NASCAR Hall of Fame Class of 2019
Born: Aug. 4, 1971, in Vallejo, Calif. Age: 46
At a glance: His 93 Cup victories are the most in NASCAR’s modern era (since 1972) and third all-time behind Richard Petty’s 200 and David Pearson’s 105.
Beyond the numbers: The California native’s rivalry with seven-time champion Dale Earnhardt played a big role with expanding NASCAR’s fanbase to the West Coast. Gordon’s four Cup championships — 1996, ’97, ’98 and 2001 — came at a time when the sport enjoyed explosive growth in TV ratings and attendance.
Quote to note: “Jeff Gordon’s a race-car driver, too? I thought he was just a cereal-box model.” — Bobby Hill, a character on the animated show “King of the Hill.”
Born: Dec. 14, 1954, in Greenfield, Wis.
Died: April 1, 1993
At a glance: Kulwicki pulled off what many considered the impossible in 1992, driving to the Cup title with an underfunded team he founded in 1986. He died in a plane crash 4½ months later at the age of 38.
Beyond the numbers: Kulwicki overcame a 278-point deficit over the final six races of the season to edge Bill Elliott for the 1992 championship. Since 1980, only he and Tony Stewart have won a championship driving for their own teams, though Stewart-Haas Racing is co-owned and funded by Gene Haas.
Quote to note: “It’s basically the same, just darker.” — Kulwicki, on the difference in racing on Saturday nights vs. Sunday afternoons.
Born: April 19, 1942, in Covington, Ky. Age: 76
At a glance: Roush has won a record 325 races across NASCAR’s three national series, including five national series owner titles. He helped Matt Kenseth (2003) and Kurt Busch (2004) emerge into premier series champions.
Beyond the numbers: Roush jump-started the careers of Carl Edwards and Greg Biffle, and he became a mentor to Mark Martin. Martin rewarded Roush with his first Cup win as an owner at Rockingham in 1989 and became a Hall of Fame candidate in his own right.
Quote to note: “ I couldn’t stand it. I was going to throw up someplace, so I had to go find myself some privacy.” — Roush, when asked what it was like on the pit box as Jamie McMurray, Roush’s driver at the time, won on a fuel-mileage gamble at Talladega in 2009.
Born: Feb. 25, 1961, in Hollywood, Fla. Died: July 13, 1993
At a glance: The son of Bobby Allison won 19 times — including the 1992 Daytona 500 — in 191 career starts before he was killed in a helicopter crash.
Beyond the numbers: The 1987 Cup rookie of the year finished third in the points in 1991 and ’92, and he appeared on the fast track to a championship. His combination of talent and friendly demeanor earned him a massive fanbase.
Quote to note: “Davey Allison was going to be Dale [Earnhardt] Jr. before Dale Jr. was.” — Dale Jarrett to ESPN.com
Born: Feb. 20, 1937, in Shaker Heights, Ohio
At a glance: Penske won the premier series title in 2012 with driver Brad Keselowski and owns two Daytona 500 wins.
Beyond the numbers: Off the track, Penske likewise has made an indelible mark. He built the 2-mile Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif., in 1996, and previously owned Michigan International Speedway.
Quote to note: “The harder you work, the luckier you become.” — Penske
Note: The ceremony will be held Feb 1, 2019.