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NASCAR Hall of Fame names its 2019 class

Published in blog.hemmings.com

NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte, North Carolina. Photo courtesy NASCARHall.com.

Each year, a voting panel of NASCAR representatives, NASCAR Hall of Famers, track owners, media, manufacturer’s representatives, drivers, and industry leaders convenes to narrow a pool of 20 candidates for the NASCAR Hall of Fame down to five inductees. Next February, the tenth such group entered into the Hall of Fame will include Jeff Gordon, Jack Roush, Roger Penske, Davey Allison, and Alan Kulwicki.

Jeff Gordon. Photo by Jerry Markland/Getty Images for Texas Motor Speedway.

Jeff Gordon, who received 96-percent of the vote, captured his first Cup Series Championship in 1995, at age 24, becoming the youngest driver of the modern era to take the title. Over the course of a NASCAR Cup Series career that spanned 22 years with 797 consecutive starts, Gordon earned three more championships and 93 race wins, including a record-setting 13 in the 1998 season alone. Credited with helping to bring NASCAR into the mainstream across America, Gordon remains active as a racing analyst for FOX.

 

Jack Roush. Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images.

Jack Roush, who received 70-percent of the vote, has extensive experience across a range of series. After accumulating undergraduate and graduate degrees in mathematics, he went to work for Ford , then Chrysler, before launching his own engineering business. Time as a drag-racing team owner followed, but in 1988 Roush turned his attention the NASCAR. In the decades since, Roush Racing (now Roush Fenway Racing) has earned an impressive 322 victories in NASCAR’s national series, as well as five owner’s championships and three driver’s championships. Renowned for his ability to recognize and develop driver talent like Matt Kenseth and Kurt Busch, Roush received the Bill France Award of Excellence in 2001.

 

Roger Penske. Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images for NASCAR.

Roger Penske, who received 68-percent of the vote, began his racing career as a driver, but ultimately rose to prominence as a team owner across multiple series. In 2016, Penske’s 50th year in racing, his NASCAR Cup Series team marked its 100th victory and ended the season with the Bill France Award of Excellence. Team Penske driver Brad Keselowski earned a NASCAR Cup Series championship in 2012, and from 2013-’15, the organization reigned supreme in NASCAR’s Xfinity Series. A previous owner of Michigan International Speedway, Penske also built the Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California, which annually hosts NASCAR’s Auto Club 400.

 

Davey Allison. Photo by ISC Images and Archives via Getty Images.

Davey Allison, who received 63-percent of the vote, was born into a racing family, the son of NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee Bobby Allison. Starting his racing career on local tracks in his native Alabama, Davey’s breakthrough came in 1987, when he replaced Cale Yarborough in the Ranier-Lundy’s Ford Thunderbird. In his debut season, Davey amassed two wins, five pole positions and nine top-five finishes, earning Rookie of the Year honors in the process. He’d go on to win a total of 19 races, including the 1992 Daytona 500, before his untimely death in a helicopter crash in 1993, at the age of 32.

 

Alan Kulwicki. Photo by ISC Images and Archives via Getty Images.

Alan Kulwicki, who received 46-percent of the vote, moved from Wisconsin to North Carolina in 1984, pursuing his dream of winning in NASCAR’s Cup Series as both a driver and a team owner. Against astronomical odds and on a shoestring budget, Kulwicki earned Rookie of the Year honors in 1986, and two years later, during the 1988 season, he took his first series victory, at Phoenix International Raceway. In celebration, he ran a victory lap of the track backwards, and in honor of his heritage this became known as the Polish victory lap. In 1992, Kulwicki took the championship as both a driver and owner, but before he could defend his title, his life was cut short by an April 1993 plane crash. Kulwicki was 38 years old.

This year, the 59 voting members cast 57 votes, as two – also potential inductees – abstained from casting ballots. In addition to the five new Hall of Fame members, the group (which also solicits input from fans via NASCAR.com) also votes on the Landmark Award for Outstanding Contributions to NASCAR, and in 2019 this will be presented to Jim Hunter, whose six decades in the sport include roles as journalist, public relations professional, track president and company executive.

The 2019 induction weekend begins Thursday, January 31, at the NASCAR Hall of Fame and Charlotte Convention Center, in Charlotte, North Carolina, with the official Induction Ceremony taking place on Feb 1, 2019. For additional details, or to purchase tickets, visit NASCARHall.com.