Nate Ryan’s ballot for the 2017 NASCAR Hall of Fame class

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Nate Ryan cast a ballot Wednesday for the NASCAR Hall of Fame as NBC Sports’ digital representative. It’s the eighth consecutive year of voting for Ryan, who is one of 57 members of the NASCAR Hall of Fame voting panel (including one online vote determined by fans). His ballot for the eighth class (followed by his ballot for each of the preceding seven years, which included six at USA TODAY Sports):

  1. Rick Hendrick: The most successful team owner in NASCAR history has a record 11 Sprint Cup championships, most recently with Jimmie Johnson in 2013. Hendrick, 66, has compiled 219 victories over 30 years with a diverse driver lineup that includes Johnson, Jeff Gordon, Terry Labonte, Tim Richmond, Darrell Waltrip, Ricky Rudd, Kyle Busch, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Kasey Kahne. Hendrick Motorsports’ sprawling 12-building campus sits on 140 acres in Charlotte, N.C., and is the industry standard.
  2. Ray Evernham: Voted the greatest crew chief of all time in a 2006 media poll, the impact of Evernham, 58, transcends his sterling statistics. He won three championships with Jeff Gordon during a virtually unbeatable stretch of 1995-98 while introducing innovations in car building, pit crews and strategies that still are used today. His legacy remains visible through the many careers he shaped as a team leader and car owner: The past two championships have been won by crew chiefs (Chad Knaus and Rodney Childers) who spent time in Evernham’s tutelage.
  3. Benny Parsons: The 1973 series champion and 1975 Daytona 500 winner scored 21 victories in 526 starts, but he also was well known for being an affable broadcaster, including with NBC Sports. The Ellerbe, North Carolina, native was a friend to many of the garage, informally consulting with team owners and drivers and offering wise counsel on major career decisions. Greg Biffle credited Parsons’ support with pairing him with car owner Jack Roush 18 years ago and kick-starting his foray into the big leagues. Parsons died of cancer in January 2007
  4. Raymond Parks: A pioneering team owner whose financial investment and dedication helped get NASCAR off the ground in 1948. Parks fielded the car that won the first championship in NASCAR’s premier series with Red Byron in 1949. The Georgia native began racing cars in 1938 with drivers Lloyd Seay and Roy Hall.
  5. Red Byron: The first NASCAR premier series champion, capturing the Modified Division in 1948. The Anniston, Alabama, native competed from 1949-51, winning twice and starting from two poles in 15 starts. Byron was named one of NASCAR’s 50 greatest drivers.

Ryan’s previous NASCAR Hall of Fame ballots:

2010: Dale Earnhardt, Richard Petty, Junior Johnson, David Pearson, Bill France Jr.

2011: Pearson, Darrell Waltrip, Cale Yarborough, Bobby Allison, Lee Petty

2012: Waltrip, Yarborough, Dale Inman, Raymond Parks, Curtis Turner

2013: Fireball Roberts, Tuner, Fred Lorenzen, Herb Thomas, Tim Flock

2014: Roberts, Turner, Lorenzen, Flock, Joe Weatherly

2015: Lorenzen, Turner, Weatherly, O. Bruton Smith, Rick Hendrick

2016: Turner, Smith, Hendrick, Ray Evernham, Bobby Isaac