Rusty Wallace heads NASCAR Hall of Fame group

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“There were a lot more people that had good things to say about Rusty and what he had done after he hung up the helmet. I felt pretty good that he would have enough votes to get in,” Pemberton said.

The Wood Brothers team was credited as pioneers of the modern pit stop. Leonard, alongside Glen and Delano Wood, was the team’s chief mechanic. Leonard Wood won 96 races and 117 poles in 900 races as a crew chief

Wood compared this moment to February 2011 when the Wood Brothers and driver Trevor Bayne stunned the NASCAR world with a victory at the Daytona 500.

“We won the Daytona 500 the year before last and it was one of the most excited and celebrated winning circles ever _ and I think this fits right in with that,” he said.

Wood remembered in the early 1960s when he watched drivers like Roberts and Smokey Yunick take 45 seconds in the pits. His mechanical mind got going on how to cut that down and the modern pit stop was taking shape. “We figured we could save a lot of time,” Wood said.

Owens had success as a driver and owner in NASCAR. He won nine races in NASCAR’s premier series and finished second for the 1959 championship to Hall of Famer Lee Petty. Owens later hired Hall of Fame drivers in Junior Johnson and David Pearson, winning 38 times as an owner.

Thomas, who died in 2000, is considered one of NASCAR’s first superstars by winning championships in 1951 and 1953 and finishing second in 1952 and 1954.

Baker became the first NASCAR driver to win consecutive championships in 1956 and 1957. He died in 2002.

Wallace was honored to be among so many historic names.

“To go in with some of those pioneers is just amazing,” he said. “They showed every one of the inductees in the ceremony in black and white and show me in color. I went, `This is kind of crazy.’ I had a blue uniform and everyone else is black and white pictures.”

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