NASCAR announced changes to the Hall of Fame voting process on Thursday and most notably is tweaking the eligibility rules for drivers.
Under the current system, drivers who have driven for at least 10 years and retired for three are eligible for the Hall of Fame. That remains in place, but with a tweak. If a driver is 55 years old the year before the nominating year, he's immediately eligible, even if he's currently competing. Plus if a driver has been competing in NASCAR for 30 years (or more), he is immediately eligible.
That means Terry Labonte, Mark Martin and Bill Elliott are immediately eligible for the Hall of Fame.
The current five-member class is selected from a pool of 25 nominees. That will be reduced to 20 with an in-person debate being held by the selection panel before the nominees are selected.
However, the number of inductees isn't changing -- at least for another five years -- and if you're of the school of thought that NASCAR needed to induct more people now rather than deal with a potential decade-long wait for deserving nominees, you're out of luck. In fact, changes were discussed, but they included reducing the size of future classes.
That's likely some of the impetus behind reducing the list of nominees from 25 to 20. With more and more people becoming eligible for the Hall of Fame each year, there's a chance a candidate could be stuck on the nominating list for quite some time.
The panel that decides the nominees and inductees is also getting two new members. The reigning Sprint Cup Series champion will have a Hall of Fame vote and Fox's Mike Joy was added to the panel.
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