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(Photo: Barry Cantrell / NKP)

2020 NASCAR Hall of Fame Class Announced

The NASCAR Hall of Fame has five new members, as the Class of 2020 was announced Wednesday afternoon (May 22).

Tony Stewart, Joe Gibbs, Buddy Baker, Waddell Wilson and Bobby Labonte are the newest inductees.

Deliberations were held earlier in the day on Wednesday, and the voting panel later cast their ballots.

Tony Stewart has a prestigious career as a driver and owner. From his spectacular rookie season in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, to co-owning Stewart-Haas Racing, his impact on the sport is memorable.

Stewart began his Cup career with Joe Gibbs Racing, winning three races and Rookie of the Year honors that first year. From then on, Stewart would win 46 more Cup races and three championships (2002, 2005 and 2011).

After the 2008 season, he announced he would become driver/owner of his own vehicle. Stewart drove the No. 14 car for his own team, Stewart-Haas Racing, and won four races in 2009, with an average finish of 10.4. He retired from racing following the end of the 2016 season.

SHR currently fields four cars in the MENCS: the No. 4 car of Kevin Harvick, the No. 10 of Aric Almirola, the No. 14 of Clint Bowyer and the No. 41 of Daniel Suarez. The team also fields two entries in the NASCAR Xfinity Series: the No. 00 of Cole Custer and the No. 98 of Chase Briscoe.

Ironically, Stewart’s teammate and team owner also were inducted into the Hall of Fame.

Joe Gibbs, known as “Coach,” has a lengthy career as an owner. He’s fielded cars since 1992, a span of 28 years. Gibbs has a rich history: from a single-car team of Dale Jarrett, then Bobby Labonte, over six years (1992-1998), to owning four full-time Cup cars to date. Denny Hamlin‘s No. 11 car, Kyle Busch‘s No. 18, Martin Truex Jr.‘s No. 19, and Erik Jones‘ No. 20 are the 2019 teams under Gibbs. Gibbs also fields three Xfinity vehicles, No’s. 18 (varies), 19 (Brandon Jones), and 20 (Christopher Bell). JGR has four NASCAR Cup championships and 164 total wins.

Bobby Labonte joins his former car owner Gibbs and former teammate Stewart. His elder brother Terry Labonte is already in the Hall of Fame.

Labonte began racing in the Cup series in 1991, but raced in the Xfinity Series in prior years and was the first driver to win a championship in both. Labonte had 10 wins and the 1991 championship in the Xfinity Series and 21 wins in Cup. All his Cup wins came when he drove the JGR No. 18 car for 10 years, beginning in 1995.

In addition, Labonte won the 2000 Cup Championship. He has 115 top fives, 203 top 10s and 26 poles in his 20-year MENCS career. Atlanta Motor Speedway was one of his best tracks, with six victories there.

Buddy Baker won 19 Cup races in a career spanning from 1959-1992. One of those victories, the 1980 Daytona 500, was the fastest in the event’s history. His average speed that race was 177.602 miles per hour. Additionally, Baker is one of nine drivers to win the sport’s four major races: the Daytona 500, Winston 500 (now the Geico 500), World 600 (now the Coca-Cola 600) and the Southern 500. After retirement, Baker served as a television color commentator for CBS and TBS.

Waddell Wilson is a former NASCAR Cup crew chief and engine builder. He won the Daytona 500 three times as a crew chief, and the engines he built had 109 wins. One of those engines was run by Benny Parsons, who became the first driver to hit 200 mph in qualifying at Talladega Superspeedway. He worked with Buddy Baker, Cale Yarborough, Darrell Waltrip and Ricky Rudd as a crew chief and retired from racing in 2000.

 

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About Wesley Coburn

Wesley Coburn
Wesley has been with Fronstretch since October 2017. He loves well-told stories in whatever format he finds them. Aside from NASCAR, he enjoys reading, country music and OKC Thunder basketball. He has a BA in Liberal Arts/English and currently lives in eastern Oklahoma, where he works as a freelance writer/editor.

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12 comments

  1. Avatar

    There should be a different category for owners so they don’t take up spots for drivers.

    And a “special” category for Brian, when he elects himself in.

  2. Avatar

    They completely ruined this HOF. It was a good idea to start, but they let too many people in too fast.
    I always wondered how they would eventually deal with Buddy Baker. He was always the fastest but could not accumulate the wins or championships.
    Will Lou LaRosa ever be on the ballot?

  3. Avatar

    The FOX and NBC commentators won’t touch the Smokey Yunick question. They are controlled by NASCAR. With all due respect to Waldell Wilson, but probably Smokey forgot more about race cars than Waldell Wilson ever knew.

  4. Avatar

    Totally agree with you SB. Love Buddy Baker as a person, but really? Where are the many pioneers from the 50s? And yes, NASCAR hates Smokey Yunick…so as long as the France family owns this, he’ll never make it.

    Further, the history of NASCAR was built on Modifieds, Sportsman, Busch Series etc.

    Maybe going forward 2 of the 5 people must be
    – From a “support series”
    – Retired before 1970

  5. Avatar

    Still waiting on the Rooster to get his HOF props…

  6. Avatar

    Interesting that they picked Labonte this time (he’s been eligible for a while) with both Gibbs and Stewart. Seems kind of overkill on the whole Gibbs thing.

  7. Avatar

    I wish some of these intrepid reporters would ask the recipients how they feel about being in the HOF knowing that Smokey is being excluded.

  8. Avatar

    While I’m sure the nominees are worthy, I would reallly like to see more of the founders of Nascar be nominated for the HOF. If not for the Red Farmers and Ray Fox’s, this sport would never have gotten off the ground. It seem to me that they should be more mindful of preserving the history since many fans today have no idea what it was like at the beginning.
    We have already lost so many of the men and women that built the sport from the ground up. Let’s put hose that are still around in the Hall while they can appreciate the recognition.