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NASCAR Cup: All-time greatest driver impossible to reasonably determine

Results from NASCAR on FOX's NASCAR Greatest Driver fan vote bracket

Results from NASCAR on FOX’s NASCAR Greatest Driver fan vote bracket

Over the Christmas and New Year holidays, NASCAR on FOX conducted a fan vote-type tournament to determine NASCAR’s all-time greatest driver, at least in the eyes of fans. In case you missed it, late NASCAR Hall of Famer Dale Earnhardt wound up the winner after beginning the 10-driver bracket-type tournament as the three seed.

Here is a rundown of the 10 FOX included on its bracket, in order of seeding: Richard Petty, Jimmie Johnson, Dale Earnhardt, David Pearson, Jeff Gordon, Cale Yarborough, Darrell Waltrip, Bobby Allison, Tony Stewart and Kyle Busch. Earnhardt and Gordon were the two drivers who faced off in the championship, with Petty and Johnson joining them in the the final four

I read several fan comments under FOX’s social media posts that updated the bracket from round to round, and the conversations got pretty heated, including accusations of Earnhardt being a dirty driver , Johnson only winning a record-tying seven championships because NASCAR helped him with its implementation of the chase/playoff format, and Petty only won 200 races because he ran during a time of limited competition. Of course, as this was a fan-voted tournament, stances and accusations that led to actual votes, I’m sure, depended heavily on said fans’ favorite drivers.

It’s fun to debate the NASCAR GOAT, as it is in other sports, but I’m not so sure an unbiased, accurate answer is determinable in NASCAR, or any other sport for that matter. I think this is especially true in NASCAR as equipment, rules and points systems have varied wildly over the years.

And before the playoff grumblings being, I’d like to point out that the points system changed many times over the years before the chase/playoffs. Even legends like Petty and Earnhardt raced under different points systems, so don’t give me the “they should be racing under the full-season points system raced under before the chase.” Well, which one of those points systems would you be referring to? Because there are many variations pre-chase, too. The points system immediately preceding the chase wasn’t the same points system from back early in Petty’s career, and there were several other points systems in between.

And to those saying so-and-so would’ve won the championship in 20XX under the points system of 19XX. Really?!? How do you know? Specifically, how do you know driver X would’ve raced the same way, therefore posting the same race finishes, under your preferred points system? You don’t; do you?

Okay, I got off topic, there. Back to the subject at hand.

I don’t feel comfortable picking a NASCAR GOAT, I’m more a fan of picking tops in eras, because rules, equipment and points system variations, aside, it’s hard, if not impossible, to compare drivers who faced different competition. Johnson never raced Petty and Busch never raced Earnhardt.

I say Petty was the best in the 1960s and 1970s, Earnhardt in the 1980s and 1990s and Johnson in the 2000s. Okay, it looks like I just took the easy route and picked the three seven-time champs. Maybe I did, but that’s just how I see it. After all, aren’t championships the ultimate goal? I thought so.

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Posted by on January 2, 2018. Filed under Blog by Amanda Vincent,Featured,Monster Energy NASCAR Cup,NASCAR. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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