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Penske Head Of Texas Hall Of Fame Class

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Thursday, March 27 2014

Team owner Roger Penske elected to Texas Hall of Fame. (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images for NASCAR)

By John Sturbin | Senior Writer

FORT WORTH, Texas – Team-owner Roger S. Penske’s proficiency for finding Victory Lane at Texas Motor Speedway will be recognized next month when “The Captain” is inducted as 16th member of the Texas Motorsports Hall of Fame.

The only car-owner to score victories on TMS’ 1.5-mile quadoval in NASCAR and INDYCAR-sanctioned events, Penske will be honored Thursday, April 3, during the Texas Motorsports Hall of Fame Gala benefitting Speedway Children’s Charities-Texas Chapter. Penske’s induction headlines an annual event held in The Speedway Club’s Grand Ballroom during the Duck Commander 500 NASCAR weekend.

Joining Penske in receiving awards voted by a panel of Texas-based media will be recently retired four-time Verizon IndyCar Series champion Dario Franchitti; 2014 Daytona 500 champion Dale Earnhardt Jr., NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver; defending Duck Commander 500 and O’Reilly Auto Parts 300 champion Kyle Busch and 2012 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion James Buescher.

Penske will join a list of accomplished drivers from various series and innovative motorsports leaders inducted into the Texas Motorsports Hall of Fame since its inception in 2003. Previous inductees: A.J. Foyt Jr. (2003), Johnny Rutherford (’03), Terry Labonte (’04), Lee Shepherd (’04), Kenny Bernstein (’05), Jim Hall (’05), Eddie Hill (’06), Mark Martin (’07), Jim McElreath (’07), Bobby Labonte (’08), Bruton Smith (’08), Joe Gibbs (’09), John Force (’10), Lanny Edwards (’11) and Jack Roush (’12).

Penske is the winner of 12 combined races at TMS as a team-owner, including a record seven in the IndyCar Series after Helio Castroneves’ victory last June. Penske’s success at TMS is the latest chapter of an organization that has produced 23 motorsports national championships in 48 years. Team Penske is the most successful Indy-car organization in history with 169 wins and 12 national championships.

Penske was one of America’s most successful young road-racers before he abruptly retired from driving in 1965 to focus on his burgeoning business interests. Competing domestically since 1966, Penske Racing Inc. has scored victories in every series in which it has competed, including various sports car series in addition to NASCAR and INDYCAR. Penske’s drivers have racked-up a record 15 indianapolis 500 victories, most recently with Castroneves in 2009.

As founder/chairman of Penske Corporation, Penske oversees a diversified transportation services company whose subsidiaries operate in the retail automotive, truck leasing, transportation logistics, transportation component manufacturing and motorsports segments.

Franchitti, who retired from open-wheel racing in November due to injury after a stellar 16-year career, will be honored with the Bruton Smith Legend Award. A three-time Indy 500 champion, Franchitti scored 31 victories during a career featuring IndyCar Series championships with Andretti Green Racing in 2007 and Target Chip Ganassi Racing from 2009-11. Franchitti won Indy 500s with Andretti Green Racing in 2007 and with Ganassi’s organization in 2010 and 2012. With that third victory at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the native of Scotland became just the 10th driver to score three or more wins in open-wheel racing’s premier event.

Franchitti, who began his domestic open-wheel career in the Championship Auto Racing Teams with Hogan Racing in 1997, made his IndyCar Series debut during the 2002 Indy 500 with a modest 19th-place finish for Team Green. He is only the third driver in Indy-car history to win at least three championships in a row, joining Ted Horn (1946-48) and Sebastien Bourdais (2004-07).

Earnhardt Jr.’s continued support for Speedway Children’s Charities-Texas Chapter in North Texas earned him the Maj. General Thomas Sadler Award. With Junior’s assistance, Speedway Children’s Charities-Texas Chapter delivered its most successful event of 2013 during the “BBQ Pit Stop with Dale Jr.” The event allowed members of “Junior Nation” to enjoy an evening with the Hendrick Motorsports superstar at Hard Eight BBQ in Roanoke while raising more than $38,000 for SCC-Texas Chapter.

Busch will be honored as Texas Motor Speedway Racer of the Year. Busch, of Joe Gibbs Racing, became the first driver to sweep the NASCAR Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series races in the same weekend last spring via victories in the NRA 500 and O’Reilly Auto Parts 300, respectively. Busch’s victory in the O’Reilly Auto Parts 300 was the sixth Nationwide Series win of his career at TMS, moving him past Kevin Harvick for most in that series at “The Great American Speedway!” Busch’s weekend included a Sprint Cup qualifying track record speed of 196.299 mph.

Buescher, a native of nearby Plano, will return to his self-described “hometown track” to accept the Texas Motor Speedway Sportsmanship Award. Buescher’s efforts to help during the cleanup process following the tornadoes that devastated Moore, Okla., last spring epitomized the ideals of sportsmanship. Taking full advantage of his off-week, Buescher and wife, Kris, helped move mountains of debris from devastated neighborhoods. The destruction hit close to home for Buescher, whose brother lives in Oklahoma City.

Located in the outdoor atrium adjacent to The Speedway Club, the Texas Motorsports Hall of Fame is open free to the public year-round. The Hall of Fame atrium features pedestals of the inductees with a portrait painting and career highlights.

The Texas Motorsports Hall of Fame Gala is one of many fundraisers conducted by Speedway Children’s Charities-Texas Chapter throughout the year. Its mission is to care for children in educational, financial, social and medical need and help them lead productive lives. SCC-Texas Chapter has awarded more than $9.4-million in grants and touched the lives of more than three million children since 1997.

Activities will begin with dinner at 8:15 p.m. (CDT) followed by awards ceremonies at approximately 8:45 p.m. Table sponsorships, beginning at $1,200, and individual tickets for $150 are available by calling the Speedway Children’s Charities office at (817) 215-8421.

– John Sturbin can be reached at jsturbin@racintoday.com

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Thursday, March 27 2014
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