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Thursday, October 14, 2010

Ned Jarrett, Bud Moore are surprise Hall of Fame inductees

It was Hall of Fame day No. 2 for NASCAR, and it came with a few surprises.
Some people who may have expected to be chosen for induction -- including Darrell Waltrip and Cale Yarborough -- went home empty-handed.

Meanwhile, a couple surprises were handed out with the choosing of "Gentleman" Ned Jarrett and longtime car owner Bud Moore. Other than David Pearson, there were no clear favorites, so there was bound to be a surprise or two.

Results were:
-- David Pearson - 94% (the 6 percent who didn't vote for him are crazy, by the way)
-- Bobby Allison - 62%
-- Lee Petty - 62%
-- Ned Jarrett - 58%
-- Bud Moore - 45%

Pearson is my pick for the best driver in NASCAR history, and I still maintain that he would have won more races than Richard Petty if Pearson had dedicated himself more fully to the sport and run more full seasons. With three titles and 105 wins, the Silver Fox should have been in on the first ballot. While it is a year late, I'm glad to see him finally being recognized. He tried to win the title three tiems, and did it every time. If he had tried every year, there's no telling what he could have done.

Allison, the 1983 champ, was one of Richard Petty's fiercest rivals, at a time in the past when drivers really hated each other. Curiously, he got in with 84 wins while Darrell Waltrip did not.

Jarrett was a lock to make it eventually, but getting in with the second class has to be considered a surprise. His name isn't as big as some of the other contenders, despite being a two-time champ and a 50-time winner, but he earned the recognition anyway and must be thrilled. His experience as a great broadcaster in the sport probably helped him.

Lee Petty was the first driver to win three titles, and began the legacy that continued with RIchard, Kyle and Adam Petty. He has 54 wins, 9th all time, and created one of the most enduring teams in NASCAR history -- Petty Enterprises. When you think NASCAR, you think Petty ... and Mr. Lee Petty is the original. Amazingly, he never finished lower than fourth in points from 1949-1959.

Longtime car owner Bud Moore was the biggest surprise. While people in the sport know him and he has won a ton of races as crew chief and car owner, he isn't a big name. But with so many NASCAR insiders voting, there was bound to be one surprise that the general population might not know so much about. Moore won back-to-back titles in 1962-63 as a car owner with Joe Weatherly driving. He also was a champion in 1957 as crew chief for driver Buck Baker.

Looking ahead, Yarborough and Waltrip are locks to be chosen next year, along with longtime Richard Petty crew chief Dale Inman, who also got votes. There are two more spots open, and while it's wide open I hope they go to Glen Wood of the Wood Brothers, and legendary mechanic Smokey Yunick (if NASCAR decides to nominate him next time).

Most disappointed today was probably Darrell Waltrip, who was apparently openly campaigning for votes. I'd be curious to hear the explanation from voters why people chose Allison over Waltrip ... could it be they don't like his personality as a broadcaster?.

The class was determined by 53 votes cast by the panel, plus the nationwide fan vote conducted through NASCAR.COM. Among the hundreds of thousands of fan votes, the top five was: Bobby Allison, David Pearson, Lee Petty, Darrell Waltrip and Cale Yarborough ... with 3 of those making it, and Waltrip and Cale not making the final cut.

The Class of 2011 will be officially inducted in a ceremony in May 2011 at the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte.

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