NASCAR’s 75 Greatest Drivers: The Goats

NASCAR is celebrating its seventy fifth anniversary all through the 2023 season.

In 1998, NASCAR had a board choose an inventory of its 50 best drivers to have a good time its golden anniversary.

Likewise, we’re in enlargement We determined to compile our record of the 75 Best NASCAR Drivers in honor of this 12 months’s milestone. 17 of our writers participated within the choice of the 75 drivers, and we’ll launch 4 to seven drivers from that record every weekday for the subsequent three weeks.

Much like the record in 1998, this record will not be a rating of the highest 75 drivers. As a substitute, we have damaged the record down into classes, with a brand new class launched every day (see full record beneath). Inside these classes, drivers are listed in alphabetical order.

Let’s begin our 75 Best Checklist with the goats (the best of all time) from NASCAR.

1. Dale Earnhardt

Dale Earnhardt’s father, Ralph, was a legendary competitor on Southern grime tracks all through the ’50s and ’60s. Like his father, Dale minimize his enamel on the grime however shortly switched to the highly effective and quickly increasing NASCAR circuit.

Driving for Rod Osterlund, the Kannapolis, NC competitor scored his first NASCAR Cup Sequence win at Bristol Motor Speedway throughout his rookie marketing campaign of 1979. He adopted it up by profitable his first championship in 1980.

Earnhardt loved most of his success with automobile proprietor Richard Childress. The duo gained six extra titles between 1986 and 1994.

In whole, Earnhardt has gained 76 occasions in 676 begins, together with the 1998 Daytona 500, a race he lastly gained after 20 makes an attempt.

In 1988, GM Goodwrench changed Wrangler Denims because the title sponsor for Earnhardt’s Chevrolet, creating its black No. 3 Chevrolet. Throughout this time, he earned the nicknames The Intimidator, The Man in Black, and Ironhead for his powerful, bumbling, take-no-prisoners model of management.

Earnhardt was killed on the final lap of the 2001 Daytona 500 whereas coasting in an try to win his eighth Cup championship. His son Dale Earnhardt Jr. carried on his father’s title and legacy, profitable 26 occasions between 2000 and 2015.

Earnhardt was inducted into the NASCAR Corridor of Fame as a part of its inaugural class in 2010. -Zach Gillespie

2. Jeff Gordon

1992 Hooters 500.

In what’s being talked about as one of many best races in NASCAR historical past, the entourage on the occasion might have made its debut. A fresh-faced, mustache-wearing mullet child from California has propelled his shiny, rainbow-coloured Chevrolet Lumina into the historical past books.

Jeff Gordon finally went from that California child to a legend within the brief span of eight years. He gained three championships and 52 races and tied Richard Petty’s single season wins file of 13 in that interval.

He was a NASCAR attraction too, battling with Dale Earnhardt in a rivalry that helped promote out racetracks throughout the nation. And the publicity from their rivalry would make each males family names not simply within the South, a conventional marketplace for the collection, but additionally in solely new areas the place the sanctioning physique may develop.

The brand new millennium was sort to Gordon at first, profitable his fourth championship in 2001. However as in racing, Gordon misplaced a step within the latter a part of the 2000s. He had a robust season in 2007 however gained solely as soon as between 2008 and 2010.

Wonderboy, as Earnhardt famously referred to as him, skilled a resurgence that few had seen earlier than from 2010 to 2015 as he resumed his profitable methods. He is gained 11 occasions in that time-frame, together with an exciting and becoming closing victory at Martinsville Speedway in 2015.

Gordon retired fourth on the all-time wins record with 93, and his contributions to the game discovered him among the many first inductees into the Corridor of Fame in 2019.

This was not the top of Gordon’s run. He went on to work at FOX Sports activities alongside Mike Pleasure and Darrell Waltrip as a shade commentator after his retirement. His pure charisma and data of sports activities made him a crowd favourite on this regard. He stayed there till 2021, when his longtime automobile proprietor Rick Hendrick requested him to come back aboard as Vice President of Hendrick Motorsports. Gordon continues in that position as of this writing. Garrett Cook dinner

3. Jimmy Johnson

Jimmy Johnson’s first enterprise into NASCAR was for Tad and Jody Gescheker within the NASCAR Xfinity Sequence, driving the No. 59 Kingsford/Matchlite Chevrolet at Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park in 1998. He then ran part-time for Herzog Motorsports in 1999 earlier than competing nearly all of the races. in 2000 and a full season in 2001. Johnson had one win in ’01 at Chicagoland Speedway.

After getting his toes moist within the Cup Sequence that very same 12 months, the El Cajon, California,
The compatriot started his profession full-time with Hendrick Motorsports in 2002. Though he didn’t win Rookie of the Yr, Johnson nonetheless had three wins, six top-fives and 21 top-10s—the beginning of a Corridor of Fame-worthy profession.

Throughout 686 begins as of the beginning of the 2023 season, Johnson has 83 victories, 232 high fives, 374 high 10s and 36 poles. He additionally gained seven titles, together with 5 consecutive titles from 2006-2010. His 2007 championship marketing campaign noticed him declare 10 wins – greater than ever earlier than – in addition to 20 High 5s and 24 High 10s.

