I often ponder while watching races, reading the box scores and delving into the statistics; who are the drivers that will be inducted in the NASCAR Hall of Fame that I am watching today?
The arguments can be made at nauseam either way for most drivers. Further, examining the statistics of who already is forever enshrined in NASCAR’s hallowed hall only serve to murky the waters even more. Busch/Nationwide/Camping World statistics aside, let’s examine further as if they would be up for induction as of today only being chosen on their Cup accomplishments.
Jeff Gordon – four championships, 89 wins, 312 top 5′s, 443 top 10′s, 74 poles
Jimmie Johnson – six championships, 69 wins, 188 top 5′s, 283 top 10′s, 33 poles
Tony Stewart – three championships, 48 wins, 181 top 5′s, 295 top 10′s, 15 poles
Matt Kenseth – one championship, 31 wins, 143 top 5′s, 258 top 10′s, 12 poles
Bobby Labonte – one championship, 21 wins, 115 top 5′s, 203 top 10′s, 26 poles
Kurt Busch – one championship, 25 wins, 103 top 5′s, 193 top 10′s, 16 poles
Brad Keselowski – one championship, 11 wins, 40 top 5′s, 67 top 10′s, 5 poles
Mark Martin – no championships, 40 wins, 271 top 5′s, 453 top 10′s, 56 poles
Kyle Busch – no championships, 29 wins, 112 top 5′s, 169 top 10′s, 14 poles
Dale Earnhardt Jr – no championships, 21 wins, 123 top 5′s, 215 top 10′s, 13 poles
Kevin Harvick – no championships, 25 wins, 105 top 5′s, 216 top 10′s, 9 poles
Carl Edwards – no championships, 23 wins, 105 top 5′s, 181 top 10′s, 13 poles
Jeff Burton – no championships, 21 wins, 134 top 5′s, 254 top 10′s, 6 poles
Denny Hamlin – no championships, 24 wins, 88 top 5′s, 141 top 10′s, 19 poles
If winning a championship at NASCAR’s highest level guarantees you entry then all of the drivers in Tier 2 are guaranteed entry. There are drivers in the hall without a championship, so having one to your credit should make you a lock.
In the class of 2015 Fred Lorenzen is in with 26 wins. Wendell Scott is in with 1 win, although he was the first to break into the win column as an African-American in NASCAR. Both don’t have a championship in NASCAR’s highest division.
Personally I take issue with NASCAR having drivers in the Hall with impressive Nationwide credentials. If they are to be elected, then they should take a backseat to the drivers from the top series. The elite of the elite should be granted entry into their own section of the Hall of Fame distinguishing them from the lower tiers of the sport. Any of the drivers I mentioned should be inducted ahead of say a Jack Ingram who won 31 Late Model Sportsman/Busch series races.
Conversely with what NASCAR has evolved to become – an international body with series running coast to coast and in Canada, I objectively, albeit begrudgingly, can see where these folks should be acknowledged as well. I just feel it should be in their own category and not with the Petty’s, Earnhardt’s, Allison’s and Jarrett’s of the world. What are your thoughts?