Top 50 best NASCAR drivers of all time and their stories

Top 50 best NASCAR drivers of all time and their stories

The National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) has provided a platform for some of the best NASCAR drivers of all time to showcase their capabilities behind the wheel. So who are the top NASCAR drivers?

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Top 50 best Nascar drivers of all time and their stories
Nascar Cup Series DuraMAX Drydene 400 celebration at Dover Motor Speedway in Dover, Delaware. Photo: Sean Gardner
Source: Getty Images

Who are the best NASCAR drivers? This article has sifted over the statistics of 50 drivers who have competed in NASCAR's top division since the debut event on a road course in Daytona Beach, Florida.

Who are the most famous NASCAR drivers?

NASCAR is a brand name in stock car racing and one of the world's most competitive racing circuits. So when it comes to the most well-known NASCAR drivers of all time, you can expect to see many familiar faces. Who is the number 1 NASCAR driver?

1. Richard Petty

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Best nascar driver ever
Richard Petty won his first Daytona 500 (NASCAR’s most prestigious event) in 1964 and claimed his first Grand National Cup. Photo: Denise
Source: Getty Images

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The seven-time champion, often known as The King, is the best NASCAR driver ever. He is a North Carolina native with 35 years of experience (1958-92), including a record-breaking 27 wins in 1967 and 200 races.

2. David Pearson

Old NASCAR drivers
The former NASCAR legend David Pearson earned his first NASCAR Cup Series title in 1966. Photo: ISC Archives
Source: Getty Images

Throughout his 28-year career, the motorsport star has had 105 victories. He was named Rookie of the Year in 1960 and appeared in three Cup Series. His death in 2018 claimed the life of a well-known motorsport champion.

3. Dale Earnhardt

Most famous NASCAR drivers
Among the greatest stars in auto racing history, Dale Earnhardt died on 18 February 2001 from injuries in a crash on the final lap at the Daytona 500. Photo: BRIAN CLEARY
Source: Getty Images

The seven-time champion, famous for driving the No. 3 Chevrolet, won 76 races throughout his 27-year career (1975-2001). The former motorsport hero passed on during a race at Daytona International Speedway.

Is Jimmie Johnson better than Jeff Gordon?

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Jimmie has performed better in his 18-year career, dominating seven times compared to Jeff, who dominated four times.

4. Johnson Jimmie

Who is the best in NASCAR?
The NTT IndyCar Series driver, Jimmie Johnson, has an 18-year career in racing Photo: Greg Doherty
Source: Getty Images

The seven-time NASCAR Cup winner left the association in 2020 and now competes in the NTT IndyCar Series. He has won 83 races in his 18-year career.

5. Jeff Gordon

Who is the best NASCAR driver of all time?
Former NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon possesses a unique combination of tenacity, hard effort, and years of experience. Photo: Ethan Miller
Source: Getty Images

This racer was a dominant driver in the sport between the 1990s and early 2000s. In the 25 years (1992-2016) that he was active, the four-time champion won 93 races, with his breakthrough coming in the Napa 500 in 1998.

6. Cale Yarborough

Who is the number 1 NASCAR driver?
Cale Yarborough was the first racer in Championship history to win three titles in a row. Photo: Jerry Markland
Source: Getty Images

The businessman, farmer, and former NASCAR racer is one of only two drivers in history to win three titles. Holly Farms was the principal sponsor for this driver, who assisted him in winning 83 races.

7. Dale Jarrett

Who is the most badass NASCAR driver?
Dale Jarrett is currently a broadcaster. During the 1990s and early 2000s, he was one of the top drivers. Photo: Bob Leverone
Source: Getty Images

Dale is presently an NBC commentator. He is best known for three Daytona 500 victories and the 1999 NASCAR Winston Cup Series championship.

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8. Bill Elliott

Bill Elliott
Bill Elliott, a racing veteran, has amassed one of the most illustrious resumes in the sport's history. Photo: Jared Tilton
Source: Getty Images

As he is affectionately called, Awesome Bill from Dawsonville is best known for winning the NASCAR premier series championship in 1988. He had a 38-year racing career (1975-2012), during which he won 44 races.

9. Kyle Busch

Top NASCAR drivers
The #18 M&M's Crunchy Cookie Toyota driver, Kyle Busch, is a full-time series competitor. Photo: Sean Gardner
Source: Getty Images

In his 16-year career, starting in 2003, Kyle is a promising young car racer with an amazing track record. He won the NASCAR Nationwide Series in 2009 and the Cup Series in 2015 and 2019.