He is additionally a two-time Daytona 500 champion, engaging in the feat in 2006 and 2013.

As well as, Johnson has taken dwelling the $1 million prize in 4 All-Star Races: 2003, 2006, 2012, and 2013.

He completed his final full-time season in 2020 with a high 5 at Phoenix Raceway earlier than shifting as much as the NTT IndyCar Sequence in 2021 and 2022. 2022.

After the 2022 IndyCar season, the 47-year-old introduced he would rejoin the Cup Sequence with the Legacy Motor Membership. He’ll serve part-time as a co-owner, beginning with the 2023 Daytona 500. – Joey Tomlinson

4. David Pearson

David Pearson was a part of an period of NASCAR well-known for its seasons stretching effectively into the 20’s and 30’s—Richard Petty’s 35, Hershel McGriff’s 29 are among the many most well-known—and The Silver Fox put collectively 27 seasons of two or extra begins, regardless of by no means competing on a schedule. full chronological.

However when Pearson was sizzling, so was he heatHe achieved 5 seasons of double-digit wins and three championships within the span of 4 years (1966, 1968, and 1969) whereas rating third all-time in profitable proportion with . 183. Pearson additionally led all drivers on the poles throughout six totally different seasons.

After getting into the world of NASCAR on the comparatively older age of 25 in 1960, Pearson racked up 15 wins within the 1966 season—greater than a 3rd of his begins—on his strategy to his first title. As if that wasn’t sufficient, his second title got here on the heels of 16 wins and a 5.8 common two years later whereas main in 30% of the laps he ran.

He completed within the high 5 greater than half the time he acquired to the monitor, was within the high 10 64% of the time and solely led 19% of the laps he raced. He additionally owns 43 of Wooden Brothers Racing’s 99 wins whereas holding the information for wins on two tracks and poles at two different tracks.

So far as he and Richard Petty sit on the high ranks of NASCAR’s best drivers, their duels on the 1974 Firecracker 400 and 1976 Daytona 500 are among the many sport’s best finishes, with Pearson feigning a blown engine within the former and crashing with Petty within the latter. In case it wasn’t apparent, he gained each—managing to reconstruct his malformed twenty first in time throughout the latter for one in every of his 10 profession victories. Adam Chick

5. Richard Petty

The son of three-time NASCAR Champion Lee Petty, Richard Petty’s legendary driving profession spanned from 1958 to 1992. He drove primarily for his household’s Petty Enterprises crew, and his iconic No. 43 entry turned synonymous with victory.

The Degree Cross, NC, native has a NASCAR-record 200 victories between 1960 and 1984, 95 greater than second on the all-time record. His accolades additionally embrace the 1959 Rookie of the Yr Award, a file seven Daytona 500 wins, a file seven Cup championships, a file 123 poles, probably the most profession begins, and probably the most wins ever in a single season ( 27) and probably the most consecutive. Wins

Amongst The King’s victories was the 1979 Daytona 500, victorious after leaders Cale Yarborough and Donnie Allison crashed on the final lap.

His closing win got here on the 1984 Firecracker 400, barely edging Yarborough as a result of his two hundredth win being recorded by President Ronald Reagan in watching from
Press sales space.

For his accomplishments, Petty was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President George H. W. Bush, the one NASCAR driver to obtain such an honor.

Petty was inducted into the inaugural NASCAR Corridor of Fame class in 2010 and is extensively thought-about the best driver in NASCAR.

After retiring from driving, Petty shifted his focus to crew possession, serving as a key determine with Petty Enterprises, Richard Petty Motorsports, Petty GMS Racing and now the newly created Legacy Motor Membership. ZG

enlargementNASCAR’s 75 Best Drivers

Dale Earnhardt
Jeff Gordon
Jimmy Johnson
David Pearson
Dale Earnhardt

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The tenth era
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Heroes of the 2000s and past
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subsequent era
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Masters of modifications
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Backside chain hoist
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Distinctive longevity
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He left early
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Stars of the sixties and seventies
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Stars of the eighties and nineties
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Stars from 1949-1960
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Cranes of all trades
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Pleasure joined Frontstretch in 2019 as a NASCAR DraftKings author, increasing to information and iRacing protection in 2020. She at present works as an assistant editor whereas persevering with to put in writing characteristic articles and every day information. A local of California, Joey grew up as a motorsports fan and commenced watching NASCAR extensively in 2001. She earned her BA in Liberal Research from California State College Bakersfield in 2010.

Adam Chick joined Frontstretch as a contributing author in January 2019. A 2020 graduate of Virginia Commonwealth College, he works as a producer and expertise for Audacy Richmond radio stations. Along with motorsports journalism, Adam additionally lined and broadcast quite a few VCU athletics for the campus newspaper and radio station throughout his 4 years there. A fan of racing because the age of three, he inherited his ardour from his grandfather, who competed in novice occasions up and down the East Coast within the Nineteen Fifties.

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