Bill Elliot heads NASCAR Hall of Fame inductees

05/21/2014 7:45 PM

06/03/2014 10:17 AM

Bill Elliott, a 44-race winner and 1988 Sprint Cup champion, headlines the NASCAR Hall of Fame Class of 2015 that was announced Wednesday.

Elliott, a two-time Daytona 500 winner and recipient of a record 16 Most Popular Driver Awards, received 87 percent of a panel’s vote. He will be joined by Fred Lorenzen, Wendell Scott, Joe Weatherly and Rex White in the sixth Hall of Fame class. The five inductees came from a group of 20 nominees that included Missouri short-track legend Larry Phillips.

Scott was the first African-American to race full time in NASCAR’s premier series and the first to win a premier series race, at Jacksonville, Fla., in 1964. Lorenzen, one of NASCAR’s first true superstars, won the Daytona 500 and World 600 in 1965. Weatherly won championships in 1962 and 1963 and 25 races in NASCAR’s premier series. White was a short-track specialist in an era when those tracks dominated the schedule. He won 28 races in NASCAR’s premier series, with only two on tracks longer than a mile.

The class will be inducted Jan. 30 in Charlotte, N.C.

Kansas’ TV ratings drop

Kansas Speedway’s first NASCAR Sprint Cup race under the lights on May 10 was a big hit with the fans who packed the stands, but its television ratings were down from a year earlier, when the spring race was held on a Sunday afternoon.

The 5-hour Energy 400 earned a 3.5 rating and 5.8 million viewers on Fox, down 17 percent in ratings and 11 percent in viewership from 2013, which had a 4.2 rating and 6.5 million viewers.

However, the race edged the Miami Heat/Brooklyn Nets NBA playoff game on ABC head-to-head. The NBA game had 5.6 million viewers with the same 3.5 percentage of television households.

ABC, Indy mark 50 years

ABC will air the Indianapolis 500 for the 50th consecutive year on Sunday, with the green flag waving for the 98th running of the race set for 11:12 a.m. Central time.

What began as highlights in black-and-white on ABC’s “Wide World of Sports” in 1965 has evolved into ESPN’s massive production that will utilize 92 cameras, including three onboard cameras per car in 12 of the 33 cars competing in the race.

The relationship between ABC and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is one of the longest-running between a network and a sporting event. Weekend coverage of the Masters has aired on CBS since 1956, and ABC has aired the Little League World Series since 1963.

Here are five highlights from ABC’s 50 years of Indy 500 telecasts:

In 1967, the race was shown in color for the first time as Jim McKay called the first of his 18 Indy 500 telecasts, and former race winner Rodger Ward became the first driver-analyst.

In 1971, for the first time, ABC’s coverage of the Indianapolis 500 aired as a same-day, stand-alone, tape-delayed telecast in prime time rather than as part of the “Wide World of Sports” program.

In 1986, after many years of tape-delayed telecasts, the race is televised live for the first time.

In 2004, several rain delays took the telecast to 8 1/2 hours, making for one of the longest single-event telecasts ever.

In 2006, ABC introduced the “side-by-side” format, allowing viewers to continue watching the action during national commercial breaks.

To reach Randy Covitz, call 816-234-4796 or send email to rcovitz@kcstar.com. Follow him at twitter.com/randycovitz.

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