The Yellow Stripe · Garrett Horton · Tuesday October 19, 2010
It has now been a few days for everyone to soak in the new Hall of Fame inductees for 2011. Just like last year, this group of selections was not without some controversy, as many feel that Cale Yarborough and Darrell Waltrip should have been nominated last Wednesday – just as David Pearson should have been voted into the Hall last year. While that may be the case, the truth is all of these nominees are very deserving of the NASCAR Hall of Fame, and the main issue at stake is when they will make it. Let’s look at the five who should have made this year’s class and then we will look at the five who will make next year’s.
David Pearson – The biggest snub from last year’s inductees, Pearson cruised in easily this year. Yet, my biggest issue was how he “only” got 94 percent of the votes. I would like to meet the guys who didn’t vote him in this year and find out why because, in my mind, he is the greatest NASCAR driver of all time. He never ran every race in a season, yet he was able to walk away with three championships and 105 wins in 574 starts. Just imagine if he raced as much as Richard Petty did. Pearson was able to give NASCAR a rivalry with Petty that will never be matched, one in which he won more individual “one-on-one” matchups (where the duo finished 1-2 in a race) including the infamous 1976 Daytona 500 finish. Today, we look at two drivers who wreck each other and immediately call it a rivalry. What Pearson and Petty were able to do on the track defined a true rivalry.
Cale Yarborough – Last year, it was Pearson who shockingly got left out. Well, Cale Yarborough is this year’s David Pearson. As a matter of fact, I believed Cale to be a possibility in last year’s inaugural class. Before there was Jimmie Johnson, there was Cale Yarborough. He was the first and only driver to win three straight championships long before Johnson came along. However, Cale won his three straight with points won over the course of an entire season, well before the Chase was around to reset points for the latest repeat Champ. With that said, never will someone be able to duplicate what Yarborough did, an impressive accomplishment that deserved to be honored in the Hall’s second class.
Lee Petty – The Hall of Fame voters got it right with Lee. His success can easily be overlooked by his son Richard’s, but Lee wasn’t bad either. The first ever Daytona 500 winner, his 54 wins rank ninth on the all-time win list and his three championships put him in an elite club with only seven other drivers. Perhaps most impressive is the fact he never finished lower than 6th in points in the 12 seasons he raced full-time. Most importantly, he brought the Petty name to NASCAR, and without Petty, you don’t have the NASCAR we have today.
Dale Inman – Inman is a bit a stretch, not because of his credentials, but because he is a crew chief. I am in no way am knocking him for that, but think about it for a second. With the statistics Inman has in his NASCAR career (199 wins, eight championships) he would no doubt be a first class Hall of Famer if he was a driver. Not only did Inman call the shots for all of Petty’s championships and 197 of his wins, but he also put Terry Labonte on the map, leading him to his first of two championships in 1984. He didn’t make it this year, but expect Inman to make the Hall a year from now.
Bobby Allison – Some of you may know by now how much I love statistics and how I use it as my first way of judgment. I bring this up because you may be surprised that I put the one-time Cup champ in over Darrell Waltrip and his three Cup titles. More about Waltrip later on, but with Allison, I must admit I may be slightly biased. After all, I looked up to Allison and all of the Alabama Gang my whole life because I am from Alabama. Still, you cannot deny that Allison is one of the greatest to get behind the wheel. His 85 wins (or 84, depending on who you ask) are third-most all time, including three Daytona 500s to go along with a championship in 1983. While Waltrip won more titles overall, Allison had more wins in almost 100 less starts.
Now we will look at the five who will make the Hall next year. I believe Ned Jarrett should have made it next year instead of this year, so for obvious reasons I won’t be putting him on this list.
Cale Yarborough – I have already given my two cents on Yarborough’s historical accomplishments. The only concern I have about Cale not making it next year is if the voters have a personal beef with Yarborough, as some have speculated. If that is the case, then the voting panel needs to be changed.
Darrell Waltrip- It seems like a lot of people were shocked that Waltrip didn’t make this year’s class. Given his accomplishments, it makes sense to question why he didn’t make it. To be honest, I would have been surprised had he made it. The people listed above are simply more deserving than DW, in my mind. When it comes to his announcing, whether you love it or hate it, you have to admire how passionate he is about the sport. The voters were right on this one, but he has to make it in next year.
Herb Thomas – With 48 wins in only 228 starts, Thomas has the highest winning percentage in NASCAR history. One of the early pioneers of the sport, Thomas was the first two-time champion in what was then known as the Grand National Series. As he was the owner of his championship runs as well, Thomas is one of only a handful of owner/drivers to win the title.
Raymond Parks – I am a little surprised that Parks wasn’t selected before Bud Moore as the first owner into the Hall. Either way, Parks was important to NASCAR in more ways than one. Besides being the first championship owner in the sport’s 60-year history, Parks was essential in forming the sport we love. Having just passed away a few months ago, Parks was the last living member of the group of men who created NASCAR in 1947 at the Streamline hotel at Daytona Beach.
Tim Flock – With only 187 career starts, Flock may have to wait a few more years before he gets in. However, in those 187 starts Flock was able to get a lot done. Second to Thomas’ all-time win percentage sits Flock, who had 39 career victories. Flock was also able to collect two championships during his 13-year career. Plus, he raced with his monkey Jocko Flocko for several races, one of which they won. You gotta love that!
There you have it. It pained me to leave out Red Byron, but with his car owner Raymond Parks likely to make it next year, Byron will likely have to wait another season beyond that; and with this voting panel we have, you never know. Most people seemed certain Yarborough and Waltrip would be in this year instead of Ned Jarrett and Bud Moore. At least in the end, all of these men are very deserving and will enter the Hall of Fame ranks one day. It’s just unfortunate it took 60 years for NASCAR to build a Hall, but as they say, better late than never.
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