NASCAR adds 5 newcomers to Hall of Fame ballot

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Jerry Cook, Jack Ingram, Dale Inman, Fred Lorenzen and T. Wayne Robertson are the newest nominees for NASCAR's 2011 Hall of Fame class.

The five are among 25 nominees who will be considered for induction next year. Also included on the 2011 ballot are Bobby Allison, Lee Petty, David Pearson, Fireball Roberts, Darrell Waltrip and Cale Yarborough. Those six also were on the inaugural ballot last year.

Cook is a six-time Modified champion. Ingram is a two-time Nationwide champion. Inman is an eight-time Cup championship crew chief, seven of them coming with Hall of Famer Richard Petty. Lorenzen has 26 career Cup wins, including the 1965 Daytona 500. Robertson helped raise NASCAR's profile as an R.J. Reynolds executive.

Five inductees will be chosen by a 53-person voting panel that includes media members, manufacturer representatives, retired owners, drivers and crew chiefs, and recognized industry leaders. Fan voting will comprise the 54th and final ballot.

The $195 million Hall of Fame opened May 11, days before NASCAR celebrated its rich and colorful history with the inaugural induction. NASCAR founder Bill France Sr., his son, Bill France Jr., seven-time series champions Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt, and moonshine runner-turned-racing pioneer Junior Johnson made up the first class.

Allison, Pearson and Yarborough were the next three in the voting, a strong indication they will be included in the 2011 class.

The exclusion of Pearson drew strong criticism. The three-time NASCAR champion had 105 victories and ranked second only to Petty on the all-time wins list. Known as the "Silver Fox," Pearson had a winning percentage of 18.2 percent in a career that spanned 27 years — but never a complete season. Had he ever run a full schedule, many believed he could have challenged Petty's marks.

Many believed Pearson should have been chosen over France Jr.

The other 14 nominees on the 2011 ballot are Buck Baker, Red Byron, Richard Childress, Richie Evans, Tim Flock, Rick Hendrick, Ned Jarrett, Bud Moore, Raymond Parks, Benny Parsons, Herb Thomas, Curtis Turner, Joe Weatherly and Glen Wood.