Although Junior Johnson’s career spanned for only a little over 10 years, he had 50 wins which placed him as the tenth best driver, and ranked 9th in terms of career pole positions. Johnson retired in 1966 but didn’t leave the sport too far behind. Nowadays, Johnson is known as a NASCAR team owner. In total, his drivers have won 139 races.
The real reason that Johnson makes our list, though, is thanks to his discovery of drafting. Johnson discovered that when he moved behind a faster car, his car’s speed increased because faster cars would block its wind resistance. He was able to surpass his competitor car during the race and win despite that his car was slower than other cars.
Richard “The King” Petty- 200 Wins
Richard Petty owned the wheel since the late ’50s and competed in 1,185 races over 35 years before retiring. It’s no surprise that Petty is the most adorned NASCAR driver, as it seems that racing runs deep in the Petty family’s blood. Richard was born to the late Lee Petty, who was also a stock car racer.
Richard has an impressive 200 wins under his belt as well as 172 top-ten finishes. He also started in the pole position 123 times. In 1992, Richard threw in the towel and retired from the sport with seven Cup championship wins, and may we mention the first driver to accomplish this number of wins.
Harry Gant- 123 Top Five Finishes
Harry Gant, AKA “Handsome Harry,” began his career in the 1970s in North Carolina. He raced for 22 years and retired from the sport in 1994 with 208 top ten finishes, 18 wins, and 17 pole starting positions. Although he never won a Cup championship, he has enough feats that he is deserving of a place on this list.
After retiring, Gant decided to return to the calm rural life on his ranch where he enjoys riding his motorcycle. He is still somewhat involved in NASCAR and In 2015, he made an appearance at the Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway. He also has a good hand for carpentry and roofing and enjoys doing that in his spare time.
Jeff “The Mayor” Burton- 306 Races
In 1988, Jeff Burton began his racing career in the Busch series. He drove a car owned by his father, number 69. His first win happened nearly 10 years later in 1997 when he won the Interstate Batteries 500 at Texas Motor Speedway. Jeff Burton has had 21 wins in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.
His most memorable NASCAR moment was when he won at the Coca-Cola 600s in 1999 and 2000. Nowadays he seldom races, but like many other former racers, he’s never too far from the tracks. He works as a sports commentator for NBC Sports in their NASCAR coverage.
Matt Kenseth- 181 Top-Five Finishes
Matt Kenseth developed an interest in cars when he was just 13 years old after his father bought him a car. In 1988, 16-year-old Matt Kenseth started stock car racing at Madison International Speedway. 29 years later, the racer retired from full-time racing.
During his full-time career, he competed in 288 races for the NASCAR Xfinity Series and 665 races for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. He led over 11,756 laps and had over 300 top 10 finishes. Outside of NASCAR, Kenseth is a huge fan of the heavy metal band Metallica and is also a diehard supporter of the Green Bay Packers.