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2019 NASCAR Hall of Fame Inductees Selected

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (May 23, 2018) – NASCAR announced today the inductees who will comprise the NASCAR Hall of Fame Class of 2019. The five-person group – the 10th since the inception of the NASCAR Hall of Fame in 2010 – consists of Davey Allison, Alan Kulwicki, Jeff Gordon, Roger Penske and Jack Roush. In addition, NASCAR announced that Jim Hunter earned the 2019 Landmark Award for Outstanding Contributions to NASCAR. The distinguished group will be honored during the NASCAR Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony on Feb. 1, 2019.

The NASCAR Hall of Fame Voting Panel met today in a closed session at the Charlotte Convention Center to debate and vote upon the 20 nominees for the induction class of 2019 and the five nominees for the Landmark Award.

The Class of 2019 was determined by votes cast by the Voting Panel, including representatives from NASCAR, the NASCAR Hall of Fame, track owners from major facilities and historic short tracks, media members, manufacturer representatives, competitors (drivers, owners, crew chiefs), recognized industry leaders, a nationwide fan vote conducted through NASCAR.com and, for the fifth year, the reigning Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion (Martin Truex Jr.). In all, 57 votes were cast, with two additional Voting Panel members recused from voting as potential nominees for induction (Ricky Rudd and Waddell Wilson). The accounting firm of EY presided over the tabulation of the votes.

Voting was as follows: Jeff Gordon (96%), Jack Roush (70%), Roger Penske (68%), Davey Allison (63%) and Alan Kulwicki (46%).

The next top vote-getters were Buddy Baker, Hershel McGriff and Waddell Wilson.

Results for the NASCAR.com Fan Vote, in alphabetical order, were Davey Allison, Buddy Baker, Harry Gant, Jeff Gordon and Alan Kulwicki.

The five inductees came from a group of 20 nominees that included, in addition to the five inductees chosen: Buddy Baker, Red Farmer, Ray Fox, Harry Gant, Joe Gibbs, John Holman, Harry Hyde, Bobby Labonte, Hershel McGriff, Ralph Moody, Larry Phillips, Ricky Rudd, Kirk Shelmerdine, Mike Stefanik and Waddell Wilson.

Nominees for the Landmark Award included Janet Guthrie, Barney Hall, Alvin Hawkins, Hunter and Ralph Seagraves.

The Class of 2019 Induction Weekend is set for Thursday, Jan. 31, 2019, through Saturday, Feb. 2, 2019, at the NASCAR Hall of Fame and Charlotte Convention Center in Charlotte, North Carolina. The official Induction Ceremony will take place on Friday, Feb. 1, 2019. The Class of 2019 marks the 10th class and a total of 50 legends inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame. To celebrate the momentous occasion, new events and special programs have been added throughout the extended weekend.

Tickets to Induction Ceremony events begin at $75 per person (plus tax and applicable service fees). Tickets go on sale on Saturday, June 9, 2018, at 10 a.m. ET. A special pre-sale will be available to NASCAR Hall of Fame members Wednesday, May 30, 2018, through Friday, June 8, 2018. To learn about becoming a NASCAR Hall of Fame member, visit nascarhall.com/membership. For additional details about the Class of 2019 Induction Weekend schedule and ticket packages, visit nascarhall.com/inductees/induction-ceremony.

Class of 2019 Inductees:

Davey Allison

Davey Allison was born with speed. The son of NASCAR Hall of Famer Bobby Allison grew up more interested in football, but could not escape the racing bug, following his father into the family profession. The younger Allison honed his skills at local Alabama tracks, getting his big break in 1987, taking over for legendary driver Cale Yarborough in Ranier-Lundy’s Ford Thunderbird. Allison spent no time continuing the family’s legacy, compiling two wins, five poles and nine top fives in his full-season debut to capture 1987 premier series rookie of the year. Allison won 19 races and 14 poles, including the 1992 Daytona 500, before his tragic death in a helicopter accident in 1993.

