Since 2014, the NASCAR Hall of Fame has invited the most recent Cup Series champion to participate in its Voting Day process. This year, there will be two.
Reigning Cup Series champion Kyle Larson will cast his ballot when the voting panel convenes Wednesday afternoon in uptown Charlotte, helping to select the three honorees for the Hall’s Class of 2023. He’ll be joined on the panel by Hendrick Motorsports teammate Chase Elliott, the series’ 2020 champion. The newly elected class will be announced at the Hall of Fame at 5 p.m. ET.
The inclusion of both Larson and Elliott came after COVID-19 interrupted the yearly balloting. The Class of 2021 was chosen through a virtual voting process just three months after the pandemic’s outbreak in 2020. COVID-19 concerns postponed those induction ceremonies until January this year and forced the cancelation of voting for a potential Class of 2022.
To ensure that Elliott also received the perk that was intended to come with his first Cup Series title, the Hall of Fame’s directors added him to the list for this year’s voting panel.
“Yeah, I just appreciate them remembering me, letting me do it,” Elliott said during the Cup Series’ recent trip to Bristol Motor Speedway’s dirt track. “So I’m excited. It’s a great honor to have, and I really think it’s one of the cooler honors that you have of being champion and that they let you be a part of.”
Jimmie Johnson was the first sitting Cup Series champion to have a hand in Hall of Fame Voting Day, adding his ballot for the Class of 2014 after claiming his sixth title. He rejoined the voting panel after securing his record-tying seventh championship in 2016. Kyle Busch is the only other driver to participate twice as defending Cup Series champ (2015, 2019).
Elliott and Larson are both newcomers as recent first-time champions, and both said they plan to study up on the accomplishments of this year’s 15 nominees, plus the lives of the five individuals who will be considered for the Landmark Award for Outstanding Contributions to NASCAR.
“So I have a lot of homework to do and probably need to ask some questions to other panel members,” Elliott said, “because for me, you know, there’s a lot of names on the list that I’m not super familiar with their careers, and there’s some names that I am, just because I was old enough to watch them race. But just because I was old enough to watch them race doesn’t make them any more or less qualified to go in, just because of the time and the popularity of the sport shouldn’t be the only reason a guy gets voted in. So yeah, we’ll see, but I’m excited to be part of the process.”
Larson said he wasn’t aware he would be part of the process until he was notified last month, shortly after the nominees and the voting panel for the Class of 2023 were announced. Like Elliott, Larson said he plans to conduct his own research to be a better-informed voter when the ballots are handed out.
“Chase and I are both on it this year, so maybe get to bounce some notes off of each other, but either way, it’s just a cool honor and something that I look forward to,” Larson said. “I mean, there’s a lot of people I feel like I don’t even know about, so for me, I’ll do a lot of studying and it’d be cool to be a fan and trying to learn about some of the people’s histories and what they’ve done on the race track as well as off the race track that maybe deserves the right to get into the Hall of Fame.”