“The Top Drivers of All Time.”
(Did your favorite driver make our list?)
If not, please feel free to add your favorites in our comments section below, we’d love to know your thoughts?
Any discussion of NASCAR champion drivers tends to turn into loud arguments over a few cold one’s or two. That’s because people are passionate about NASCAR (and they love beer), and they often have different opinions about what constitutes the “greatest” and the “best” drivers. It’s about fandom, and that’s not always rational. Get someone to list the Top Ten NASCAR Champion Drivers of all time, and everyone’s list is going to be different.
But then again, since we are NASCAR fans too we do have a right (or even an obligation) to mention a few worthwhile names of drivers who have done well in the history of NASCAR. Since its founding back in 1948, there have been a lot of famous NASCAR Champion Drivers. And here are some of the names every true NASCAR fan should know.
Any list of the Top Ten NASCAR Champion Drivers of all time which doesn’t include Richard Petty is the epitome of a failed list. It’s like mentioning the Top Ten greatest pop stars of all time and not mentioning Elvis Presley. It’s an apt comparison because Richard Petty’s nickname is “The King”. He was among the inaugural batch of the NASCAR Hall of Fame, and the first ever motorsports athlete to receive the Medal of Freedom.
His list of accomplishments may never be matched. Petty’s record of 200 wins in a career is perhaps the most unlikely to be ever eclipsed, especially when you consider that the second place in this category is just 105 wins. Set by Petty’s rival David Pearson. Jeff Gordon has the most wins among the current NASCAR Champion Drivers, but that’s only 92 career wins, and he’s retiring after the 2015 season.
Then there’s his record of most wins in a season. This win record was in the magical year of 1967 when he won an unbelievable 27 races. In that year, he also won 10 of them consecutively, which is another record in consecutive wins. He actually won 92 races in the five years from 1967 to 1971. That’s the same number of wins that Jeff Gordon has, except it took Jeff 22 years amassing that many victories.
Petty is the first driver to win the Grand National/Sprint Cup championships seven times, which was eventually matched by the late Dale Earnhardt. He has the most number of runner-up finishes in the final season standings, at 6. Petty also has the most number of 2nd place finishes in the history of NASCAR, at 157. He also has the most wins as the team owner, with 287.
Richard Petty is a colossus compared to all the others, but NASCAR is full of heroes. Here are some of the other names you need to tell your kids about when you’re indoctrinating them about NASCAR.
But what’s more, important to NASCAR fans is his winning career. He’s had 32 wins in the Sprint Cup Series, along with another 11 wins in the Xfinity Series. His most notable achievement is winning the Daytona 500 three times.
Dale comes from the well-known Jarrett racing family, as his father Ned is a 2-time Grand National Champion. His older brother Glenn is also a race car driver with 10 Winston Cup starts, and Dales son Jason used to compete in the NASCAR Busch Series. As a side note, his cousin Todd is a champion at practical shooting, with nine national titles and four world titles.
He was the first Asian-American to get a Rookie of the Year award in one of NASCAR national touring series when he was named Rookie of the Year in the 2013 Nationwide Series. He was also the 2014 NASCAR Rookie of the Year, earning statistics that was higher than any other rookie season in the history of NASCAR. In other words, his rookie season outshone even the rookie seasons of Richard Petty and Jeff Gordon.
His financial success is also on par with his racing career and fan popularity, as it is estimated that he’s currently worth $300 million. Not bad for a driver, right?
Why all the acclaim? Well, he’s the only driver in the history of NASCAR to win five consecutive championships, and he also won the Daytona 500 twice.
Mario Andretti is the only driver to have won a race in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, Formula One, and an Indianapolis 500. Since he won the 1978 Dutch Grand Prix, no American has come in first in any Formula 1 race.
And even after 15 years in the business, he’s still on top. He was the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion in 2014, and as of May 27, 2015 he’s at the top of the NASCAR rankings.
NASCAR is renowned for its family-friendly vibe, as the young and old alike can have someone their age to look up to and admire. Here are some fun facts about the oldest, youngest and African American NASCAR Champion Drivers.
When Scott retired in 1973, there were no black NASCAR drivers until Willy T. Ribbs started in 3 races in 1986. Then in 2002 Bill Lester raced full-time in the NASCAR Truck series, and by 2006 he at last made his first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series start.
That’s a lot of names, isn’t it? But then again, we’re talking about NASCAR Champion Drivers, and it’s a great place to make a name for yourself!