10. Tony Stewart

Most famous Nascar drivers
Hall of Famer Tony Stewart and Haas Automation founder Gene Haas own a racing team. Photo: Chris Graythen
Source: Getty Images

Stewart, aka Smoke, is a retired American professional racing driver and a member of the Stewart-Haas Racing team. He is one of the toughest NASCAR drivers. Over the last 18 years, the three-time champion has won 49 races (1999-2016).

11. Fireball Roberts

Old nascar drivers
Racecar driver Fireball Roberts smiles while holding a trophy. Photo: Bettmann
Source: Getty Images

Roberts won his first NASCAR race in August 1950 when he started as a driver. He later won 33 times during his 15-year career on the track. He died in 1964 at the World 600, ending his motorsport career.

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12. Junior Johnson

Old nascar drivers
Robert Glenn Johnson was inducted into the Hall of Fame in the premier division in the first Class of 2010. Photo: Bob Leverone
Source: Getty Images

In a tenure spanning 14 years, the stock-car racing giant won 50 times to become one of the sport’s top owners before retiring in 1966. The member of the 2010 Hall of Fame passed away in 2019.

13. Bobby Allison

Old Nascar drivers
Robert Arthur Bobby Allison was born in the city of Miami, Florida, on 3 December 1937.Photo: Streeter Lecka
Source: Getty Images

In the 25 years from 1961 to 1988, Bobby, the creator of the Alabama Gang, a group of drivers located in Hueytown, Alabama, won 84 Cup events. After being inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame in 2011, the 83-year-old is still revered by fans of all eras.

14. Tim Flock

Who is the best in NASCAR?
The #31 1955 Chrysler driver holds the trophy after winning the Daytona Beach and Road Course on 26 February 1956, in Daytona Beach, Florida. Photo: Hy Peskin
Source: Getty Images

The Alabama native won 39 races in the NASCAR series and was a two-time champion. The 1956 Grand National 1,600 at Daytona Beach was his most notable triumph. He passed away in 1998 at the age of 73.

15. Waltrip Darrell

Who is the most badass NASCAR driver?
American motorsports analyst, author, former national television broadcaster, and Hall of Famer Darrell Waltrip poses on the red carpet. Photo: Chris Graythen
Source: Getty Images

Waltrip Darrell is among the most famous NASCAR driver from Kentucky, U.S. Waltrip made his debut in 1972, racing for NASCAR Winston Cup Series. In his 29-year career, the three-time champion has won 84 races making him the most badass driver in NASCAR. In addition, Darell is a motorsport analyst, TV star and author.

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16. Herb Thomas

Top NASCAR drivers
Herb Thomas finished second in the NASCAR Cup race on the Daytona Beach-Road Course. Photo: ISC Images & Archives
Source: Getty Images

NASCAR's first two time star was an American racing driver and one of the early heroes of American stock car racing. His ten-year career yielded 48 victories until he died of a heart attack in 2000.

17. Kevin Harvick

Who is the best in NASCAR?
Also known as The Closer, Kevin Harvick is known for aggressive driving throughout his career. Photo: Sean Gardner
Source: Getty Images

This 46-year-old racer competes in the full-time cup series and rides the No. 4 Ford Mustang. In his 18-year career, the Stewart-Haas Racing squad member has won 50 races.

18. Terry Labonte

Most famous NASCAR drivers
Early in his career, he was known as the “Iceman” for his coolness under pressure. Photo: Jim Fluharty
Source: Getty Images

The well-known American racer has 38 years of experience (1978-2014). The two-time champion has won 22 races before retiring in 2014.

19. Wallace Rusty

Most famous Nascar drivers
The racer was in a racing team based in Mooresville, North Carolina. Photo: Brian Lawdermilk
Source: Getty Images

Wallace is one of the top NASCAR drivers. He won the Rookie of the Year award in 1984 and the NASCAR Winston Cup Championship in 1989. He has 55 victories and one championship title in his 26-year career (1980-2006).

