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NASCAR Hall Of Fame Announces New Inductees

NascarHallofFame.JPG
Tasnim Shamma
/
WFAE

The NASCAR Hall of Fame is holding its induction day today, following the announcement yesterday evening that Jeff Gordon, Roger Penske, Davey Allison, Alan Kulwicki and Jack Roush are this year's inductees. In addition to the five inductees, Jim Hunter received received the Landmark Award for Outstanding Contributions to NASCAR.

Read more about each honoree:

Jeff Gordon

Jeff Gordon has been inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

The four-time NASCAR champion was the headliner of this 10th class and was elected by 96 percent of the vote in his first year of eligibility. Gordon ranks third on the all-time list with 93 career victories.

Gordon was introduced by Kyle Larson, who followed the same career path of his childhood idol by racing sprint cars out of California before migrating to NASCAR. Gordon was inducted by Rick Hendrick, his Hall of Fame team owner, as well as his daughter Ella and son Leo.

Gordon was the face of NASCAR for nearly two decades and changed the way the sport was marketed and promoted. NASCAR was a Southern series before Gordon arrived and he brought in global sponsors and attracted a mainstream audience.

"In the early 90s, a youthful Californian stormed onto the NASCAR scene," Larson said in his introduction. "His generational talent and charisma helped transform NASCAR from a regional sport to a national spectacle. Confident and flashy, he served as the perfect rival to the rugged Intimidator Dale Earnhardt. His name is found throughout NASCAR's record books and now is etched permanently in the NASCAR Hall of Fame."

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Roger Penske

Roger Penske has been inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

The icon of motorsports last year celebrated Team Penske's 500th victory as an organization, won the Cup championship with Joey Logano and the Indianapolis 500 with Will Power. He was introduced by Logano, Brad Keselowski and Ryan Blaney, and inducted by his son, Greg.

"He's known as "The Captain" but to us, he's also known as a mentor, fierce competitor, role model and friend," Logano said.

Penske in 2016 celebrated his 50th season in racing. He built the two-mile speedway in Fontana, California, in 1996, and at one time owned Michigan International Speedway.

"He's a true titan of industry and a leader in advancing the popularity of American motorsports for more than 50 years as a team owner, track owner and even a driver," said Blaney.

Penske credited motorsports with building his corporation and setting the pace for all his success.

"Racing is simply who we are," he said. "The lessons we learn in racing help drive our success in business and the exposure provided by NASCAR is a source of pride that builds our brand and our entire organization."

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Davey Allison

The late Davey Allison has been inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

Allison was a famed member of the "Alabama Gang" and his induction began with a video message from Alabama football coach Nick Saban. He was introduced by Matt Crafton and Regan Smith, and inducted by his son, Robbie.

Allison was the son of Hall of Famer Bobby Allison, nephew of Donnie Allison, and learned his skills around Alabama tracks. His break came in 1987 when he replaced Cale Yarborough and won two races and rookie of the year honors.

The next season he finished second to his father for the only father-son, 1-2 finish in Daytona 500 history. Allison was killed in 1993 when he crashed the helicopter he was piloting in the infield at Talladega Superspeedway. He was with Red Farmer on his way to watch Neil Bonnett's son prepare for his Busch Series debut.

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Alan Kulwicki

The late Alan Kulwicki has been inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

Kulwicki was introduced by 2003 NASCAR champion and fellow Wisconsin native Matt Kenseth. Kulwicki was inducted by longtime NASCAR team owner Felix Sabates, the executor of Kulwicki's estate following his 1993 death.

Kulwicki was represented at the ceremony by Paul Andrews, Tony Gibson and Peter Jellen, all crew members on his 1992 championship team. Kulwicki drove for his own race team and beat Bill Elliott by 10 points to win his only championship.

Kulwicki was killed on April 1 of the next season when his plane crashed as he traveled from a sponsor appearance to Bristol Motor Speedway.

"Somewhere he's doing his trademark Polish victory lap because tonight he's a NASCAR Hall of Famer," Kenseth said of Kulwicki's trademark celebration of driving clockwise so his window faced the fans.

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Jack Roush

Jack Roush has been inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

The championship-winning team owner was introduced by Ricky Stenhouse Jr., one of his current drivers, and inducted by 2017 Hall of Fame driver Mark Martin. Roush wore his trademark Panama hat for his induction.

Roush teams have won a record 322 races across NASCAR's three national series and the organization has five NASCAR national series owner championships. Roush is a graduate-level mathematician, engineering entrepreneur and a strong supporter of the Detroit automotive scene and Ford Motor Co., as well as a pilot.

He noted during his speech that he wasn't expected to succeed when he launched his NASCAR team in 1988.

"Few if any knowledgeable fans and even fewer Cup team personnel would have given me favorable odds of surviving for more than three decades, as I stand before you tonight," Roush said.

Roush gave credit to Martin, who the team was built around, and Ford for its longtime support to his program.

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Jim Hunter

Jim Hunter was honored as the fifth recipient of the Landmark Award for Outstanding Contributions to NASCAR.

Hunter’s career in the NASCAR industry spanned more than 50 years as a NASCAR executive, track president, public relations professional and journalist. He worked for a decade as an award-winning journalist before transitioning to public relations for Dodge, then Darlington Raceway and Talladega Superspeedway. In 1983, Hunter was named NASCAR vice president of administration. Ten years later, he became president of Darlington Raceway and corporate vice president of the International Speedway Corporation. Hunter was a close confidant of Bill France Jr. who lured him back to NASCAR in 2001 to lead an expanded public relations effort aimed at responding to the needs of burgeoning media coverage. Many drivers and industry executives credit Hunter’s mentorship as the key to their NASCAR success.