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Hall of Famers

Inductees Who Were Rookie of the Year Winners

Eight drivers have won Rookie of the Year and then went on to have careers that landed them in the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

NASCAR officially began recognizing a premier series rookie of the year way back in 1954. That year North Carolina native Blackie Pitt took the honors on the basis of six top-10 finishes and an 11th-place finish in the championship.

Since that time, eight drivers have won rookie-of-the-year and then went on to have careers that landed them in the NASCAR Hall of Fame. And in a bizarre piece of trivia, six of the eight competed together in the final race of the 1992 season, the Hooters 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

Here they are in chronological order.

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

1959 – Richard Petty

Class of 2010

Although he wouldn’t score his first victory until 1960, as a rookie, Petty has six top-five and nine top-10 finishes in 21 races, earning $8,110 for the year.

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

1960 – David Pearson

Class of 2011

As a rookie, Pearson entered 22 races in his own No. 67 Chevrolet, posting three top-five and seven top-10 results and his first career pole position. Pearson did not lead a lap in his rookie year, but won $5,030.

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

1979 – Dale Earnhardt

Class of 2010

It was a solid first full-time campaign for Earnhardt, who won his first of 76 premier series races in the spring event at Bristol Motor Speedway. He won $274,810 after scoring 11 top fives and 17 top 10s.

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

1984 – Rusty Wallace

Class of 2013

Driving a Cliff Stewart-owned Pontiac, Wallace posted a pair of top fives and four top 10s, leading 11 laps and winning $201,729 in 30 races.

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1986 – Alan Kulwicki

Class of 2019

Despite failing to qualify for six of 29 races, the Wisconsin native pieced together enough good runs to defeat better-funded operations, earning $94,450 on the season. Kulwicki had one top five and four top 10s on the season.

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1987 – Davey Allison

Class of 2019

The second-generation Hall of Famer was the first NASCAR rookie since 1949 to win twice in his first season. Allison earned $361,080 on the strength of the two wins, nine top fives and 10 top 10s.

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1993 – Jeff Gordon

Class of 2019

Despite some rough moments as rookie, Gordon showed great promise, claiming seven top fives and 11 top tens and a pole position in the Charlotte fall race. He also led 230 laps and earned $765,188.

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

1999 – Tony Stewart

Class of 2020

Although he didn’t start racing in the premier series until he was 27, Stewart had big rookie numbers, winning three races and scoring 12 top fives and 21 top 10s. He earned $3,190,149 and finished fourth in the championship.

Tom Jensen

Tom Jensen

Tom is the Curatorial Affairs Manager of the NASCAR Hall of Fame and a veteran of more than 20 years in the NASCAR media industry.

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