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Matt Kenseth leads 2023 NASCAR Hall of Fame class

Matt Kenseth – whose career spanned more than two decades – leads the newest class of inductees into NASCAR’s Hall of Fame.

Matt Kenseth, Roush Fenway Racing, Ford Fusion NESN

Two drivers – one from the Pioneer Ballot and one from the Modern Era Ballot – and one crew chief were elected Wednesday to become the NASCAR Hall of Fame’s class of inductees in 2023.

Joining the Hall of Fame from the Modern Era Ballot:

Matt Kenseth: Over 18 full-time seasons Kenseth conquered every major milestone on the Cup Series schedule victories in two Daytona 500s, the Southern 500, Coca-Cola 600 and the All-Star Race. His 39 Cup wins tie for 21st on the all-time list and include wins at 19 of the 23 tracks at which he competed more than once. His crowning achievement was his 2003 Cup Series championship, in which he led the series standings the final 32 weeks of the season.

Kirk Shelmerdine: At age 25 in 1983, Shelmerdine guided Ricky Rudd to victory at Riverside, Calif., the first of two wins that season. A scant three years later, he directed Dale Earnhardt to the 1986 Cup Series championship. Shelmerdine won four total Cup titles with Earnhardt (1986, ’87, ’90, ’91). Over his 16-year crew chief career with Earnhardt, Rudd, James Hylton and Richard Childress, he won 46 races and posted top-10 finishes in more than half his starts.

Joining the Hall of Fame from the Pioneer Ballot:

Hershel McGriff: McGriff’s first race was the 1950 Southern 500, in the Cup Series' sophomore season, at the age of 22. His final NASCAR race was at Tucson (Ariz.) Speedway in the NASCAR Pro Series West – in 2018 at the age of 90. He started 85 races in parts of 28 Cup Series seasons, capturing four wins – all in 1954, when he finished sixth in the standings. McGriff was one of the best drivers in what is now known as the ARCA Menards Series West. Competing in parts of 35 seasons, he won 37 races, third on the all-time West Series wins list.

Kenseth received 69% of the Modern Era ballot votes with Shelmerdine receiving 52%. Harry Hyde finished third, followed by Neil Bonnett and Harry Gant.

McGriff received 31% of the Pioneer ballot votes with A.J. Foyt finishing second.

Results for the Fan Vote were: Foyt (Pioneer); Kenseth and Harry Gant (Modern Era).

Former NASCAR president Mike Helton, who continues to serve on the sanctioning body’s board of directors, will be honored with the Landmark Award for Outstanding Contributions to NASCAR.

The 2023 Hall of Fame class will be formally inducted on Friday, Jan. 20, 2023.

This was the second class determined under the redesigned format for Hall inductions.

There were 10 nominees on the Modern Era ballot and five on the Pioneer ballot – designed to honor those whose careers began more than 60 years ago. Two Modern Era candidates and one Pioneer candidate now compose each Hall class.

There were 60 voters this year (two members were recused). Because there was no Class of 2022 (due to the COVID-19 pandemic), both Chase Elliott and Kyle Larson participated as one-time voters as Cup Series champions. The 61st vote was the fan vote.

Note: Motorsport.com’s NASCAR Editor, Jim Utter, is a member of the Hall of Fame Voting Panel. He voted for Matt Kenseth and Kirk Shelmerdine on the Modern Era ballot; Hershel McGriff on the Pioneer ballot; and Janet Guthrie for the Landmark Award.

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