Other Sports

NASCAR Countdown: 6 Future Hall of Famers Currently Racing

usatsi_14019577.jpg
USA TODAY Sports

NASCAR Countdown: 6 Future Hall of Famers Currently Racing

NBC Sports Washington is counting down big NASCAR moments leading up to the Daytona 500. Be sure to check out our other coverage below.

The NASCAR Hall of Fame recently announced changes to its voting and induction process, only allowing three drivers per year and separating the voting into two separate committees. Currently, there is a plethora of Hall of Fame talent competing at the top level of NASCAR.

Here are six drivers currently racing that will be in the HOF once they hang up the helmet.

6. Martin Truex Jr.

26 victories and one championship may be borderline to get into the Hall. But just imagine what Martin Truex Jr.’s stats would look like if he hadn’t been bogged down at Michael Waltrip Racing and the pre-Cole Pearn Furniture Row Racing for so long?

23 of the 26 have come since 2016, including a season-high seven in 2019. As long as MTJ keeps just some of this up, he’ll be well on his way to the Hall of Fame.

5. Joey Logano

I know what you’re thinking: “How do you have the younger champion at Team Penske on this list but not the older one with more wins?” Well, in a word, it’s potential.

Joey Logano is six years younger than Brad Keselowski. Both have a championship, both will eclipse the 40-win mark in their careers, but I say Logano due to the length of his career he more likely than not has leftover Keselowski.

4. Kurt Busch

Although his championship campaign feels like forever ago (2004), his 31 victories and take no you-know-what attitude make him a Hall of Fame driver. Busch also is near the end of the road, with rumors circulating that he may retire in the next couple of seasons.

When he does, his legacy conversation will be re-ignited. The elder Busch brother will be the first to enter the Hall of Fame … we’ll get to his brother momentarily.

3. Kevin Harvick

This past Saturday, Kevin Harvick confirmed he’d signed a contract extension with Stewart-Haas Racing through the 2023 season. Previously, he was under contract through 2021. Count me among the people who thought that would be it for “The Closer.”

Not happening. And that should send shivers down the spines of Cup competitors in the garage. Although past his statistical peak, Harvick should be good for at least a couple wins each year until his contract expires. A championship, 49 victories, and two Xfinity championships is more than enough to get Harvick into the Hall. Thing is, he may go down as the third-best driver of his generation (maybe even fourth or fifth) behind a couple of guys...

2. Kyle Busch

Rowdy is for sure one of them. 56 wins, two championships, 200 top fives, almost 300 top 10s, 200+ wins across the national series, a multi-time championship Truck owner...is there anything this guy can’t do in NASCAR? (He’d tell you win the Daytona 500, but that’s a different story)

When it’s all said and done, Busch won’t match Jimmie Johnson’s mark of seven championships. But he may be regarded as the all-around better race car driver to some. And that’s not untrue. It seems no matter the discipline, competition, venue or other extenuating circumstance you throw his way, he delivers. With bravado. First ballot HOFer. Mark it down.

1. Jimmie Johnson

I understand the last couple years of Jimmie Johnson haven’t been, well, Jimmie Johnson-esque. But that aside, he’s the G.O.A.T. in my mind. I never saw Dale Earnhardt race. I never saw Richard Petty race. I’ve lived through the JJ era, and it’s been insane.

A record-tying seven championships, 83 wins, across multiple formats, iterations of race cars, etc. I mean, NASCAR literally changed the playoff format--MULTIPLE TIMES--to attempt to thwart Johnson’s dominance and championships.

Oh, and did I mention he won five consecutive titles from 2006-2010? He did this all with one crew chief (Chad Knaus, although the two have moved on from each other) and one organization (Hendrick Motorsports). Unanimous Hall of Famer, first ballot, no contest.

MORE NASCAR NEWS:

What happened in Netflix's Tiger King, Episode Three

What happened in Netflix's Tiger King, Episode Three

Netflix's seven-episode documentary, Tiger King, follows the life of a man who calls himself Joe Exotic. Not only does he own over 200 big cats on his private zoo in Oklahoma, but he is also accused of being involved in a murder-for-hire plot. The series has animal rights activists, a true-crime plot, and some wild characters (pun intended). Lucky for you, we are recapping each episode. 

Episode 3: The Secret 

The episode we have all been waiting for. Did Carole kill her husband and feed him to the tigers?

Note: I am not a detective. I did not study criminal justice in school. I have, however, watched a lot of Law and Order. 

"What a story! It is so wild it must not be true." 

The story begins in 1981. Carole Baskin was 21 and Jack 'Don' Lewis was 42, they both were married to other people at the time. 

