DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – There are no wrong answers. Well, maybe if they’re not the same answers you would give, then they are wrong.
While many fans will debate who is the best driver in the sport, Brad Keselowski added a twist recently when he listed the top three drivers. He had Carl Edwards first, Kevin Harvick second and himself third.
“I have seen what Carl has done in cars that didn’t have the speed,’’ Keselowski said. “He has a very diverse skill set. He has been able to win at tracks like Sonoma and has won at every type of track, and I feel like he does the best job of any driver I have seen out there at taking a car that is not fast and finding speed out of it.
“I think when the times have come that he has had dominant cars, he has showed dominant performances, which is what you have to do. He has kind of shown to me, the skill set at every level to be a top driver.”
With that in mind, NASCAR Talk asked experts who they would list as the three best drivers. The answers might surprise you in who they listed – and who wasn’t listed.
Here’s what they said.
“It’s very tough to pick the drivers that you say, ‘Hey these are the best guys,’ but I think If I were to look in the garage, the guys that really never make mistakes, the guys that are at the top of the sheet at every racetrack, they just don’t have a lot of excuses, they just go out and perform, guys like Tony Stewart, Jimmie Johnson, (and) Brad. Greg Biffle has as much pure speed ability as anybody I’ve ever been around. Kevin (Harvck), he did a great job last year. I don’t think he made any mistakes that I can remember last year on the racetrack. There are a bunch of guys … I really think it’s hard to pick a guy.’’
NASCAR on NBC analyst Jeff Burton
“When you watch Kevin Harvick over the last three or four years, he has been consistently successful. He has separated himself from his teammates consistently. It’s really hard for me not to look at him and say he’s one of the best. I don’t know how you don’t put Jimmie Johnson in that conversation. You say those guys are in best equipment, yeah, but he consistently outperforms his teammates. They have access to the same equipment. I don’t dare know how you don’t put him in there. I think the most underrated driver in the sport is Matt Kenseth. He’s a phenomenal racecar driver.
“He is aggressive, but he’s able to be aggressive and he doesn’t look like he’s being very aggressive. He’s very, very smooth. If his car is an eighth-place car, he has this ability to find a way when the day is over to finish fifth with it. You look at his body of work, it’s really really impressive. He’s fast. He’s improved his qualifying. He is just consistently successful.’’
Fox analyst Darrell Waltrip
“Carl is obviously a great driver and how he handle sponsors. He’s one of the best in the garage. I love Carl. If I were starting a team tomorrow, he would probably be the first guy I’d call.
“I don’t put (Joey) Logano far behind any of these cats. He’s young. He’s got the experience of a 30-year old. He’s great driver. He’s matured. He used to run from fights. Now he runs to fights. There are things I see about him that I really like, and I think he’s going to be a big star in our sport for a long time. I love Brad’s passion, where he came from and what he does. He calls it like he sees it.’’
Fox analyst Larry McReynolds
“I don’t disagree with Brad’s top three. Definitely 100 percent Kevin would be high on my list. Not just because he won the championship last year but just what we see in him year in an year out … and just how smart a racecar driver he is.
“How in the world do you not even mention the name Jimmie Johnson? The races he’s won and the championships he’s won with all the different Chase configurations and rules and cars. I don’t know how in the world you would not include Jeff Gordon in this conversation to be be as competitive as that man has been since 1993.’’
Fox broadcaster Mike Joy
“I think at this moment, Kevin Harvick is the best driver in the sport right now. Not just because of what he did last year … but I think if you have a 10-lap shootout at the end of any of race, we don’t call him ‘The Closer’ for no reason. That said, I would take Jeff Gordon’s savvy, his marketing experience, his skill and his desire last year over just about anybody in the garage area. Then you have to look at Dale Earnhardt Jr. and the season he had. Matt Kenseth didn’t win a race, but, boy, he’s become the David Pearson of our sport – the cagey, calculating, run-the-car-as-hard-as-it-needs-to-go when it needs to go.’’