Rusty Wallace was in his first year of eligibility for the NASCAR Hall of Fame, but that didn't stop voters from putting him into the 2013 class right away.
Wallace, the 1989 Cup champion and 55-time race winner, earned a surprising but deserved invitation to the Hall on Wednesday along with two-time Cup champions Herb Thomas and Buck Baker, former crew chief Leonard Wood and driver/owner Cotton Owens.
Many observers didn't expect Wallace to be included on his first try, but he earned 52 percent of the vote. Wood and Thomas got 57 percent apiece, followed by Owens (50 percent) and Baker (39 percent).
Baker actually tied with Fireball Roberts for the final Hall of Fame spot, which required a tiebreaking vote from the 53-member voting panel.
Though some fans might not understand why Wallace was included ahead of many NASCAR pioneers, the inclusion of a recent driver should help boost the Hall's struggling attendance numbers.