NASCAR Hall of Fame: Darrell Waltrip and 10 to Enshrine Next Time
In May, Ned Jarrett, Bobby Allison, Bud Moore, Lee Petty and David Pearson will form the second class of inductees into the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte, N.C.
While the group's collective merits are certainly worthy of induction, at least one notable driver will have to wait one more year to earn his rightful reward.
It could be argued that Ned Jarrett's induction next year will be a result of his lengthy television career rather than his 55 wins and two Sprint Cup titles. Despite 37 years as a car owner, Bud Moore's 63 wins and two Sprint Cup championships seem insignificant compared to what Richard Childress and Rick Hendrick have done in seasons with much shorter schedules.
Regardless, here are 11 personalities that should be considered by the NASCAR Hall of Fame induction committee for the 2012 class.
A case can be made for Darrell Waltrip to have been part of the NASCAR Hall of Fame's inaugural class.
However, despite 84 wins and three Sprint Cup championships, "Ol' DW" is still on the outside looking in, and should earn his rightful due next year.
The Owensboro, KY native's accomplishments speak for themselves—a Daytona 500 victory, five Coca-Cola 600 wins, 59 poles, 35 short-track victories and the first driver to earn $10 million in career earnings.
He also shares Jarrett's broadcasting credentials, serving as a color commentator for NASCAR on Fox.
Maybe his notoriety as the outspoken "Jaws" in the early portions of his Sprint Cup career—including a feud with Dale Earnhardt—played a factor in his inability to get inducted.
If so, it is certainly unfair.
Before Jimmie Johnson did the unprecedented four-peat, Cale Yarborough did the three-peat.
He won a trio of consecutive Sprint Cup titles from 1976-78, just one of many qualifications for his induction into the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
The Timmonsville, SC, native won 83 races and four Daytona 500s, with one International Race of Champions (IROC) to add to his credit.
It seems as if the induction committee's decision to select Moore, Jarrett and Lee Petty has come at Yarborough's expense, as he is certainly deserving of a place in Charlotte.
Tim Flock is one of the pioneers of NASCAR, winning a pair of Sprint Cup titles and 40 races in the sport's early days.
Infamously known for his monkey co-driver "Jocko Flocko," Flock won 18 races and 19 poles in 45 races during the 1955 season. While that win mark was shattered by Richard Petty in 1967, his pole tally remains unmatched to this day.
The father of Daytona 500 champion and broadcaster Buddy Baker, Buck Baker is the first driver in NASCAR history to win consecutive Sprint Cup titles, in 1956 and 1957.
With 46 wins and 43 poles to his credit, the Richburg, S.C. native's ticket to Charlotte should be punched very soon.
Joe Weatherly was one of the first Sprint Cup drivers to excel in multiple disciplines, winning three American Motorcycle Association (AMA) championships between 1946 and 1950—long before the days of Ricky Carmichael.
The Norfolk, VA native made the jump to stock cars in 1950, winning two consecutive Sprint Cup titles in 1962 and 1963 before losing his life in a 1964 crash at Riverside, CA.
Weatherly was named to the AMA Hall of Fame in 1998. A NASCAR Hall of Fame nod should soon come his way.
Glenn "Fireball" Roberts was one of NASCAR's first young stars, on his way to a legendary career before his life was tragically cut short at the 1964 Coca-Cola 600, just months after the death of Weatherly.
While the 1962 Daytona 500 champion will no doubt be remembered for his on-track efforts, the legacy following his death is more notable, leading to the creation of fireproof firesuits and protected fuel cells.
Known for spending almost twenty years as a broadcaster with ABC, ESPN, NBC and TNT, Benny Parsons was the John Madden of NASCAR—known more for his contributions following his retirement than in his actual career.
A former Detroit cab driver, Parsons won the 1973 Sprint Cup title while winning one race, a model of consistency before Matt Kenseth inspired the creation of the Chase for the Cup.
With a Daytona 500 victory and two Coca-Cola 600 wins to his credit, Parsons deserves a spot in Charlotte.
Before his untimely death in a helicopter crash in 1993, Alan Kulwicki accomplished incredible feats as a driver/owner in the Sprint Cup Series.
Running on a limited budget, the Wisconsin native won the 1986 Raybestos Rookie of the Year and the 1992 Sprint Cup title—the last of his kind to pull off both accomplishments.
While we will never know how successful he could have been driving for a well-funded operation, his accomplishments are certainly worthy of the Hall of Fame.
If Dale Earnhardt is in the Hall of Fame, Richard Childress should be in very soon.
As an owner, the North Carolina native has six Sprint Cup titles, two Nationwide Series titles, one Camping World Truck Series title and his drivers have tallied 171 wins over the years.
Enough said for his bid.
Rick Hendrick should follow right behind Childress in the Hall of Fame.
A staggering 238 wins among NASCAR's three national touring series, along with nine Sprint Cup titles and three Camping World Truck Series titles, should have him immortalized in Charlotte very soon.
While this is probably a long-shot for at least the next few years, Ken Squier (along with Chris Economaki) deserve his place in the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
The play-by-play announcer for NASCAR coverage on CBS and TBS from 1979-2000, Squier provided the call for the 1979 Daytona 500, a moment that needs no further explanation to even the newest of fans.
He was in Victory Lane when Dale Earnhardt "got that monkey off (his) back" and won the 1998 Daytona 500, as well as Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s first career victory at Texas Motor Speedway two years later.
Squier was a major part of NASCAR's rise as a televised sport, and deserves a place in Charlotte.
Agree with these picks? Is there anyone you would like to see in the NASCAR Hall of Fame? Comment below.
Ryan Papaserge is a junior Journalism/Mass Communication student at St. Bonaventure University and a writing intern at Bleacher Report.