Dale Earnhardt Jr. leads 2021 NASCAR Hall of Fame class

Dale Earnhardt Jr. is now a NASCAR Hall of Famer. (AP Photo/Terry Renna, File)

Dale Earnhardt Jr. is a NASCAR Hall of Famer. Junior was one of three men officially announced as a member of the 2021 NASCAR Hall of Fame class Tuesday night alongside Mike Stefanik and Red Farmer.

A two-time Xfinity Series champion and two-time Daytona 500 winner, Junior was also voted the Most Popular Driver in the Cup Series for a whopping 15-straight seasons from 2003-2017. Junior won 26 Cup Series races over 631 career starts and finished in the top five of the points standings in four different seasons.

Junior was one of the faces of NASCAR throughout its mid-2000s boom following the death of his father at the 2001 Daytona 500. As he found his voice later in his career, Junior emerged as the conscience of NASCAR, a role that he still occupies today as an analyst for NBC Sports and the host of his popular “Dale Jr. Download” podcast.

Junior’s best season in the points standings came in 2003 when he finished third and won two races. He won six races the following year in 2004 but a crash at Atlanta during the first NASCAR playoffs ended any hope he had of winning a championship.

Junior won just two races over the next three years at Dale Earnhardt Inc., the team his dad founded. He left DEI at the end of 2007 for Hendrick Motorsports, the team that also employed Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson.

The start of Junior’s Hendrick career didn’t go so well. Junior was 12th in his first season with the team but finished 25th and 21st in 2009 and 2010 and went four years without winning a race until he won at Michigan in 2012. His best Hendrick season came while Junior was fifth in the points standings in a winless 2013, his best seasons at Hendrick came in 2014 and 2015 when he won a combined seven races and finished in the top 10 in 42 of 72 starts. 

Junior entered the 2016 season as a potential title contender but ended up racing in just 18 races after concussions brought his season to a halt halfway through. He returned for the 2017 season but had just one top-five finish and was 21st in the standings. 

The Earnhardts become the sixth father-son combination in the Hall of Fame along with Lee Petty and Richard Petty, Ned Jarrett and Dale Jarrett, Bobby Allison and Davey Allison, Buck Baker and Buddy Baker, and Bill France Sr. and Bill France Jr.

Mike Stefanik

Stefanik is a nine-time NASCAR Modified Series champion. Stefanik won a whopping 74 Modfified races over 453 starts and won championships in 1989, 1991, 1997, 1998, 2001, 2002 and 2006. 

His best season came in 1998 when he won 13 of 22 races and finished in the top 10 in 21 of 22 races.

Stefanik was killed in a plane crash on Sept. 15. 2019, at the age of 61.

Red Farmer

Farmer is still racing at short tracks across the country at the age of 87. A member of the fabled Alabama gang of NASCAR’s past, Farmer was elected off of the Pioneer ballot. NASCAR changed its voting procedures for the Hall of Fame in 2021 and selected two members off the modern ballot — Junior and Stefanik — and one person from the Pioneer ballot. Farmer has raced so much at so many levels that his estimated win total across all of racing is over 700. But no one knows for sure just how many races he’s won.

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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.

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