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Labonte, Allison lead NMPA class

Jeff Birchfield • Updated Dec 12, 2017 at 4:05 PM

Two-time NASCAR champion Terry Labonte and legendary Alabama Gang member Donnie Allison headline the 2018 class for the National Motorsports Press Association (NMPA) Hall of Fame.

Those two, along with crew chiefs Buddy Parrott and “Suitcase” Jake Elder, will be inducted in ceremonies on Sunday, Jan. 21 in Charlotte, N.C.

Labonte, also a member of the NASCAR Hall of Fame, holds the record for most time between his first and second Cup Series championships. He won the 1984 driving the No. 44 Chevrolet for car owner Billy Hagan and the 1996 title in the No. 5 Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports.

He and brother Bobby became the first brother combination to win series titles. They joined for a memorable race weekend at Atlanta in 1996 when Bobby won the race and Terry secured the championship.

The Corpus Christi, Texas, native captured 22 Cup Series wins, 11 Xfinity Series wins and one Truck Series win. He was a two-time winner of the Bristol night race in 1984 and 1995. His 1995 victory, as he crashed across the finish line after a bump from Dale Earnhardt and a last-lap tangle with Earnhardt in 1999, are the two most famous races in BMS history.

Allison, the younger brother of Bobby Allison and uncle of the late Davey Allison, won 10 times in 242 Cup Series starts. He is most famous for a race he didn’t win, the 1979 Daytona 500, when a last-lap crash between he and Cale Yarborough trigged a fight afterward with the Allison brothers and Yarborough. The race is often credited for the increased popularity of NASCAR.

He is also the most successful NASCAR driver to race in the Indianapolis 500, finishing fourth and earning rookie of the race in 1970, and finishing sixth a year later.

Elder is credited with 43 victories in NASCAR’s premier series during a 24-year career. As crew chief for Holman-Moody, he helped guide David Pearson to the 1968 championship. He was crew chief for Darrell Waltrip’s first and last career wins and he was instrumental in the early success of seven-time champion Dale Earnhardt. Elder passed away in 2010.

Parrott began his role as NASCAR crew chief in 1977 with Waltrip on the No. 88 DiGard Chevrolet. By the time he retired in 1997, he had amassed 47 wins with a variety of drivers.

He led Waltrip to 22 wins during a four-year span. He was the crew chief for Richard Petty’s 200th and final win at Daytona in 1984 and Derrike Cope’s stunning Daytona 500 victory in 1990. With the Penske Racing No. 2 car, he and driver Rusty Wallace led the series in wins in both 1993-94 with 18 wins overall. Parrott’s sons Todd and Brad have also served as NASCAR crew chiefs.

The NMPA Hall of Fame is located on the grounds of Darlington Raceway and has been in operation since 1965.

Still at the Christmas Tree

In drag racing, the starting lights with their different colors are nicknamed the Christmas Tree.

Allen Johnson, who recently retired from full-time NHRA competition, will be one of those celebrating the Christmas lights at Bristol Motor Speedway. He will be signing autographs at the BMS Christmas Village Thursday at 7:30 p.m.

The Greeneville driver was a 27-time national-event winner and the 2012 NHRA Pro Stock champion.

Starting times set

NASCAR has announced starting times for its Xfinity Series races for 2018.

The Fitzgerald Glider Kits 300 is set for 1 p.m. on Saturday, April 14. The Food City 300 is set for 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 17. Several ticket options are available with adult tickets starting at $30 for the April race.

Muddy Creek tickets available

Discounted tickets to all 2018 AMA Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship events are now on sale at promotocross.com.

The offer runs through Dec. 30 and it includes tickets to the AMA Tennessee National for June 23, 2018, at Muddy Creek Raceway in Blountville.

Kawasaki rider Eli Tomac is the defending 450 Class champion, while local rider Zach Osborne of Abingdon, Virginia, reigns as the 250 champion. However, Osborne will be moving up to the 450 ranks with the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna team in 2018.

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