A driver whose dogged determination led to a championship, a crew chief who revolutionized the sport, and a competitor whose career was measured as much by his impact on the track as by his trips to Victory Lane, are among the new nominees for the 2016 NASCAR Hall of Fame Class.
The 20 nominees were announced Friday night on NASCAR AMERICA on NBCSN. Hall of Fame voters will select the next five-member class May 20.
There are five first-time nominees – Alan Kulwicki, Ray Evernham, Mark Martin, Harry Hyde and Hershel McGriff.
The other 15 nominees have been eligible for the Hall of Fame previously. They are: Buddy Baker, Red Byron, Richard Childress, Jerry Cook, Ray Fox, Rick Hendrick, Bobby Isaac, Terry Labonte, Raymond Parks, Benny Parsons, Larry Phillips, Bruton Smith, Mike Stefanik, Curtis Turner and Robert Yates.
Kulwicki, selected as one of NASCAR’s 50 Greatest Drivers, nipped Bill Elliott for the 1992 championship by 10 points, completing a dramatic late-season rally for the title. Kulwicki died less than five months after winning the championship in a plane crash en route to a race at Bristol. He finished with five wins and 24 poles in 207 Cup starts.
Martin, whose driving etiquette influenced many competitors, won 40 Sprint Cup races and 49 Xfinity races. His Xfinity victories rank second all time in the series. He ranks 17th in career Cup victories. Martin also finished as the Sprint Cup championship runner-up five times.
Hyde, a crew chief who won the 1970 championship with Isaac, was the inspiration for the Harry Hogge character in the 1990 movie “Days of Thunder.’’ He helped Isaac to 28 wins in 1969-70. Among the drivers Hyde was paired with was Tim Richmond. They won seven races in 1986.
Evernham won three championships as Jeff Gordon’s crew chief in the 1990s for Hendrick Motorsports. Evernham revolutionized the sport with the advent of a dedicated pit crew and the calls he made during races.
McGriff, who was selected as one of NASCAR’s 50 Greatest Drivers, raced in the sport’s top series in four different decades. The 87-year-old last competed in a NASCAR K&N Pro Series West race in 2012.
Also revealed were the five nominees for the Landmark Award for Outstanding Contribution to NASCAR: Harold Brasington, H. Clay Earles, Raymond Parks, Ralph Seagraves, and Ken Squier.