When you begin to talk about the greatest NASCAR drivers of all time, three names clear all the rest.
There’s Richard Petty, perhaps the sport’s first true superstar and a seven-time champion. There’s Dale Earnhardt, who is perhaps the name most readily associated with the sport and himself a seven-time champion.
And then there’s Jimmie Johnson.
Johnson wasn’t the character of an Earnhardt or a Petty, but he was one whale of a driver when he stepped into a race car. Like the two before him, Johnson is a seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion. But Johnson also separated himself from the pack.
The Hendrick Motorsports star won five consecutive series championships from 2006-2010. Prior to that, no one had won more than three in a row.
He has 83 career victories, which is sixth all-time and seven wins more than Earnhardt (though far behind Petty’s record of 200). Johnson and crew chief Chad Knaus absolutely ran roughshod over the sport for a number of years.
This year, both became eligible for the NASCAR Hall of Fame on the Modern Era ballot.
Unsurprisingly, both were voted in and will be inducted as part of the 2024 class.
But there’s just one problem. Four voters opted to leave Johnson, one of three drivers with seven championships, off there ballot altogether.
This set off a firestorm among fans, media members and drivers.
Asked by @bobpockrass about the four people who didn't vote for him, Jimmie Johnson says he'd love to know who they are.
SAME. Tell us, @nascar. (And then kick them off the voting panel.)
— Jeff Gluck (@jeff_gluck) August 2, 2023
Jimmie and Chad not being unanimous is a travesty https://t.co/itqaZZpm6k
— Aedan McHugh (@AedanMcHugh) August 2, 2023
One question we had today was ‘will Jimmie Johnson be a unanimous vote?’ This has never happened with HOF voting. Honestly shocked it didn’t happen today. SMH
— Jamie Little (@JamieLittleTV) August 2, 2023
Whoever ruined Jimmie Johnson being a unanimous HOF ballot needs to be removed from voting immediately.
— Darian Gilliam (@BlackFlagMatter) August 2, 2023
There aren't many unanimous HOF selections in any sport. Jimmie Johnson is one. Anyone who knows anything about racing knows this. Everyone who votes for the NASCAR HOF should too. Be it someone trying to be a contrarian or edgelord, the 4 who didn't vote him in should be gone https://t.co/202YanGJTD
— Rodrigo Del Campo González (@RodDelCampo) August 2, 2023
“To be a panelist is a honor that should be taken seriously. What 4 people did today is make a joke of that honor and for what? It can only be a couple reasons a person would have to not give someone like Jimmie their vote,” driver and team owner Denny Hamlin said.
To be a panelist is a honor that should be taken seriously. What 4 people did today is make a joke of that honor and for what? It can only be a couple reasons a person would have to not give someone like Jimmie their vote.
1. You don’t like them
2. You weren’t voted in…
— Denny Hamlin (@dennyhamlin) August 3, 2023
While fellow driver Brad Keselowski seemed to agree.
Johnson himself says he didn’t care, but would like to know who didn’t vote for him.
Jimmie Johnson says it doesn’t matter the four people who didn’t vote for him for his selection to not be unanimous. But he would like to know who they are.
Chad Knaus says the 11 people who didn’t vote for him were probably people he upset over the years.
— Kelly Crandall (@KellyCrandall) August 2, 2023
As long as there are halls of fame, there will be voting controversy. But this one seemed like a layup and was easily avoidable.