NASCAR-Hall of Fame Nominees Auto Racing

Associated Press

NOMINEE — In this Feb. 26, 1961, file photo, Marvin Panch, Daytona Beach winner of the 500-mile late model stock car race, waves to the crowd as he sits on top of his car with his two kids, Marvin, left, and Lynn, in Daytona Beach Fla..

P.J. Hernandez posted a pair of solid 10th place finishes in the twin 40-lap races opening the LQK Pick Your Part Late Models season at Irwindale Speedway Saturday.

Hernandez, 32, is a Navy veteran who used to commute from China Lake Naval Weapons Center to Speedway Willow Springs to race.

The commute now is from Rosamond to Irwindale, where he is in his second season in the showcase Late Models Series.

The hood of Hernandez’s Late Model bears the logos of A Million Thanks and Wounded Heroes Fund of Kern County.

They’re not paying to ride aboard the No. 18; in fact, Hernandez is paying them back for their help to him making the transition back to civilian life after his Navy career.

“They do wonderful things for veterans,” Hernandez said. “It’s an honor to have them on the car.”

Driver from first NASCAR race at Willow Springs Nominated for Hall of Fame

Marvin Panch, who won the pole for the first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series road race west of the Mississippi at Willow Springs in November, 1955, is among 20 nominees to the NASCAR Hall Fame announced Wednesday.

Drivers Buddy Baker, Neil Bonnett, Red Farmer, Harry Gant, former Cup Series champions Bobby Labonte and Tony Stewart, Hershel McGriff, Xfinity Series pioneer Sam Ard,  Red Vogt, NASCAR’s first Master Mechanic,  and team owners Joe Gibbs and Ray Fox are among the nominees to the Class of 2020.

Panch won 17 times in NASCAR’s premier series, including the 1961 Daytona 500.

Fans can go to NASCAR.Com to learn how to cast votes.

Herta Endures Up and Down IndyCar Season Debut

He set the fastest lap in practice three times, and then three more times in qualifying.

He appeared to qualify for a shot at the pole, before a penalty dropped him to the back of the field.

When the green flag flew for the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, Colton Herta quickly fell back to 17th place in the 24 car field.

He rallied for an eighth-place finish, the second highest rookie.

“What an up and down weekend,” said the Valencia native and former two-time Streets of Lancaster Grand Prix champion. “We had a car that could run with everyone. But all in all, an eighth place finish  isn’t too bad for our first race of the season.”

Herta, the son of two-time Indianapolis 500-winning owner Bryan Herta, heads to Sebring, Fla. this weekend for the IMSA Weather Tech SportsCar  championship’s 12 Hours of Sebring.

He’ll rejoin Rehal Letterman Lamigan Racing teammates Philipp Eng, Conor de Philippe and Augosto Fargas, with whom he won the GT LeMans title in the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona.

Herta turns 19 next Wednesday.

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