Last year I thought it was pretty clear who should be chosen for the NASCAR Hall of Fame's inaugural class. The five chosen -- Richard Petty, Dale Earnhardt Sr., Bill France Sr., Bill France Jr. and Junior Johnson -- were the five I had pegged for the honor.
The selection of the second class seems a bit tougher. I'm not sure what the voting committee might be thinking, but here are the five I'd choose if I had a vote.
David Pearson -- Many felt the three-time Cup champion and winner of 105 races (second all-time) deserved to be recognized as part of the inaugural class. It would be a stunner if he wasn't chosen for the second class.
Dale Inman -- Richard Petty made the inaugural class, why not the crew chief who helped him to a majority of his 200 wins as part of the second class? He has more wins (193) and championships (8) than any other crew chief.
Red Byron -- He had a brief, but impactful career. Among NASCAR's pioneers, he captured the first series championship in 1949.
Lee Petty -- And if you recognize the series' first champion, it's probably not a bad idea to recognize the first winner of its greatest race. The father of Richard, Lee won the first Daytona 500 in 1959. He also won three series titles, the first driver to accomplish that feat.
Cale Yarborough -- Before Jimmie Johnson began his assault on the record books, Yarborough had been the only driver to win three consecutive championships. His 83 victories -- fifth all-time -- include four victories in the Daytona 500 (second all-time behind Richard Petty's seven).
Just missing my cut -- Darrell Waltrip, Richard Childress, Rick Hendrick, T. Wayne Robertson and Richie Evans.
Among my picks, I'd say Byron and/or Inman could get left out in favor of Waltrip, who certainly has the greater notoriety and could be a bigger draw for the Hall.
I don't think there's room for both Childress and Hendrick in this class. If one of them gets in, I'd go with Childress over Hendrick at this time just based on the fact he accomplished his greatest success at a much earlier time than Hendrick, who's still in the midst of his organization's dominance. Childress was the first owner to win titles in all three NASCAR national series. (Personally, I don't think anybody currently active in the role for which he is predominantly being nominated for should be up for induction, but I digress).
Robertson is an interesting nominee and very deserving choice, but after the Hall inducted two executives (Bill France Sr. and Jr.) last year, I don't believe he'll make the cut.
I'm not sure what to make of Evans, who was a great and highly respected driver, but accomplished all his success in the NASCAR modified series. He's my darkhorse, though I think next year might be more likely for him.