Rusty Wallace leads fourth NASCAR Hall of Fame class

Cesar Tordesillas – 4E Sports Contributor

Charlotte, NC, United States (4E Sports) – The NASCAR Hall of Fame enshrined its fourth class Friday with Rusty Wallace, Leonard Wood, Buck Baker, Cotton Owens and Herb Thomas.

After finishing second in his Sprint Cup debut, Wallace, 56, a St. Louis native, notched a career-best 10 wins the following season and won at least once per season for 16 consecutive years. Wallace finished with 55 victories, ranking ninth on the all-time list .

Wood co-founded Wood Brothers Racing and served as chief mechanic for four decades. He was instrumental in streamlining pit stops and also provided the horsepower for an illustrious roster of drivers that included Trevor Bayne, David Pearson, Cale Yarborough, A.J. Foyt, Dan Gurney and Parnelli Jones.

Owens was one of three posthumous inductees Friday. The Union, S.C., native died at 88 last June 7, two weeks after learning he had been voted into the 2013 class.

Alongside Junior Johnson, Owens might have been the most successful driver-owner in NASCAR history, scoring Pontiac’s first win on the Daytona Beach, Fla., road course in 1957 and claiming more than 100 victories in NASCAR’s modified division.

Baker, who died in April 2002 at 83, had 46 victories from 1949-76. The South Carolina native was among the first rough-and-tumble drivers and was nicknamed “Buck” because he demonstrated the same reckless traits as a bull calf on his family’s farm.

Thomas, who died in 2000 at 77, had a 13-year career cut short by injuries from a crash. He scored 48 victories in 228 starts for a winning percentage of 21.05 that remains a Sprint Cup record. He retired in 1962 and returned to his family’s farm in Olivia, N.C., where he also owned and operated a saw mill.

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