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NASCAR Hall of Fame
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The 2012 NASCAR Hall of Fame class

- jutter@charlotteobserver.com
Thursday, Jan. 19, 2012

The five racers who make up the 2012 Class of the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

Cale Yarborough

Who he was: Born March 27, 1939 in Timmonsville, S.C., Yarborough’s Cup series race spanned 31 years and included more than 560 starts.

What he did: Yarborough totaled 83 victories in his career, which ranks tied for fifth all-time. His 69 poles rank fourth all-time. And he won the Daytona 500 four times (1968, ’77, ’83-84), a mark that ranks second only to Richard Petty’s seven. He was the first driver to win three consecutive series championships (1976-78), a record which stood until 2009 when Jimmie Johnson won his fourth consecutive title.

Why he’s important to NASCAR: Yarborough was part of the sport’s founding generation of racers who learned to drive on country roads that snaked in and around the small-town homes they left, but to where they always returned.

Bet you didn’t know: Yarborough was a good enough football player in high school that Clemson recruited him. He later played semi-pro football.

Glen Wood

Who he was: Born July 18, 1925 in Stuart, Va., laid the foundation for the famed Wood Brothers racing team as a driver in the Cup series and continued his run as a successful owner.

What he did: Wood won four times as a driver – all at Bowman-Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem. His best season was 1960 during which he won three times and posted six top-five and seven top-10 finishes in nine races. He also won 14 poles during a 62-race career. As co-owner of Wood Brothers Racing, the team has amassed 98 victories in 1,367 races.

Why he’s important to NASCAR: Wood Brothers Racing, which dates to 1950, remains active to this day. The team’s all-time roster of drivers is a virtual who’s who of NASCAR and includes David Pearson, Curtis Turner, Marvin Panch, Dan Gurney, Tiny Lund, Parnelli Jones, Junior Johnson, Cale Yarborough, Fred Lorenzen and Bill Elliott. The Woods’ most recent victory was the improbable win in the 2011 Daytona 500 with Trevor Bayne.

Bet you didn’t know: Wood’s early racing nickname was “Woodchopper” because he owned a saw mill.

Richie Evans

Who he was: Born in Rome, N.Y., on July 23, 1941, Evans competed in an estimated 1,300 modified races and won around 475 in a career that spanned from 1973 until his death in 1985.

What he did: The recognized “king” of Modified racing, Evans captured nine NASCAR Modified titles in a 13-year span, including eight in a row from 1978-85. In the first year of the current NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour format in 1985, Evans won 12 races, including wins in four of five events at Thompson, Conn.

Why he’s important to NASCAR: Evans’ posthumous induction is a victory for all who race on short tracks and work at small garages for the joy of it. He is the only one of the 15 men so far elected into the sport’s hall with no ties to NASCAR’s top series.

Bet you didn’t know: In the 1985 edition of the International Race of Champions Series, every orange car featured a No. 61 on the rear fender to honor Evans and his orange No. 61 car.

Dale Inman

Who he was: Born Aug. 19, 1936, Inman still resides in his hometown of Level Cross. He served as crew chief for legendary driver Richard Petty for nearly three decades.

What he did: Inman set records for most wins (193) and championships (eight) by a crew chief. He won seven of those championships with inaugural Hall Of Fame Inductee Petty (1964, 1967, 1971, 1972, 1974, 1975 and 1979), and another one in 1984 with Terry Labonte.

Why he’s important to NASCAR: Inman is credited with revolutionizing the crew chief position. His standout year was 1967 when he and Petty won a NASCAR-record 27 races – 10 consecutively. All 27 victories were in the same car they built a year earlier. He retired from NASCAR in 1998.

Bet you didn’t know: In a previous interview, Inman said the best crew chief he ever saw was Leonard Wood from the Wood Brothers.

Darrell Waltrip

Who he was: Born in Franklin, Tenn., on Feb. 5, 1947, Waltrip made 809 starts in what is now the Sprint Cup Series from 1972 to 2000. He now works as a TV analyst for Fox Sports.

What he did: A three-time Cup series champion (1981-82, ’85), Waltrip won all three with legendary driver/owner Junior Johnson. Waltrip is tied with Bobby Allison for fourth all-time in series victories with 84. His 59 poles rank fifth all-time in Cup history. He won the 1989 Daytona 500 victory in a Rick Hendrick-owned Chevrolet.

Why he’s important to NASCAR: Waltrip’s career encompasses his extraordinary success on the track as well as his evolution as a personality. Brash enough to be nicknamed “Jaws” years ago, Waltrip challenged the sport’s biggest stars, proved he belonged in their company and grew into a figure as big as his trophy case.

Bet you didn’t know: Waltrip has an unofficial 85th Cup win. In the 1977 Talladega 500, Waltrip filled in for Donnie Allison who needed a relief driver during the race. Waltrip went on to win but Allison was credited with the victory since he started the race.

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