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NASCAR’s Greatest Drivers List Just Increased to 75

NASCAR’s Greatest Drivers List Just Increased to 75

Over NASCAR’s 75-year history fans have watched drivers speed in and out of the spotlight, many of which get left behind in the rear-view mirror. Only a handful, however, have gone down in history.

To commemorate the athleticism and strategy of these drivers throughout the years, NASCAR did something special for its fifty-year anniversary in 1998; they released their list of the Top 50 Greatest Drivers in NASCAR History.

Another quarter-century has passed since the original list was published, and NASCAR is continuing their tradition of recognizing top drivers for the 75th anniversary of the sport. Not only that, but they are throwing out all the stops to celebrate its golden anniversary, including the first-ever Chicago Street Race that took place on the Fourth of July Weekend.

To build anticipation and get fans excited for the remainder of the season and beyond, NASCAR announced the additional 25 top drivers being added to the Greatest Drivers in the sport’s history incrementally. Five drivers were named per week to the list, leading up to the Throwback Weekend at Darlington Raceway that took place in May 2023.

Stick around as we go over how the list was compiled as well as who the new additions to the list are.

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HOW DID NASCAR PICK THE TOP 75 GREATEST DRIVERS?

Sticking to a similar process as they did on the 50th anniversary, NASCAR’s Top 75 Drivers List was decided on by a panel comprised of retired drivers, industry workers, team owners, executives and media personnel.

The list isn’t organized by rank or wins, but instead is general recognition of the talented drivers who have come before, and the new ones driving the sport forward.

HOW IS THE NASCAR TOP DRIVERS LIST DIFFERENT THAN THE HALL OF FAME?

There is definitely some overlap between this list and those who have been inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame, but the way both decisions are made vary widely from one another. While Hall of Famers are usually inducted later in their careers, the additional 25 drivers added to the list could very well be hitting their prime right now.

Another key difference is that the NASCAR Top 75 Drivers List focuses on talent and standings over more qualitative considerations like their impact on the sport overall. Plus, this list was compiled with other series drivers in mind as well, such as drivers for the Craftsman Truck Series and the Xfinity Series.

WHO ARE THE DRIVERS ON THE ORIGINAL TOP 50 GREATEST DRIVERS LIST?

Here are the fifty drivers who make up the original list created by NASCAR, along Hall of Fame status if applicable:

  1. Bobby Allison (HoF)
  2. Davey Allison (HoF)
  3. Buck Baker (HoF)
  4. Buddy Baker (HoF)
  5. Geoff Bodine
  6. Neil Bonnett
  7. Red Byron (HoF)
  8. Jerry Cook (HoF)
  9. Dale Earnhardt (HoF)
  10. Ralph Earnhardt
  11. Bill Elliott (HoF)
  12. Richie Evans (HoF)
  13. Red Farmer (HoF)
  14. Tim Flock (HoF)
  15. A.J. Foyt
  16. Harry Gant
  17. Jeff Gordon (HoF)
  18. Rick Hendrick (HoF)
  19. Jack Ingram (HoF)
  20. Ernie Irvan
  21. Bobby Isaac (HoF)
  22. Dale Jarrett (HoF)
  23. Ned Jarrett (HoF)
  24. Junior Johnson (HoF)
  25. Alan Kulwicki (HoF)
  26. Terry Labonte (HoF)
  27. Fred Lorenzen (HoF)
  28. Tiny Lund
  29. Mark Martin (HoF)
  30. Hershel McGriff
  31. Cotton Owens (HoF)
  32. Marvin Panch
  33. Benny Parsons (HoF)
  34. David Pearson (HoF)
  35. Richard Petty (HoF)
  36. Lee Petty (HoF)
  37. Tim Richmond
  38. Fireball Roberts (HoF)
  39. Ricky Rudd
  40. Marshall Teague
  41. Herb Thomas (HoF)
  42. Curtis Turner (HoF)
  43. Rusty Wallace (HoF)
  44. Darrell Waltrip (HoF)
  45. Joe Weatherly (HoF)
  46. Bob Welborn
  47. Rex White (HoF)
  48. Glen Wood (HoF)
  49. Cale Yarborough (HoF)
  50. LeeRoy Yarbrough

These fifty drivers not only shaped the motorsport industry into what it is today, but they also paved the way for the drivers that were added to the list this year in honor of the NASCAR 75th anniversary.

