Tony Stewart is on his way to Hall of Fame enshrinement. Carl Edwards, meanwhile, will wait another year for his candidacy to be official.
Stewart’s NASCAR Hall of Fame candidacy was made official on Wednesday as NASCAR revealed the nominees for the 2020 Hall of Fame class. The three-time champion, who retired in 2016, is joined by Neil Bonnett, Sam Ard, Marvin Panch, Jim Paschal and Red Vogt on the nomination list for the first time.
Stewart won 49 races and had 308 top-10 finishes in 618 Cup Series races from 1999-2016. He won Cup titles in 2002 and 2005 under the season-long championship format and beat Edwards via tiebreaker to win an epic 2011 championship battle in NASCAR’s playoff format. Stewart won five of the 10 playoff races that season and those playoff wins gave him the tiebreaker over Edwards, who won just one race that season.
Edwards stunningly left NASCAR after a late-race crash in the 2016 title race at Homestead-Miami Speedway. While he never won a title in his 13-season Cup Series career, Edwards had 28 wins in 445 starts. That’s a better win rate than one-time Roush Fenway teammate Mark Martin, a NASCAR Hall of Famer who also never won a Cup Series title.
Edwards also had a better career than Bonnett, who was killed in a practice crash for the 1994 Daytona 500. Bonnett won 18 races in 362 Cup starts and finished in the top 10 in the points standings three times. Edwards had eight top-10 points finishes.
Janet Guthrie dropped from Landmark Award
Guthrie, the first woman to start a modern-era Cup Series race, was not on the list of five nominees for the Landmark Award. The award, established in 2015, is designed to honor “significant contributions to the growth and esteem of NASCAR.”
Guthrie started 33 Cup Series races from 1976-80 and had five top-10 finishes. Her first Cup Series start came in what’s now the Coca-Cola 600 and she finished 15th. She held the record for the most Cup Series starts by a woman until she was passed by Danica Patrick.
The first woman to compete in both the Indianapolis 500 and Daytona 500, Guthrie is a worthy choice for the award given how she’s helped pave the way for more women to compete in NASCAR. And especially given NASCAR’s efforts to ensure that women have opportunities to work their way up through the series’ ranks. NASCAR’s over-the-top efforts to promote Hailie Deegan and her success in the K&N West Series do not jive at all with Guthrie getting dropped from the list of five award nominees.
Guthrie, a nominee for the award for the previous three years, was axed from the list along with MRN announcer Barney Hall in favor of longtime NASCAR executive Mike Helton, Pocono Raceway founder Dr. Joe Mattioli and Edsel Ford II. Alvin Hawkins and Ralph Seagraves remained on the award list.
While Helton and Mattioli’s contributions to NASCAR are significant, the appearance of a conflict-of-interest in their nominations is significant too. Helton is on the NASCAR Hall of Fame nominating committee. So is Mattioli’s daughter, Looie Mattioli.
Full nomination list
Five people will be chosen for the 2020 NASCAR Hall of Fame class. Or, if you prefer, four people and Tony Stewart (barring any surprises).
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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.
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