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NASCAR Hall of Fame reduces number of annual inductees from 5 to 3

CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA - JANUARY 31: NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee Tony Stewart speaks during the 2020 NASCAR Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony at Charlotte Convention Center on January 31, 2020 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

The NASCAR Hall of Fame is reducing the number of annual inductees.

NASCAR announced that starting in 2021 its Hall of Fame induction class would include three members. The 2020 Hall of Fame class — and every class that preceded it — included five members. The three members will consist of two members from the modern era of NASCAR and one “pioneer.” The modern-era inductees will come from a ballot of 10 members while the pioneer inductee will come from a list of five nominees.

“When we opened the NASCAR Hall of Fame in 2010, we had to catch up on more than 60 years of NASCAR history,” NASCAR president Steve Phelps said in a statement. “Our plan has always been to evaluate the process as the Hall of Fame matured. With 55 of the sport’s greatest competitors enshrined, we felt the time was right to move to three inductees which will help maintain the high standard of enshrinement that’s been set.” 

“From the time I first learned of the selection process NASCAR developed in 2009 and through the evolutions implemented as we gained valuable experience, I have been a huge proponent of our process,” said NASCAR Hall of Fame executive director Winston Kelley. “I feel our process is as strong as any Hall of Fame, sport and entertainment alike. I am equally enthusiastic about these changes to our process and concur wholeheartedly that now is the right time to transition to fewer inductees and establish a process dedicated to NASCAR’s iconic pioneers.”

The 2020 NASCAR Hall of Fame class was inducted Friday. It included Tony Stewart, Joe Gibbs, Bobby Labonte, Waddell Wilson and Buddy Baker.

The trimming of the NASCAR Hall class comes after Ron Hornaday and Alan Kulwicki were inducted to the Hall with less than 40 percent of the vote in 2018. The two received 38 percent of the vote for the class two years ago. In contrast, a player needs 75 percent of the vote on the regular ballot to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

A driver must be retired for three seasons to be considered for Hall of Fame eligibility, meaning Carl Edwards, Matt Kenseth and Dale Earnhardt Jr. could be up for induction in 2021. Per NASCAR’s new rules a crew chief must be retired for two years to be considered for induction into the Hall of Fame.

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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.

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