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NASCAR: Dale Earnhardt Jr. Reveals Choice For First Hall of Fame Ballot

by Jonathan Howard
(Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

With the NASCAR Hall of Fame ballots out, Dale Earnhardt Jr. found a little time to debate what choices he would make. In a little back-and-forth conversation with Clint Bowyer on Twitter, the two talked about nominees on this year’s list. All of the drivers, crew chiefs, and icons listed on both the Modern and Pioneer ballots deserve recognition. However, only two from the first ballot and one from the second ballot will be chosen.

Voters have a hard task ahead of them. However, it seems that Dale Jr. has his mind made up.

So, for Earnhardt, it’d be Matt Kenseth, Kirk Shelmerdine, and Sam Ard. All three are more than deserving of a spot in the Hall. Kenseth won a Cup Series championship in 2003, was Rookie of the Year in 2000, and had a 20+ year career filled with a bunch of wins. Of course, Shelmerdine was the crew chief behind four of Dale Earnhardt Sr.’s Cup Series championships. 1986-1987 and 1990-1991. Two back-to-back runs for the chief and driver combo.

Ard is a legendary figure in racing. He raced in the Late Model series and was champion in 1983 and 1984. That’s what is now the Xfinity Series. He made a single Cup Series start at Martinsville in 1984 as well. His story and battles after racing make him more than a fitting choice for the Hall of Fame.

Then, Bowyer chimed in. He mentioned that Larry Phillips had been on the list for far too long. He made a case that it was overdue to put the short track champion in Charlotte. So, as friendly NASCAR drivers do, Dale Earnhardt Jr. explained his decision a little more.

Unfortunately, something’s got to give. Not everyone can get in.

Former NASCAR Xfinity Champs Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Clint Bowyer Debate HOF

Both Earnhardt Jr. and Bowyer know what it takes to win a championship. Of course, Earnhardt is already in the Hall of Fame. His contributions and importance to the sport meant too much. He had to be inducted as soon as possible. But, these two have a lot of knowledge and experience with the sport. So, this little debate between them shows that there isn’t a clear-cut answer for this year’s Hall of Fame ballots.

Kenseth has a great argument for being a first-ballot entry. He was an absolute star in the 2000s and had a long and successful career. He is part of that group of drivers that I remember in my earliest NASCAR memories. Mind you, I’m only 24-years-old, but still. Kenseth should be in. Dale Jr. is going to argue for Shelmerdine, not just because he has the qualifications, but because of the connection to his dad. But, even he had to admit that Phillips was overlooked.

“Larry should already be in there.” So, why not put him in this year? It will be very interesting who gets in and who doesn’t after the vote on May 4. Start debating, Outsiders. You have about a month or so before we know what the real results are. Then, debate some more about why it was the wrong choice! As these things are supposed to go.