CHARLOTTE – Jeff Gordon, a four-time NASCAR champion who is third on the all-time victory list, lead the voting Wednesday and will be one of five new members of the NASCAR Hall of Fame next year.
In addition to dominating the sport for much of the 1990s, Gordon is considered a transitional figure in auto racing. He carried NASCAR into new places and outside its traditional Southern moorings, appearing on national television shows and attracting multi-million-dollar sponsors.
Elected in his first year of eligibility, Gordon, 46, received 96 percent of the votes cast Wednesday, tying a record. No one in the 10-year history of the hall has received a unanimous vote.
“It’s an amazing accomplishment and I’m so honored to be a part of this group,” Gordon said. “All the legends, and all the names that have been inducted over the years, and what NASCAR has done to the Hall of Fame to make it so special . . . man, I’m on cloud nine right now.”
Also elected in voting by a panel of NASCAR officials, track owners, drivers, team owners and journalists were current team owners Jack Roush and Roger Penske and late drivers Alan Kulwicki and Davey Allison. They will be inducted Feb. 1 next year.
Roush received 70% of the vote Wednesday, followed by Penske with 68, Allison with 63 and Kulwicki with 46. Next on the list and missing election were drivers Buddy Baker and Hershel McGriff and crew chief/engine builder Waddell Wilson.
Allison won the online fan vote, which counts as one vote in the tabulation. Fifty-six panel members voted.
Gordon, now a racing analyst for Fox Sports, totaled 93 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victories over a career that began in 1992 and ended in 2016. He won Cup championships in 1995, 1997, 1998 and 2001.
Gordon trails only Richard Petty (200) and David Pearson (105) in Cup wins. He won 10 races in 1996, 10 in 1997 and 13 in 1998.
Kulwicki won the Cup championship in a close race in 1992. He scored only five Cup wins but is celebrated as an independent team owner/driver who won the top NASCAR championship against the odds. He died in a plane crash in 1993 at the age of 38.
Allison roared into stock car racing on the wings of his father, Hall of Famer Bobby Allison, but he carved his own niche. Wildly popular for his aggressive racing style and dependable engagement with fans, Allison won 19 times in only 191 Cup starts. He was killed in a helicopter crash at Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama in 1993 at the age of 32.
Roush has been in NASCAR since 1988. He built a team that has produced 325 NASCAR victories.
“On the backs of giants I’ve been carried to recognition and success I couldn’t have gotten on my own,” Roush said.
Matt Kenseth and Kurt Busch won Cup championships with Roush, and Mark Martin won 83 national series races in Roush cars.
Penske has succeeded across a wide spectrum of motorsports. Having celebrated his 50th anniversary in racing in 2016 and still going strong, Penske won the Cup championship with driver Brad Keselowski in 2012. He also has been involved in track ownership and management.
Former Darlington Raceway president and NASCAR official Jim Hunter was named the winner of the Landmark Award for contributions to NASCAR.