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Who will be the New NASCAR Hall of Fame Nominees?

Wednesday, April 11th the NASCAR Hall of Fame will announce the 25 nominees for the next class of Hall of Fame members.  Currently there are 15 members of the Hall of Fame; they are in order of admission to the hall.

2010 Inductees
Bill France Sr.
Richard Petty
Bill France Jr.
Dale Earnhardt
Junior Johnson

2011 Inductees
David Pearson
Bobby Allison
Lee Petty
Ned Jarrett
Bud Moore

2012 Inductees
Cale Yarborough
Darrell Waltrip
Dale Inman
Richie Evans
Glen Wood

As you can see from the above list there were 5 inductees each year, there were 25 nominees last year and certainly the 20 that did not make it last year will be nominees this year.  The 20 who did not make it last year are Jerry Cook, Fireball Roberts, Fred Lorenzen, Bobby Isaac, Benny Parsons, Cotton Owens, Buck Baker, H. Clay Earles, Curtis Turner, Leonard Wood, Herb Thomas, Jack Ingram, Joe Weatherly, Les Richter, Raymond Parks, Red Byron, Richard Childress, Rick Hendrick, T Wayne Robertson and Tim Flock.

There is no doubt that each and every one of them deserves to be nominated if not inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame.  The big question is who the five new nominees are.  Note there doesn’t have to be 25 nominees but it would be a bigger surprise if there are not 25 then who is in.  This only means one thing, we need to try and guess who the next five are.  Here are some suggestions in alphabetical order.

Sam Ard – I hate to say it but I could only get three years of stats for the two time Champion of what is now called the NASCAR Nationwide series.  In those three years he had 79 top ten finishes in 92 races.  He came in second the first year and won the Championship the next two.  His top ten average is 85% to put that into perspective Kyle Busch has a percentage of 66% in the Nationwide Series.

Harry Gant – Like Mark Martin, Harry Gant never won a Championship but like Mark Martin he was a great driver.  In what is now called the NASCAR Nationwide Series he had 71 top 10 finishes out of 128 starts.  That means that every other race he was in, he had a top 10.  He almost carried the same record with him in what is now called the Sprint Cup Series racking up 208 top ten finishes in 474 races.  Mark Martin would surly come before Harry Gant as his numbers are similar but better than Harry’s.  Mark Martin is not eligible for the Hall because he is still racing.

Alan Kulwicki – The owner driver had much too short of a NASCAR Career.  In his 8 full years in what is now called NASCAR Sprint Cup he only had 75 top ten finishes out of 207 starts but most will argue he did so with less equipment than other drivers did. He won his Championship in his last full year of racing.  Tragically he died only 5 races into the next season.  There are many better drivers who are racing today that have not even come close to a championship.

Bruton Smith – Bruton Smith is the owner of Speedway Motorsports.  For those keeping score Speedway Motorsports owns most of the other tracks that are not owned by International Speedway Corporation which is owned by The France family which owns NASCAR itself.  Some notable speedways owned by Speedway Motorsports are Charlotte Motor Speedway, Bristol Motor Speedway, Atlanta Motor Speedway, Las Vegas Motor Speedway and Texas Motor Speedway.  Bruton Smith is known as one tough character but like him or not his corporation owns some of the most exciting speedways on the NASCAR Circuit.

Rusty Wallace – Rusty Wallace retired from racing over three years ago and is now eligible for the Hall of Fame.  The Cup Champion is certainly worthy.  Not counting his Championship his 349 top ten over 706 starts in 25 years of driving which is almost exactly 50% is similar to Harry Gant’s and Mark Martin’s stats.

There it ist, my five to add to the list.  If you disagree there is room to Rant below and let me know your five.  The NASCAR Hall of Fame will unveil the 25 nominees for the 2013 Hall of Fame class on Wednesday, April 11 at 6 p.m. during Speed channels RaceHub show.

Follow me on Twitter @brian_jr1.  Follow the NASCAR Hall of Fame @NASCARHall.