NASCAR Race Hub’s top 50 drivers of all time: 10-5

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NASCAR Race Hub' unveils drivers 10 through 5 on their list of the top 50 drivers of all time, voted on by 21 crew members on the show.

ADAM: Number 10 is Lee Petty. First driver to win three championships, 54 career wins, Shannon.

SHANNON: Number 9, Tony "Smokes" Stewart. 49 wins and three Cup Championships.

ADAM: And at number 8, Bobby Allison. 83 champions, 84 career wins, and a three-time Daytona 500 winner. Three Coke 600s. Four times he went to Victory Lane in the Southern 500. What a list. A couple of Hall of Famers and a guy that will be there very soon.

I go to Lee Petty at number 10. If you look at his stat line, the first driver to win three championships, yet he's number 10 on our list. It speaks to the volume of the numbers put up by the guys at this stage.

BOBBY: Whew. I'm scared.

[LAUGHING]

I did have him at number 11. I mean, this is obviously impressive. I was talking about earlier, he didn't have the airplane to go to the races either. Think about it. So he went to a lot of races--

ADAM: You slid that right in there.

BOBBY: Oh, yeah. He went to a lot of race--

[INTERPOSING VOICES]

BOBBY: --drove his race cars. So you think about the time in the races that he won-- you know, when you put all that in perspective, it's like, that's a pretty tough dude right there. So you got to believe and I had him at number 11. So I like the way I picked him, I like the way everyone else picked him because he was the top 10. I think it's very impressive that he was able to do that, that length of time.

LARRY: You know, he was the first driver to get to 50 Cup wins. But I think what makes this group so tough is these guys right here-- and some more that's going to be coming up that we're quite sure-- is we're getting into now those three and four championships in the Cup Series. I think this is where-- this is the toughest part of it to me, right here.

SHANNON: And just a reminder to everyone at home, everyone here is just finding out about this list for the very first time. So Adam and I did know coming into this show. But everybody sitting up here, they have no idea who is going to the top five, or top 25, or whatever.

So OK, let's talk about Bobby Allison for a second. Because you talk about doing it for the old guys, right? He won race after 50 years old, but he's got the 85 Cup wins. Do you think he should have been higher on this list?

LARRY: Yeah, I think the only thing that maybe held him back just a little bit-- I know you're nodding because of the wins. And of course we think about Cale, Bobby, and Darrell kind of together. But I think what tips the scale toward Darrell and Cale is the fact that they have those three championships, and Bobby only got the one championship in the Cup Series. Bobby won all the big races multiple times. And Bobby was racing nonstop, every night of the week. But I think probably this is about right for Bobby because of only that one championship.

SHANNON: You are thumbs down with him. Right, Brad?

BRAD: Larry gets a big thumbs down over here. Bobby Allison at 8 it is terrible. That's ridiculous.

SHANNON: Where did you have him?

BRAD: Bobby's number 4, easily. You look at what he's done. No, he didn't get the championships, but look at the rides he had. He had good rides, don't get me wrong. But he had a lot of rides that would break down, and you didn't win the championship in his eras if you broke down. If I looked at Bobby as a driver-- and he was a racer's racer. He knew everything about his race car. If he wasn't racing on a Thursday night, he found somewhere else to race. And he was just a great all-around driver in his era.

And I also think about his era-- he's one of the few drivers that has the win percentage that he has in categories that raced close to the modern era. Some of these guys like Lee and Ned have tremendous win percentages, but they race in a completely different era. Bobby raced into the modern era, and still was able to win and be successful. I think he deserves a lot more credit. A lot of races, too.

ADAM: Casey, Tony Stewart.

CASEY: Yes.

ADAM: Tony Stewart in at number 9. Three-time champion, 49 victories. But one of the most impressive to me, there's only three tracks where he competed that he didn't win. Kentucky and Rockingham, he didn't get many opportunities, and then Darlington. Your thoughts on Tony Stewart being inside the top ten.

CASEY: We all know Tony really deserves to be here. He's one of the best drivers that's been in the sport. And being able to race side by side with Tony. You see it. You see what he does with a car and what he made happen over the course his career. So, he definitely deserves to be inside this top ten.

SHANNON: And you mentioned yesterday the Homestead race with Carl Edwards, which is reason that both of those should be--

[LAUGHING]

LARRY: Yeah, I've never seen two drivers run a race any harder than those two guys ran the last closing laps that race.

BOBBY: I will have to say being Tony's teammate for many years at Joe Gibbs Racing, I always admired his desire and the will that he had to wheel anything that was in front of him. Any type of race car. It wasn't just the Cup wins that impresses me about Tony Stewart, it's all the wins. From IRL to IROC-- I beat him in one IROC deal. But anyway, so just in all of them. That's what impressed me about Tony, and I had him right about at that number. But 49 wins is awesome.

SHANNON: It is time now for our top 7 drivers. We've already had some great conversations and we're going to continue to do that. So let's just get straight to the top 7. And we'll start with number 7, and that is Cale Yarborough. The three-time Cup champion with 83 victories, comes in at seven.

ADAM: Number 6, Darrell Waltrip, Fox's own. Three-time champion, 84 career victories.

