CHARLOTTE, NC - JANUARY 19: Members of the NASCAR Hall of Fame pose for a photo opportunity following the NASCAR Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony at Charlotte Convention Center on January 19, 2018 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

This week NASCAR opened up the fan voting for the 2019 Hall of Fame.  Once again NASCAR will be adding five people to its Hall of Fame from the twenty folks listed on the nominee list which can be found here: https://www.nascar.com/news-media/2018/03/06/nominees-announced-nascar-hall-fame-class-2019/

Fan Voting Opens for 2019 NASCAR Hall of Fame

I put my five nominees out on social media and asked for people’s comments and choices.  As usual, NASCAR fans were not short on opinions.  First, let’s take a look at my informal poll results.

  • Jeff Gordon I’m not sure if Gordon, the four-time champion, will be included on everyone’s ballot when all is said and done, but he was on everyone’s list in my informal poll.  Can everyone say shoe-in?
  • Buddy Baker Baker received a huge amount of support in my poll.  Baker, who won 19 races in his distinguished career certainly has a huge following.
  • Alan Kulwicki (tie) Kulwicki won the Championship in 1992. We lost Kulwicki in a plane crash the following year.  It’s tough not to include Kulwicki who was voted as a top 50 driver in NASCAR of all time.
  • Joe Gibbs (tie)  It’s really a hard call for many to separate Jack Roush, Roger Penske and Gibbs.  I think in the end what separated Gibbs from the pack of owners were his 9 Championships vs Roush’s five and Penske’s 4.
  • Davey Allison (tie) Part of the famous Allison clan and a member of the old “Alabama Gang”, Allison won 19 times, including the 1992 Daytona 500.  One year later, the 32-year-old Allison died in a helicopter crash.  Larry McReynolds once said after Allison’s death, “I lost my best friend.”  McReynolds was the Crew Chief for Allison.

My Five

I found myself in agreement with most of the results of the poll with a couple of exceptions.  Gordon, Gibbs, and Kulwicki were on my ballot as well.  However, two of my picks did not make the top five list.  One received many comments questioning my choice while my other pick did not.

I had Kirk Shelmerdine on my list.  Part of my reasoning was I thought Crew Chiefs should be represented in the 2019 class. In my opinion, Shelmerdine was at the top of his class.  Part of those great racing seasons of Dale Earnhardt, Shelmerdine played a huge part in Earnhardt’s 46 wins and four Championships.

In those eight seasons as Crew Chief, his group won four consecutive Pit Crew titles.  Fans often forget because the drivers are so high profile in our sport, but racing is a team sport.  Shelmerdine deserves to be recognized for the success Dale Earnhardt and his team had for that decade.  He gets my vote.

Reasons For The Ricky Rudd Choice

My last choice drew a lot of debate from NASCAR fans and I readily admit I probably voted more with my heart here.  I loved Ricky Rudd.  To me, he was just that old time tough racer who would never get outworked on the track.  Lack of effort was not in his DNA.  I loved that about Rudd.

My favorite Ricky Rudd story happened in 1984 at Daytona International Speedway.  Rudd, nicknamed “The Roster”, crashed hard in the Busch Clash suffering head trauma.  In fact the next week at the Daytona 500, Rudd’s eyes were so swollen he taped them open so he could see.  Now that’s tough.

Rudd also was named one of NASCAR’s 50 Greatest Drivers.  Rudd also had an amazing  906 starts in the premier Cup series.  He’s got longevity covered.

Who Votes

There will be 53 experts voting for this year’s inductees.  The five fan favorites will count as the 54th vote.  You can vote up to 50 times a day.  Here’s the link.

http://www.nascarhall.com/inductees/fan-vote

I’d love to hear your thoughts.  Thanks for readingListen to WTBQ radio on Monday and Friday mornings at 8:45 as I join Frank, Taylor and the Morning Show gang to discuss all the current happenings in NASCAR.  1110AM 93.5FM or online at WTBQ.COM.  You can also follow me on twitter @JimLaplante

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