NASCAR has a long history of fantastic finishes, powerful machines and historic events. Most of all, though, NASCAR history has been defined by the drivers. Of the hundreds of men and women who have driven these machines only a small percentage have ever won a race and even fewer have ever managed to win a Championship. From that elite list, who are truly the best NASCAR drivers of all time? Here are my picks for the top five drivers in the history of NASCAR.
Seven championships, seventy-six wins, and all in the modern era. There is no doubt that "The Intimidator" is the best that NASCAR has ever seen. He was a master on the track and equally good with the press. Dale Earnhardt left us while still on top of his game. He certainly had many more wins in front of him and a great shot at his eighth championship.
Jimmie Johnson burst on the NASCAR scene with three wins in his 2002 rookie season. As of the close of the 2010 season Johnson has been to Victory Lane 53 times and scored an incredible five championships in a row.
Some say he is the best ever. I think Dale Earnhardt Sr. still scores above him on this list but the gap gets narrower with each passing season.
Richard Petty has seven championships and 200 wins. However, I rank him below Earnhardt and Johnson because most of those wins came in a different era of NASCAR. It was much easier to dominate back then than it is now. However Richard Petty still is, and forever will be "The King."
4. Jeff Gordon
You may love him or you may hate him but honestly, Jeff Gordon is one of the best ever. With four championships and over 80 wins already in his career, Jeff Gordon has the tools to continue to climb this list. With Earnhardt gone, Gordon is the winningest active driver and still runs up front week in and week out. Four more championships are definitely not out of reach.