NASCAR’s Hot 20 of All-Time

by Ron Thornton On Wed, Feb. 13, 2019

During the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series 60th Annual Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway on February 18, 2018 in Daytona Beach, Florida. Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images.

The best of the best, a legacy that has given us 70 championships since 1949. 33 individuals have been able to lay claim to the crown. Three men have won it seven times.

To be a champion immortalizes you, but so does excellent performance. A driver can win, but fail to grab a title. He can also rack up Top Fives and Top Tens, even if he fell a tad short in claiming the checkered flags earned by his competitors.

A few names might surprise you, at first. Yet, when ranked for most championships, wins, Top Fives, and Top Tens, these are the 20 best NASCAR has had to offer in the driver’s seat over 70 seasons of motor mayhem.

I bet there is no argument that the King leads the parade.

  1. RICHARD PETTY – Born July 2, 1937
    7 Championships, 200 Wins, 555 Top Fives, 712 Top Tens
  2. JEFF GORDON – Born August 4, 1971
    4 Championships, 93 Wins, 325 Top Tens, 477 Top Tens
  3. DALE EARNHARDT – (April 29, 1951 – February 18, 2001)
    7 Championships, 76 Wins, 281 Top Fives, 428 Top Tens
  4. DAVID PEARSON – (December 22, 1934 – November 12, 2018)
    3 Championships, 105 Wins, 301 Top Fives, 366 Top Tens
  5. DARRELL WALTRIP – Born February 5, 1947
    3 Championships, 84 Wins, 276 Top Fives, 390 Top Tens
  6. JIMMIE JOHNSON – Born September 17, 1975
    7 Championships, 83 Wins, 224 Top Fives, 352 Top Tens
  7. BOBBY ALLISON – Born December 3, 1937
    1 Championship, 84 Wins, 336 Top Fives, 446 Top Tens
  8. CALE YARBOROUGH – Born March 27, 1939
    3 Championships, 83 Wins, 255 Top Fives, 319 Top Tens
  9. LEE PETTY – (March 14, 1914 – April 5, 2000)
    3 Championships, 54 Wins, 231 Top Fives, 332 Top Tens
  10. BUCK BAKER – (March 4, 1919 – April 14, 2002)
    2 Championships, 46 Wins, 246 Top Fives, 372 Tens
  11. MARK MARTIN (Born January 9, 1959)
    40 Wins, 271 Top Fives, 453 Top Tens
  12. RUSTY WALLACE – (Born August 14, 1956)
    1 Championship, 55 Wins, 202 Top Fives, 349 Top Tens
  13. TONY STEWART – (Born May 20, 1971)
    3 Championships, 49 Wins, 187 Top Fives, 308 Top Tens
  14. TERRY LABONTE – (Born November 16, 1956)
    2 Championships, 22 Wins, 182 Top Fives, 361 Top Tens
  15. NED JARRETT – (Born October 12, 1932)
    2 Championships, 50 Wins, 185 Top Fives, 239 Top Tens
  16. RICKY RUDD – (Born September 12, 1956)
    23 Wins, 194 Top Fives, 374 Top Tens
  17. KEVIN HARVICK – (Born December 8, 1975)
    1 Championship, 45 Wins, 191 Top Fives, 336 Top Tens
  18. HERB THOMAS – (April 6, 1923 – August 9, 2000)
    2 Championships, 48 Wins, 122 Top Fives, 156 Top Tens
  19. KYLE BUSCH – (Born May 2, 1985)
    1 Championship, 51 Wins, 183 Top Fives, 269 Top Tens
  20. BUDDY BAKER – (January 25, 1941 – August 10, 2015)
    19 Wins, 202 Top Fives, 311 Top Tens

Three of those boys will be out to add to their accomplishments this weekend. The Daytona 500 is coming up this Sunday, a time for new beginnings and a time for bringing things to an end. After 15 years and over a thousand columns of various incarnations, this edition represents my final regular contribution to this site.

I want to thank Barry Albert for providing a writing home for me back in 2004. My thanks to Angie Campbell for her editing prowess and her encouragement. I would like to give a shout out to Racing Reference, a website that helps a fellow make sense of it all, a great aid to such scribes as myself. Finally, thanks to you for joining me on this journey.

** The opinions expressed on this site are not necessarily those of the publisher. All comments other than website related problems need to be directed to the author. (c)SpeedwayMedia.com. **

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