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Three-time Cup champion Tony Stewart headlines NASCAR Hall of Fame finalists for 2020

The Charlotte Observer — By Brendan Marks The Charlotte Observer

March 13-- CHARLOTTE, N.C.-NASCAR announced the finalists for its 2020 Hall of Fame class on Wednesday, and for the second year in a row, there's a surefire headliner to count on.

Four-time Cup Series champion Jeff Gordon was inducted 2019, and in his first year of eligibility, three-time champion Tony Stewart figures to follow his old rival into the Hall.

In addition to his three titles at NASCAR's highest level, Stewart won 49 races and now co-owns Stewart-Haas Racing.

Stewart is one of six new nominees this year, joined by Sam Ard, Neil Bonnett, Marvin Panch, Jim Paschal, and Red Vogt. Bonnett, who died in a practice crash before the 1994 Daytona 500, won 18 Cup races during his career, including consecutive Coca-Cola 600s in 1982 and 1983.

A panel of media members, NASCAR representatives, and track representatives will select the next five-person Hall class on May 22. That class will be inducted in February, before the start of the 2020 NASCAR season.

The full list of nominees, in alphabetical order:

-Sam Ard, two-time Late Model Sportsman (now Xfinity) Series champion

-Buddy Baker, 19 Cup Series wins, including the 1980 Daytona 500

-Neil Bonnett, 18 Cup Series wins

-Red Farmer, three-time Late Model Sportsman champion

-Ray Fox, legendary engine builder, crew chief, and car owner who worked with several Hall of Fame drivers

-Harry Gant, 18 Cup Series wins, including a stretch of four straight in September 1991 that earned him the nickname "Mr. September"

-Joe Gibbs, four-time Cup Series champion as a car owner, nine car owner championships across series

-John Holman, two-time Cup Series champion as a car owner

-Harry Hyde, 1970 Cup Series championship crew chief

-Bobby Labonte, 2000 Cup Series champion and 1991 Busch (now Xfinity) Series champion

-Herschel McGriff, 1986 NASCAR west series champion

-Ralph Moody, two-time Cup Series champion as a car owner

-Marvin Panch, 17 Cup Series wins, including the 1961 Daytona 500

-Jim Paschal, 25 Cup Series wins, including 23 on short tracks

-Larry Phillips, only five-time NASCAR weekly series national champion

-Ricky Rudd, 23 Cup Series wins, including the 1997 Brickyard 400

-Mike Stefanik, nine-time Modified and/or Busch West champion

-Tony Stewart, three-time Cup Series champion and car owner

-Red Vogt, named NASCAR and considered the sport's first master mechanic

-Waddell Wilson, three-time Cup Series champion as an engine builder

The Hall of Fame also released its five nominees for the Landmark Award, given annually for outstanding contributions to NASCAR. Jim Hunter, a former journalist, public relations professional, and track president, won in 2019. Those nominees are:

-Edsel Ford II, Ford Motor Co.

-Alvin Hawkins, NASCAR's first flagman who helped establish NASCAR racing at Bowman Gray Stadium with founder Bill France Sr.

-Mike Helton, the first non-France family member named NASCAR president

-Dr. Joseph Mattioli, founder of Pocono Raceway

-Ralph Seagraves, responsible for longtime NASCAR-Winston partnership as executive with R.J. Reynolds Tobacco.

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