Long: Ranking the top 20 NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers in the last 20 years

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If you saw ESPN.com’s list of the top 20 athletes in the last 20 years, something might have stood out to you – no racers.

To fill that void, here’s a list of the top 20 NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers in the last 20 years. The list is based on Cup performance only. Weight is given to championships along with wins in key races (Daytona 500, Coca-Cola 600, Southern 500 and Brickyard 400), total wins, finishes in the top five in points during this period and other key statistical figures.

The focus is purely on what happened on the track. Of course, rating drivers that way can be challenging since a driver cannot make up for a bad car during a season. This list also was challenging since not every driver competed in every season since 1995.

Here’s my list. Feel feel to disagree or add your list in the comments section.

20 – Terry Labonte: The Iceman won a title during this period (1996) and won the 2003 Southern 500 at the age of 46. It was the final Cup win of his career.

19 – Rusty Wallace: The Hall of Famer won 16 races – including nine at Bristol, Martinsville and Richmond – during this period. He twice placed in the top five in points before retiring a decade ago. He had a streak of 10 consecutive seasons finishing in the top 10 in points.

18 – Kasey Kahne: He entered the Cup series spectacularly, scoring runner-up finishes in three of his first seven starts. He’s gone on to win 17 times, including three Coca-Cola 600 victories. He’s finished in the top five in nearly 21 percent of his 402 career starts.

17 – Ryan Newman: Has a Daytona 500 and Brickyard 400 win during this period and finished second in the points last year. He also has 17 wins. He’s placed in the top 10 in 42.3 percent of his 482 career starts.

16 – Denny Hamlin: Owns 25 victories, including last week’s win at Martinsville. He’s placed in the top three in points three times and in the top five in points four times. He also owns a Southern 500 triumph, winning that race in 2010.

15 – Brad Keselowski: The 2012 series champion has 17 career wins and placed in the top 10 in 41.4 percent of his 203 career starts.

14 – Kyle Busch: Has yet to start a Cup race this season after being injured in an Xfinity race at Daytona. He has 29 Cup victories. He has placed in the top five in 32.3 percent of his career starts and has scored top-10 finishes in 48.8 percent of his 365 career Cup starts.

13 – Kurt Busch: The 2004 champion has 25 career wins and has finished in the top five in points three times.

12 – Jeff Burton: Won 21 races during this period and finished in the top five in points four times. Ended career with eight top-10 finishes in the points.

11 – Dale Earnhardt Jr.: Two-time Daytona 500 winner, who has collected 23 career victories and finished in the top five in points four times. He’s also placed in the top 10 in 41.7 percent of his career starts.

10 – Carl Edwards: Has 23 career wins and placed in the top five in points four times, losing the 2011 crown to Tony Stewart on a tiebreaker. Edwards has finished in the top 10 in 49.3 percent of his career starts.

9 – Bobby Labonte: The 2000 champion won 21 races since 1995. Those wins included a Southern 500, Coca-Cola 600 and Brickyard 400.

8 – Matt Kenseth: The 2003 champion has won 31 races. That includes two Daytona 500s, a Southern 500 and a Coca-Cola 600. He’s finished in the top five in points six times and has finished in the top 10 in 49.6 percent of his career starts.

7 – Mark Martin: Scored 26 wins and finished in the top five in points nine times during this period. He also finished runner-up in the points three times during this time (and five times overall in his career). Scored a Coca-Cola 600 win and a Southern 500 victory in the last 20 years.

6 – Dale Earnhardt: The seven-time champion’s last title came in 1994, so he never won a crown during this period. He won 13 races – including his only Daytona 500 and a Brickyard 400 – and finished in the top 10 in 58.1 percent of his starts between 1995 and his death in 2001. He also placed in the top five in four of the six full seasons he raced during this period.

5 – Dale Jarrett: Hall of Famer who won 29 races during this time – including two Daytona 500s (he won three overall) and two Brickyard 400s. He finished in the top five in points six times and won the 1999 crown.

4 – Kevin Harvick: Has 30 wins, including wins in the sport’s biggest races. The 2014 champion won two Coca-Cola 600s and scored a victory each in the Daytona 500, Southern 500 and Brickyard 400. He’s finished in the top 10 in 46.3 percent of his career starts.

3 – Tony Stewart: The three-time champion has 48 career wins, including two Brickyard 400s. He’s also finished in the top five in points five times. Despite his struggles the last couple of seasons, he’s finished in the top five in 32.5 percent of his career starts and placed in the top 10 in 53 percent of his career starts.

2 – Jeff Gordon: No driver has won more races since 1995 than Gordon with 90. The four-time champion won the Southern 500 five times during this period, has four Brickyard 400s (five wins overall there), three Daytona 500s and two Coca-Cola 600s. He’s finished in the top five in points 10 times. Gordon has finished in the top five in 41.7 percent of his starts. He’s placed in the top 10 in 59.5 percent of his career starts.

1 – Jimmie Johnson: The six-time champion has 71 career wins during this time. He’s scored four Brickyard 400s, four Coca-Cola 600s, two Southern 500s and two Daytona 500s. He’s finished in the top five in points 11 times. Johnson has placed in the top five in 40.9 percent of his career starts. He’s finished in the top 10 in 61.8 percent of his career starts.

So, let the debate begin. What drivers do you consider the best of the last 20 years?