NASCAR unveiled the 11th class of five individuals that will be inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame in January on Wednesday afternoon. The class consists of three drivers and two car owners.
The highest vote-getter was four-time Cup Series champion Jeff Gordon, who will be enshrined in his first year of eligibility. In addition to his four championships (1995, 1997-1998 and 2001), Gordon has 93 career Cup victories, third all-time behind Richard Petty and David Pearson. He also has the all-time consecutive starts record with 797. That streaked stretched from his very first start at Atlanta in 1992 to what was originally supposed to be the final race of his career at Homestead in 2015.
Jeff Gordon will be joined by two car owners, Jack Roush and Roger Penske. Roush was already well-known for his efforts in drag racing and especially sports car racing before coming to NASCAR in 1988. Roush hired Mark Martin as his first full-time driver and worked his way up the grid. Martin earned the team’s first NASCAR win at Rockingham in 1989. Since then, Roush entries have won 137 Cup races, 137 races in the now-XFINITY Series and 50 Truck Series races. His teams won two Cup championships (2003 with Matt Kenseth and 2004 with Kurt Busch), four XFINITY Series titles (2002 with Greg Biffle, 2007 with Carl Edwards and 2011-2012 with Ricky Stenhouse Jr.) and one with Biffle in the Trucks (2000).
Penske has been a car owner in NASCAR off and on since the 1970s. He owned the factory AMC Matadors driven by Bobby Allison and Mark Donohue in the mid-1970s and gave Rusty Wallace his first chance in Cup back in 1980. In 1991, Penske formed Penske Racing South to take on Cup full-time. Wallace was tabbed as the team’s first driver and it was off to the races from there. Penske has won 105 Cup races and the 2012 championship with Brad Keselowski. In addition, Penske has 65 XFINITY Series wins and another title with Keselowski (2010).
In addition, Davey Allison and Alan Kulwicki, who battled for the 1992 championship before dying in separate aviation accidents in 1993, will also be enshrined.
Allison won 19 races in only 191 career starts. He had one of the most successful rookie years in the Modern Era, winning twice (Talladega and Dover) and earning five poles. Despite being injured in crashes at Bristol, Charlotte and Pocono, Allison had his best season in 1992. That year, Allison won five races (including the Daytona 500) and earned 17 top five finishes, but finished third in points.
For Kulwicki, his career is best remembered for fierce self-determination. Having moved to North Carolina from Wisconsin in 1984, Kulwicki ran for Rookie of the Year in 1986 with extremely limited resources. He won the Rookie of the Year Award despite failing to qualify for a number of races and running much of the year with only one car. Kulwicki only won five races in his Cup career, but he won the 1992 championship by only ten points over Bill Elliott. Kulwicki, an owner-driver who may have been the most meticulous driver in the garage, won his title running on only a fraction of the budget of the primary contenders.
Finally, former NASCAR Vice President Jim Hunter will be inducted by virtue of winning the Landmark Award. Hunter spent over 50 years in motorsports as an executive with NASCAR, President of Darlington Raceway, a public relations representative and a member of the media.
The five inductees plus Hunter will be formerly inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame in January. The date has not been announced as of yet.
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