Neil Bonnett joins Red Farmer on NASCAR Hall of Fame nominee list

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TALLADEGA, AL – AUGUST 3, 1980: Neil Bonnett celebrates his win in the Talladega 500. Bonnett led the final four laps to take the victory over Cale Yarborough and Dale Earnhardt, Sr. (Photo by ISC Archives via Getty Images)

TALLADEGA, Ala. (Talladega Superspeedway) — NASCAR announced Wednesday that the late Neil Bonnett, who hailed from Hueytown, AL, has joined fellow “Alabama Gang” member Charles “Red” Farmer on the list of nominees eligible for induction into the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

In addition to Bonnett, five new inductees made the list of 20 nominees that will be chosen for the 2020 induction class on Voting Day, Wednesday, May 22. The list of new honorees was decided on by both the NASCAR Hall of Fame Voting Panel and a nationwide fan vote on NASCAR.com. The other five first-time nominees include three-time Cup Series champion Tony Stewart, NASCAR Xfinity Series pioneer and two-time champion Sam Ard, Daytona 500 winner Marvin Panch, short track ace Jim Paschal, and the first master mechanic in NASCAR, Red Vogt. Stewart won a total of 49 premier series races from 1999-2016, one of which came at Talladega in 2008.

Bonnett captured 18 triumphs and 20 pole positions in an 18-year Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS) career, drove for various teams, including legendary owners’ Junior Johnson and the Wood Brothers. In August of 1980, Bonnett piloted the Woods’ No. 21 Ford to victory at Talladega over Cale Yarborough and Dale Earnhardt. Five years later in ’85, he was runner-up to Yarborough by just .66-seconds on the 2.66-mile venue. The likable Bonnett also served as a motorsports television color commentator and appeared in several movies, including Stroker Ace and Days of Thunder.

Farmer, a two-time ARCA Series winner at TSS, captured the 1956 NASCAR Modified title and reeled off three NASCAR Late Model Sportsman Championships in 1969, 1970 & 1971. He was voted by his peers as NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver four times. Named on of NASCAR’s 50 Greatest Drivers in 1998, he has won nearly 800 short track races in his career, and still competes at Talladega Short Track (dirt track) in the Late Model division on a regular basis at 86 years old.

Former Talladega Superspeedway President and current NASCAR Vice Chairman Mike Helton is one of three new nominees for the prestigious Landmark Award, along with Edsel Ford II and Dr. Joe Mattioli. They join returning nominees Alvin Hawkins and Ralph Seagraves. This award honors competitors; “those working in the sport as a member of a racing organization, track facility, race team, sponsor, media partner;” or someone considered “a general ambassador for the sport through a professional or non-professional role.’’

Here is the full list of nominees for the NASCAR Hall of Fame (listed alphabetically):

Sam Ard, NASCAR Xfinity Series pioneer and two-time champion

Buddy Baker, won 19 times in the NASCAR Cup Series, including the Daytona 500 and Southern 500

Neil Bonnett, won 18 times in the NASCAR Cup Series, including consecutive Coca-Cola 600 wins

Red Farmer, three-time Late Model Sportsman champion; 1956 Modified champion

Ray Fox, legendary engine builder, crew chief and car owner

Harry Gant, winner of 18 NASCAR Cup Series races, including two Southern 500 victories

Joe Gibbs, combined for nine car owner championships in Cup and XFINITY series

John Holman, won two NASCAR Cup Series championships as co-owner of Holman-Moody Racing

Harry Hyde, 1970 NASCAR Cup Series championship crew chief

Bobby Labonte, won a championship in both the Cup Series and XFINITY Series

Hershel McGriff, 1986 NASCAR west series champion

Ralph Moody, won two NASCAR Cup Series championships as co-owner of Holman-Moody Racing

Marvin Panch, won 17 times in the NASCAR Cup Series, including the 1961 Daytona 500

Jim Paschal, 23 of his 25 NASCAR Cup Series wins came on short tracks

Larry Phillips, only five-time NASCAR weekly series national champion

Ricky Rudd, won 23 times in NASCAR Cup Series, including the 1997 Brickyard 400

Mike Stefanik, winner of record-tying nine NASCAR championships

Tony Stewart, three-time NASCAR Cup Series champion, two-time Brickyard 400 winner

Red Vogt, the first master mechanic of NASCAR, and a founding member

Waddell Wilson, won three NASCAR Cup Series championships as an engine builder

The five nominees for the Landmark Award, listed alphabetically, are as follows:

Edsel Ford II, Ford Motor Company

Alvin Hawkins, NASCAR’s first flagman; established NASCAR racing at Bowman Gray Stadium with Bill France Sr.

Mike Helton, the first non-France family member to be named NASCAR President

Dr. Joseph Mattioli, founder of Pocono Raceway

Ralph Seagraves, formed groundbreaking Winston-NASCAR partnership as executive with R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company

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