On Wednesday, the NASCAR Hall of Fame announced its second class of inductees. They were: David Pearson, Bobby Allison, Lee Petty, Ned Jarrett and Bud Moore. The following is the opinion of SB Nation's Jeff Gluck on the outcome of the vote:
What happened at the NASCAR Hall of Fame on Wednesday isn't right. It isn't fair. In fact, it stinks.
Instead of looking at accomplishments and records, the Hall of Fame voters looked at their own personal biases and feelings. Instead of voting with their heads, they voted with their hearts.
As a result, the Hall voted ended with two snubs that cannot be interpreted as anything but based on politics.
How else do you explain that Darrell Waltrip (84 wins, three championships) and Cale Yarborough (83 wins, three championships) were left out of the Hall of Fame, while Bobby Allison (84 wins, one championship) got in?
Based on numbers, former track promoter Humpy Wheeler said, "It's almost an impossibility."
Said Waltrip: "I can't go to the statistics, because I've got good numbers. So there's other things involved, I reckon."
Damn right there were.
The conventional wisdom (including the NASCAR.com fan vote, which counted as one collective ballot) had Waltrip and Yarborough getting in, along with David Pearson, Allison and Lee Petty.
Allison should have gotten in on Wednesday, but Waltrip and Yarborough should have been right with him. They have almost identical win totals, except the two drivers who were snubbed have two more championships each.
Bud Moore came out of nowhere – a favorite of the old guard voters. And Ned Jarrett, the ultimate gentleman and class act, got in based on both his driving career (50 wins, two championships) and broadcasting contributions.
But the first two classes of the NASCAR Hall of Fame should have included the 10 greatest legends in the sport's history. It's hard to argue that Moore and Jarrett are among them – though they could have been in the top 15 – if Yarborough and Waltrip are not.
After all, this is the NASCAR Hall of Fame. Not the Hall of Founders. Not the Hall of Contributors.
It's also not an opportunity to try and get some people in ahead of others based on age or declining health. It should be based on accomplishments, not sentiments.
And by the way, it matters who gets in what class. Oh, it matters.
It matters because this is still a race – to get in the Hall, to be recognized as one of the greats. It matters for historical purposes and for pride.
So why isn't Waltrip among the top 10 greats of all time, despite being tied for third on the all-time wins list and tied for fifth on the all-time championships list? And what of Yarborough, who is fifth on the wins and championships list but not among the first 10 in the Hall?
Politics, personal preference, bias.
Waltrip politely suggested it was his relatively young age (63) that led him to miss out, but he also hinted there was more at play.
"I gotta tell you the honest truth – I didn't think I'd get in," he said. "I just knew what was out there and I kind of know the group and I didn't have a good feeling about getting in at this time."
Asked why he didn't have a good feeling, Waltrip replied, "Just the fabric of the group, the 50 that vote."
What did they have against him?
The theory here is that Waltrip, nicknamed "Jaws" for infamously flapping his gums, rubbed many people the wrong way over the years.
And there's no doubt that in the years since he retired, Yarborough has refused to show up for NASCAR events (like the banquet where he paid tribute to Jimmie Johnson matching his three straight titles) unless he was compensated.
"Cale don't go anywhere he don't really have to go – he wants to get paid everywhere he does go," Pearson said matter-of-factly.
Well, Yarborough paid for it at the ballot box. So did Waltrip.
The lowest vote-getter who made it in was Moore, at 45 percent. That means less than 45 percent voted for Waltrip and Yarborough.
That's just wrong.
This isn't about which driver has kissed the most rear ends or which one is your best buddy. This is about the best of the best. Isn't that what the Hall of Fame is?
A Hall of Fame should be about actions and results and contributions to the sport – and no one can refute that Waltrip and Yarborough have among the top credentials of anyone, ever.
Instead, it was based on personal feelings.
You want proof? Three ballots left off David Pearson. Who the heck wouldn't vote for Pearson, the most obvious choice, unless they had an agenda?
"There's not a vote where personal feelings aren't involved," Wheeler said. "It's human nature."
Maybe. But this feels like an extreme case.
To give you a hypothetical example, it's not a secret I personally think Tony Stewart is a jerk. Yet if I'm someday on the voting panel when Stewart is eligible for the Hall, I'd vote for him without hesitation.
My personal feelings about Stewart wouldn't change my opinion of what he's done on the track – his qualifications speak for themselves regardless of what comes out of his mouth.
But if I were Stewart or Kyle Busch or Kevin Harvick, I'd now be worried. The panel has sent a message that if you haven't treated people the right way, you might be left twisting in the wind.
Will Waltrip and Yarborough get in next year? After today's vote, that's in question.
"You know, at this point, I wouldn't make a prediction," Waltrip said.
That's a shame. For all of Waltrip's accomplishments – no matter how you feel about him personally – he deserves better.
Jarrett, who was also on the voting committee, said the panel decided it was about more than on-track accomplishments.
"They have the numbers, no question about it," he said. "They're great race car drivers. They're Hall of Fame material."
But Jarrett added: "There was a lot of discussion about things people have done other than their driving career. ... They looked at it other than just driving race cars."
The big question is: Why?