Jeff Gordon

Blessed with once-in-a-generation talent and charisma, Jeff Gordon helped take NASCAR from a regional sport to the mainstream. Gordon took NASCAR by storm in the 1990s, becoming the youngest driver in the modern era to win a premier series title as a 24-year-old in 1995. He went on to win three more championships (1997, ’98, 2001). In 1998, Gordon led the Rainbow Warriors – named for his colorful No. 24 Chevrolet – to a modern era-record 13 wins. Overall, he won 93 races, which ranks third on the all-time wins list. Gordon is a three-time Daytona 500 champion and won the Brickyard 400 a record five times.

Alan Kulwicki

Noted Wisconsin short-track racer Alan Kulwicki moved to Charlotte in 1984 with nothing but a pickup truck, a self-built race car and the hopes of competing in NASCAR’s highest series. He had no sponsor and a limited budget. Kulwicki burst onto the scene as the 1986 NASCAR Rookie of the Year with his self-owned AK Racing team. Throughout his career, Kulwicki received lucrative offers from powerhouse race teams, but insisted on racing for himself. That determination eventually led to his first of five career victories at Phoenix in 1988. His signature season was his championship-winning 1992 campaign, where Kulwicki overcame a 278-point deficit with six races remaining to capture the NASCAR premier series title. Kulwicki never got the chance to defend his title, dying in a plane crash in 1993.

Roger Penske

A true captain of industry, Roger Penske has steered one of the most successful motorsports ships in the sport’s history. Penske, who celebrated his 50th anniversary in racing in 2016, reached a major milestone and collected a prestigious award during the golden anniversary season. That year, he reached 100 wins in NASCAR’s premier series and capped off the season by receiving the Bill France Award of Excellence. Penske won the premier series championship in 2012 with driver Brad Keselowski, and owns two Daytona 500 wins with Ryan Newman in 2008 and Joey Logano in 2015. And from 2013-15, Penske tied a record with three consecutive owner championship in the NASCAR Xfinity Series. Off the track, Penske likewise makes an indelible mark. He built the two-mile Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California in 1996, and previously owned Michigan International Speedway.

Jack Roush

Once a Michigan-based drag racing owner and enthusiast, Jack Roush made his best motorsports decision when he turned south in 1988 to start a NASCAR team. Since beginning Roush Racing (now known as Roush Fenway Racing), the graduate-level mathematician turned engineering entrepreneur has won a record 325 races across NASCAR’s three national series. Overall, Roush boasts five NASCAR national series owner championships, while his drivers have won an additional three driver championships. Roush has displayed a prowess for discovering and developing talent. He helped Matt Kenseth (2003) and Kurt Busch (2004) grow into premier series champions and also jumpstarted the careers of Carl Edwards and Greg Biffle.

Landmark Award for Outstanding Contributions to NASCAR:

Jim Hunter

Throughout his career, Jim Hunter left an indelible mark on NASCAR and those associated with the sport. His wit and wisdom helped guide NASCAR’s growth during portions of six decades as a company executive, track president, public relations professional and journalist. Hunter broke into the motorsports business as a member of the media in the 1950s. He worked as the sports editor of the Columbia Record, was an award-winning reporter for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and columnist for Stock Car Racing magazine. He moved to the public relations side of the business with Dodge in the 1960s before serving as public relations director at Darlington Raceway and Talladega Superspeedway. In 1993, he became president of Darlington Raceway and corporate vice president of the International Speedway Corporation. He remained at Darlington until 2001 when he accepted an offer from Bill France Jr. to return to NASCAR to lead an expanded public relations effort aimed at responding to the needs of burgeoning media coverage. 

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WAID’S WORLD: Sonoma 1991 – NASCAR Breaks Rank, Orders Disqualification

Sonoma Raceway is the site of a race in which the driver who took the checkered flag first was not the official winner.

It was one of those very rare times in which NASCAR essentially disqualified a driver and awarded victory to another.

It happened in 1991 the year in which Sonoma played host to its third Winston Cup Series event. There had not been a disqualification in the two decades preceding the race and there hasn’t been one since.

NASCAR has always been hesitant to declare a disqualification no matter how blatant a misdeed may be or how strongly observers urge it to do so.

