On Tuesday, NASCAR announced the 15 nominees for the NASCAR Hall of Fame's Class of 2021, which includes names such as Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jeff Burton and Carl Edwards. All three former Cup Series drivers are all first-time nominees and join seven other individuals in their category.
In February, NASCAR announced the Hall of Fame ballot structure and number of inductees would change beginning with the 2021 class. The number of inductees will now only include three individuals (previously five) and will be split into two categories -- one for contemporary stars ("Modern" ballot) and one for the NASCAR pioneers ("Pioneer" ballot).
In addition to Earnhardt Jr., Burton and Edwards, former drivers Neil Bonnett, Harry Gant, Larry Phillips, Ricky Rudd and Mike Stefanik are listed on the Modern Era Ballot. Former championship crew chiefs Harry Hyde and Kirk Shelmerdine also round out that list.
Individuals are eligible for the Modern Era Ballot if their career started within the past 60 years. They are able to remain on that ballot for 10 years.
The five individuals on the Pioneer Ballot are former drivers Red Farmer and Hershel McGriff, former crew chief Jake Elder, former NASCAR car builder Banjo Matthews, as well as former driver and team owner Ralph Moody. This is Elder and Matthews' first nomination.
Voting for the NASCAR Hall of Fame was scheduled to take place on May 20, but there is currently no update as to whether that date will change or if the meeting will take place virtually, according to NBCSports.com. A Voting Panel consisting of team owners, former drivers and various NASCAR personnel submits 65 ballots, including one ballot from a nationwide fan vote to determine the three inductees, according to the NASCAR Hall of Fame website.
Richard Childress, Rick Hendrick, Ron Hornaday Jr., Dale Jarrett, Roger Penske, Darrell Waltrip and Rusty Wallace are included on the Voting Panel, according to NBCSports.com.
In addition to the three inductees, one Landmark Award recipient will be selected from a list of five individuals in 2021. The Landmark Award is given to "competitors or those working in the sport as a member of a racing organization, track facility, race team, sponsor, media partner or being a general ambassador for the sport through a professional or non-professional role," according to NASCAR.
The 2021 Landmark Award recipient nominees include former driver Janet Guthrie, NASCAR's first flagman Alvin Hawkins, former NASCAR president Mike Helton, Pocono Raceway founder Dr. Joseph Mattioli and former business executive Ralph Seagraves. Those individuals will all still be eligible for a Hall of Fame nomination.
"I feel our process is as strong as any Hall of Fame, sport and entertainment alike," NASCAR Hall of Fame Executive Director Winston Kelley said in a statement in February. "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."