In its 71 year history, NASCAR has provided no shortage of illustrious names. Every decade has offered its own unique stars who have displayed their talents in their own special ways, with a wide range of personalities and competitors that featured many sparks flying both on and off the circuit. From the dirt tracks of the ‘50s to the superspeedways of today, NASCAR has undergone many structural and automotive changes over the years, but the competition has never wavered. From young guns like Joey Logano to legends such as The Intimidator and The King, generations of NASCAR drivers have all had one goal in mind: Win.
With the opening of its Hall of Fame in 2010, NASCAR has had to pick and choose between the numerous icons who have paved the way in the sport of stock car racing. From driver-owners like Junior Johnson and Tony Stewart, to pure racers like Herb Thomas and Jimmy Johnson, legacies aren’t hard to come by. Many drivers have accomplished careers spanning multiple decades, sometimes twice the normal athlete’s career span, and many drivers have accumulated dozens of wins over the course of their tenures.
Despite the numerous changes to the NASCAR Cup Series name, the chase for the championship trophy continues to be a dogfight year in and year out. The grueling, now-36-race schedule has challenged drivers’ physical and mental strength, and has repeatedly pushed performance and pressure to new highs. Over seven decades, just 33 different drivers have won a championship—which only further proves how much talent there is at the highest level.
Here, we’ve compiled a list of the 30 very best NASCAR drivers to ever compete in the sport’s history.