========== Transcript of Jimmie’s Speech ============
Thanks everyone for gathering here tonight. I’m proud to be part of the NASCAR Hall of Fame Class of 2025. Sorry to hear that Mr. Waltrip didn’t make the cut again. Don’t worry Darrell, 2026 is going to be your year.
The Hall of Fame Museum looks great. All the exhibits look pristine, the cars look amazing. It’s like nobody’s been here in years.
A lot of folks thought my 15 consecutive championships from 2005 to 2020 was bad for the sport. They tried to Jimmie-proof the Chase. People have been complaining about that for years. I can remember a time back in 2010 when NASCAR races on TV drew fewer viewers than MTV reality shows.
Sure NASCAR is in a slump with other sports getting more viewers. But NASCAR has been resurgent in recent years. In total viewership, NASCAR is just behind the rankings of the NBA, MLB, NFL, NHL, WNBA, the revived USFL, Ladies Professional Pool, ESPN’s Beer Burps League and reruns of Designing Women … so that’s progress.
As I stand before you as a Hall of Fame Inductee for 2025, I owe a lot of my success to my crew chief Chad Knaus. It was a travesty when Chad was ruled ineligible due to his status as an actual robot. The entire team was happy to see Chad reinstated when President Schwarzenegger passed the Robot Anti-Discrimination Act of 2015.
I faced a lot of great competition over the years that made me a better race car driver. My thanks to Denny Hamlin for consistently turning it on just a little too late every year to catch me. Thanks to Tony Stewart for gambling on pit stops for years when he didn’t have to and Kyle Busch for his dogged determination to win the Nationwide Cup every year at the expense of his Sprint Cup team. Most importantly, my thanks to Jeff Gordon who took a chance on a kid from El Cajon. Jeff couldn’t be here tonight. Earlier this evening I beat him to the Hall’s parking lot and he sulked back home.
I also want to thank my family for their love and support. Racing has been good to me and on top of everything, I won my bet with Brett Favre as to who would retire first.