Tony Stewart leads NASCAR Hall of Fame class of 2020
When the NASCAR Hall of Fame voting committee submitted their ballots to select the 2020 class of Hall of Fame inductees at the Charlotte, N.C., Convention Center on Wednesday, Tony Stewart's name appeared on 88 percent of those ballots to lead the way among a 2020 class of inductees that also includes his former car owner Joe Gibbs, foromer JGR teammate Bobby Labonte, Buddy Baker and Waddell Wilson.
The five inductees were chosen from a list of 2020 nominees and officially will be inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame on Jan. 31, 2020.
“Tony has achieved success across so many racing disciplines during his incredible career,” Toyota Racing Development USA President David Wilson said. "From sprint cars to open-wheel racing and stock cars, Tony is passionate about this sport and is a true competitor. While he competed for Toyota for a short period of time, we are honored to include him amongst the incredible list of Toyota NASCAR Cup winners.”
Stewart is a three-time NASCAR Cup Series championship driver and has two Cup titles as a car owner. He drove for Joe Gibbs Racing from 1999 through 2008 before leaving to become half owner of Stewart-Haas Racing. He claimed to driver titles at JGR in 2002 and 2005 and another at SHR in 2011. He added a second championship as Stewart-Haas co-owner with Kevin Harvick as driver in 2014. Stewart's 49 wins in 618 races include three in his rookie season of 1999 and five in 10 playoff races during his final driver championship season. After retiring from NASCAR competition as a driver at the end of the 2016 season, Stewart remains co-owner of SHR.
Gibbs, a three-time Super Bowl-winning coach, began Joe Gibbs Racing as a single-car team in 1992 and has since grown to its current stable of four full-time Cup Series entries. He is a four-time Cup championship owner. In addition to Stewart's first two titles, Gibbs lays claim to the 2000 Cup Series title with Labonte behind the wheel and the 2015 championship with Kyle Busch as driver. He also has five NASCAR Xfinity Series owner championships and is third on the all-time race wins list for Cup Series owners with 164.
“Joe is a staple in the Toyota family, believing in our NASCAR vision since partnering with Toyota in 2008,” Wilson said. "With nine NASCAR titles to his name, including Toyota’s first Cup Series championship in 2015, Joe is a true legend. As the first person ever to be both a Pro Football Hall of Famer and NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee, we can all attest that there is no one more deserving.”
Labonte was the first driver to hold the distinction of championships in botht he Cup and Busch [now-Xfinity] Series when he claimed his Cup title in 2000. He already was a Busch champion, winning that title in 1991. In 729-career Cup Series races, Labonte won 21 times. He is one of 27 drivers with wins across NASCAR's three national series [also including the Gander Outdoors Truck Series]. He now is one of four drivers with titles in both the Cup and Busch/Xfinity Series, one of the other three being Kyle Busch, a current Joe Gibbs Racing driver.
“A champion in both the Xfinity and Cup Series, Bobby has been long-deserving of this honor as a NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee,” Wilson said. "Coming from a family of racers, Bobby quickly established himself as a race-winning driver who commanded respect in the garage and on the track. We’re proud to have had him in our Toyota family during his final full-time season in the Cup Series and want to congratulate him on this honor.”
Baker's NASCAR career was a lengthy one, as he competed in the top series as a driver from 1959 through 1992 and, then, transitioned into a NASCAR broadcasting career with The Nashville Network and CBS. His driving career included 19 wins in 700 premier-series races, including the 1980 Daytona 500, the fastest Daytona 500 in history. He also became the first driver to exceed 200 mph in a stock car on a closed course during a test at Talladega Superspeedway that same year.
Waddell Wilson was a winning engine builder and crew chief. His engines powered NASCAR Hall of Famers David Pearson and Benny Parsons to a combined three championships -- Pearson to back-to-back titles in 1968 and 1969 and Parsons in 1973. He provided the engines for 109 Cup Series race wins and 123 Cup poles. As a crew chief, Wilson won 19 top-level races, including three Daytona 500s in five years, with Baker as driver in 1980 and two-consecutive with Cale Yarborough behind the wheel in 1983 and 1984.
Also during Hall of Fame voting on Wednesday, Edsel Ford II was selected as the 2020 recipient of the Landmark Award for Outstanding Contributions to NASCAR. He will be recognized on NASCAR Hall of Fame induction night. Ford is a longtime executive of the automotive manufacturing company bearing his family’s name. Positions he has held at Ford Motor Company include President and Chief Operating Officer. He also has served as Director of International Speedway Corporation.
“We’ve been in the NASCAR business for a long time,” Ford said. "I think this will be a great honor for Ford as it is a great honor for me. Our NASCAR presence has almost been since day one, I think.”