WHICH DRIVERS WERE ADDED TO THE TOP DRIVERS LIST?

So, without further ado, let’s take a look at the names just added to the list. Again, these aren’t ordered by rank but alphabetically, so don’t worry if your favorite driver isn’t at the top of the list.

And since these are new additions, we’ll also give an overview of where they are now in their careers/lives.

SAM ARD

Sam Ard was a stockcar racer in the early 1980s who took home numerous titles, including two-time winner of the Budweiser Late Model Sportsman Series Championship. After an injury at the end of 1984, Ard retired, but stayed involved in NASCAR by becoming a car owner. He passed away in 2017 at the age of 78.

GREG BIFFLE

Greg Biffle, born 1969, is a semi-retired driver from Washington State. He began his successful career in 1996 and has since won two NASCAR championships. “The Biff” is also one of the founders of the Sand Outlaw Series.

KURT BUSCH

Kurt Busch is a recently retired driver (as of 2022) of the NASCAR Cup Series. During his career he took home the 2004 Cup Series Championship and the 2017 Daytona 500 title.

KYLE BUSCH

Our first of a few family relationships, Kurt Busch’s younger brother, Kyle Busch, was also added to the greatest drivers list. Two-time NASCAR Cup Series champion, team owner and part-time racer for the Craftsman Truck Series and the Xfinity Series Kyle Busch is one of the best. He’s currently ninth on the list of all-time Cup Series wins.

JEFF BURTON

Jeff Burton is another addition to the list. Nicknamed “The Mayor” for his ideas around the safety and well-being of racers and the sport, Burton has committed his life to the sport. After retiring from his 22-year career in the Cup Series, he joined NBC as a color commentator for NASCAR coverage.

DALE EARNHARDT JR. (HoF)

NASCAR legend Dale Earnhardt Sr’s son is officially joining his father on the list of the greatest NASCAR drivers of all time. Earnhardt Jr has 26 Cup Series wins and is semi-retired now, but still involved through being a team over, race analyst and author.

CARL EDWARDS

Carl Edwards is another retired stock car racer, who is still heavily involved in the industry. Over the course of his career, Edwards won 28 Cup Series races.

CHASE ELLIOTT

One of the younger racers to join the list is Chase Elliot. At 28 years old, he’s had not only 18 Cup Series wins, but also a win in the 2020 NASCAR All-Star Race.

DENNY HAMLIN

Denny Hamlin became the third highest-paid driver in NASCAR in the 2020 season, and he can now add the Top 75 Best Drivers to his list of accolades. Between his career start in 2005, Hamlin has won 48 Cup Series races, and has won the Daytona 500 three times.

KEVIN HARVICK

The longest tenured driver in NASCAR, Kevin Harvick has made a name for himself since his start in 1992. In addition, Harvick’s 121 combined national series wins makes him the third most decorated driver in NASCAR history. You may know him as the driver to replace the legend Dale Earnhardt after his tragic death in 2001.

RON HORNADAY JR. (HoF)

One of the Hall of Famers on the list of new inductees, Ron Hornaday has paved the way for the Craftsman Truck Series. He is the only four-time champion of the Truck Series, and while this was his focus, he also took home 184 wins in the Xfinity Series. Hornaday retired in 2014.

JIMMIE JOHNSON (HoF)

Jimmie Johnson is another Hall of Famer to add to this list. A seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion, Johnson has been setting records since his start in 2006. In 2009 he made history by becoming the first racer to win four championships in a row. The next year, he broke his own record and won again!

