Top NASCAR drivers of all-time

Top NASCAR drivers of all-time

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  1. In its 60-plus-year history, the National Association of Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) has seen some of the best drivers to ever race grace its ranks. From the local, grass-roots Modified Division to the multi-million dollar business that the Sprint Cup Series has become, one thing has remained constant: the quality of drivers drawing in the fans. These are some of the drivers who have drawn and kept fans coming back to the track throughout the years.

    Dale Earnhardt – known as “The Intimidator” and “Ironhead,” Earnhardt was a strong-willed, outspoken, hard-charging driver with a heart of gold. A seven-time Cup Series champion, Earnhardt had 76 wins in a career that lasted from 1975 to February 18, 2001 – the day he was killed on the final lap of the Daytona 500, as his good friend Michael Waltrip and son Dale Earnhardt Jr. battled it out for the win in two Dale Earnhardt Inc. race cars.

    Richard Petty – the Cup Series’ only other seven-time champion, Petty was known as “The King” for good reason – in his 35-year career, Petty amassed 200 wins and 127 poles, both records still standing. A second-generation driver, his father Lee was also a three-time NASCAR champ; his son, Kyle, also raced, and his grandson, Adam, had a promising racing future until he was killed in a practice wreck.

    Richie Evans – possibly the greatest NASCAR champion known by the fewest race fans, Evans was a nine-time champ in the original NASCAR division, the Modifieds; this included a string of eight straight championships from 1978 to 1985. Winner of over 400 races in his career, both on local and national levels, the “Rapid Roman” wrapped up his ninth championship one week before he was killed during practice at Martinsville Speedway in 1985.

    Cale Yarborough – a three-time Cup Series champ (1976 through 1978), Yarborough won 83 times over a 31-year career, winning the Daytona 500 four times; he was also the 1984 IROC (International Race of Champions) champ. In addition to his titles, Yarborough may be best remembered for his last-lap fist-to-cuffs with Bobby and Donnie Allison at the 1979 Daytona 500, the first NASCAR race carried live in its entirety on television.

    David Pearson – the “Silver Fox” was a versatile racer, winning on road courses, superspeedways, short tracks, and dirt tracks on his way to 105 wins (second on the all-time list behind Petty). A three-time champ (1966, 1968, and 1969), Pearson was plain-spoken, but did his talking on the track.

    Bill Elliott – “Awesome Bill from Dawsonville” was the 1988 Cup Series champ, and the first winner of the Winston Million in 1985 for winning three of four major races named by series sponsor RJ Reynolds; he also finished second to Alan Kulwicki for the 1992 championship by a mere 10 points.  Elliott cut back to a part-time schedule in 2004, and today races for the famed Woods Brothers.

    Terry Labonte – Labonte is a two-time Cup champ (1984 and 1996) as well as a two-time IROC champ. In his 30-plus-year career, he has 22 victories and 27 poles. Labonte, who “semi-retired” in 2005, is making a comeback in 2010 with Stavola-Labonte Racing, attempting to qualify for three races in 2010 and more in 2011.

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