Pearson tops among NASCAR HOF nominess

Editor’s note: NASCAR on FOX’s Mike Joy is a voter for the Hall of Fame.

One year ago, NASCAR’s hand-picked 50-person Hall of Fame voting committee convened for the first time. No one knew what to expect once the doors were closed, and the criteria for election took up much of the early discussion.

Many paid heed to Speed’s Rick Allen, who said "These five men should stand as the Mount Rushmore of our sport." Much of the remaining debate centered on individual candidates, and when the discussion ended, the vote was taken. Bill France Sr. and Bill Jr., along with Richard Petty, Dale Earnhardt and Junior Johnson became the hall’s inaugural class.

While I don’t believe any candidate was named on every single ballot (including one collective ballot cast by NASCAR fans), the biggest surprise of that first class was that it did not include David Pearson.

That won’t happen again, as the Silver Fox leads the pack of 25 nominees by a lap going into voting day tomorrow. Pearson’s 105 wins, 113 poles and record pole streak at Charlotte are far and away the best stats in the class.

A mere one lap down stand three drivers with nearly identical win records, who competed fiercely against each other in the same era — Bobby Allison, Darrell Waltrip and Cale Yarborough. Each has 80-plus wins, either two or three championships, a stint as both driver and owner and a signature style all their own.

The fifth inductee will likely be determined by the passionate support expressed in deliberations Wednesday. Going in, I’ve heard support for three-time champion Lee Petty, two-time champs Tim Flock, Ned Jarrett, Buck Baker and Herb Thomas, and pioneer car owner Raymond Parks.

The Hall limits the class size to five, so some popular figures will have to wait awhile. In the first three or four years of voting, I expect its going to take two or more Cup championships and/or 50 or more Cup victories to gain entry.

From the list of 25 nominees, I would expect all to eventually gain entrance into the Hall. So Wednesday’s vote isn’t a question of if… it’s just a matter of agreeing on when.

Speed will have live coverage Wednesday from the Hall beginning at 3 p.m. EDT, which will repeat at 8 p.m. EDT.