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All About Motorsports writes:
"The Top 40 NSCS Drivers of All-Time, Part 4 (The Top Ten)"
Posted by cjs3872 on December 23, 2012
Viewed 528 times

   

In the last three blog posts, I've ranked, in groups of ten, some of the legends of the sport in terms of where I put them on my list of the greatest drivers of all-time. But in this blog post, the fourth and last ranking the greatest drivers in the history of NASCAR's top series, we go from the legends to the icons, as the best of the best appear. For instance, the top eight winners of all-time are on this listing, as well as the two greatest drivers of NASCAR's first generation. Remember that all-time rankings are given to those in the top 50 in that particular category.

1. Richard Petty

Stats: (each of them are the all-time record in that particular category)

-1184 starts
-200 wins
-123 poles
-555 top 5 finishes
-712 top 10 finishes
-51,379 laps led

-7-time NASCAR champion (1964, '67, '71-'72, '74-'75, '79)
-7-time Daytona 500 winner (1964, '66, '71, '73-'74, '79, '81)
-2-time World 600 winner (1975, '77)
-1967 Southern 500 winner
-3-time Firecracker 400 winner (1975, '77, '84, which was his final victory)
-Won a record 41 500-mile races
-1959 NASCAR Rookie of the Year
-Won races in a record 18 consecutive years (1960-'77)
-Won the first fully televised 500-mile race (1979 Daytona 500)

2. Jeff Gordon

Stats:

-689 starts (16th all-time)
-87 wins (modern-era record and third all-time)
-72 poles (modern-era record and third all-time)
-298 top 5 finishes (modern-era record and fourth all-time)
-414 top 10 finishes (fifth all-time)
-23,147 laps led (sixth all-time)

-4-time NASCAR champion (1995, '97-'98, '01)
-3-time Daytona 500 winner (1997, '99, '05)
-4-time Brickyard 400 winner (1994, '98, '01, '04)
-3-time Coca-Cola 600 winner (1994, '97-'98)
-6-time Southern 500 winner (all-time record, 1995-'98, '02, '07)
-3-time All-Star Race winner (XI-1995, XIII-1997, XVII-2001)
-3-time Firecracker 400 winner (1995, '98, '04)
-Only 4-time winner of the Talladega spring race (2000, '04-'05, '07)
-1993 NASCAR Rookie of the Year
-Only driver to lead series in wins five consecutive years (1995-'99)
-2-time Busch Clash/Bud Shootout at Daytona winner (1994, '97)
-Won poles in 20 sonsecutive years, tying David Pearson's record
-Joined Bill Elliott as the second driver to win the Winston Million in 1997, when he became the sport's third Triple Crown winner

3. Bobby Allison

Stats:

-718 starts (12th all-time)
-85 wins (fourth all-time)
-58 poles (sixth all-time)
-336 top 5 finishes (second all-time)
-446 top 10 finishes (second all-time)
-27,551 laps led (third all-time)

-1983 NASCAR champion (oldest to win the title at age 46)
-3-time Daytona 500 winner (1978, '82, '88)
-3-time World 600 winner (1971, '81, '84)
-3-time Winston 500 winner (1979, '81, '86)
-4-time Southern 500 winner (1971-'72, '75, '83)
-3-time Firecracker 400 winner (1980, '82, '87)
-Won the 1982 Busch Clash
-First man to win past his 50th birthday (1988 Daytona 500)

4. Dale Earnhardt, Sr.

Stats:

-676 starts (17th all-time)
-76 wins (seventh all-time)
-22 poles (T-31st all-time)
-281 top 5 finishes (fifth all-time)
-428 top 10 finishes (fourth all-time)
-25,684 laps led (fourth all-time)

-7-time NASCAR champion (1980, '86-'87, '90-91, '93-'94)
-1998 Daytona 500 winner
-3-time Coca-Cola 600 winner (1986, '92-'93)
-3-time Southern 500 winner (1987, '89-'90)
-3-time winner of the Talladega spring race (1990, '94, '99)
-2-time Firecracker 400 winner (1990, '93)
-First 3-time All-Star Race winner (III-1987, VI-1990, IX-1993)
-1979 NASCAR Rookie of the Year
-Won the Busch Clash/Budweiser Shootout at Daytona 6 times (1980, '86, 88, '91, '93, '95)
-Swept every Daytona qualifying race in the 90s on route to 12 qualifying race wins (also won qualifying races in 1983 and '86)

