Yates and Byron lead 2018 NASCAR Hall of Fame class

Longtime engine builder and former team owner Robert Yates and NASCAR’s first series champion, Red Byron, led the five-member class which will be inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame in 2018.

Yates and Byron lead 2018 NASCAR Hall of Fame class
Robert Yates
Team owner Robert Yates
Vintage car of Red Byron in the Fan Zone
Ray Evernham
Ken Squier talks with Barney Hall
Ron Hornaday
Championship victory lane: 2009 champion Ron Hornaday celebrates with his team
Jim France
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Yates, who began his career at Holman-Moody Racing in 1968, landed a job with NASCAR Hall of Famer Junior Johnson in 1971 – and the rest is history. He provided the power behind Bobby Allison and Cale Yarborough, later leading Allison to a series championship in 1983 with DiGard Racing.

In the late 1980s, Yates launched his own team, Robert Yates Racing. Success came quickly – driver Davey Allison won the 1992 Daytona 500, and finished third in that season’s championship. In 1996, Yates expanded to a two-car team with NASCAR Hall of Famer Dale Jarrett and Ernie Irvan – and immediately won that year’s Daytona 500 with Jarrett.

Jarrett would go on to win another Daytona 500 in 2000, a year after winning the NASCAR premier series championship – all in Yates-owned Fords. His lineage continues today, as son Doug Yates carries on his legacy as one of the top engine builders in the sport.

Click below to see the class that was announced at the NASCAR Hall of Fame on Wednesday:

Robert “Red” Byron won the sanctioning body’s first race in 1948, on the Daytona beach road course. He went on in 1948 to win NASCAR’s first season championship – in the Modified Division.

The following year, he won two races and the championship in NASCAR’s “Strictly Stock” series, the precursor to today’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. He drove that year for car owner Raymond Parks, who’s already a member of the Hall.

The other three 2018 inductees:

  • Ray Evernham. Evernham guided driver Jeff Gordon and the No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports team to three championships in four seasons (1995, ’97, ’98), and a series-leading 47 wins in the 1990s. Among their triumphs were two Daytona 500s (1997, ’99) and two Brickyard 400s (1994, ’98). In 2001, Evernham tried his hand at ownership, leading the return of Dodge to NASCAR. His drivers won 13 times.

  • Ken Squier. Squier carved a massive footprint during NASCAR’s formative broadcast years. One of NASCAR’s original broadcasters, Squier co-founded the Motor Racing Network (MRN) in 1970. It was his golden voice that took NASCAR to a national audience thirsting for live coverage, giving his insider’s view of what he famously described as “common men doing uncommon things.” He is perhaps best-known for calling the 1979 Daytona 500, a milestone moment for the entire sport.

  • Ron Hornaday Jr. The second-generation racer from Palmdale, Calif., boasts a record four Truck Series championships and 51 wins competing on the rough-and-tumble circuit. Hornaday also holds the Truck Series all-time marks for top fives (158) and top 10s (234). In 2009, Hornaday won five straight Truck Series races, a feat matched only three other times in NASCAR national series history. 

In addition, Jim France, the son of NASCAR founder Bill France Sr., was named the winner of the Landmark Award, which recognizes outstanding contributions to NASCAR.

In 1999, France founded Grand-Am Road Racing; and in 2012, he was the driving force behind the merger of Grand-Am and the American Le Mans Series. France also oversaw the $400 million renovation of Daytona International Speedway.

Voting was as follows: Yates (94%), Byron (74%), Evernham (52%), Squier (40%) and Hornaday (38%).

Utter’s vote

Jim Utter, NASCAR Editor of Motorsport.com, is among the members of the voting panel which selects inductees to the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

This was his original five-member ballot:

  • Byron

  • Yates

  • Jack Roush

  • Squier

  • Buddy Baker.

In the tiebreaker vote taken between Alan Kulwicki and Hornaday, Utter’s choice was Kulwicki.

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