Three drivers who probably won’t be among NASCAR Hall of Fame’s next group of nominees
**EDITOR’S NOTE: Fortunately, an incorrect prediction was made, and since the writing of this blog post, Davey Allison and Alan Kulwicki have been nominated for the NASCAR Hall of Fame. Admittedly, it’s a pleasant mistake that I don’t mind being wrong about.
Today (March 8) is the day the NASCAR Hall of Fame nominating committee meets to compile its latest list of nominees from which the 2018 class of Hall of Fame inductees will be selected. This time of year, fans lament that some of their favorite drivers of the past haven’t been nominated for the Hall. The names that seem to come up most often include Davey Allison, Alan Kulwicki and Tim Richmond.
All three of the aforementioned deceased drivers compiled impressive stats during their short time in NASCAR. And for all three, their careers ended way too soon. But there’s a reasonable explanation as to why these three haven’t received recognition in the form of NASCAR Hall of Fame nomination: time — as in the short amount of time they competed in the sport.
Among the required NASCAR Hall of fame criteria for consideration of drivers is the stipulation that they must have competed in the sport for a minimum of 10 years. Allison, Kulwicki and Richmond came close to that 10-year threshold, but they just missed it. Well, when it comes to Allison, that time stipulation may be debated, if you want to split hairs. But I’m guessing time is the reason for his lack of a nomination. Same for Kulwicki, actually.
I’ll approach Richmond’s timetable, because it seems, perhaps, the most clear-cut. Richmond competed in NASCAR for only eight years, even if you count, not only all of NASCAR’s national series of the day (the Truck Series didn’t exist, yet), but also if you count regional series. No ifs, ands or buts about it. That puts Richmond two year’s short of the 10-year minimum requirement, end of discussion.
We may actually split hairs on Allison and Kulwicki’s timeline, and I’m guessing NASCAR Hall of Fame nominee committee members fall on the side of “not long enough.” And here’s the reasoning that got me to that conclusion.
Allison and Kulwicki each competed at the Cup level for nine years, one year shy of the minimum requirement of 10. But wait just a minute. The Hall of Fame isn’t limited to the Cup Series. Inductions of drivers like Richie Evans and Jack Ingram are proof-positive of that.
Add time spent in the Busch (now-Xfinity) Series, and Allison’s time in the sport grows to 10 years. Add in years spent in NASCAR’s regional series and the timetable grows a little more. But, maybe, NASCAR only considers time in the series in which Hall of Fame-worthy stats are compiled, and like it or not, Allison’s Busch-turned-Xfinity stats aren’t stellar. He never won in his 86 starts in the series. I’m guessing spending nine, not 10, years at the Cup level will keep Allison out.
I came up with similar reasoning for Kulwicki’s snub. Like Allison, he spent nine years at the Cup level, one year shy of the 10-year requirement. Add Busch/Xfinity starts and it may be argued that Kulwicki was in the sport for 10 years, but that added year was a season in which he made only four starts. Altogether, Kulwicki just made six-career starts in NASCAR’s secondary series, so I’m guessing the nominating committee doesn’t include those starts to get him to the 10-year threshold.
I’m not suggesting that these three drivers — Allison, Kulwicki and Richmond — will never be in the Hall of Fame. Hair-splitting on time may eventually get Allison and Kulwicki consideration. And, who knows? Criteria could change. It’s happened before. Future changes to the rules — and we all know NASCAR isn’t against changing rules — may make these three drivers, including Richmond, eligible. It could happen.