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Petty: Don't base hall picks on popularity

Friday, Jul. 03, 2009

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - Richard Petty, the seven-time Cup series champion who is among the favorites to be named to the first class of NASCAR’s Hall of Fame, said the selection process "should not be a popularity contest."

Petty was among 25 nominees announced on Thursday for the first five-member class, which will be inducted next May in Charlotte.

"You know, a lot of reporters and people today don't know a lot about (car owner) Raymond Parks, him winning the first championship, or (driver) Red Byron and him winning the first championship," Petty said. "It's going to be really hard and it's not going to be accepted by all people, no matter who they put in."

Petty said if he were selecting the class, he would look back to 1949 and determine who took the chance on creating big-time stock car racing.

"I would get the people who got (NASCAR) started," he said. "Those are the ones who planted the seed."

Parks, Byron, Lee Petty, Herb Thomas, Curtis Turner and others from NASCAR's early days, as well as William H.G. France are also among the nominees.