Observer reporter among 8 new members of NASCAR Hall of Fame voting panel

The Charlotte Observer’s NASCAR reporter Jim Utter joins former driver and NBC Sports analyst Jeff Burton and reigning Sprint Cup champion Kevin Harvick as some of the eight new members of the NASCAR Hall of Fame’s voting panel.

Holland (N.Y.) Motorsports Complex’s Ron Bennett, Fox Sports’ Steve Byrnes, NASCAR’s Brent Dewar, Motor Racing Network’s Eli Gold and ESPN’s Marty Smith round out the new additions, which NASCAR announced Wednesday.

“These eight new voters collectively hold a vast array of NASCAR knowledge from all disciplines of the industry,” Brett Jewkes, NASCAR senior vice president and chief communications officer, said in a statement. “Each new member brings a unique background and passion for the history of NASCAR and will contribute greatly to the Hall of Fame voting process.”

The 58-member panel will vote for the NASCAR Hall of Fame Class of 2016 on May 20 in Charlotte.