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Dale Earnhardt Jr., Matt Kenseth final race marks beginning of Hall of Fame wait

Kenseth drove in multiple races at the Cup level beginning in 1999, the same year as Earnhardt. Sunday marks the end of their HOF careers.

Dale Earnhardt Jr., Matt Kenseth
Dale Earnhardt Jr., Matt Kenseth

Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Matt Kenseth will likely make their final career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series starts in Sunday’s Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Kenseth drove in multiple races at the Cup Series level beginning in 1999, the same year as Earnhardt and 18 seasons later, their countdown to Hall of Fame enshrinement will soon begin. 

The main criteria for induction into the NASCAR Hall of Fame includes accomplishments and contributions to the sport. As a soon to be 15-time Most Popular Driver, Earnhardt has changed the sport outside of the track like no other. He's the biggest draw at every track and has increased NASCAR's fan base with his genuine interviews, social media use and stories about his iconic father. 

On the track, there is no driver who has more victories than Earnhardt and is eligible for enshrinement who isn't already in. In addition to his 26 Cup Series wins, which include four wins at Daytona and six at Talladega, Earnhardt has 24 Xfinity Series wins and back to back titles in the second-tier series (then the Busch Series). Earnhardt has won the exhibition All-Star Race twice and is a five-time winner of the Daytona 500 qualifying race. 

Also a two-time Daytona 500 champion like Earnhardt, Kenseth is a lock for the Hall of Fame after Sunday's win at Phoenix gave him 39 career Cup Series wins to put him in a tie with Hall of Famer Tim Flock for 19th on the all-time wins list. 

The 45-year-old Kenseth was a 2003 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion and currently owns 181 top fives and 326 top 10s in 649 career starts. He boasts a 14.1 career average finish.

Drivers who have competed in NASCAR for at least 10 years and been retired for three years are eligible for nomination to the Hall of Fame. Expect Junior and Kenseth a part of the class of 2021. 

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