SHANNON: And number 5 would be Dale Earnhardt. So don't get mad at the messenger. I'm just relaying the message to everybody at home. Number 5 is Dale Earnhardt, and I think that's where we have to start this conversation because I'm assuming that there's a lot of people who would probably expect him to be higher than number 5 on this list. Bobby, I see you squirming over there. You raced with him on the racetrack. What do you think about Dale Earnhardt at fifth?

BOBBY: I had him at actually number 2. I thought obviously-- I raced against Dale, and he taught me so much. And as far as driver behind the wheel, I mean, we get to the point now where you think of Bobby Allison, you think of Cale Yarborough, you think of David Pearson. Some of these guys I didn't race with.

But at the same time, I think that, you know, in comparison I think that this guy could go out there and race short tracks, or anything that he wanted to. He could win on a road course, he can help develop the drafting better than everybody else did back when Junior did. So it's just definitely-- I thought he should be higher than that with all that he's done in the sport.

ADAM: Seven championships. And I think you just said it Bobby. So educational in the way he brought the sport along, and whether he was telling drivers how to do it, people were learning from him along the way. Now by your theory, Brad, he's in the right place, right? Because-- he's actually ahead of where you would have scheduled him.

BRAD: Number eight on wins list.

ADAM: But seven championships, one of three drivers to accomplish that.

BRAD: And that's a big mark, don't get me wrong. He had a great team. And I think quite honestly, if you look at his team, though, his team was known for chasing championships. That's what RCR was. RCR was never a flashy, let's go out and win every race. Dale carried him sometimes, and he won a lot of races.

But I always thought of RCR as the chase a championship, never break down, semi-conservative team with the most aggressive driver in the field. So if you're looking at championships, I think there's a little bit of a skew towards him probably getting a few more championships than what he was-- should have been able to get in wins.

SHANNON: The stat that really kind of stands out to me that shows just how dominant he was, was the fact that he won his first championship in a second full-time season. And were on top of that pit box.

LARRY: Well, I wasn't then, but I--

SHANNON: Not then, obviously. But you did for a period of time, so you're a little--

LARRY: I've been silent because I'm totally lost for words. How in the world the 21 of us put Dale Earnhardt, Sr. fifth is just absolutely beyond me. 76 wins. He finished in the top two in points 10 times seven championships in three second-place finishes.

And I go back to something you said earlier, Brad. The era that he was doing this in. He was doing it when competition was really starting to get stout. I want to have a little bit of prayer meeting with the other 20.

[LAUGHTER]

ADAM: Hey, Larry. And here you go, OK? We had six of our panelists that voted Earnhardt second, me being one of them. And there were actually four of our panelists who had him voted eighth so that starts to give you a little insight. Now--

LARRY: Yeah, I want the four names.

[LAUGHTER]

ADAM: Well, I think one of them's out of here because--

BRAD: Don't shoot me, Larry. Don't shoot.

ADAM: But Brad said it was based on victories, but Brad wouldn't be the only one. You know, you know statistically, based on how we came to our conclusion of the top 50. Someone had to vote him far down the line because there are many that said he's in the top three because he won those seven championships. There are the hard numbers. Brad one of the four that voted him as far down as eight.

BRAD: I like him. Don't be mad at me. Don't hate me, please, but I just--

LARRY: I love you, Brad. I just don't understand your thinking.

[LAUGHTER]

CASEY: It's really hard for me to see how he could be outside the top five at best, you know? Because obviously everything he's accomplished. But then you talk about Junior Johnson being one of the first guys that kind of learn the draft, and Bobby mentioned.

But really, the talk in the garage as soon as I came to this sport was if you wanted to know how to draft, you want to talk to Dale Earnhardt, Sr. Talking about filling the air, making things happen. There are a lot of people didn't even know about for a lot of years. So obviously talented, you know, beyond what we can really comprehend. But I don't see him being eighth, I see him being much higher.

SHANNON: OK, so obviously the surprise of this list of most recent names is Dale Earnhardt. But we did have two others that we just announced. And that's number 7, Cale Yarborough, and number 6, Darrell Waltrip. According to your calculations, Brad, DW should be higher on this list.

BRAD: Yeah, I had DW at fifth. So not a big change, but definitely just a touch higher. I think what we're going to see here is that Jimmy Johnson and Darrell Waltrip was a real tough vote for the panel because their stats and championships are a little bit stretched, but in wins are very close. Very similar.

LARRY: Yeah, I had Darrell-- I had exactly where he's at, in six. And not because he didn't deserve to be higher, it's because of drivers that I definitely ranked in the top five, you know. I looked back at his 1981 and 1982 season when he won two of his three championships. 24 wins, 12 each one of those years. Certainly I'm not saying Darrell didn't deserve to be higher than six, but it's because of the top five that I actually voted for.

ADAM: Won the Daytona 500, won a Southern 500 and five times won the Coke 600. So not only did he win the championships, he won the race as he did so on the big stage, Casey.

CASEY: Yeah, you've got to-- to do that, you've got to have speed, you've got to be consistent. You can't make mistakes, you know? At this level, we're getting into the group of guys now that make things happen in adverse situations. And oftentimes you have fast cars, but also made it happen with cars that weren't necessarily as fast as they should have been. So this is where I start getting really impressed with these guys that make things happen.