NASCAR Drivers - Best and Top Ranked of All Time
Who is the best NASCAR driver of all time? Tough question due to the different era's and types of cars that are driven. This list will start with the most popular and let you decide by your rankings and comments. Are we missing a top ranked NASCAR driver? Add them today.
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Ralph Dale Earnhardt, Sr., better known simply as Dale Earnhardt, (April 29, 1951 – February 18, 2001) was an American race car driver, best known for his career driving stock cars in NASCAR's top division.
Dale Earnhardt is notable for his success in the Winston Cup Series, now known as the Sprint Cup Series, winning seventy-six races (including one Daytona 500 victory in 1998). Earnhardt's seven championships are tied for most all-time with Richard Petty. His aggressive driving style led to a high profile, and often controversial career; and, earned him the nicknames "Ironhead," "Mr. Restrictor Plate," "The Man in Black" and most famously, "The Intimidator." Earnhardt died in a last-lap crash during the 2001 Daytona 500.
David Gene Pearson (born December 22, 1934) is a former American stock car racer from Spartanburg, South Carolina. Pearson began his NASCAR career in 1960 and ended his first season by winning the 1960 NASCAR Rookie of the Year award. He won three championships (1966, 1968, and 1969) in NASCAR's Grand National Series (now Sprint Cup Series). NASCAR described his 1974 season as an indication of his "consistent greatness"; that season he finished third in the season points having competed in only 19 of 30 races.
William Clyde Elliott, a.k.a. Awesome Bill from Dawsonville and "Million Dollar Bill" (born October 8, 1955 in Dawsonville, Georgia) is a part-time driver and former champion of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Elliott was inducted into the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America on August 15, 2007. He won the 1988 NASCAR Winston Cup Series Championship and has garnered 44 wins in that series. He had two Daytona 500 victories, and a record four consecutive wins at Michigan International Speedway during 1985-86. He holds the track record at both Talladega and Daytona International Speedway with speeds of more than 200 mph. Elliott won NASCAR's Most Popular Driver Award a record 16 times. He withdrew his name from the ballot for that award after winning it in 2002. The award will be renamed for Elliott when he officially retires from the sport. In 2005, Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue declared October 8 as Bill Elliott Day in the state of Georgia. Elliott has also been honored by the state legislature, having a stretch of road in his native Dawsonville renamed Elliott Family Parkway. Elliott currently drives the #21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Tire & Auto Center Ford Fusion part-time for Wood Brothers Racing in the Sprint Cup Series.
Richard Lee Petty (born July 2, 1937 in Level Cross, North Carolina) is a former NASCAR driver who raced in the Strictly Stock/Grand National Era and the NASCAR Winston Cup Series. "The King", as he is nicknamed, is most well-known for winning the NASCAR Championship seven times (Dale Earnhardt is the only other driver to accomplish this feat), winning a record 200 races during his career, winning the Daytona 500 a record seven times, and winning a record 27 races (ten of them consecutively) in the 1967 season alone. (A 1972 rule change eliminated races under 250 miles (400 km) in length, reducing the schedule to 30 [now 36] races.) Petty is widely considered one of the greatest NASCAR drivers of all time. He also collected a record number of poles (127) and over 700 top-ten finishes in his 1,185 starts, including 513 consecutive starts from 1971-1989.
Waltrip officially won 84 NASCAR races, but one additional uncounted "win" was as relief driver for Donnie Allison at the 1977 Talladega 500. Allison received credit as he started the race. In that race, Waltrip dropped out after 106 laps. Allison sought a relief driver for his #1 Hawaiian Tropic car due to the excess heat of the day and Waltrip stepped up to complete the race in Allison's car. The irony was that Waltrip replaced Allison at the DiGard #88 race team just two years previously, which was part of the long lore of the Allisons vs Waltrip battle for 16 years. His 84 wins in the Cup series are tied for third place in NASCAR history, with Bobby Allison, and are the most in the "modern era" of NASCAR, which began in 1972 with rationalization of the schedule and elimination of dirt-track races from the Cup series.
