It’s been three months since NASCAR announced the five legends of the sport that will be inducted as members of the NASCAR Hall of Fame Class of 2017. The induction ceremony won’t take place until January 2017, but it’s never too early to start looking at the future.

Knowing that I had publicly announced who I thought should be in the Class of 2017 and that my psychic facilities had failed me, a friend of mine asked me shortly after the announcement I had going into the Class of 2018?

While I hope he was sincere in truly wanting to know who I thought would be the next five tapped, I suspect he was probably just making fun of the fact that I only correctly identified 40 percent of the 2017 class.

The Class of 2017 includes Richard Childress, Rick Hendrick, Mark Martin, Raymond Parks and Benny Parsons. Hendrick and Parsons were the only two I correctly picked. The other three I picked were Red Byron, Mike Stefanik and Robert Yates (click here for the article). (Note: Not all three of these nominees make my Class of 2018.)

The truth of the matter is that when my friend asked me that question, I hadn’t had time to fully process it and think about the next class. I’ve finally had time to process and I’ve come to terms with my poor performance. I won’t let it happen again. I hope.

I am now ready to confidently give my five selections for the NASCAR Hall of Fame Class of 2018. Hopefully I’ll do better this time around. Since the nominating committee has not yet announced the new five nominees, I reserve the right to alter my choices once the full ballot is released.

And for my friend who asked the question: consider this your answer.

 

Red Byron

Red Byron is one of two holdovers from my Class of 2017 nominees. I still feel he should have a spot in the NASCAR Hall of Fame. In all honesty, I’m surprised he hasn’t been inducted before now. His record speaks for itself: he won NASCAR’s first-ever race in 1948, won NASCAR’s first championship — the NASCAR Modified Division — in 1948, won two races in NASCAR’s premier series, as well as the series’ first title in 1949. Amazingly, he did all this with a brace on his left leg, which he injured in World War II.

 

Ron Hornaday Jr.

Ron Hornaday Jr. is probably the most accomplished driver in the history of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. No driver currently in the NASCAR Hall of Fame currently represents the truck series as his primary racing series and Hornaday would change that. He has a record four titles (1996, 1998, 2007, 2009) to go along with 51 wins. Between 1995 (the series’ inaugural season) and 2011, Hornaday won at least one race every season except one (2004 when he competed in only one race). In 11 of the seasons, he went to Victory Lane multiple times, winning six races in four different years and seven races in one year. He also has four wins in the NASCAR XFINITY Series. In my opinion, this should be no-brainer.

 

Alan Kulwicki

Although Alan Kulwicki’s time in NASCAR was short, it wasn’t without merit. In fact, he accomplished a lot in a very short span — including winning the 1992 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series title. It wasn’t just that he won the championship that puts him on my ballot, it’s how he did it. With six races left in the 1992 season, the title seemed all but out of reach for Kulwicki at 278 points behind the points leader. Over the last six races of the season, Kulwicki posted four top-five finishes, including two runner-up performances to edge out Bill Elliott by 10 points in the season finale at Atlanta Motor Speedway — the closest margin for the title at the time. What made his achievements on the track even more impressive was that he spurned offers from several big teams to instead drive a self-owned race car. Tragically, the April following his title he perished in an plane crash en route to Bristol Motor Speedway for a race.

 

Mike Stefanik


Mike Stefanik’s name might not be one that a lot of NASCAR fans would immediately recognize; therefore, it might surprise many when they learn that he’s tied with Richie Evans for the most NASCAR championships with nine. If this is the case, why then isn’t Stefanik a househould name. Simple … his titles didn’t come in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, NASCAR XFINITY Series or even the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, but instead the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour and the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East. He’s won two titles in the latter with an amazing seven in the former. In addition to his seven trophies in the Modifieds, he holds the all-time series records for wins, poles, top fives and top 10s. Regardless of what series you drive in, this is NASCAR Hall of Fame-worthy.

 

Waddell Wilson

Waddell Wilson never donned a driver’s uniform in one of NASCAR’s three national touring series. That’s okay, however, as he was one of the best engine builders and crew chiefs in the history of NASCAR. His engines won three championships in NASCAR’s premier series. In 1968 and 1969, it was Wilson’s engines that powered David Pearson to back-to-back titles, and four years later Benny Parsons drove a Wilson-prepared to the 1973 title. In all his time building engines, his cars won 109 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race and captured 123 poles with drivers like Pearson, Parsons, Bobby Allison, Fireball Roberts, Darrell Waltrip and Cale Yarborough behind the steering wheel. In 15 years as a crew chief, his drivers visited Victory Lane 22 times.