The accelerated spreading of coronavirus is ripping the sporting calendar apart. We already have seen the F1 races being postponed and the upcoming Kentucky Derby horse race being delayed to September. So, the NASCAR schedule is no different.
We’re not in the position to speculate over how or when things will get back to normal – frankly, if we were, we’d be getting paid handsomely by the governments.
Still, we can look back in time and here we’re going to look at five of the greatest drivers of all time.
NUMBER 5 – DAVID PEARSON
Pearson first came into the NASCAR picture in 1960 and was the breakthrough star of his time and within nine years – a third of Pearson’s overall career – he’d landed three Championship wins. 18 barren years followed but, to be fair, he would have won more if it wasn’t for particularly tough competition in the shape of Richard Petty.
Many will try and tell you Pearson was the better driver, and whilst bookies odds might have struggled to separate the pair at the time, the trophy cabinets speak for themselves. Still, we’re sure Pearson doesn’t look back to negatively on what was a quite splendid career.
NUMBER 4 – JEFF GORDON
Gordon came into NASCAR in 1990 with a decent youth career under his belt and wins at Indianapolis and in the Coca-Cola 600 did his stock no harm at the higher level but it was off the circuit where he was making the real impression with his charm during interviews.
In 1995 though Gordon elevated his standing with a first Championship win before back to back titles in 97 and 98 followed – with the former year seeing him become the youngest ever winner of the Daytona 500.
2001 saw a fourth title and, with years left in the tank, it seemed inevitable that more would follow. It never transpired that way but he remained competitive at the top level until his retirement in 2015.
NUMBER 3 – JIMMIE JOHNSON
Johnson is due to retire from racing at the end of the current campaign and a good season could propel him to the top of this list but, for now, third will have to do. In the early years, it looked like Johnson might be a near man with two fifth and two second place finishes in the Championship standings but what followed in the next five years was – and is to this day – an unequaled feat.
He already won five consecutive Championships with a subsequent sixth and, record levelling, seventh added in 2013 and 2016 respectively. If Johnson goes out with a win at the end of this season, then nobody could argue with him as the best of all time.
NUMBER 2 – DALE EARNHARDT
People who don’t follow NASCAR will probably be familiar with Earnhardt’s name due to his tragic death at Daytona 2001 but that’s not why he’s regarded as a legend. Earnhardt earned fans and struck fear into rival drivers with his fearless approach on the track and it earned him 76 career wins and, like Johnson, seven Championship triumphs that came across a 26-year career.
Would more have followed if was able to go out on his own terms? Nobody knows but his legendary status will never fade.
NUMBER 1 – RICHARD PETTY
Sometimes determining a standout best of a sport can be a hard task; not this time though as Petty is far and away the best in history. Petty burst on the scene in the late fifties when he won the Rookie of the Year award and it proved just the start of a stunning career as he was named Most Popular driver on eight occasions.
‘The King’, as he became known, has more race wins (200) than anybody else in the sport and in 1979 he became the first driver to land seven Championship wins and given he spent 35 years out on the track it’s little surprise that he was inducted into the hall of fame.
There you have it, five drivers who are absolute legends of NASCAR and they’re legacies will long out live Covid-19.