NASCAR Hall of Fame picks for 2017 induction
Today is the day the NASCAR Hall of Fame voting committee meets to select the five 2017 inductees to the NASCAR Hall of Fame to officially be inducted early next year. The have a list of 20 nominees from which to choose. The committee also will chose the recipient of the Landmark Award from a list of five nominees.
I’m not on the voting committee, but I still enjoy making my own picks, and for this year’s class, here they are:
Red Byron and Raymond Parks — I think there’s something to be said for being the first at something. After all, without the first, there wouldn’t be a second, third, fourth and so on and so forth. Red Byron was the first NASCAR premier series champion in 1949. Meanwhile, Raymond Parks was his car owner. Parks also was one of the individuals instrumental in Bill France getting NASCAR off the ground and up and running, so to speak. I think it’s time the firsts are recognized with NASCAR Hall of Fame inclusion.
Ron Hornaday – I’m all for Ron Hornaday being a first-ballot inductee into the Hall of Fame. The Hall doesn’t have Camping World Truck Series representation, yet, and this series is one of the sanctioning body’s three national divisions. Who better to represent the series than Hornaday? The guy is a four-time champion of the series, the most championships of anyone in the Truck Series. He also leads the series in race wins with 51.
Mark Martin — Unlike many of his fellow-nominees, Mark Martin never won a Sprint Cup Series championship, but he’s unofficially been known for years as the best driver to never win a championship. He’s a 96-time race winner across NASCAR’s three national series. Don’t let his lack of a championship fool you. Martin is definitely one of the best.
Rick Hendrick — To say Rick Hendrick is a successful NASCAR owner would be a gross understatement. The guy’s won 14 titles across NASCAR’s three national series as a car owner. Not to mention, 11 of those championships are at the Sprint Cup level, the top level in NASCAR. And those 11 championships came with three dirfferent drivers behind the wheel — Terry Labonte, Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson. And just as Johnson put together a string of five-straight championships just a few years ago, Hendrick was the championship car owner those five-consecutive years. And that wasn’t the only time Hendrick put together a string of consecutive Cup titles. He was the owner for four-straight championships between 1995 and 1998 with two different drivers — Gordon and Labonte.
Other NASCAR Hall of Fame nominees include Buddy Baker, Richard Childress, Ray Evernham, Ray Fox, Harry Hyde, Alan Kulwicki, Hershel McGriff, Benny Parsons, Larry Phillips, Jack Roush, Ricky Rudd, Ken Squier, Mike Stefanik, Waddell Wilson and Robert Yates.
The five nominees for the Landmark Award include H. Clay Earles, Janet Guthrie, Raymond Parks, Ralph Seagraves and Ken Squier.
I’m going with Ralph Seagraves on this one. He was responsible for the partnership between NASCAR and longtime Cup Series entitlement sponsor, Winston. Without Winston sponsorship, I’m sure NASCAR wouldn’t be where it is today. Heck we may not even have NASCAR these days had it not been for that Winston sponsorship.
I guess my picks don’t really count for much since I’m not on the voting committee, but here they are nonetheless. And honestly, while being a member of the voting committee would be such a huge honor, I don’t envy the task at hand for those who are on the committee. These picks get tougher and tougher every year.