20. Joey Logano

Top Nascar drivers
The #22 Shell Pennzoil Ford driver, Joey Logano, waves to fans during driver intros prior in Bristol, Tennessee. Photo: Logan Riely
Source: Getty Images

Joey has been racing professionally since 2008 and now drives the No. 22 Ford Mustang in the NASCAR Cup Series. Shell and Pennzoil have been his key sponsors, helping him win 25 titles.

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21. Joe Weatherly

Old Nascar drivers
Joe Weatherly of Norfolk, VA, ran this 1956 Ford factory entry in the NASCAR Convertible Division race on the Daytona Beach Road Course. Photo: ISC Images & Archives
Source: Getty Images

In 1962 and 1963, Weatherly won the Grand National Series championships and then went on to win 25 races and two championships between 1951 and 1964. He died at Riverside Speedway in California, ending a 13-year career in 1964.

22. Mark Martin

Top Nascar drivers
The driver of the #14 Bass Pro Shops / Mobil 1 Chevrolet Mark Martin during practice for the Sprint Cup Series. Photo: Todd Warshaw
Source: Getty Images

Martin has not raced since retiring at the age of 54 in 2013. In his illustrious 31-year career behind the wheel, he had already won 40 races. He now spends his time in Batesville, Arkansas, with his family and likes outdoor travels.

23. Kurt Busch

Kurt Busch
The auto racing driver owns the No. 45 Toyota Camry TRD for 23XI Racing. Photo: Chris Graythen
Source: Getty Images

Kurt Busch has been racing since 2000 and has amassed 30 victories and one championship title in the process. This professional auto racing driver is the 2004 NASCAR Cup Series champion.

24. Buck Baker

Old Nascar drivers
Buck Baker kneels next to a brand new 1957 Chevrolet on the Daytona Beach and Road Course. Photo by ISC Images & Archives
Source: Getty Images

This driver is in the NASCAR Hall of Fame after winning 46 races in his 26 years of racing (1949-1976). Buck won back-to-back NASCAR premier series championships in 1956 and 1957, becoming the first driver to do so. He retired in 1976.

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25. Alan Kulwicki

Old Nascar drivers
Alan Kulwicki before the start of the 1987 Daytona 500 at the Daytona International Speedway on 15 February 1987, in Daytona Beach, Florida. Photo: Robert Alexander
Source: Getty Images

This American racer nicknamed Special K began racing at local short tracks in Wisconsin before moving up to the regional stock car touring series. He died in a plane crash in Tennessee in 1993, and by that time, he had won five races in his 9-year career.

26. Martin Truex Jr

Most famous Nascar drivers
Martin, the #19 Bass Pro Shops Toyota driver, speaks to the media during the 64th Annual Daytona 500 Media Day. Photo: James Gilbert
Source: Getty Images

In 2005, he was named the Busch Series Most Popular Driver, and in 2018, he won the ESPY Award for Best Driver. In his 15-year career as a NASCAR driver (2004-present), he has won 19 races.

27. Davey Allison

Top Nascar drivers
Davey Allison #11 receives some advice from the crew chief before returning to the garage on 2 April 1989. Photo: Racing Photo Archives
Source: Getty Images

The son of racing icon Bobby Allison began early and ended after dying in a helicopter accident on 13 July 1993. Davey Allison won the Pontiac Excitement 400 in 1993, his final Cup victory, during the last season of the short-lived Dodge Daytona cars.

28. Brad Keselowski

Top Nascar drivers
The #6 Fastenal Ford driver looks on during qualifying for the Cup Series. Photo: Jared C. Tilton
Source: Getty Images

Born in 1984 in Rochester Hills, Michigan, this NASCAR superstar began his career in 2008, owns the number 6 Ford Mustang GT, and won 27 races.

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29. Denny Hamlin

Who is the best in NASCAR?
Denny waits on the grid during qualifying for the Cup Series GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway. Photo: James Gilbert
Source: Getty Images

This 41-year-old driver has 14 years of NASCAR Cup Series experience (2004-present). Hamlin, a three-time winner of the Daytona 500, drives a Toyota primarily sponsored by FedEx.

30. Ned Jarrett

Who are the old NASCAR drivers?
Gentleman Ned Jarrett was the nickname this seasoned driver gave because of his calm temperament. Photo: Brian Lawdermilk
Source: Getty Images

He is a retired American racer and two-time NASCAR Grand National Series champion who competed for 13 years (1953–1966) and won 50 races. He became the sport's first broadcaster after he retired from driving.

