The Sprint Cup Series had its final off weekend before the run to Homestead. So we thought it’d be fun to stir the pot a little and ask the question, “who are the top NASCAR drivers of all time?”
This question has been debated for many years and the lists are quite different depending on who you talk to. One thing is for certain: NASCAR has produced a wealth of incredible drivers over the decades, and more drivers continue to enter the conversation every season.
Our staff debated amongst ourselves and came up with, what we think, are the top-15 drivers of all time. Leave your comments below and let us know if we got it right.
How The Rankings Are Calculated: Frontstretch does our power rankings similar to how the Associated Press does them for basketball or football. Our expert stable of NASCAR writers, both on staff and from other major publications will vote for the top 20 on a 20-19-18-17… 3-2-1 basis, giving 20 points to their first-place driver, 19 for second, and so on. In the end, Mike Mehedin calculates the points, adds some funny one-liners, and… here you go!
Rarely does the mere sight of an otherwise average dude (Earnhardt weighed approximately 200 pounds) in one’s mirror create such excitement. There are few people who have ever raced in NASCAR that were driven as Earnhardt was. Phil Allaway, Frontstretch
Yes, Petty has the untouchable 200 career victories. No one’s getting that. However, he was full-time when seemingly no one else was. Much of his competition during his prime was inferior. Phil Allaway, Frontstretch
First Place Votes: 1
Not many drivers have had the success Gordon has had over his entire career. 92 wins (third all-time), four championships and surely a place in the NASCAR Hall of Fame. Mike Mehedin, Frontstretch
This is a man who won 19% of the races he started. That’s not easy to pull off, regardless of what your competition is. Phil Allaway, Frontstretch
First Place Votes: 1
Talk about a resume that speaks for itself. 83 wins, three Sprint Cup Series championships, four Daytona 500 rings in three different decades (’68, ’77, ’83 & ’84), five Southern 500 wins (’68, ’73, ’74, ’78 & ’82)… need I go on? Mike Mehedin, Frontstretch
Has 74 career victories, but tends to bunch his wins at a number of tracks (Ex: All those wins at Dover). The Chase formula does skew the ranking quite a bit, like it or not. Phil Allaway, Frontstretch
A motormouth as a driver and in the broadcast booth. However, he had unparalleled short track talent, especially combined with the knowledge of Junior Johnson. Phil Allaway, Frontstretch
A versatile driver who was probably a little too independent to fit in with most major teams. Still put up gaudy numbers despite spending years driving older cars. Phil Allaway, Frontstretch
Even though Stewart is not currently performing at his best, he has surely made a statement throughout his career. Three Sprint Cup Series championships (first owner/driver to win a championship since Alan Kulwicki), 84 total wins and probably the most diverse driving background including championships in USAC, IndyCar and International Race of Champions (IROC). Mike Mehedin, Frontstretch
A champion not only on the racetrack but behind the microphone as well. Jarrett is a two-time Sprint Cup Series champion and spent a number of years commentating for Motor Racing Network (MRN), CBS Sports and ESPN. And who can forget the time when he called Dale Jarrett‘s first Daytona 500 victory!? Mike Mehedin, Frontstretch
Remember, this ranking doesn’t include the 100-plus wins he had as an owner. Back in the 1960s, Johnson was a gritty campaigner who could win anywhere. Phil Allaway, Frontstretch
Top 10 in all-time wins (55), Sprint Cup Series champion, TV personality, former team owner and Hall of Fame member. Not a bad list of accomplishments. However, I’ll remember him most for his barrel rolls at Talladega. Mike Mehedin, Frontstretch
Awesome Bill from Dawsonville. With a nickname like that, you have to be doing something right. Elliott’s accomplishments in the series make him a deserving recipient of his Hall of Fame induction. He might not have the most wins or the most championships, but he holds the fastest recorded lap at Talladega, held the record for Most Popular Driver awards (Dale Earnhardt Jr. has since surpassed him) and was the first winner of the Winston Million. Son Chase is now representing the Elliott name proud and the siren at the Dawsonville Pool Hall rings once again. Mike Mehedin, Frontstretch
Probably the most liked driver in the series. Zeros stand in the columns for championships and Daytona 500 wins, but his presence was known on and off the track throughout his career. He did collect 40 career wins including the Southern 500 (2), The Winston (2), All-Star Race (2) and Coca-Cola 600 (1). I believe everyone is waiting for his Hall of Fame nomination. Mike Mehedin, Frontstretch
Buck paved the way for his son Buddy but surely made a name for himself in the series. He scored two Grand National Series championships along with 46 race wins. Buck is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association’s Hall of Fame, the International Motorsports Hall of Fame, the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America and NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee. That’s a lot of Hall of Fame’s. Mike Mehedin, Frontstretch