Although the NASCAR Hall of Fame is relatively young, we have seen mechanics, officials, owners and legendary drivers from the Winston Cup Series, the NASCAR Busch Series and the Modified Tour. All involved have contributed greatly to the sport, and all are worthy of their spots in the Hall of Fame. However, there has yet to be a truck series figure inducted into the Hall of Fame.
Although the Camping World Truck Series is the youngest major division in NASCAR, the fact that it is still growing in popularity says something for the series.
Entering its 20th season, fans have witnessed major moments in the division's history, from the domination of drivers like Ron Hornaday Jr. and Jack Sprague to the famous three-wide photo finish at the 2003 Florida Dodge Dealers 250 at Daytona. The truck series has earned its popularity.
Do truck series drivers deserve a spot in the NASCAR Hall of Fame? Let's take a look at a couple of HoF inductees who weren't Cup drivers.
Richie Evans, the first Hall of Fame inductee from outside the Cup Series, was a major player in the Modified division. Evans had earned 28 track championships at 11 tracks in four states. On top of that, Evans was the NASCAR National Modified champion in 1973, 1978 to '84 and he was also the inaugural NASCAR Whelen Modified champion in 1985. His 1985 title was awarded posthumously, as he perished during practice for the season finale at Martinsville.
Jack Ingram, famously known as "Iron Man," was a two-time Busch Series champion in 1982 and 1985. His record of 31 wins was the most in the series until 1997 when Mark Martin broke his record. Inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in 2007, Ingram's accolades include the 1982 Busch Series Most Popular Driver award, three titles (1972-74) in the Late Model Sportsman Division and the distinction of leading the Busch Series in wins in 1982, 1985 and 1986.
Ingram and Evans, while both tremendous wheel men, were never synonymous with the Cup Series. Still, both became legends in their respective divisions due to their incredible talents and their successes.
With that being said, while the trucks are a lower division, there isn't any reason why they shouldn't see a graduate from the CWTS in the Hall of Fame soon.
For example, although Mike Skinner wasn't much of a driver in the Cup Series or the Busch Series, he did manage to become the very first champion in the CWTS in 1995 while behind the wheel of the No. 3 GM Goodwrench Chevy owned by Richard Childress. He enjoyed a career resurgence in the truck series from 2004 to 2010, winning 12 times during that span and 28 times overall.
Sprague won 28 races through 13 seasons in the CWTS, including three championships in the early years of the division. Sprague and Hornaday battled for the championship many times early on in the history of the truck series, swapping title several times between 1996 and 1999.
Then there is Hornaday, who is the all-time leader in wins in the CWTS with 51. Along with those victories, he won championships in 1996, 1998, 2007 and 2009.
Hornaday has found success in the Busch Series as well, where he has won four times with a best points finish of third in 2003 while driving for Childress. However, the majority of his success came in the truck series driving for names such as Dale Earnhardt and Kevin Harvick.
Other names such as Butch Miller and Bobby Hamilton should also be taken into consideration when the CWTS gets around to seeing one of its guys inducted into the Hall of Fame.
Of all the divisions, the truck series is the biggest nod to NASCAR's early roots. The racing is rough and tough, the drivers are throwbacks to the legends of old, the same legends who currently grace the Hall of Fame, and the fanbase continues to grow as the tour expands to other locations.
If names like Evans and Ingram can be inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame without ever hoisting a Cup Series trophy, then these guys should be taken into consideration for their efforts and success behind the wheel of a truck in NASCAR. They worked hard for their success, maybe just as hard as Ingram, Evans, Earnhardt or even Richard Petty.
Along with that, NASCAR has been the launching point for many of the sport's current stars such as Austin and Ty Dillon, Kyle Larson, Ryan Blaney, Chase Elliott and Darrell Wallace Jr. If it weren't for the guys like Miller, Hornaday and Skinner in the mid-to-late '90s, this current crop of drivers wouldn't be around today. If they were, they would have had a tougher time getting into the sport.
But that isn't the case.
What is the case is that we have a group of old-school drivers who managed to help bring NASCAR's toughest division to prominence, and we have yet to see any of them rewarded for their efforts. This should change. These guys are Hall of Fame material, and we should see at least one of them inducted in the 2015 Hall of Fame class before all is said and done.
It would be the perfect acknowledgment for NASCAR's toughest division.
Follow Joseph on Twitter: @ThatSheltonGuy.
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