Streeter Lecka | Getty Images
Streeter Lecka | Getty Images

Hall of Fame voter Zack Albert’s official ballot

Editor’s note: NASCAR.com’s Zack Albert is among the 66 voting members — including the fan vote — casting ballots to elect the NASCAR Hall of Fame’s Class of 2021. This year marks his third time participating in Voting Day. Here, he reveals the reasoning behind the three choices on his ballot, a handful of honorable mentions and his pick for the Landmark Award.

Class of 2021 selections

Dale Earnhardt Jr. — On a purely statistical basis, Earnhardt’s merits as a two-time Daytona 500 champ, a 26-time premier series winner and a two-time Busch (now Xfinity) Series champion deserve strong consideration. But how often does an ambassador for the sport — a transcendent one who fully appreciates its rich history — come across the ballot? This was a layup among a field of tough choices.

Mike Stefanik — It’s not often that a nine-time champion appears on the ballot, either. Stefanik is just as deserving as Richie Evans and Jerry Cook, the Modified legends who were enshrined before him. Checking the box beside his name serves as a reminder that the Hall of Fame is for all NASCAR standouts, not just those who achieved fame at the Cup Series level.

Red Farmer — The longevity is one thing for a driver who still competes regularly at Talladega’s dirt track at age 87 — he actually finished 10th on Saturday night before Voting Day. But his accomplishments in winning four championships at what would be equivalent to a national-series title today pushed him over the top for my Pioneer Ballot vote. Having serious Alabama Gang founders cred didn’t hurt either.

Honorable mentions: Neil Bonnett’s winsome resume as a driver and able broadcaster provided some appeal (and will in future votes). Kirk Shelmerdine’s link to the championship campaigns of Dale Earnhardt should usher his way to the Hall sooner than later. And the timeless Hershel McGriff, a legend in NASCAR’s westward series and a four-time Cup winner, will rise to the top of my queue for Pioneer consideration next year.

Landmark Award

Ralph Seagraves — The longtime R.J. Reynolds marketer and promoter helped cultivate a period of tremendous growth for stock-car racing from a regional to a national sport in the Winston Cup era. Seagraves’ influence also provided a model for what was possible in sports marketing and sponsorship. T. Wayne Robertson, who followed Seagraves as an apprentice to become RJR’s sports marketing chief, should follow him onto the Landmark Award ballot for consideration in years to come.