Wednesday, November 22, 2023

CHRISTIE: Four NASCAR Hall of Fame Voters Picked the Wrong Time and Place to Prove a Point

NASCAR hall of fame Jimmie Johnson not unanimous who didn't vote for Jimmie Johnson NASCAR hall of fame
On Wednesday, Jimmie Johnson was elected to the 2024 NASCAR Hall of Fame Class. However, four panelists opted to not make Johnson the first-ever unanimous decision in NASCAR Hall of Fame history. Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton, Getty Images

On Wednesday, Jimmie Johnson was one of the three legends named to the NASCAR Hall of Fame Class of 2024. Not surprising. However, what was somewhat surprising was that Johnson, a seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion and the first-ever driver to win five-consecutive NASCAR Cup Series titles, was not the first-ever unanimous selection in the history of the NASCAR Hall of Fame’s election process.

53 of the 57-person NASCAR Hall of Fame voting panel selected Johnson on their ballots. Unfathomably, four voters did not.

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Sure, Hall of Fame voters are allowed to vote for who they think is the most qualified person for the Hall of Fame class each year, and in most cases, lists of drivers can have varying opinions as to who was the greatest on track. But in this instance, the facts don’t lie; Jimmie Johnson was far and away the most qualified candidate on the list.

As far as drivers go, ZERO of the other nominees on the Modern Era Ballot for 2024 have scored a NASCAR Cup Series championship, while Johnson is tied for the all-time record with seven NASCAR Cup Series titles.

The other six drivers on the Modern Era list COMBINED for 108 NASCAR Cup Series wins. Johnson won a total of 83 NASCAR Cup Series races over his illustrious career.

In all, just FOUR nominees had NASCAR Cup Series championships on their resumes: Johnson, and Knaus (seven Cup Series championships each), and crew chiefs Tim Brewer (two) and Harry Hyde (one).

When you look at the list of who finished in line behind Johnson and Knaus on the overall Modern Era ballot, you’ll see the names of Ricky Rudd and Carl Edwards. Impactful drivers in their own right, no doubt. And drivers that undoubtedly deserve to be in the NASCAR Hall of Fame someday. But not before a seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion goes in.

There is no logical reason that you would select anyone on the 2024 Hall of Fame Ballot without selecting Jimmie Johnson first. None. Instead, it seems four people chose the NASCAR Hall of Fame panel as the time and place to prove a point. But the only point they ended up proving is that they have no business being allowed in that room each year.

There are plenty of reasons, which fall outside the spirit of voting on the Hall of Fame class, that someone would vote against Johnson on this ballot.

Did the four people think that Johnson should not be eligible for the NASCAR Hall of Fame due to Johnson still running part-time in the NASCAR Cup Series season this year for LEGACY MOTOR CLUB? This is a very possible reason that someone would not add Johnson to their ballot, but it’s a misguided reason.

As a Hall of Fame panelist, your job isn’t to define who should be eligible to be up for NASCAR Hall of Fame consideration. That work has already been done by the nominating committee.

When you’re in that room, your job is to vote in good faith for the most qualified candidates. Period. You’re for sure not there to make a statement about what you think about the eligibility requirements of the Hall of Fame.

Denny Hamlin threw out some additional options on X (formerly Twitter) of why someone may have omitted Johnson from their ballot, and they’re possibly even more troubling than the aforementioned reason.

Hamlin’s list was as follows:

  1. You don’t like them.
  2. You weren’t voted in unanimously and are repaying the favor.
  3. You feel as though they will have other years to get in and wanna vote for someone in their final year of eligibility.
  4. You voted for a “buddy” instead.
  5. Haven’t watched a race in the last 20 years.

At the end of the day, it doesn’t much matter the reason that four people chose to just ignore Jimmie Johnson as one of the greatest drivers in the history of the sport on Wednesday. And at the end of the day, Johnson made the Hall as a first balloter.

But what those four voters did in that room on Wednesday at the NASCAR Hall of Fame is an absolute slap in the face to the history of the sport. Four people went into business for themselves to prove a point. And that is not what the Hall of Fame voting process is for. For that reason, those four voters should never have the honor of voting on a NASCAR Hall of Fame class ever again.

Toby Christie
Toby Christie
Toby is the Founder, and Editor-in-Chief of Toby is also the co-host of The Final Lap Weekly Podcast. Additionally, he is an award-winning writer, and has followed the sport as a fan since 1993.

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