NASCAR will launch its 2013 campaign Feb. 8-10 in Charlotte, N.C., when 50 drivers take part in an official season preview and this year’s Hall of Fame Class made up of Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) champions Buck BakerHerb Thomasand Rusty Wallace along with championship car owner Cotton Owens and crew chief extraordinaire Leonard Wood is officially inducted.

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More than 50 drivers representing NASCAR’s national series are scheduled to participate in the all-day NASCAR Preview on Feb. 9 at the both the NASCAR Hall of Fame and Charlotte Convention Center. Activities begin at 7 a.m. and conclude at 5 p.m. Fans will have the opportunity to interact with drivers who will sign autographs and participate in driver question-and-answer sessions, see new sixth-generation NSCS cars with full paint schemes and enjoy interactive displays.

Drivers scheduled to participate include 2012 NSCS and Kentucky Speedway Quaker State 400 champ Brad Keselowski, five-time NSCS title winner Jimmie Johnson, 10-time Most Popular Driver Dale Earnhardt Jr., four-time NSCS champ Jeff Gordon, three-time NSCS top driver Tony Stewart, two-time NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS) champion Ricky Stenhouse Jr., reigning NNS Most Popular Driver Danica Patrick, and 2012 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) champion James Buescher, the only driver to sweep two series races in the same season at Kentucky Speedway, also will be on hand.

Hall of Fame inductions open the weekend Feb. 8 at 7:30 p.m., in the Crown Ball Room at the Charlotte Convention Center. The five-member class will raise the Hall of Fame membership to an even 20. 

Baker and Thomas won two championships apiece in the rough and tumble 1950s. Wallace, now an ESPN analyst, became champion in 1989 as the sport’s footprint broadened through the medium of network and cable television.

Owens supplied the cars and horsepower that carried many famous drivers into Victory Lane, NASCAR Hall of Famer David Pearson to his first of three championships in 1966.

Wood, the architect of the lightning quick pit stop, follows his older brother Glen into the NASCAR Hall of Fame – a pioneer whose family has fielded winners through five generations of NASCAR Sprint Cup cars.

This year’s induction ceremony also will feature the presentation of the first Squier-Hall Award for NASCAR Media Excellence – named in honor of its first recipients, pioneer NASCAR industry radio and television personalities Ken Squier and Barney Hall.

Squier and Hall’s careers have been intertwined since intersecting with the creation of the longtime Voice of NASCAR, the Motor Racing Network in 1970. Their expert observations on the sport have thrilled generations of NASCAR fans for more than 40 years and continue to do so today.

Vermont native Squier began his career as a race track public address announcer at the age of 14 and is a longtime New England radio station and track owner. Squier joined the Motor Racing Network (MRN) in 1970 and for nearly two decades anchored NASCAR on CBS broadcasts before shifting to the studio as host for NASCAR broadcasts until 2000.

Squier, who called CBS’ first flag-to-flag coverage of the Daytona 500 in 1979 – and the post-race fight involving Bobby Allison, Cale Yarborough and Donnie Allison – is credited with naming the event the “Great American Race.” He continues to enlighten NASCAR fans through periodic appearances on SPEED.

Hall, a native of Elkin, N.C., began his broadcast career in the 1950s working at local radio stations in North Carolina. He served as Bristol Motor Speedway’s first public address announcer when the track opened and called his first Daytona 500 in 1960 – missing only three broadcasts in the 54-year history of the classic event.

Hall joined the Motor Racing Network as an original announcer at the network’s inception in 1970, first as a turn announcer and then moving to the broadcast booth in the late 70s – from which he continues to provide word pictures for NASCAR’s many radio fans. Hall is widely known for his calm voice and unmatched story telling.

Kentucky Speedway’s five-event 2013 season opens with a can’t-miss June 27-29 NASCAR tripleheader weekend. 

Keselowski returns to defend last season’s NSCS Quaker State 400 victory against a star-studded NSCS field on Saturday, June 29. The weekend opens Thursday, June 27 with the NCWTS UNOH 225 and continues Friday, June 28 with the NNS Feed The Children 300.

The NNS will return to the speedway and join the ARCA Racing Series (ARS) for a September doubleheader. The NNS Kentucky 300 takes to the track Sept. 21 after the ARS makes its 20th all-time track at the speedway on Sept. 20 in the Kentucky 150. 

The list of former series winners on the 1.5-mile Bluegrass State tri-oval includes Kyle Busch, Ryan Newman, two-time NNS champ Ricky Stenhouse Jr., reigning NCWTS champion James Buescher and nine-time ARS title winner Frank Kimmel, of nearby Jeffersonville, Ind. 

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