Jeff Gordon Leads Class of 2019 NASCAR Hall of Fame Inductees
The NASCAR Hall of Fame voting committee has selected Jeff Gordon, Roger Penske, Jack Roush, Alan Kulwicki, and Davie Allison as the class of 2019.
Davey Allison, Jeff Gordon, Alan Kulwicki, Roger Penske and Jack Roush were elected as 2019 inductees into the NASCAR Hall of Fame on voting day at the Hall of Fame in Uptown Charlotte, N.C., on Wednesday. The 2019 class will be officially inducted on February 1, 2019. Gordon led the way, with his name appearing on 96 percent of the 57 ballots cast, including one ballot created by the compilation of an online fan vote. Roush’s name was on 70 percent of the ballots cast.
Gordon, Allison, and Kulwicki also cracked the top-five in the fan vote, but Roush and Penske did not. Instead, Buddy Baker and Harry Gant rounded out the top-five in that segment.
Upon his induction, Gordon officially will become a first-ballot NASCAR Hall of Famer. He officially retired from competition as a full-time Cup Series driver upon the completion of the 2015 NASCAR premier-series season, although he did return in the second half of the 2016 campaign to run a handful of races as a substitute for the injured Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Gordon is third on the all-time wins list at NASCAR’s top level. His 93 victories trail only Richard Petty and David Pearson, already in the NASCAR Hall of Fame. His four championships trail only seven-time champions Petty, Dale Earnhardt, also in the Hall of Fame, and still-active driver Jimmie Johnson. Another notable Gordon accomplishment includes winning the inaugural Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 1994.
"There are certain athletes in the world. that over a span of years, can change and adapt and continue to be competitive," Ray Evernham, who won three championships as Gordon’s crew chief and was inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame earlier this year, said in a press release from Hendrick Motorsports. "When you've got somebody that can do that and be at the top of a sport over the span of 20 years, it just says what an incredible athlete or what an incredible person they are.”
While drivers need to be retired for three years before Hall of Fame consideration, active car owners are eligible for induction, as is the case for both Penske and Roush.
Roush is the winningest team owner across NASCAR’s three national series—Monster Energy NASCAR Cup, Xfinity and Camping World Truck — with a combined victory tally of 325, including two Cup Series wins last season with driver Ricky Stenhouse Jr. at Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama and Daytona International Speedway in Florida. He has five national-level owner championships, and three driver championships have been claimed by Roush Fenway Racing drivers, including two Cup Series championships for Matt Kenseth and Kurt Busch in 2003 and 2004.
Penske is one of the most successful car owners across multiple series, including top-level NASCAR racing. His Team Penske has 107 premier-series wins and a Cup Series championship won by Brad Keselowski in 2012. Penske also shares an Xfinity Series record with fellow-NASCAR team owner Joe Gibbs with three-consecutive Xfinity Series owner championships between 2013 and 2015.
“I don’t know of anyone that has accomplished as much across all levels of motorsports as Roger Penske,” former Team Penske driver Rusty Wallace said in a press release from the team. "I don’t know of anyone in motorsports that is as respected among all levels of racing and business as Roger. He’s my personal mentor and my personal hero. He has helped me immeasurably, both in racing and in business. I can’t say enough about Roger; he’s just an all-around fantastic person."
While Gordon retired under his own terms and Roush and Penske still go strong, the NASCAR careers of Allison and Kulwicki were cut short by tragedy in 1993. Allison died as a result of injuries sustained in a helicopter crash at Talladega and Kulwicki in a plane crash between Knoxville and Bristol, Tenn., en route from a sponsor appearance at a Knoxville Hooters location to a race at Bristol Motor Speedway.
Kulwicki died as the defending NASCAR Cup Series championship. His 1992 title stood as the last won by an owner-driver in NASCAR’s top series until Tony Stewart’s final championship in 2011. Kulwicki began his full-time Cup Series career in 1986 and won five times in 207 career races.
Allison’s top-series career also fell short of 10 years, as he raced in the premier series from 1985 until his death in 1993. During that span of time, he competed in 191 Cup Series races, and nearly 10 percent, 19 times, his race ended in victory lane, including the 1992 Daytona 500. Allison was third in the championship points standings in his final two full-time seasons of competition in 1991 and 1992.
The NASCAR Hall of Fame voting committee also selected Jim Hunter as the recipient of the 2019 Landmark Award for Outstanding Contributions to NASCAR on Wednesday. His receipt of the honor officially will be commemorated during the 2019 Hall of Fame induction ceremony.
Hunter worked in NASCAR for more than six decades in capacities including journalism, track public relations, and as track president. He served as a PR Director at Darlington Raceway in South Carolina and Talladega Superspeedway and was President of Darlington Raceway. Hunter died after a battle against cancer in 2010.