Richard-Petty-is-considered-one-of-the-best-ever-in-NASCAR-01Figure 1 Richard Petty is considered one of the best ever in NASCAR

It is now over 74 years since the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing was founded by Bill France Sr. There are now over 1,500 races each year, all around the world, and some of the drivers have gone down in history as the best to ever grace motorsports.

Crowds in the US, Canada, Mexico and Europe have enjoyed some memorable races over the years and placed thousands of NASCAR bets on the best drivers and teams. Every fan has their own ideas of who the best drivers have been – but here are five that we think should get an honorable mention at the very least.

Jimmie Johnson

One of the greatest NASCAR drivers in history, Jimmie Johnson made his Cup Series debut in 2001 – the year fellow great Dale Earnhardt tragically died. No other driver has won as many NASCAR Cup Series championships as Johnson. His seven is right up there with Earnhardt and Richard Petty.

At one stage he was simply unbeatable, winning five championships in a row between 2006 and 2010. He retired from full-time racing in 2020 with 83 career wins and also managed to finish first in the Daytona 500 on two occasions as well. Apparently he's a really nice guy too!

Bobby Allison

This NASCAR Hall of Famer was notorious for getting into fights. But he was also one the most successful drivers of all time, with his 84 career wins putting him in the top five. Overall, Allison drove in over 700 NASCAR Cup Series races from 1961 until his retirement in 1988.

Although it might be frowned upon today, the fight he and his brother had with Cale Yarborough at the 1979 Daytona 500 has been said to have been a major factor in the surge in popularity of NASCAR at the start of the next decade. He only ever won one NASCAR Cup Series championship and raced with smaller teams for the majority of his career.

The-excitement-of-NASCAR-racing-is-hard-to-beatFigure 2 The excitement of NASCAR racing is hard to beat

Jeff Gordon

There was a time in the late 1990s when Jeff Gordon was the driver everyone had to beat if they had any chance of claiming a championship. He won four himself, becoming the youngest to do so when he took his first in 1995 at the age of just 24. He then went on to repeat that feat in 1997, 1999 and 2005.

He is regarded as the most successful NASCAR driver of the modern era, with 93 career race wins. His number 24 became well known even outside of NASCAR circles and he was later inducted into the Hall of Fame. At the time of his retirement in 2016 he was thought to be highest paid NASCAR driver ever.

Dale Earnhardt

It is incredibly sad that Dale Earnhardt may well be more known by those outside the sport for his tragic death on the track of the Daytona 500 in 2001. But ‘The Intimidator' is rightly considered one of the very best, having won a record seven championships and 76 races at Cup Series level.

Many fans associate his number 3 Chevrolet as synonymous with NASCAR and his aggressive driving style certainly won him many admirers over the years. His death on the last lap of that race in 2001 also heralded a new era of increased car safety in motorsports of all kinds.

Richard Petty

When you are nicknamed ‘The King' it is always going to be for a good reason. Petty was the first driver to win seven Cup Series championships and finished first an incredible 200 times in a career that spanned 35 years. He also managed to win the Daytona 500 a record seven times too.

Petty didn't get to win so many races without being aggressive on the track and he is also famous for the number of times he survived serious crashes while racing. These incidents also brought forward changes in safety regulations – but that didn't stop him from racing to win throughout his successful career.