31. A.J. Foyt

Old Nascar drivers
Four-time Indy 500 winner AJ Foyt poses with the Borg-Warner Trophy. Photo: Brian Spurlock
Source: Getty Images

A.J. Foyt is a former motorsport racing driver who, unlike many other drivers, is also an accomplished mechanic. With 34 years of experience, the retired auto racing driver has competed in various motorsports and won several big racing competitions in NASCAR.

32. Lee Petty

Old Nascar drivers
In what is now known as the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, Lee was the first driver to win three titles. Photo: ISC Archives
Source: Getty Images

The three-time winner in NASCAR's history has won 54 races in his 16-year career (1949-64). Being one of the old drivers. He was a pioneer who passed away in the year 2000.

33. Rex White

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Old Nascar drivers
During his career, Rex White of Spartanburg, SC, ran in 233 NASCAR Cup races, winning 28 times and taking 163 top 10 finishes. Photo: ISC Images & Archives
Source: Getty Images

Rex is most known for winning the Dixie 400 in Atlanta in 1962. Even though he had polio in his early years, this driver with 9 years of racing experience (1956-64) went on to win 28 races.

34. Bobby Labonte

Who is the best in NASCAR?
The American Hall of Fame nominee has a net worth of $45 million and was born in Corpus. Photo: Dylan Buell
Source: Getty Images

Labonte has 25 years of racing experience (1991-2016). He joined FOX Sports as an in-studio analyst after his superstar racing experience. In 1999, he was the winner of the MBNA 400 at Dover Downs International Raceway in Delaware.

35. Ricky Craven

Who is the best in NASCAR?
Driver Ricky Craven #58 poses for a studio portrait during the NASCAR Daytona 500 Speedweek - Winston Cup Series at the Daytona International Speedway in Daytona, Florida. Photo: Jamie Squire
Source: Getty Images

This racing veteran retired after 12 years and went on to work as an analyst for ESPN and Yahoo! Sports. Later, He joined Fox Sports in January 2019 before moving on to new endeavours.

36. Fred Lorenzen

Most famous Nascar drivers
After winning the National 400 auto race at the Charlotte Motor Speedway, Fred Lorenzen holds one of His Trophies. Photo: Bettmann
Source: Getty Images

During his 12-year (1956-72) driving career, heavily sponsored by LaFayette, he won 26 races. In 1961, Fred Lorenzen took first place in the Festival 250 in Atlanta, Georgia.

37. Carl Edwards

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Most famous Nascar drivers
Carl Edwards, the #99 Aflac Ford driver, poses during NASCAR media day at Daytona International Speedway on 4 February 2010 in Daytona Beach, Florida. Photo: Sam Greenwood
Source: Getty Images

Carl Edwards is among the best car race drivers with an impressive track record; however, he resigned in 2017. During his career, Carl raced for Roush Fenway Racing before joining Joe Gibbs Racing for his final two seasons. He is also notable for his backflip victory celebration.

38. Matt Kenseth

Who is the best in NASCAR?
The #6 Wyndham Rewards Ford driver has raced on some of the most competitive short tracks. Photo: Sean Gardner
Source: Getty Images

DeWalt Power Tools sponsored this American driver during his 21-year career (1998-2019). He was known for capturing the MBNA Platinum 400 pole position at Dover International Speedway in Delaware in 2002.

39. Bobby Isaac

Who is the best in NASCAR?
During the late1950s, Bobby Isaac of Catawba, NC, ran the Modified stock car circuits. Photo: ISC Images & Archives
Source: Getty Images

In 1961, Bobby Isaac made his NASCAR debut, immediately establishing himself as one of the strongest contenders of the 1960s and 1970s. He won 37 races over his 15-year racing career, which ended in 1977.

40. Tim Richmond

Old Nascar drivers
AUGUST 30, 1982: Tim Richmond celebrates after winning a race at Riverside International Raceway. Photo: Jayne Kamin-Oncea
Source: Getty Images

Tim Richmond was born on 7 June 1955 in Ashland, Ohio, United States. He was active between 1980 and 1987. During his time, Tim raced for IndyCar racing before joining NASCAR's Winston Cup Series. He won the Southern 500, a NASCAR race held at Darlington Raceway in Darlington, in 1986. He died in 1989, ending his eight-year-old racing career.

