Five new names have joined the 20-person list from which the class of 2018 will be chosen from.
With over half a century in motorsports, it’s no question why Roger Penske is on the list, only why wasn’t he on it sooner? Since entering NASCAR competition as an owner in 1972, ‘The Captain’ has earned over 100 premier division victories and counting, including the 2008 Daytona 500 with Ryan Newman and 2015 Daytona 500 with Joey Logano. His NASCAR success doesn’t stop there though with three consecutive owner’s titles in the Xfinity Series from 2013 to 2015 and over 50 race wins.
Joe Gibbs is also on the list, another legendary team owner who has been around since 1992. His team has won four Cup titles and five Xfinity titles over the years, as well as 140 premier division races, which include two Daytona 500 trophies. Beyond that, Gibbs is also a three-time Super Bowl winning NFL coach, proving he creates excellence no matter where he goes. The driver who earned Gibbs his first Cup title in the year 2000 just so happens to be a new addition to this list as well.
Bobby Labonte, who was competing part-time in the Cup Series as recently as 2016, is the 2000 premier series champion, winning 21 races in his career. Labonte has wins in all three national divisions, reaching a total of 32. He was also crowned champion in the Xfinity Series back in 1991. Although Labonte came within arm’s reach of the Daytona 500 trophy in both 1998 and 2011, he never did win the big race, but he won the next best thing in the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis. His older brother Terry is already a NASCAR Hall of Famer.
Davey Allison’s story is one of what could have been. He won 19 Cup races, including the 1992 Daytona 500 and finished third in points on two occasions. But more importantly, he did all this in less than 200 starts because at the age of 32, Davey tragically lost his life in a helicopter crash in the infield of Talladega Superspeedway. His famous father Bobby was inducted into the HOF in 2011.
Lastly, we have Red Farmer, a friend of the Allison family who was a member of the so-called ‘Alabama Gang.’ Farmer, who continues to race at the age of 80 on short tracks across the country, is a three-time NASCAR champion in the Late Model Sportsman division and also won the 1956 Modified title. He never won at the Cup level, but finished as high as fourth on two separate occasions.
Now here’s a brief look at returning nominees for 2018:
Buddy Baker, won 19 times in NASCAR’s premier (now Sprint Cup) series, including the Daytona 500 and Southern 500.
Red Byron, first NASCAR premier series champion, in 1949.
Ray Evernham, three-time NASCAR premier series championship crew chief.
Ray Fox, legendary engine builder, crew chief and car owner.
Ron Hornaday, four-time NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion.
Harry Hyde, 1970 NASCAR premier series championship crew chief.
Alan Kulwicki, 1992 NASCAR premier series champion.
Hershel McGriff, 1986 NASCAR west series champion.
Larry Phillips, only five-time NASCAR weekly series national champion.
Jack Roush, five-time car owner champion in NASCAR’s three national series.
Ricky Rudd, won 23 times in NASCAR’s premier series, including the 1997 Brickyard 400.
Ken Squier, legendary radio and television broadcaster; inaugural winner/namesake of Squier-Hall Award for NASCAR Media Excellence.
Mike Stefanik, winner of record-tying nine NASCAR championships.
Waddell Wilson, won three NASCAR premier series championships as an engine builder.
Robert Yates, won NASCAR premier series championship as both an engine builder and owner.