CHARLOTTE, NC (WWBT)
Four-time Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion Jeff Gordon was elected to the NASCAR Hall of Fame on Wednesday in his first year of eligibility.
Gordon certainly wasn’t the only worthy choice for the Class of 2019. Team owner Jack Roush will join Gordon when the class is officially ushered into the Hall on February 1, 2019.
Team owner Roger Penske, who fostered the Hall of Fame career of driver Rusty Wallace and won his first championship in NASCAR’s top division in 2012 with driver Brad Keselowski, will accompany his fellow Ford team owner into the Hall.
Davey Allison, winner of 19 Cup races and one of the brightest stars in the sport before he succumbed to injuries suffered in a helicopter crash at Talladega in 1993, joined his father, Bobby Allison, as a member of the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
Alan Kulwicki, whose life was cut short by a plane crash in 1993 less than five months after he became the last driver to win the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championship as a “privateer,” was the fifth member of the Class of 2019 introduced by NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France.
If ever there was a lock for the NASCAR Hall of Fame, Gordon fills that role. Winner of 93 Cup points races—third all-time behind Richard Petty (200) and David Pearson (105) and ahead of Darrell Waltrip (84), Bobby Allison (84), Cale Yarborough (83) and Jimmie Johnson (83)—Gordon drove the No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet for 797 consecutive races from his debut in 1992 until he bowed out of the ride at the end of the 2015 season.
Now an analyst for FOX Sports, Gordon won four Cup championships, behind only Petty, Johnson and Dale Earnhardt Sr., who share the series record with seven each. Gordon won three Daytona 500s, four straight Southern 500s and a record five Brickyard 400s in his remarkable career.
He follows his long-time crew chief Ray Evernham and team owner Rick Hendrick into the Hall.
Roush, who was named on 70 percent of ballots, started his career in drag racing and sports cars but gravitated to NASCAR racing in 1988. An owner with a keen eye for talent, Roush supported the careers of such luminaries as NASCAR Hall of Famer Mark Martin, Kurt Busch, Matt Kenseth, Carl Edwards and Greg Biffle.
In addition to the 2012 Cup championship, Team Penske has won the 2010 NASCAR Xfinity Series title and four of the last five Xfinity Series owners championships. In addition to his NASCAR accomplishments, Penske has won the Indianapolis 500 16 times as an owner.
Penske was named on 68 percent of the ballots submitted by Voting Panel members.
Davey and Bobby Allison, the only father/son combination to finish 1-2 in the Daytona 500, are the second father/son duo to be inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame, joining Ned and Dale Jarrett.
Davey Allison received 63 percent of the vote from panel members.
Kulwicki, who was named on 46 percent of ballots, rallied from a 278-point deficit to win the 1992 series title, edging Bill Elliott by 10 points—then the closest margin in Cup history—after a thrilling season finale at Atlanta in which Davey Allison also had a shot at the championship.
Former NASCAR executive and newsman Jim Hunter received the 2019 Landmark Award for Outstanding Contributions to NASCAR. Known for his rapier wit and wise counsel, Hunter was instrumental in guiding the careers of an abundance of current and former NASCAR stars.
After his days as sports editor of the Columbia (S.C.) Record, Hunter served as public relations director for both Darlington Raceway and Talladega Superspeedway. He was later named president at Darlington and corporate vice president of International Speedway Corporation, before returning to NASCAR to lead the sport’s PR initiatives.