Voting was held on Wednesday to determine the newest inductees into the NASCAR Hall of Fame. Donnie Allison was recognized as the Pioneer Era selection while driver Jimmie Johnson and crew chief Chad Knaus were chosen from the so-called Modern Era ballot.
While it it should not be shocking to anyone that Johnson and Knaus will be placed into the Hall of Fame, it would seem more than a little surprising that neither received unanimous support from the voters. Of the 57 ballots cast, 53 were marked in favor of Johnson and 46 were in favor of Knaus.
Together the two achieved seven NASCAR Cup Series championships with the No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet team including an incredible run of five consecutive titles between 2006 and 2010.
Along with those seven NASCAR titles, which tied the mark previously set by Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt, Johnson won a total of 83 races at the sport’s highest level. He ranks sixth in his total of checkered flags collected during a Cup Series career.
With those numbers taken into consideration, how was Johnson not a unanimous choice for induction? What four people sat down, considered the ballot, weighed the options, and then failed to check yes beside Johnson’s name?
Were there four people in that room who didn’t understand the voting process and how the ballot was laid out?
Perhaps someone wanted to make a statement of their displeasure toward the Chase/Playoff system used to decide the modern-day champion. Maybe they questioned Johnson’s eligibility due to the fact that he has raced on three occasions during this 2023 season.
Whether those voters questioned that eligibility or not, Johnson was on the ballot. Once that decision was made, it would seem implausible that a reasonable person could not sit down, considering the facts at hand, and vote any other way than to put Johnson in the Hall of Fame.
Current NASCAR driver Denny Hamlin took to Twitter(I’m sorry, X) and offered his thoughts on the matter:
To be a panelist is a honor that should be taken seriously. What 4 people did today is make a joke of that honor and for what? It can only be a couple reasons a person would have to not give someone like Jimmie their vote.
1. You don’t like them
2. You weren’t voted in…
— Denny Hamlin (@dennyhamlin) August 3, 2023
Maybe they were holding the fact that he never won a NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race against him. Who knows? That’s just as valid a reason as any other, I guess. The real answer is that there is no good answer. There is no way to justify not voting for Jimmie Johnson on a Hall of Fame ballot.
I will add the disclaimer that before I got into the business of covering racing as a quasi media member in 2008, I was not a Jimmie Johnson fan so there is no favoritism in this piece.
But it isn’t just Johnson who has been left off of ballots in the past. Since the NASCAR Hall of Fame became a thing in 2010, there has never been a unanimous selection. That means there were voters who willingly and thoughtfully went into the voting process and decided that Richard Petty, Dale Earnhardt, Jeff Gordon, and any number of other legendary figures were not deserving of their vote.
Apparently according to those voters, the Charlotte-based Hall of Fame should sit empty waiting for the first person to be deemed worthy of induction to come along.
Seriously, NASCAR and whoever chooses the Hall of Fame voters should look closely at those balloters who voted against a seven-time championship winning driver and his crew chief. If their standards are so high that they couldn’t put aside whatever grievance they might have had, they may need to be themselves left off.
What these voting members have done is to cause a distraction that takes away from the fact that three new members will be inducting into the NASCAR Hall of Fame and places a spotlight on themselves even though the votes are cast anonymously.
The Hall of Fame induction ceremony for the 2024 class will be on January 19th in Charlotte.
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