5. Cale Yarborough

Stats:

-560 starts (T-27th all-time)
-83 wins (sixth all-time)
-69 poles (fourth all-time)
-255 top 5 finishes (seventh all-time)
-319 top 10 finishes (14th all-time)
-31,574 laps led (second all-time)

-3-time consecutive NASCAR Champion (1976-'78)
-4-time Daytona 500 winner (1968, '77, '83-'84)
-5-time Southern 500 winner (1968, '73-'74, '78, '82)
-2-time Winston 500 winner (1978, '84)
-4-time Firecracker 400 winner (1967-'68, '76, '81)
-First driver to start and finish every race in a season (1977)

6. Darrell Waltrip

Stats:

-809 starts (eighth all-time)
-84 wins (fifth all-time)
-59 poles (fifth all-time)
-276 top 5 finishes (sixth all-time)
-390 top 10 finishes (sixth all-time)
-23,134 laps led (seventh all-time)

-3-time NASCAR champion (1981-'82, '85)
-1989 Daytona 500 winner
-5-time Coca-Cola 600 winner (1978-'79, '85, '88-'89)
-2-time Winston 500 winner (1977, '82)
-1992 Southern 500 winner (last NASCAR victory)
-Won a record 12 times at Bristol, including seven consecutive from 1981-'84
-Only man to win the Coca-Cola 600 more than three times
-Won the inaugural All-Star Race in 1985
-Won the 1981 Busch Clash at Daytona

7. David Pearson

Stats:

-574 starts (25th all-time)
-105 wins (second all-time)
-113 poles (second all-time)
-301 top 5 finishes (third all-time)
-366 top 10 finishes (ninth all-time)
-25,291 laps led (fifth all-time)

-3-time NASCAR champion (1966, '68-69)
-1976 Daytona 500 winner
-3-time World 600 winner (1961, '74, '76)
-3-time Southern 500 winner (1976-'77, '79)
-Only 3-time consecutive winner of the Winston 500/Talladega spring race (1972-'74)
-Won the Firecracker 250/400 a record 5 times (1961, '72-'74, '78)
-1960 NASCAR Rookie of the Year
-Won a record 61% of his starts in 1973 (11 wins in 18 races)
-Led a speedway record 491 of 492 laps in the 1973 Carolina 500 at Rockingham

8. Junior Johnson

Stats:

-313 starts
-50 wins (T-11th all-time)
-46 poles (11th all-time)
-121 top 5 finishes (28th all-time)
-148 top 10 finishes (46th all-time)
-12,637 laps led (12th all-time)

-1960 Daytona 500 winner
-Won 13 races in 1965, tied with Ned Jarrett for the most that season
-Often credited with discovering the effects of the draft in 1960

9. Jimmie Johnson

Stats:

-399 starts
-60 wins (eighth all-time)
-29 poles (T-23rd all-time)
-166 top 5 finishes (19th all-time)
-248 top 10 finishes (T-20th all-time)
-13,856 laps led (ninth all-time)

-5-time consecutive NASCAR champion (2006-'10)
-2006 Daytona 500 winner
-Only 3-time consecutive Coca-Cola 600 winner (2003-'05)
-4-time Brickyard 400 winner (2006, '08-'09, '12)
-2-time Southern 500 winner (2004, '12)
-2-time Talladega spring race winner (2006, '11)
-3-time All-Star Race winner (XIX-2003, XXII-2006, XXVIII-2012)
-Won 2005 Budweiser Shootout at Daytona

10. Herb Thomas

Stats:

-228 starts
-48 wins (13th all-time)
-39 poles (13th all-time)
-122 top 5 finishes (27th all-time)
-156 top 10 finishes (T-42nd all-time)
-6,197 laps led (32nd all-time)

-First 2-time NASCAR champion (1951, '53)
-First 3-time Southern 500 winner (1951, '54-'55)
-Led or was tied for the series lead in wins three consecutive years (1952-'54)


I know there are quite a number of controversial selections on this list, but that's the way I view it, and remember that active drivers still have a chance to move up any listing. For instance, while Jimmie Johnson, with five championships and 60 wins, is currently listed ninth and second among active drivers, with a number of good years of racing ahead of him, he can certainly move up my listing.

But anyway, let the debate on who's the best of the best begin.


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