Saturday, July 13, 2024

Johnson, Knaus, Allison voted into NASCAR Hall of Fame’s 2024 class

It was an inevitability the moment they were on the ballot, but became a certainty on Wednesday as fifty-seven voters named Jimmie Johnson and Chad Knaus to the NASCAR Hall of Fame‘s Class of 2024. Donnie Allison was also voted in on the Pioneer ballot while Janet Guthrie was named recipient of the Landmark Award for Outstanding Contributions to NASCAR.

Knaus served as Johnson’s crew chief for nearly his entire Cup Series career, winning a record-tying seven championships and eighty-one races together from 2002 to 2018. The two split after 2018 amid a changing era for the #48 Hendrick Motorsports team, though the two continued to be connected in more ways than one as both retired from their respective positions after the 2020 season. When he ended his crew chief career, he was serving atop the pit box for Hendrick’s William Byron.

“From a very young age, racing was in our life. Our parents raced, our families raced. We just wanted to be racers,” said Johnson. “Sure, I know I tried to dream big, but I couldn’t have dreamt this big. To have everything play out as it has—even looking back on those moments in time, with five in a row and seven championships in total, the super moments along the way—I still can’t believe it’s happened. When you’re a kid, dream big, and who knows, it might end up happening.”

While Johnson went into IndyCar and eventually team ownership at Legacy Motor Club, Knaus serves as Hendrick’s Vice President of Competition. The two reunited in sports cars when Johnson began competing in IMSA, and Knaus also led NASCAR’s successful 24 Hours of Le Mans effort with Johnson as one of its drivers.

Despite their accolades, neither received a unanimous vote: Johnson garnered 93 percent of the Modern Era ballot while Knaus notched 81 percent. Other vote getters included Harry Gant, Ricky Rudd, and Carl Edwards, while Neil Bonnett, Tim Brewer, Jeff Burton, Harry Hyde, and Larry Phillips were also on the ballot.

“Once Jimmie was nominated, and I saw the way we grew up together, and as I sat back and was watching him, and I was thinking, ‘My gosh, how much I’ve learned throughout my career just because of Jimmie,’ and I was really proud of that,” Knaus commented. “I was probably more proud of the fact that he’s in there than actually I am. For me personally, it’s a huge, huge day. Very, very proud. Very proud of everybody that’s helped me, and it’s an honour to be here with Jimmie.

“I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for Jimmie Johnson, in a lot of different ways.”

Allison, part of the legendary Alabama Gang and brother of fellow Hall of Famer Bobby Allison, is perhaps best known for being one of the belligerents in the 1979 Daytona 500 fight with Cale Yarborough after the two tangled while racing for the win, which helped bring the sport into the mainstream. In the decade prior to the fight, he won Cup Series Rookie of the Year in 1967 and the Coca-Cola 600 in 1970. He ended his career with ten wins at NASCAR’s highest level.

He received 53 percent of the Pioneer vote to beat Banjo Matthews, who worked as his mechanic and car owner. Also on the pre-modern ballot were Sam Ard, A.J. Foyt, and Ralph Moody.

“It’s always been a joy to be a part of racing like I’ve been,” Allison offered. “To have a career like I had and to go on to help young guys like Joey Logano, Trevor Bayne, different guys like that, and my grandson Justin, it’s just an honour to be inducted into this Hall of Fame.”

Guthrie was one of auto racing’s female pioneers. She was the first woman to race both the Daytona 500 and Indianapolis 500, and scored five top tens in the Cup Series across thirty-three total starts. Prior to NASCAR and open-wheel racing, she was a sports car ace who won the 12 Hours of Sebring twice.

She was one of the original International Women’s Sports Hall of Fame inductees, followed by being named to the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in 2006 and the Automotive Hall of Fame in 2019.

Guthrie received the Landmark Award ahead of Alvin Hawkins, Lesa France Kennedy, Dr. Joseph Mattioli, and Les Richter.

The induction ceremony will take place on 19 January 2024.