Many times over the years a winning driver whose car was declared illegal in post-race inspection has been fined, had points taken away or even suspended. But his victory stood – and thus was entered into the record books.

At Sonoma in 1991 NASCAR didn’t deal with an illegal car. It took action after it determined that one driver’s tactics against another to take the lead warranted stern, and unprecedented, discipline.

The Banquet Frozen Foods 300 on the 12-turn, 1.999-mile Sonoma road course was the 11th race of the 1991 season.

Ricky Rudd, one of the drivers for Hendrick Motorsports, came into the race in a scuffle with Dale Earnhardt for the championship.

Many gave Rudd, an accomplished road racer who had won Sonoma’s inaugural race in 1989, the edge. He was certainly one of the pre-race favorites.

The race was filled with drama. Rusty Wallace ran superbly and seemed to have the race won until his Roger Penske-owned Pontiac dropped a cylinder with 10 laps to go.

Tommy Kendall, substituting for the injured Kyle Petty on the Felix Sabates-owned Sabco Racing team, inherited the lead and was poised for an upset victory when he wrecked with Mark Martin with less than three laps remaining.

That shoved Davey Allison into the lead. Allison, the 1987 Rookie of the Year, was in his fourth season with Robert Yates Racing.

Allison maintained a one-car length over Rudd as the two headed into the hairpin 11th-turn, a place which has routinely seen more than its share of incidents.

Rudd nudged the rear of Allison’s Ford, which immediately went into a spin. Rudd, in a Chevrolet, took the lead while Allison recovered.

NASCAR took action quickly and ruled that Rudd’s actions amounted to a flagrant foul. It immediately informed Rudd’s crew chief, Waddell Wilson, that his driver would serve a stop-and-go penalty.

But Rudd had already taken the white flag. In order for him to serve the penalty, he would have to go off the course and into the pits before the checkered flag.

Which, of course, was something he wasn’t about to do.

So you can imagine his surprise when he didn’t receive the checkered flag at the start-finish line. Instead the black flag flew.

Allison crossed the finish line four seconds later and was declared the winner.

Fans and media were perplexed. No one had ever seen this type of thing before and didn’t know what to make of it.

For a couple of hours confusion reigned in the garage area. Finally NASCAR issued a five-second penalty to Rudd, which effectively put him in second place.

NASCAR called it a penalty. But when a driver is stripped of a victory, I think most of us would call that a disqualification.

Naturally there was outrage. Wilson was especially upset. He had never seen NASCAR take a victory away from a driver.

“I’ve been around since 1961 and this is the rottenest thing I’ve seen from NASCAR,” Wilson said. “When Kendall and Martin wrecked, they didn’t do a thing to either one of them.”

The late Les Richter, then the director of the Winston Cup Series, said that NASCAR was trying to maintain law and order.

“Ricky hit Davey in the rear and spun Davey out,” Richter said. “Yes, they were racing to win but sometimes you have to make a judgment call. It’s like calling balls and strikes.”

Allison said he did not cut off Rudd, rather, he was simply the victim. He added that he was hit so hard his rear wheels came off the ground.

Allison admitted he did not know if Rudd’s actions were intentional but added, “The race was taken away from us in an unsportsman-like fashion and NASCAR rightfully restored it to us.”

You can just imagine Rudd’s response. He claimed that, indeed, he hit Allison but it was unintentional. Rudd had applied the brakes and his car starting hopping, causing it to whack Allison’s.

“I came around and saw the black flag,” Rudd said. “I did not know what the hell was going on. How could it be a black flag? I had already taken the last lap.”

Rudd’s rants of complaint included the comment, “If you have never seen the World Wrestling Federation, this is it. I’m tired of this mess.”

That wasn’t the first time NASCAR has been compared to professional wrestling and it would not be the last.

Even with the penalty Rudd managed to cut 53 points off Earnhardt’s lead for the championship. But it wasn’t enough.

Rudd finished the season in second place, 95 points behind Earnhardt, who won the title for the fifth time.

In 2002 Rudd won at Sonoma for the second time in his career.

Ironically, he was driving for Robert Yates Racing.

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