The 2013 class of inductees for the NASCAR Hall of Fame were revealed on Wednesday, with former Cup Series champion Rusty Wallace among those selected in the five-member class.
Drivers Buck Baker, Cotton Owens and Herb Thomas, as well as team co-owner and crew chief Leonard Wood will join Wallace in the NASCAR HOF's fourth class.
Voting for this year's class was as evenly distributed as any previous NASCAR HOF induction selection. Thomas and Wood each garnered 57 percent of the vote, followed by Wallace (52 percent) and Owens (50 percent).
For the first time in the four-year voting history, there was a tie for the fifth and final induction spot. Voting Panel members chose Baker over Fireball Roberts after a re-vote between the two nominees. Baker received 39 percent of the votes.
The hall's 54-member voting panel met in a closed session earlier in the day in Charlotte. A fan vote made up the panel's 55th and final ballot. NASCAR Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Brian France announced the new inductees shortly after.
"I think as I was in the room, it's pretty clear that this was the toughest class to date in making the choices, but it's going to be a great class," France said during his opening remarks.
Wallace, the 1989 Cup champion, won 55 races during his 25-year career in NASCAR's premier series. His influence on the sport continued after his retirement when he became an analyst for ESPN's coverage of NASCAR.
"I did not think I was going to get in," Wallace said. "I that thought Benny Parsons would get in. I thought Fred Lorenzen would get in. I thought some of these super big names that I read about my whole life growing up would get in before me. I told myself if I don't get in I am totally fine with that, because I just want to see someone that I idolize growing up get in. And hopefully I would eventually get in."
Elzie Wylie "Buck" Baker established himself as one of NASCAR's early greats, becoming the first driver to win consecutive championships in its top series (1956-57). His 46 victories rank him 14th on the series' all-time race winners list.
Everett "Cotton" Owens enjoyed success as both a driver and owner in NASCAR. As a driver, he won nine times in the premier series, including the 1957 Daytona Beach, FL beach/road course race. Thomas also collected 38 victories as an owner.
Thomas was the first driver to win two Cup championships, doing so in 1951 and '53. He won both his title driving self-owned cars. Thomas also finished second in the point standings in 1952 and '54.
Wood, part-owner and former crew chief for Wood Brothers Racing, revolutionized pit stops in NASCAR. He figured out ways to get the race car serviced in the least amount of time. The team used a light-weight jack in place of a 100-lbs. floor jack found in the repair shops during the early days of stock car racing.
Wood's brother, Glen, was inducted into the NASCAR HOF in January.
"I kind of thought I might have a shot at it, but you never know how people are going to vote," Leonard Wood said. "I'm highly honored to be in if someone chooses to vote me in, but I was okay if they decided not to."
NASCAR also announced the creation of a new award to honor the contributions of media members covering the sport. The award, which will become part of the annual NASCAR HOF ceremonies beginning in February 2013, will bear the names of the first two award winners -- legendary broadcasters Ken Squier and Barney Hall. It will be called the "Squier-Hall Award for NASCAR Media Excellence."