Top 7 NASCAR Drivers in History
“Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing.” Vince Lombardi
That one quote defines the mindset of a winner and Vince Lombardi certainly knew a thing or two about winning. Having said that, just a few people have that mindset and the ones who do they etch their names in history books. It is true for every field, every sport and that of course includes NASCAR.
There are good NASCAR drivers, there are very good NASCAR drivers and then there are legendary NASCAR drivers. The sport’s history is full of names that have raised the bar and set the standards. For well over six and a half decades, NASCAR has thrilled millions around the country and abroad.
The credit for the entertaining action goes to those in the driver’s seat. Plenty of big names have left indelible marks on the sport and picking who is the GOAT is nigh on impossible. But what we have managed to do is pick the Top 7 NASCAR drivers in history, the names we think are peerless in terms of their achievements and contributions to the sport.
1- Dale Earnhardt
Dale “The Intimidator” Earnhardt’s death in 2001 was the second biggest motorsport accident since Ayrton Senna’s in 1994. Earnhardt died aged only 49, but not before leaving a legacy that would be cherished for as long as NASCAR exists.
He won 7 titles and recorded an incredible 76 triumphs all in the modern era. He was in with a great shout of taking his championship tally to eight but that wasn’t to be. He also has 21 Busch Series wins to his credit. On February 8, 2001 he had an accident at the Daytona International Speedway and passed away because of a skull fracture. One of the all time greats and a member of the first NASCAR Hall of Fame inductees list, Earnhardt will be remembered for his brilliance on the race track.
2- Richard Petty
Here comes The King which in NASCAR is none other than the great Richard Petty. Petty won the NASCAR Championship on seven occasions, a feat only he and the late David Earnhardt have managed to achieve. Oh and that is not all. He also holds the record for most wins (200), most Daytona 500 wins (7), most wins in a single season (27) and he is also the first NASCAR driver to win the race on his 500th start.
Petty made it to 127 poles, started a whopping 513 races straight and finished among the top ten in well over 700 races. This record puts Petty among the biggest names in the sport’s history. And this is the same list of achievements that landed him a place in the first class of the inaugural NASCAR Hall of Fame.
3- Jimmie Johnson
Jimmie Johnson is still racing and doing it better than most. Some people might be of the opinion that he shouldn’t be on this list, since he has not retired but his achievements are just impossible to ignore. A lot of people think he will end up being the GOAT NASCAR racer and the way he is going, we won’t dispute that.
Johnson notched up 3 wins in his rookie campaign in 2002. He began to improve from that point onwards and got his hands on the first championship in 2006. Four more titles followed in the next four years to make Jimmie Johnson the first driver in history to win five successive NASCAR championships. He added a sixth title to his resume in 2013 to narrow the gap with David Earnhardt and Richard Petty to one. He is a two time Daytona 500 winner and has over two hundred and ninety top ten finishes to his credit. He is a future NASCAR Hall of Famer, that is for sure.
4- David Pearson
The “Silver Fox” David Pearson deserves a place on this list for sure. He was a quiet and not a very charismatic driver, but he more than made up for that with his genius on the rack track. His induction into the NASCAR Hall of Fame certainly shows how highly he is regarded in NASCAR circles.
Pearson began his career by picking up the NASCAR Rookie of the Year in his first campaign and then went on to lift three NASCAR championships. He is also second on the list of racers with the most races won (105) and recorded a more than impressive 113 pole positions. His career spanned 27 years and each of those ended with a minimum of one top ten finishes. Pearson’s driving was all about precision and that served him well during what was a stellar career.
5- Jeff Gordon
The second driver on the list who is still racing, Jeff Gordon is an all time great already. He knows how to race and he certainly knows how to do it better than most in the history of the sport.
Gordon has won the prestigious Sprint Cup on four occasions and has finished before anyone else at the Daytona 500 thrice. No driver has managed to record more wins that Gordon since the year 1972 when the modern era began. He also holds the third spot on the list of drivers with most wins (92) and his 77 pole positions puts him third on the all time list as well. Gordon has managed to record a minimum of one pole position in twenty two consecutive seasons which is an astonishing record.
6- Bobby Allison
Bobby Allison, one of the founding members of the “Alabama Gang” by every account is among the greatest of all time. He was a driver who just loved to race and that love is what turned him into the legend he is now.
Allison racked up 84 wins, fourth most in history. He also has 58 pole positions to his name and is the winner of the 1983 NASCAR Cup Championship. He also managed to win the Daytona 500 three times and was inducted into the prestigious NASCAR’s Hall of Fame in the year 2011.
7- Cale Yarborough
It is very easy to see why Cale Yarborough makes the cut in our top 7 NASCAR drivers in history. Yarborough was a winning machine. He racked up three straight championships in 1976, 1977 and 1978, one of only two in NASCAR history to record that feat. On top of that, he also finished at the head of the queue 83 times on his way to recording 68 pole positions. Yarborough not only won the coveted Daytona 500 on four occasions but is also the first driver in history to qualify for the race by clocking up a top speed of over 200 miles per hour. He was inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame as a member of its first batch.
These by our estimation are the top 7 NASCAR drivers in history. If you think there are other names that deserve to be on the list, feel free to prove us wrong.