Carole and her first-husband got into a fight and she decided to go for a walk. For some reason, Don was driving around and stopped Carole three different times asking her to get into the car because he needed someone to talk to. The third time, he gave her a gun and said that she could use it on him anytime she felt unsafe. 

Note: Don't get into the car with a stranger. Especially one that offers you a gun?

That was the first time they met and the affair continued for about three years. 

Don had two children from his first marriage and Carole had one daughter. Don's children appear in the documentary with their mother and do not appear to be big fans of Carole. 

When Don left his family in 1991, he told them that Carole was an angel. His ex-wife, Gladys Lewis Clark, said: "she is an angel sent straight from hell and one day you will find out."

Note: This is what we call foreshadowing. 

The newlyweds opened an animal sanctuary called Wildlife on East Street after buying bobcats and lynxes from exotic animal auctions.

Carole wanted to collect and love these cats as if they were pets. Don, however, wanted to breed the cats and sell them. 

Note: Don had money. Like, a lot of money. He was tightlipped about his exact fortune but it ranged somewhere between $7 million and $20 million. 

Don would fly to Costa Rica to sell these cats. While he was gone, Carole would spay and neuter as many as she could so the breeding would stop. This is when the fighting started. 

Note: It is rumored that Don had a girlfriend that he would visit in Costa Rica. So, these trips down there weren't all for business purposes. 

Annie McQueen, Don's executive assistant, knew everything about Don. He trusted her with everything. So, when he handed her an envelope with a restraining order in it claiming that Carole threatened to kill him twice, she knew something was wrong. 

He was denied a restraining order in June of 1997 claiming there was no real threat. 

On August 18, 1997, Don was leaving "early early early" for a trip to Costa Rica according to Carole. He needed Anne to send some things to Costa Rica before his trip. She tried getting ahold of him all weekend with no luck.

On August 19th, Don was officially reported missing to the police. 

This is where things start to get interesting. 

According to multiple sources, Don was planning on divorcing Carole the morning he left and moving everything to Costa Rica. 

If Don had gone through with the divorce, Carole would be left with nothing. No car, no house, and no cats. 

Police searched the entire property (all 40 acres) and did not find anything suspicious. 

What they did find was a van with keys and a briefcase inside parked at the airport.

Note: If you were trying to get away why would you leave your things at an airport? It was either planted there or it was a poorly executed escape plan.

At this point, everyone had a theory of what happened to Don. Did he try to fly himself to Costa Rica and his plane crashed? Did he run out of gas? Was he pushed out of the plane somewhere over the Gulf? 

Carole's theory was... interesting.

She said that her husband was in multiple plane crashes and never "was the same" after the last one. "He could remember things from childhood but not from five minutes ago." 

Note: No one believes her.

Joe Exotic believes that she fed her husband to the tigers. Or maybe, his body is hidden beneath the septic tank. Either way, she would be able to keep everything, including her beloved cats.

Note: Joe wrote an entire song about this. I highly suggest you watch the entire music video.

But, how was Carole able to keep everything? 

Anne was removed as the power of attorney and the new one gave Carole complete control. In his new will, the first sentence includes all the normal legal jargon. 

Except, this included the phrase "upon my disappearance." 

Yes, that is as sketchy as it sounds. 

Exactly five years and a day after his disappearance, Jack 'Don' Lewis was legally dead.

Carole took 90% of everything and gave his kids the rest so long as they don't bring up the disappearance again.

"There is a god. Her name is Karma and she has a sick sense of humor."

While there is no physical evidence that points to a particular person... I'll let you make your own decision.

It seems like Joe has made his. "She [Carole] has a lot of answering to do. Her day is coming."

MORE TIGER KING RECAPS

Steph Curry's son workouts, Alex Ovechkin's dance party with Sergei

Steph Curry's son workouts, Alex Ovechkin's dance party with Sergei

First up in Thursday's roundup of cutest moments on the sports internet, Golden State Warriors' point guard Steph Curry shared this adorable video on his Instagram of his little one Canon working out, a little Warriors prodigy in the making. Although, Steph did admit in his caption Canon's form is questionable, c'mon dad need to work on that!

View this post on Instagram

Look at Canon man . [via @stephencurry30]

A post shared by NBC SPORTS BAY AREA | CA (@nbcsauthentic) on

Next up, Washington Capitals' Alex Ovechkin's daily workout was interrupted for the best when his son Sergei started a dance party. Ovi's wife Nastya captured the moment on camera to share on Instagram, too precious!

Finally, the cuteness never ends. Jake Gardiner, a defenseman for the Carolina Hurricanes, shared this video of his quarantine training buddy. His little one has a cannon already and his hand-eye coordination is unreal! 

Stay connected to the Capitals and Wizards with the MyTeams app. Click here to download for comprehensive coverage of your teams.

MORE IN THE LOOP: