It takes more than winning a few races to become a favorite in the eyes of die-hard NASCAR fans. It takes a driver with the perfect combination of success, attitude and charisma to garner super star status.
While every NASCAR driver has their share of supporters, here are a few drivers that fans have flocked to and the reason why.
Gone, but certainly not forgotten, Dale Earnhardt was arguably the most popular NASCAR driver of all time, and certainly the face of the sport during his era. His wild success spoke for itself as he earned seven series championships in addition to taking the checkered flag in 76 races. Fans tend to gravitate toward aggressive drivers, and with nickname The Intimidator, there is little mystery why fans loved to watch Earnhardt race.
Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Many NASCAR fans gravitated to Dale Earnhardt Jr. because he was next in the great Earnhardt lineage. Still, Dale Jr. was able to carve out his own identity. At age 38, Dale Jr. continues to chase his father’s success, but already has 19 wins under his belt.
Anyone who is not at least a casual Richard Petty fan probably is not a true fan of NASCAR in general. Along with Earnhardt, Petty is considered one of the faces of the golden age of racing. Aptly nicknamed “The King,” Petty earned seven series championships and won a whopping 200 races. Even fans that weren’t old enough to watch Petty in action respect what he has done to advance the sport.
Speaking of old-timers whom NASCAR fans treat with the utmost reverence, Bobby Allison made his start in 1961 and raced until 1988, earning 84 victories along the way. Allison engaged in an infamous altercation with Cale Yarborough at the 1979 Daytona 500, one of the first fights to break out at a NASCAR event. This eventually became a staple in the sport and a real crowd-pleaser. Fans can thank Allison for that.
Jeff Gordon, still currently with NASCAR, achieved mainstream attention due to immense and consistent success, in addition to his boyish good looks that attracted a strong female following. Gordon has backed up his visual marketability with four series championships and 87 race wins. In terms of the modern era of NASCAR, Gordon is easily the most successful.
Kyle Busch proved his strong driving ability in 2010 when he raked in 24 wins combined in NASCAR’s three touring series. The young-gun is still aiming for a series title, but fans love him because he is not afraid to mix it up with fellow drivers both on, and off, the track.
Fans looking for a driver who speaks his mind need not look any further than Tony Stewart. Whether he’s criticizing NASCAR publicly during a television interview or charging at another driver on pit road, Stewart is one of the most entertaining drivers the sport has seen. His record on the track is not too shabby either, with wins in 47 races NASCAR races. He has also raced many other types of cars in his day.
Between 2006 and 2010, NASCAR fans had no choice but to accept Jimmie Johnson as one of the sport’s brightest. He piled up five-straight series championships before cooling down in the last two seasons. Even so, fans gravitate toward a winner, and that is exactly what Johnson is.
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