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41. Ricky Rudd

Old Nascar drivers
Ricky Rudd sits in his racecar prior to the start of the 1985 Daytona 500 stock car race. Photo: Robert Alexander
Source: Getty Images

Ricky Rudd won the Indianapolis Motor Speedway's Brickyard 400 in 1997. This driver's 33-year career (1975-2007) came to an end ten years later in 2007. Tide was one of his key sponsors.

42. Benny Parsons

Most famous Nascar drivers
Benny Parsons became famous as the 1973 Winston Cup Series champion. Photo: Robert Alexander
Source: Getty Images

After 21 years of racing, this American NASCAR driver joined SETN as an announcer/analyst/pit reporter. In 1969, he won the ARCA 300 at Daytona International Speedway, making him famous. in NASCAR history.

43. Buddy Baker

Top Nascar drivers
Between 1959 and 1992, Baker competed in 700 Cup events, winning 19 times. Photo: ISC Images & Archives
Source: Getty Images

The 1980 Daytona 500 winner and one of the sport's most likeable drivers follow his father's footsteps. During his 35-year career, from 1959 to 1994, K&K Insurance was a major sponsor of this driver.

44. Greg Biffle

Top Nascar drivers
The #44 Grambling State University Chevrolet driver, Greg Biffle, waits in the garage area during practice in Daytona Beach, Florida. Photo: Chris Graythen
Source: Getty Images

He won 19 races in a 15-year career spanning 2002 to 2016. He is remembered for winning the 2004 MBNA 200 at Dover International Speedway in Delaware.

45. Kasey Kahne

Who is the best in NASCAR?
The American dirt track racer is a four-time World champion. Photo: Sarah Crabill
Source: Getty Images

From 2004 to 2018, the American dirt track racing driver was sponsored by Farmers Insurance. He won 18 races throughout his 15-year career.

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46. Ernie Irvan

Ernie Irvan
Irvan was left with numerous injuries, including a near-fatal brain injury in 1994. Photo Zoran Milich
Source: Getty Images

He won the 1991 Daytona 500 and continued to drive until 1999 when his 13-year career ended. His main sponsor was Kodak films.

47. Neil Bonnett

Best Nascar driver ever
Here in February 1980, NASCAR driver Neil Bonnett stands beside his race car before the start of the 1980 Daytona 500 stock car race. Photo: Robert Alexander
Source: Getty Images

This driver, sponsored by Budweiser, won the Atlanta Journal 500 in Atlanta, Georgia, in 1981 and continued to race until 1994. By that time, he had won 18 races.

48. Geoff Bodine

Best Nascar driver ever
On 20 February 1994, Geoff Bodine poses with his car at Daytona Beach, FL. Photo: Brian Cleary
Source: Getty Images

This driver is most known for his victory in the 1987 International Race of Champions at Daytona Speedway. Levi Garrett was his principal sponsor throughout his 29-year career (1979-2011).

49. Harry Gant

Most famous Nascar drivers
When Harry Gant won at Michigan in 1992, he was a dominant force and the oldest Cup Series winner. Photo: Brian Cleary
Source: Getty Images

Gant, a former motorsport racer, had resigned from all forms of racing to become a farmer in Taylorsville but is still as busy as he was when he was behind the wheel. His Experience spans 22 years, from 1973 to 1994, and he managed to win 18 races, including the Southern 500 in 1984 and 1991.

50. Donnie Allison

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Best Nascar driver ever
Legendary driver Donnie Allison stands in the garage area during practice. Photo: Jason Smith
Source: Getty Images

With 21 years of experience, this car racer was active between 1966-and 1988 and was sponsored by Hawaiian Tropic. He won 10 races in his career.

Who is the best NASCAR driver of all time?

Richard Petty is perhaps the best NASCAR driver of all time. Petty owns the records for most wins, poles, career starts, and wins in a season, among other achievements.

Who is the most badass NASCAR driver?

Any badass driver's instinct is to strive to outrace everyone else by any means necessary, and Jeremy Mayfield is among the most badass NASCAR drivers to ever sit behind the wheel. Unfortunately, after failing two drug tests he claimed were fraudulent, Jeremy was suspended indefinitely from NASCAR.

The American auto racing corporation is best renowned for providing opportunities for the best NASCAR drivers to demonstrate their abilities. This privately held company is based in Daytona Beach, Florida, and organises over 1,500 races each year at over 100 different tracks.

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