With NASCAR in its two-week break, the NBC Sports NASCAR Power Rankings puts together its top 10 list of drivers in the sport’s history.
The Cup Series returns Aug. 8 at Watkins Glen International (3 p.m. ET on NBCSN) and that provides plenty of time to debate this list and any of the drivers in the top 10. Or not in the top 10.
NASCAR Power Rankings of Cup drivers of all time
1. Jimmie Johnson — As time passes, his accomplishments will be further revered. It seems likely that his five consecutive championships will join the mark of Richard Petty’s 200 Cup wins as records that will never be broken. Johnson’s seven titles came in 11 seasons, a remarkable feat in what at that point was arguably the most competitive era of NASCAR. Twelve of his 83 wins (14.5%) came in the sport’s marquee events. He won the Coke 600 and Brickyard 400 four times each and won the Southern 500 and Daytona 500 twice each.
2. Richard Petty — He went from seven-time champion to cultural icon. From 1970-79, he won five of his championships and 89 of 326 races — meaning he won more than a quarter of the races run in the 1970s. His career also included seven Daytona 500 victories among the mountain of accomplishments.
3. Dale Earnhardt — The seven-time champion was particularly dominant from 1986-91. He won four titles in that span and finished second in the points one year and third the other year. He won 37 of his 76 career victories during that time period. He finished first or second in the points 10 times in his career.
4. Jeff Gordon — A four-time champion whose 93 career wins ranks third on the all-time list. He was at his best in the big races. He won the Southern 500 six times and the Brickyard 400 five times. He won the Daytona 500 and Coca-Cola 600 three times each. Those 17 victories account for 18.3% of his win total. From 1995-98, he claimed three championships, finished second in the points once and won 40 of 127 races (31.5%).
5. David Pearson — A three-time champion. He collected 105 series wins, second only to Richard Petty on the all-time list. He only ran more than 3/4 of the season five times. He won the championship three of those years. In those five seasons, he won 50 of his 243 starts (20.6%). He also is the record holder for most wins at Darlington Raceway with 10.
6. Cale Yarborough — Won three consecutive championships (1976-78). Among his 83 career wins were four Daytona 500s and five Southern 500s. He finished second in the points three other years.
7. Darrell Waltrip — Claimed three titles, winning them in a five-year period in the 1980s. Finished second in the points three times. He won the Coca-Cola 600 five times. He also had a Daytona 500 win and a Southern 500 victory among his 84 career wins.
8. Bobby Allison — Finished second in the points five times before winning the 1983 championship. His 84 wins are tied with Darrell Waltrip for fourth on the all-time list. Allison won four Southern 500s, three Daytona 500s and three Coca-Cola 600s.
9. Kyle Busch — Two-time Cup champion whose 59 wins ranks ninth on the all-time wins list and he’s only 36 years old. Has won at least one race for 17 consecutive years, tying him for second with David Pearson on the all-time list. Richard Petty holds the record with at least a win in 18 consecutive seasons.
10. Lee Petty — First three-time Cup champion in series history. Won 54 races. He held the series record for victories until son Richard topped his mark. Among Lee Petty’s win was the inaugural Daytona 500 in 1959.