Reigning Sprint Cup champ to help determine seventh class of enshrinees
Author: Zack Albert
Date: May 19, 2015
Kevin Harvick has had plenty of added responsibilities this season, obligations and accolades that he's gladly accepted with being the reigning NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion. Wednesday, he'll exercise another official capacity as the sitting champ -- casting his vote for the NASCAR Hall of Fame's Class of 2016 inductees.
Five honorees will be chosen from a list of 20 decorated nominees for enshrinement during Wednesday's annual Voting Day festivities. After the ballots from the 58-member voting panel are tabulated, the NASCAR Hall of Fame's seventh class will be revealed at 6 p.m. ET, broadcast on NBC Sports Network and live-streamed on NASCAR.com.
Harvick paid a visit to the NASCAR Hall of Fame two weeks ago, revealing a retro paint scheme for the Stewart-Haas Racing No. 4 Chevrolet that he'll drive at Darlington Raceway in September. He was joined by 2015 Hall of Fame inductee Rex White, who also made the No. 4 famous in NASCAR's formative years.
Harvick emphasized the contributions of White and many of stock-car racing's pioneers in helping build the sport for generations to come. He also stressed the NASCAR Hall of Fame's importance in educating new fans about the sport's origins, but added that he'd also be educating himself before casting his ballot.
"I want to be sitting at my desk for a while, making sure that I'm thorough and understanding," Harvick said, noting that he received a binder full of information about the nominees approximately three weeks ago. "Even myself, there are some of the guys that you don't know a lot about and some that you know a lot more about than the others and that shouldn't sway what I think or what I do with the vote just for the fact that I need to learn about the people that I don't know about that have been just as big a part of the sport.
"So I'm looking forward to that and definitely looking forward to the process and being part of the whole thing."
NASCAR announced on November 14, 2013 that the reigning Sprint Cup champion would be added to the Hall of Fame selection process. That announcement preceded wider revisions to the eligibility and voting procedures the following month, eliminating the waiting period in some cases for recently retired drivers.
That change has helped kindle a trend in recent years, with more current veteran drivers -- Rusty Wallace (2013), Dale Jarrett (2014) and Bill Elliott (2015) -- winning election into the NASCAR Hall of Fame. Should the trend continue, the most likely eligible candidates are two-time premier series champion Terry Labonte and Mark Martin, a five-time runner-up in NASCAR's top division.
Martin, 56, was among the five new names added to the list of nominees in February. He joined fellow drivers Alan Kulwicki and Hershel McGriff, plus longtime crew chiefs Ray Evernham and Harry Hyde on the ballot.
The remaining 15 nominees (listed alphabetically) who will reappear on Wednesday's ballot: Buddy Baker, Red Byron, Richard Childress, Jerry Cook, Ray Fox, Rick Hendrick, Bobby Isaac, Labonte, Raymond Parks, Benny Parsons, Larry Phillips, Bruton Smith, Mike Stefanik, Curtis Turner and Robert Yates.
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