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Elliott named to NASCAR Hall of Fame
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Dawsonville's Bill Elliott is back in Victory Lane.

The 1988 Winston Cup Champion was at the top of the leaderboard when NASCAR announced its 2015 Hall of Fame class of inductees last week.

In his first year of eligibility, Elliott secured more than 87 percent of the vote and was in Charlotte at the hall of fame when his name was called as the first new inductee May 21.

"It was a special day. I'm one of the luckier ones that was able to experience these moments firsthand and understand what it's all about, but unlike my mother, dad, Harry Melling, Benny Parsons, that helped me and mentored me," he said. "Unfortunately, they're not around. That's the sad side of it, but yet you know, its legacy will continue to go on."

He was among 20 nominees for the hall of fame's sixth induction class.

Wendell Scott, Joe Weatherly, Rex White and Fred Lorenzen were also voted into the hall of fame.

The 16-time most popular driver had been considered a frontrunner for inclusion since NASCAR made rule changes that allow any driver that competed for 30 years eligible for induction, as well as drivers that have reached their 55th birthday.

But Elliott, who turned 58 in October, won't take the credit alone.

"It isn't about me. It's about all the people from that area that grew with us, that watched us, that helped us, that supported us, all of the above. It should be about everyone involved," he said. "They're the ones, those guys around there did a lot of hard work and sacrificed a lot to help me get to the next level. It's us, it's we, it's what we collectively did as a group."

It was inside the small shop on the Hwy. 183, now renamed Elliott Family Parkway that it all started.

With brothers Ernie and Dan, coupled with dad George's passion for the sport that he instilled in his sons, Bill Elliott raced to 44 series victories, including two Daytona 500 wins and a record four consecutive first-place finishes at Michigan International Speedway.

He also holds the track records for fastest qualifying speed at Daytona and Talladega.

"Daddy was always kind of looking for the guy that was willing to work and put in the effort," Bill Elliott said. "He knew a lot of the guys that were instrumental in starting NASCAR back in the day, and it evolved with so many people from that area that put their own cars together from the moonshine side, so there were a lot of things that were the driving force."

Seeing the town's rejuvenated interest in the sport since his son Chase entered the Nationwide Series earlier this year continues to cement Dawsonville's place in the sport's history.

"That nucleus in Dawsonville has been so supportive of us...and I think with what has gone on with Chase has really rejuvenated and really brought everything back to that area. It's really livened things up, so to speak, and I think that's been a good key, important thing that's happened," Bill Elliott said.

"The community has a lot to be proud of, especially the amount of good racers that's come out of that area and all the good things that it's brought to the county. There's been a lot of opportunity gained from this and that's a point and key thing that I see about it."

The 2015 class of inductees will be enshrined during a ceremony at the hall of fame in January.