Jimmie Johnson, Chad Knaus nominated for NASCAR Hall of Fame

Harry Gant, of Taylorsville, North Carolina finds himself facing traffic on lap 204 of 500 lap CRC Chemicals 500 at Dover Downs International Speedway in Dover, Delaware on Sept. 19, 1982. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)

Seven-time Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson and his former crew chief of the No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet Chad Knaus headline a list of 15 nominees for the NASCAR Hall of Fame Class of 2024. 

There are 10 nominees on the modern era ballot and five on the pioneer ballot, which is designed to honor those whose careers began more than 60 years ago. Two modern era candidates and one pioneer candidate will be selected for the Hall of Fame when the 61-person committee meets on Aug. 2. 

Together, Johnson and Knaus won Cup titles in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2013 and 2016. Johnson’s seven titles as a driver tie him with Dale Earnhardt and Richard Petty for the most in NASCAR history. 

Joining Johnson and Knaus on the modern era ballot are former drivers Carl Edwards, Neil Bonnett, Jeff Burton, Ricky Rudd, Harry Gant, Tim Brewer, Harry Hyde and Larry Phillips. 

Donnie Allison, an original member of the fan-favorite Alabama Gang, will be on the pioneer ballot for the first time, along with fellow drivers AJ Foyt and Sam Ard, car builder Banjo Matthews and car owner Ralph Moody. 

Longtime NASCAR executive Les Richter joins the Landmark Award ballot for the first time after being on the Hall of Fame ballot three times before the award was created. The Landmark Award honors those who made significant contributions to the growth and esteem of NASCAR. Also up for the Landmark award are Alvin Hawkins, Janet Guthrie, Dr. Joseph Mattioli and Lesa France Kennedy. 

Three North Carolina racing legends are on the ballot. 

Alvin Hawkins is on the ballot for the Landmark Award. With Bill France Sr., Hawkins established NASCAR racing at Bowman Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem. The Hawkins family continues to operate the quarter-mile track, one that is an institution in the sport and a crown jewel for short track racers throughout the country.  

The modern era ballot includes Tim Brewer, who won Cup Series Championships in 1978 and 1981 working for Hall of Famer Junior Johnson. 

The Winston-Salem native joined Richard Childress Racing as one of the youngest crew chiefs in the sport’s history and immediately guided Childress to his first career top-10 finish. But it was Brewer’s subsequent partnership with NASCAR Hall of Famer Junior Johnson that thrust him into the spotlight. 

Upon joining Johnson’s team, Brewer led Hall of Famers Cale Yarborough and Darrell Waltrip to 32 wins during a magical four-year stretch, bookended by two championships (1978 with Yarborough, ’81 with Waltrip). He was painfully close to two other Cup championships, losing by 16 points in ’80 and 10 points with Bill Elliott in the famous ’92 finale. 

Over his 30-year career, Brewer racked up 53 victories – including two Southern 500s – and 55 poles. Following his crew chief career, Brewer spent time as a technical analyst for ESPN race broadcasts. 

Also on the modern era ballot is Taylorsville’s Harry Gant, known as “Handsome Harry” for his good looks, the “Bandit” due to his long-time sponsor Skoal Bandit, “Mr. September” after his four consecutive Cup Series and two Xfinity Series wins in September of 1991 and “High Groove Harry” because of his proficiency in taking the high line through the corner. 

A humble man, he could wheel a race car darn well, too. Gant won 18 Cup Series races, including the Southern 500 in 1984 and 1991. The North Carolinian also registered 21 wins in the Xfinity Series. 

In the five seasons from 1981 through 1985, Gant finished in the top five in points four times, including a runner-up championship finish to Terry Labonte in 1984. 

Gant maintained his racing prowess into his 50s and holds the premier series records for oldest driver to win a race (52 years old) and pole (54). 

He drove the first race car with a telemetry system installed in it at Talladega in 1985 and relayed the data to CBS during its coverage of the event. 

Gant was named one of NASCAR’s 50 Greatest drivers. 

NSJ staff contributed to this report.