Jimmie Kenneth Johnson (born September 17, 1975), nicknamed "Superman", is an American NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stock car driver. Johnson drives the #48 Lowe's/Kobalt Tools Chevrolet Impala co-owned by Rick Hendrick and his teammate Jeff Gordon and operated by Hendrick Motorsports. Johnson is a four-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion. In 2009 he became the only driver to win four consecutive Sprint Cup Series Championships.. He was named male athlete of 2009 by the Associated Press, 2009 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver of the year, as well as being considered as 2000's "Driver of the Decade."
Wallace finished second in his first NASCAR race at Atlanta 500 in 1980, having started 7th, driving for Roger Penske in the #16. He made nine further NASCAR appearances over the next three years, although he didn't score any further top 10 finishes until he went full-time in 1984. Wallace joined the Winston Cup circuit full-time in 1984, winning NASCAR Rookie of the Year honors and finishing 14th in the final points standings. He raced in the #88 Gatorade Pontiac for Cliff Stewart with the best finish of 4th in 30 races, along with two 5th places and four further top 10's. Wallace stayed with Cliff Stewart for 1985, but this time in the #2 Alugard Pontiac. In 29 races, Rusty had 2 top 5's 8 top 10's.
Dale Arnold Jarrett (born November 26, 1956 in Newton, North Carolina) is a former American race car driver. He is the 1999 NASCAR Winston Cup Champion and the son of two-time NASCAR Grand National Champion Ned Jarrett. He is the younger brother of Glenn Jarrett, a former NASCAR driver himself and pit commentator. He is also the father of former Busch Series racer Jason Jarrett. Upon graduation from Newton-Conover High School in 1975, he was offered a full golf scholarship from the University of South Carolina, which he declined.
Jeffery Michael "Jeff" Gordon (born August 4, 1971) is a professional American race car driver. He was born in Vallejo, California, raised in Pittsboro, Indiana, and currently lives in Charlotte, North Carolina. He is a four-time NASCAR Winston Cup (now Sprint Cup) Series champion, three-time Daytona 500 winner, and driver of the #24 DuPont/Pepsi/United States National Guard Chevrolet Impala. He, along with Rick Hendrick, are the co-owners of the #48 Lowe's sponsored team, driven by Jimmie Johnson, who won the 2006, 2007, 2008, and 2009 Sprint Cup series championships. Gordon also has an equity stake in his own # 24 team. He also became the first driver to reach $100 Million in winnings for the Cup series in 2009.
William Caleb "Cale" Yarborough (born March 27, 1939 in Timmonsville, South Carolina, near the famous Darlington Raceway), is a businessman and former NASCAR Winston Cup Series driver and owner. He is the one of only two drivers in NASCAR history to win three consecutive championships, before Jimmie Johnson in 2006-2008. In the past, he has appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated.
His 83 wins places him at number five in the all-time NASCAR winner's list (behind Bobby Allison and Darrell Waltrip, who are tied for third with 84). Yarborough won the Daytona 500 four times - his first win coming in 1968 for the Wood Brothers, the second in 1977 for Junior Johnson, and back-to-back wins in 1983 and 1984. In 1984, he became the first driver to qualify for the Daytona 500 with a top speed of more than 200 miles per hour (320 km/h).
Ralph Dale Earnhardt, Jr. (born October 10, 1974) is a professional American race car driver who drives the #88 AMP Energy/National Guard Chevrolet Impala SS in the NASCAR Sprint Cup series for Hendrick Motorsports, and drives in the Nationwide Series part-time for the #5 car for his own team, JR Motorsports. He is the son of NASCAR legend Dale Earnhardt, Sr., and the grandson of both the late NASCAR driver Ralph Earnhardt and Robert Gee, the well known stock car fabricator. Earnhardt Jr. is also the half-brother of former driver Kerry Earnhardt, the uncle of driver Jeffrey Earnhardt, and the stepson of Earnhardt Ganassi Racing team owner Teresa Earnhardt.