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(Photo: Donald Miralle)

NASCAR Power Rankings: Top 15 All-Time NASCAR Drivers

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!

 
Rank
Change
Name
Total Votes

1

                                                     Dale Earnhardt, Sr.

365307 02: (FILE PHOTO) Race car driver Dale Earnhardt Sr. poses for a portrait during Daytona Speedweek February 10, 2000 in Datyona Beach, Florida. Earnhardt, a seven-time Winston Cup champion, died February 18, 2001 in Daytona after a crash in the last lap of the Daytona 500 race. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Allsport)

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 wasPhil Allaway, Frontstretch.com

38

2

                                                     Richard Petty

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.com

 First Place Votes: 1

37

3

                                                     Jeff Gordon
2015 NASCAR headshots CUP Jeff Gordon credit NASCAR

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.com

36

4

                                                               David Pearson

1973: David Pearson scored 105 victories in his career, second only to Richard Petty's 200. (Photo by RacingOne/Getty Images)

This is a man who won 19 percent of the races he started.  That’s not easy to pull off, regardless of what your competition is. Phil Allaway, Frontstretch.com

First Place Votes: 1

35

5

                                                            Cale Yarborough
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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.com

 

31

6

 

                                                     Jimmie Johnson
2014 NASCAR Media Day - Portraits

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.com 

30

7

                                                      Darrell Waltrip
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A motormouth as a driver and in the broadcast booth.  However, he had unparalleled short track talent, especially combined with the knowledge of Junior JohnsonPhil Allaway, Frontstretch.com 

27

8

                                                     Bobby Allison
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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.com

23

9

                                                     Tony Stewart
2015 NASCAR headshots CUP Tony Stewart credit NASCAR

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.com

21

10

 

                                                                             Ned Jarrett
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A champion not only on the race track 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.com

20

11

 

                                                                              Junior Johnson
Junior_Johnson_3

Remember, this ranking doesn’t include the 100+ wins he had as an owner.  Back in the 1960s, Johnson was a gritty campaigner who could win anywhere. Phil Allaway, Frontstretch.com

19

12

                                                    Rusty Wallace
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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.com

17

13

                                                                             Bill Elliott
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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.com

15

14

                                                              Mark Martin
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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.com

14

15

                                                                             Buck Baker
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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.com

11

Others Receiving Votes: Herb Thomas (10), Lee Petty (9), Tim Flock (8), Alan Kulwicki (5), Davey Allison (4), Bobby Isaac (3), Fireball Roberts (3).

About Michael Mehedin

Michael Mehedin

Mike starts his second year with the Frontstretch in 2014 working on a combination of promotional and marketing assignments. Managing the NASCAR Power Rankings (Wednesdays), he works with broadcast and writing experts from throughout the world of racing to produce the biggest national weekly poll on Sprint Cup competition. Also our resident Marketing Assistant, Mike handles day-to-day client responsibilities while settling into his new digs outside of Charlotte.

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4 comments

  1. Johnson ahead of Bobby Allison? Johnson hasn’t done anything close to what Allison has. Nobody counts his “Championships” as legitimate. Johnson’s only been with one (the best) team. Who knows what his record would be in another car. Allison won in a Javelin and Mustang (but don’t tell DW). Can Johnson build his own car, take it to the track, set it up and win?

  2. Tony Stewart with 84 wins…. Is that including IRL? I thought he had about 50 maybe?