Tha Sports Junkies 101

NASCAR HOF Inductees Speak


On the morning of Thursday, January 12th, 2017, a teleconference was held for three members of the upcoming 2017 NASCAR Hall of Fame Class. Out of the five new inductees who will be inducted on Friday January 20th, the three who partook in the teleconference where car owners Richard Childress and Rick Hendrick as well as driver Mark Martin.

The first of the three to partake in the conference was Richard Childress, the owner of Richard Childress Racing. Throughout his career as an owner his team has tallied up over 100 premier series wins, the second highest total of NASCAR National Series Owners Championships in history.

When Richard was asked about how he felt about being inducted into the Hall of Fame next Friday, he said, “It’s just a special time for everybody who played a role in me getting in here. I didn’t do it by myself for sure”.

After his opening statement, Childress was asked about how once being an owner driver helped him moving forward when he switched to just the owner side of things. Childress said when he got out of the car the last 10 races of 1981 and put Dale Earnhardt in the car that “It was obvious that Dale had more talent than he did”. For the 1982 and 1983 seasons, the car was driven by Ricky Rudd and Childress said that those two seasons were a “learning experience for all of us and when Dale came back in 84’, I was much more comfortable as an owner at that point”. Childress said that due to being a former driver he had “a really great working relationship”.

Richard was also asked about the intensity between his team and that of Rick Hendricks during the 1990’s when the two mentioned teams dominated the sport. Childress said that “he remembered sitting in with Bodine and Earnhardt at Daytona after the melees they had had then and Rick and I made a pact. Look, these guys are the drivers, you and I aren’t driving these cars, they’re driving it we’ll do our best to keep them straightened out”. Then going on to say that he and Rick have a “great relationship” and pointed out how much he respect what he has accomplished in the sport.

Rick Hendrick was the next member of the 2017 NASCAR Hall of Fame class to take questions. Rick is the owner of Hendrick Motorsports and has tallied up over 200 owner wins as well as 15 Owner Championships throughout his career.

Asked first about how it feels being inducted into the Hall of Fame he responded by saying “It’s hard to believe I’m actually going into the Hall of Fame. It feels a lot like when I went to New York after winning the first championship. An unbelievable accomplishment, one that you dreamed about being involved in a sport or just watching a sport, and to think now you’re being recognized in the Hall of Fame is a very emotional and special feeling”.

One of the more personal questions that was asked was when Rick was asked: “What is the one thing that you are most proud of”. Rick then responded that “All of the championship and the Daytona 500 victories are special but when my son won the inaugural truck race at Kansas, me and my wife both broke down and it was just such a special moment”.

Rick was asked about what was the defining moment that pushed the team forward. He responded y saying, “Martinsville got us a win to survive and it sure didn’t hurt the day I saw Jeff Gordon run at Atlanta, hired him and got him into the business”.

Lastly, Mark Martin, winner of 40 premier series races and a total of 96 National Series victories took questions from the media about the career that got him into the 2017 NASCAR Hall of Fame class.

When asked about his emotions with the induction being just a week away Mark said that it is a “Special event for me and my family”.

In being asked what he was most proud of in his career, Martin said, “Getting to NASCAR at what was a young age for the time and then fell on my face, had to go home and start again”. Saying he takes pride in the “going back and building his way back up to a second chance is a big thing”.

One of the things that Mark Martin was most known for throughout his career was his physical fitness and Mark was asked: “What did you know about fitness that other drivers maybe didn’t know was important”. Mark responded by first saying “At the time there was virtually no one in the sport working on the physical side of it”. Mark spent most days and nights working on cars until he got Roush. “With my time freed up once I got up with Jack, I had the opportunity to gain an advantage”. Mark even went on to attribute most of his early success to his fitness and “outworking other drivers”.

Mark also was asked the question “Do you regret not winning a championship”. With a slightly changed tone, Mark simply responded “No. I never scored enough points to win one. So that’s that. I would’ve won one if I scored more points than anyone else”.

To close out his interview Mark said he is “So excited to have this opportunity, and I just don’t have the words to describe what it means to me”.

Today these three true legends of the sport gave just a bit of insight into the ups and the downs of their storied careers, and there is no doubt in anyone’s mind that these three individuals belong in the Hall of Fame.