Thursday, July 1, 2010

Who should follow in the footsteps of Earnhardt, Petty, Johnson and France Sr. & Jr. into 2011 NASCAR Hall of Fame? Thinking Pearson, Waltrip, Petty...

Last (Thursday) night on SPEED, NASCAR unveiled the 25 nominees to be considered for induction into the second class of the NASCAR Hall Of Fame. I believe that in every year from here on out, it will get tougher and tougher to pick the next five NASCAR legends to be inducted into the Hall of Fame.

When you look back at the first class, the top 3 or 4 were givens, that would be Dale Earnhardt, Richard Petty and Bill France Sr. & Jr., after those four, we added a NASCAR pioneer Junior Johnson who did everything from driving, mechanic to team owner.

I have to admit this past May when NASCAR finally joined most major sports including MLB and NFL in opening a Hall of Fame, that put NASCAR in a whole new league with honoring NASCAR’s legends and history.

So now in looking at the 2011 Hall of Fame 25 nominees for second class, I have to say what a tough list to choice from as was last year as only 5 new names were added. Of course everybody has their own suggestions, but I will say that I was a little surprised that one or two names where left off the list for the second year in a row.

I mean one name that was mentioned in the media and among a few drivers and crew chiefs before the 25 names were announced was Smokey Yunick, Yunick was a mechanic, builder, and crew chief. The second name that should be on this list in the next few years should be legendary crew chief Harry Hyde.

However, when it comes to picking these five names, most people will find that two names should be a lock, of course they would be David Pearson and Darrell Waltrip, both would be perfect for the second class just by their records in NASCAR. But the last three, those will be discussed at length. Here are the 25 nominees:

• Bobby Allison, 1983 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion and winner of 84 races
• Buck Baker, the first driver to win consecutive NASCAR Sprint Cup championships
• Red Byron, first NASCAR Sprint Cup champion, in 1949
• Richard Childress, 11-time car owner champion in NASCAR's three national series
• Richie Evans, nine-time NASCAR Modified champion including eight consecutively from 1978-85
• Tim Flock, two-time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion
• Rick Hendrick, 11-time car owner champion in NASCAR's three national series
• Ned Jarrett, two-time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion and TV Broadcaster
• Bud Moore, 63 wins and two NASCAR Sprint Cup titles as a car owner
• Raymond Parks, NASCAR's first champion car owner
• Benny Parsons, 1973 NASCAR Sprint Cup champion and TV Broadcaster
• David Pearson, 105 victories and three NASCAR Sprint Cup championships
• Lee Petty, winner of the first Daytona 500 and first three-time series champion
• Glenn “Fireball” Roberts, won 33 NASCAR Sprint Cup races, including the 1962 Daytona 500
• Herb Thomas, first two-time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion, 1951 and '53
• Curtis Turner, first to win Daytona 500, Southern 500, Coca-Cola 600 in same year
• Darrell Waltrip, winner of 84 races, three NASCAR Sprint Cup championships and TV Broadcaster
• Joe Weatherly, two-time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion
• Glen Wood, as driver, laid foundation for Wood Brothers' future team success
• Cale Yarborough, winner of three consecutive NASCAR Sprint Cup titles, 1976-78

Five new nominees for 2011:

• Jerry Cook, six-time NASCAR Modified champion
• Fred Lorenzen, 26 Cup wins, won Daytona 500 and World 600 in 1965
• Jack Ingram, 31 Nationwide wins, 5-time Nationwide Champion
• Dale Inman, Crew Chief (1958-1992) 193 Cup wins, 8 Cup titles and won 27 races in 1967
• T. Wayne Robertson, Executive Sports Marketing, Aligned NASCAR with R.J. Reynolds to create Winston Cup Series, Oversaw creation of the NASCAR All-Star race

Here is my top 5 list

1. David Pearson: The Silver Fox was one of the best drivers just about every time he came to the racetrack. Pearson is a three-time NASCAR champion (Those were his only three full seasons), has 105 wins that’s spans from 1960 to the 1980 Darlington 500 and is most famous for his 1976 Daytona 500 when he was battling Richard Petty on the final lap as they slammed into each other which ended with Petty and Pearson both wrecked in the grass, but Pearson was able to limp across the finish line for the victory.

2. Darrell Waltrip: Winner of 84 races, three NASCAR Cup Series championships and TV broadcaster

3. Lee Petty: Winner of the first Daytona 500 and first three-time series champion

4. Dale Inman: Crew Chief (1958-1992) 193 Cup wins, 8 Cup titles and won 27 races in 1967

5. Richie Evans: Nine-time NASCAR Modified champion including eight consecutively from 1978-85

If you wanted a 6th legend, you might want to consider Raymond Parks. Parks was one of the driving forces behind NASCAR and owned the first championship car. He is one of the reasons why NASCAR exists today.

One note, for the third class, I would say that Bobby Allison and T. Wayne Robertson will be among the front runners. In T. Wayne Robertson case, you don’t have to be a driver, crew chief or owner to have made an impact in the sport of NASCAR. And sponsorship is huge in NASCAR and so is the All-Star race.

So what does everybody think, I know that by the end of this fourth of July weekend and the Firecracker 400 at Daytona International Speedway, mostly everybody around will weigh in on who should be the first five names to be second class, but I want to know what everybody thinks including my readers, who would you choose and why?

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