McGriff, Kenseth and Shelmerdine named as NASCAR Hall of Fame 2023 class

McGriff, Kenseth and Shelmerdine named as NASCAR Hall of Fame 2023 class

On Wednesday, the NASCAR Hall of Fame’s voting panel picked the three members of the Class of 2023.

Matt Kenseth and Kirk Shelmerdine were named to the Modern Era ballot with 61 votes, while Hershel McGriff was named to the Pioneer ballot with 61 votes. On January 20, 2023, the trio will be inducted into the Hall of Fame.

Kenseth garnered 69 percent of the vote, while Shelmerdine received 52 percent. Neil Bonnett, Tim Brewer, Jeff Burton, Carl Edwards, Harry Gant, Harry Hyde, Larry Phillips, and Ricky Rudd were among the other Modern candidates on the ballot.

Due to their nomination statuses, Burton and Edwards were on the voter panel but did not participate. The third through fifth most votes went to Hyde, Bonnett, and Gant.

McGriff received 31% of the vote on the Pioneer ballot, defeating A.J. Foyt for the position. Also considered were Sam Ard, Banjo Matthews, and Ralph Moody.

Since retiring from the Cup Series after eighteen full-time seasons from 2000 to 2017, Kenseth has continued to race, currently competing in the Superstar Racing Experience and marathons such as the Boston Marathon. 

He won the 2003 title as the final season-long points champion and thirty-nine races throughout his Cup career with now-RFK Racing and Joe Gibbs Racing.

McGriff, now 94, competed in NASCAR from the second season of the Cup Series in 1950 to the now-ARCA Menards Series West in 2018. With 37 triumphs and a title in 1988, the latter shaped the majority of his career. 

In 1954, he won four Cup races on his way to a sixth-place points finish. McGriff became the oldest driver to race in NASCAR by a considerable margin when he finished eighth in the 2018 West Series at Tucson Speedway at the age of 90.

Shelmerdine was a two-time ARCA champion, but he struggled in NASCAR’s national series, where he was a regular backmarker while driving for his own team.

His time in the cockpit, though, pales in comparison to his expertise on the pit box. He was the crew chief for Dale Earnhardt in four Cup championships (1986, 1987, 1990, and 1991), as well as forty-six overall wins with Earnhardt and Rudd.

The winner of the Landmark Award for Outstanding Contributions to NASCAR was also chosen by Wednesday’s voting. Mike Helton, a former NASCAR President who is now the sanctioning body’s Vice Chairman, was honoured for his contributions to the sport in both roles.

The Landmark Award was also considered for Janet Guthrie, Alvin Hopkins, Lesa France Kennedy, and Dr. Joseph Mattioli.

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