125 laps Saturday to win the inaugural Southern Super Series race at Fairgrounds Speedway in Nashville, Tenn.
The next event for the 16-race series is the Racing Radios 125 on April 27 at Gresham Motorsports Park in Jefferson.
Russ Ogletree of Phenix City, Ala., started on the outside pole and drove to a dominating win in the Spring Fling 40 at Senoia Raceway. Pole-sitter Tod Darda finished second ahead of Trey White, Thomas Lewis and Laddie Fulcher.
Dixie Speedway in Woodstock kicks off its 44th season of racing with a full program Saturday night, followed by the Short Track Spring Championships on April 20.