KASEY KAHNE

Racing from 2004 to 2018, Kahne has won 18 Cup Series races in his career. He was named NASCAR Rookie of the Year in 2004, starting his career off on the best foot possible. He was also quite successful in the Camping World Truck Series and the Xfinity Series.

MATT KENSETH (HoF)

Another Hall of Famer gracing this list is Matt Kenseth. Known for his consistency and smooth driving style, Kenseth has amassed 39 Cup Series victories throughout his career. His most notable achievement came in 2003 when he clinched the NASCAR Cup Series championship.

BRAD KESELOWSKI

Brad Keselowski has established himself as a prominent figure in the world of NASCAR, showcasing his skills as both a racer and an entrepreneur. Keselowski has 35 Cup Series wins and 39 career wins in the Xfinity Series. He has also ventured into the business side of the sport, with successful results.

BOBBY LABONTE (HoF)

Labonte’s career spanned 1993-2013, where he became one of the 41 drivers in NASCAR history to win a race in all three series. Another sibling duo to note, Labonte joined the sport after his brother (also on this list and a Hall of Famer) began his career in NASCAR. Together, they became the first pair of brothers to each own a premier series title.

RANDY LAJOIE

Randy Lajoie is a former professional race car driver who achieved great success in the NASCAR circuit. He raced in the Xfinity series and earned two NASCAR Xfinity Series championships. This addition to the list may come as a surprise to some, as his career was mostly spent in the lower series of NASCAR racing.

KYLE LARSON

Kyle Larson is a 21-time Cup Series champion and has qualified for the NASCAR Playoffs twice. Not to mention he took home the title of the 2019, 2021 and 2023 NASCAR All-Star Races.

JOEY LOGANO

Joey Logano is a 32-time Cup winner who has had a successful career, although shorter than some of the other drivers included on the list. He has qualified for the NASCAR Playoffs in 2021 and may do it again this year.

STERLING MARLIN

Retired in 2006, Sterling Marlin delivered strong performances for his more than 20-year career. He boasted 10 series wins throughout his career and was also involved in what is now the Xfinity Series.

RYAN NEWMAN

Nicknamed “Rocket Man,” Ryan Newman has had a top-notch career in NASCAR, earning 51 poles. As of now, he is competing full time in the SRX Camping World Series and part time in the NASCAR Cup Series.

LARRY PHILLIPS

The late Larry Phillips is also not the traditional Cup Series racer you may expect to see on this list. Rather, Phillips won the five national championships in what is now the Advanced Auto Parts Weekly Series.

MIKE STEFANIK (HoF)

After passing away in 2019, NASCAR legend Mike Stefanik has been named one of the Top 75 Drivers of the sport. Competing mostly in the Whelen Modified Series, he won seven championships in the Modified Series. In 2003, he was named the second greatest NASCAR Modified driver of all-time, behind Richie Evens.

TONY STEWART (HoF)

Starting in Indy Car, Tony Stewart quickly became a racing star. Although he is semi-retired now, he is also a co-owner of a NASCAR team. During his career he became known as “Smoke” and took home 49 Cup Series championships.

MARTIN TRUEX JR.

The winner of the 2017 Monster Energy Cup Series championship and first place in the 2023 regular season, Martin Truex Jr. has been in the racing business for a long time. Starting his career in 2004, he has collected 20 poles and 32 victories in the Cup Series.

WRAP UP

So, there you have it. With the addition of 25 new drivers to the list, we now have the official NASCAR Top 75 Drivers. On this list we have siblings and father-son duos, as well as retired, semi-retired and active drivers from a number of different series.

If there are drivers that didn’t make the list this time, there’s always hope that the 100th anniversary of NASCAR brings us another top 25 drivers. Until then, we’ll keep watching our favorite racers do their best to make their name, with the hope of one day ending up on a list like this.

And the best part is, you can watch every single race this season and beyond with your DIRECTV subscription. Whether you want to watch live, online or on the DIRECTV app, you can get access to the races you want to watch, however you want to watch them. Plus, you can check back here at DIRECTV Insider for all the latest race updates and results.

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