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Three-time Cup champion Tony Stewart headlines NASCAR Hall of Fame finalists for 2020

Tony Stewart won three NASCAR Cup Series championships during his career, and should be a first-ballot Hall of Famer when NASCAR’s 2020 Hall of Fame class is announced in May.
Tony Stewart won three NASCAR Cup Series championships during his career, and should be a first-ballot Hall of Famer when NASCAR’s 2020 Hall of Fame class is announced in May. Observer staff file photo

NASCAR announced the finalists for its 2020 Hall of Fame class on Wednesday, and for the second year in a row, there’s a surefire headliner to count on.

Four-time Cup Series champion Jeff Gordon was inducted 2019, and in his first year of eligibility, three-time champion Tony Stewart figures to follow his old rival into the Hall.

In addition to his three titles at NASCAR’s highest level, Stewart won 49 races and now co-owns Stewart-Haas Racing.

Stewart is one of six new nominees this year, joined by Sam Ard, Neil Bonnett, Marvin Panch, Jim Paschal, and Red Vogt. Bonnett, who died in a practice crash before the 1994 Daytona 500, won 18 Cup races during his career, including consecutive Coca-Cola 600s in 1982 and 1983.

A panel of media members, NASCAR representatives, and track representatives will select the next five-person Hall class on May 22. That class will be inducted in February, before the start of the 2020 NASCAR season.

The full list of nominees, in alphabetical order:

Sam Ard, two-time Late Model Sportsman (now Xfinity) Series champion

Buddy Baker, 19 Cup Series wins, including the 1980 Daytona 500

Neil Bonnett, 18 Cup Series wins

Red Farmer, three-time Late Model Sportsman champion

Ray Fox, legendary engine builder, crew chief, and car owner who worked with several Hall of Fame drivers

Harry Gant, 18 Cup Series wins, including a stretch of four straight in September 1991 that earned him the nickname “Mr. September”

Joe Gibbs, four-time Cup Series champion as a car owner, nine car owner championships across series

John Holman, two-time Cup Series champion as a car owner

Harry Hyde, 1970 Cup Series championship crew chief

Bobby Labonte, 2000 Cup Series champion and 1991 Busch (now Xfinity) Series champion

Herschel McGriff, 1986 NASCAR west series champion

Ralph Moody, two-time Cup Series champion as a car owner

Marvin Panch, 17 Cup Series wins, including the 1961 Daytona 500

Jim Paschal, 25 Cup Series wins, including 23 on short tracks

Larry Phillips, only five-time NASCAR weekly series national champion

Ricky Rudd, 23 Cup Series wins, including the 1997 Brickyard 400

Mike Stefanik, nine-time Modified and/or Busch West champion

Tony Stewart, three-time Cup Series champion and car owner

Red Vogt, named NASCAR and considered the sport’s first master mechanic

Waddell Wilson, three-time Cup Series champion as an engine builder

The Hall of Fame also released its five nominees for the Landmark Award, given annually for outstanding contributions to NASCAR. Jim Hunter, a former journalist, public relations professional, and track president, won in 2019. Those nominees are:

Edsel Ford II, Ford Motor Co.

Alvin Hawkins, NASCAR’s first flagman who helped establish NASCAR racing at Bowman Gray Stadium with founder Bill France Sr.

Mike Helton, the first non-France family member named NASCAR president

Dr. Joseph Mattioli, founder of Pocono Raceway

Ralph Seagraves, responsible for longtime NASCAR-Winston partnership as executive with R.J. Reynolds Tobacco.

Brendan Marks is a general assignment sports reporter for the Charlotte Observer covering the Carolina Panthers, Charlotte Hornets, NASCAR and more. He graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and has worked for the Observer since August 2017.

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