Dumb question: Why is Jeff Gordon in the NASCAR Hall of Fame?
The NASCAR Hall of Fame will induct its class of 2019 on Friday night at the Charlotte Convention Center. Here’s a look at the Hall’s five new inductees:
Born: Feb. 25, 1961
Died: July 13, 1993
Hometown: Hueytown, Ala.
The son of NASCAR Hall of Famer Bobby Allison, Davey Allison got his breakthrough in racing in 1987 when he took over for Hall of Famer Cale Yarborough. He then won Rookie of the Year in 1987 by virtue of his two wins, five poles, and nine Top 5’s. Allison won 19 Cup races in his career, including the 1992 Daytona 500, and was in contention to win the 1992 Cup championship before a late wreck derailed his chances. Allison was tragically killed in a helicopter accident midway through the 1993 season, months after the death of fellow class of 2019 inductee Alan Kulwicki.
Born: Aug. 4, 1971
Hometown: Vallejo, Calif.
Championships (4): Cup — 1995, ‘97, ‘98, 2001.
One of NASCAR’s top drivers ever, Gordon won four Cup championships during his career, second-all time only to Dale Earnhardt, Richard Petty, and former Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jimmie Johnson. Gordon is still the youngest Cup Series champion, winning his first title — also the first for Hall of Fame owner Rick Hendrick — in 1995. Gordon would win again in 1997, 1998, and 2001, and accrued 93 Cup wins in his career by the time he retired, the third-most all-time. His 797 consecutive Cup starts is a series record, and Gordon remains heavily involved in NASCAR today as a television analyst for FOX and partner at Hendrick Motorsports.
Born: Dec. 14, 1954
Died: April 1, 1993
Hometown: Greenfield, Wisc.
Championships (1): Cup — 1992.
Kulwicki moved to Charlotte to pursue his NASCAR dreams in 1984, and broke out in 1986 as the Cup Series Rookie of the Year for his self-owned AK Racing team. His best season came in 1992, when he overcame a 278-point deficit in the last six races of the season to win his only Cup championship over Hall of Famers Bill Elliott and Mark Martin, as well as fellow class of 2019 inductee Davey Allison. That final 1992 race is considered one of the greatest in NASCAR history, as it was the final start for all-time wins leader Richard Petty and the first start for fellow class of 2019 inductee Jeff Gordon. Kulwicki was unable to defend his title, as he tragically died in a plane crash midway through the 1993 season.
Born: Feb. 20, 1937
Hometown: Shaker Heights, Ohio
Championships (3): Cup — 2012, 2018 (owner); Xfinity — 2010 (owner).
Penske was a famous racer himself before becoming one of the sport’s top team owners. He won four consecutive Sports Car Club of America national championships from 1960-1963 and twice competed in the U.S. Grand Prix for Formula One. As a car owner, Penske has won 174 NASCAR races at the Cup and Xfinity Series levels, including three championships. He has worked with several of NASCAR’s most famous drivers, including Bobby Allison, Rusty Wallace, Ryan Newman, Brad Keselowski, and Joey Logano. Logano is the current Cup Series champion following his victory at Homestead-Miami Speedway in November.
Born: April 19, 1942
Hometown: Covington, Ky.
Championships (8): Cup — 2003, 2004 (owner); Xfinity — 2002, 2007, 2011, 2012, 2015 (owner); Truck — 2000 (owner).
Roush used his mathematics and engineering background to found Roush Racing (now Roush Fenway Racing) in 1988, originally teaming with Hall of Famer Mark Martin. Martin won 83 national series races for Roush Fenway, and the organization as a whole has won a record 325 races since inception, making it the winningest team in NASCAR history. Roush has won two Daytona 500s, and during his lengthy career, has seen 19 different drivers take his cars to Victory Lane. Roush’s ability for spotting and developing talent has been one of his hallmarks in the sport, considering he helped develop Martin, Kurt Busch, Matt Kenseth, Carl Edwards, and Greg Biffle.