Jeff Gordon will be eligible to be voted into NASCAR Hall of Fame next year

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Jeff Gordon will be eligible to be voted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame next year despite returning for eight races last season.

NASCAR Hall of Fame eligibility stipulate that a driver must be retired three years before being considered, which would have put Gordon on the ballot for the May 2018 vote before the four-time Cup series champion substituted for Dale Earnhardt Jr. last year.

NASCAR confirmed Tuesday that Gordon, who retired after the 2015 season from full-time competition, would be eligible for the Hall of Fame.

“Jeff’s eligibility status for the NASCAR Hall of Fame remains unchanged,” NASCAR spokesman Kurt Culbert said. “The unique situation in which he drove last year was as a substitute. As it stands, Jeff can be nominated in 2018 for the class of 2019.”

Gordon could become the first unanimous selection to the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

Tony Stewart, who retired after last season, will be eligible for the May 2019 vote for the NASCAR Hall of Fame.