Kenseth, McGriff, Shelmerdine named to NASCAR Hall of Fame’s 2023 class

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Credit: Eakin Howard/Getty Images

The NASCAR Hall of Fame‘s panel of voters selected its trio who would make up the Class of 2023 on Wednesday. Sixty-one votes later, Matt Kenseth and Kirk Shelmerdine were named to the class on the Modern Era ballot while Hershel McGriff makes it in as a Pioneer. The trio will be formally enshrined on 20 January 2023.

Kenseth received sixty-nine percent of votes while Shelmerdine got fifty-two. Other candidates on the Modern ballot included Neil Bonnett, Tim Brewer, Jeff Burton, Carl Edwards, Harry Gant, Harry Hyde, Larry Phillips, and Ricky Rudd; Burton and Edwards were on the voter panel but did not take part due to their nomination statuses. Hyde, Bonnett, and Gant received the third- to fifth-most votes.

On the Pioneer ballot, McGriff gained thirty-one percent of the votes to beat A.J. Foyt for the slot. Sam Ard, Banjo Matthews, and Ralph Moody were also for consideration.

Kenseth has not stopped racing since exiting the Cup Series following eighteen full-time seasons from 2000 to 2017, currently competing in the Superstar Racing Experience and marathons like the Boston Marathon. During his Cup career for now-RFK Racing and Joe Gibbs Racing, he won the 2003 title as the final season-long points champion and thirty-nine races.

Now 94, McGriff made NASCAR starts from the Cup Series’ second season in 1950 to the now-ARCA Menards Series West in 2018. Much of his career was molded in the latter with thirty-seven victories and a championship in 1988. He also won four Cup races in 1954 en route to a sixth-place points finish. When he finished eighteenth at Tucson Speedway in the 2018 West Series, McGriff became the oldest driver to race in NASCAR by a wide margin at the age of 90.

As a driver, Shelmerdine won two ARCA races but did not see much success in NASCAR’s national series as he was a perennial backmarker while driving for his own team. However, his time behind the cockpit matters little when compared to his experience on the pit box. He won four Cup championships as the crew chief for Dale Earnhardt in 1986, 1987, 1990, and 1991 as well as forty-six total wins with Earnhardt and Rudd.

Wednesday’s voting also determined the winner of the Landmark Award for Outstanding Contributions to NASCAR. Longtime NASCAR President Mike Helton, who currently works as the sanctioning body’s Vice Chairman, received the award for his contributions to the sport in said positions. Janet Guthrie, Alvin Hopkins, Lesa France Kennedy, and Dr. Joseph Mattioli were also candidates for the Landmark Award.

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Justin is a History major at San Jose State University and lifelong racing fan who has worked for The Checkered Flag since 2018. His coverage mainly focuses on NASCAR, the Stadium Super Trucks, and off-road series like Extreme E and SCORE International. He also dabbles in other disciplines such as IndyCar, rallycross, and sports cars.
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