NASCAR selects Hall of Fame Class of 2023
Thursday 5th May, 2022 - 1:22pm
NASCAR Cup Series champion Matt Kenseth, four-time championship-winning crew chief Kirk Shelmerdine, and 94-year-old Hershel McGriff have all been inducted into the Hall of Fame.
Kenseth impressively led the tally in the Modern Era vote, with 69 percent of the votes going his way.
Among his 39 Cup Series race wins, Kenseth’s accolades include winning the 2003 Cup Series, twice winning the Daytona 500, and the NASCAR All-Star race.
Kenseth, who was honoured to even be considered, has recently been changing his view of his impressive career after time away from it.
“When you’re in the middle of it, I don’t know if it’s a good habit or a bad habit, but it always seemed to work for me, when you’re in the middle of it, you agonise over the losses and the mistakes a lot more than the successes and the wins, unfortunately,” he said.
“So I think the longer you’re away from it, certainly, you start to shift your focus a little bit from having knots in your stomach over losing the Daytona 500 in the last corner or getting beat by Jimmie [Johnson] in the last corner way back, 15 years ago, in Las Vegas. Obviously, I still think about it, or I wouldn’t remember that right now.”
Also inducted was crew chief Shelmerdine, who captained Dale Earnhardt Snr to four Cup Series championships in 1986, ’87, ’90 and ’91.
In total, Shelmerdine had 46 victories as a crew chief, with 44 of those coming with Earnhardt Snr, and the other two coming with driver Ricky Rudd.
“I’m still kind of in shock, actually,” Shelmerdine said.
“I’ve been on the ballot before, and there’s a whole lot of pretty big names that should be there as well. I just kind of thought it would be a few years before it happened. But my phone started blowing up about 20 minutes ago, and here we are.”
The final Hall of Fame inductee for 2023 is long-time driver McGriff, who has raced in NASCAR across seven decades, competing in races from 1954 to 2018.
He was most successful in the ARCA Series, winning 37 races, and claiming the 1986 championship.
“Right after World War II, September 16, 1945, I ran my first race [on a dirt track]. I borrowed my dad’s 1940 Hudson, got a couple of friends to help me and finished 12th or 13th,” McGriff said.
Former public relations director of Atlanta Motor Speedway and current vice-chairman of NASCAR Mike Helton received the Landmark Award for Outstanding Contributions to NASCAR.
Helton also had a 15-year stint in the NASCAR presidency, and has now become the vocal in the safety sphere, making excellent strides with no deaths in the sport since Earnhardt Snr in 2001.
These names will forever have a place in NASCAR history after earning their place in the Hall of Fame at Charlotte.