Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports
Who is the greatest driver of all time in the world of Motorsports? Over the next couple of weeks the readers here are Beyond The Flag are going to help answer that question with this March Madness inspired bracket. The bracket includes 64 drivers from either NASCAR, Indy Car or Formula One. Each round the readers will vote in head-to-head matchups and whichever driver receives the most votes in that matchup will move onto the next round. In the end there will only be one driver left.
You can see the bracket HERE. [Please note: not all of the matchups and seeds have been revealed yet but they will be by the end of the week].
Now before we reveal the first matchups, let’s take a moment to look at what makes a driver great.
- Success – Wins and championships are the easiest way to determine how great a driver was in most cases. It’s hard to argue how great a driver is when they have never won a title. That being said, remember that some of the greats in other sports like Dan Marino and Charles Barkley never won titles.
- Career – Often times greatness happens over a long period of time as opposed to a couple of good years. When voting do you best to take in a drivers full body of work.
- Impact – Sometimes the greatness of a driver is measured in the impact that they have on the sport. Very few athletes have transcended sports but there are some drivers in this bracket that have done just that. Their popularity and the impact that they have made mean more than any number of wins or championships.
In this article you will only find the matchups for the First Round of the Bracket for the North Region (upper left) which has been named the Earnhardt Region.
No. 1 Dale Earnhardt vs. No. 16 Matt Kenseth
Dale Earnhardt: 76 wins in NASCAR to go along with seven championships. Earnhardt won both the Daytona 500 and the Brickyard 400 in his career. He was the Rookie of the Year in 1979 and he was inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame in 2010. In 2002 he was inducted into the Motorsports Hall of Fame. Earnhardt is currently tied with Richard Petty for having the most championships in NASCAR history.
Matt Kenseth: 31 career wins to go along with one NASCAR championship. Kenseth was the 2000 Rookie of the Year in NASCAR and he has also won the Daytona 500 on two occasions.
No. 8 Al Unser Jr. vs. No. 9. Lee Petty
Al Unser Jr: Unser has 34 wins and seven poles in 329 Indy Car starts. He is a four-time Indy Car champion and a one-time Can-Am champion. He won the Indy 500 twice in his career and was named Athlete of the Year in 1994 by ABC Sports.
Lee Petty: Petty won the first Daytona 500. He has 54 wins in his career and is a three-time series champion. He was indicted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame in 2011.
No. 5 Darrell Waltrip vs. No. 12 Sam Hornish Jr.
Darrell Waltrip: 84 wins in his NASCAR career which is good for 4th best currently. Waltrip is a three-time NASCAR champion and a former winner of the Daytona 500. Waltrip has won the Coca Cola 600 an impressive five times. He was inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame in 2012.
Hornish Jr: currently runs in NASCAR but found most of his success in Indy Car. Hornish is a three-time Indy Car Series champion and the winner of the 2006 Indy 500. In 2004 he was named the Most Popular Driver in the Indy Series and he was also Rookie of the year in 1999. He currently drives the No. 9 machine in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.
No. 4 Dario Franchitti vs. No. 13 Buck Baker
Franchitti: Four-time Indy Car Series champion and a three-time winner of the Indy 500. He has 21 wins, 57 podiums and 23 poles in his Indy Car career.
Buck Baker: Baker was a two-time NASCAR champion. He amassed 46 wins during his career, three of which came in the Southern 500.
No. 6 Lewis Hamilton vs. No. 11 Jenson Button
Lewis Hamilton: Hamilton is a two-time F1 Series champion. He has amassed 1,486 points while winning 33 races and finishing with 70 podiums. Those 70 podiums have come in only 148 starts.
Jenson Button: Button won the F1 Series title in 2009. He has 15 career wins and 50 podiums to go along with his 1,198 career points.
No. 3 Sebastian Vettel vs. No. 14 Alberto Ascari
Sebastian Vettel: Vettel won four straight F1 Series titles from 2010-2013. He has 30 career wins and 66 career podiums. He has amassed 1,618 points.
Alberto Ascari: Ascari is a two-time F1 Series champion despite only running in 33 career races of which he started 32. In those 33 races he won 13 times and had 17 podiums. He also managed 14 poles in those races.
No. 7 Bill Elliott vs. No. 10 Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Bill Elliott: Elliott won 44 races in his NASCAR career and one championship. He is also a two-time winner of the Daytona 500 and a one-time winner of the Brickyard 400. He was named the sports Most Popular Driver 16 times in his career.
Dale Jr: JR is a two-time Busch (now Xfinity Series) Series champion and a two-time winner of the Daytona 500. Since 2003 he was won the Most Popular Driver Award every year for a total of 12 times heading into 2015.
No. 2 Jimmie Johnson vs. No. 15 Red Byron
Jimmie Johnson: Johnson is a six-time NASCAR champion and at one point won the title five seasons in a row. He is a two-time Daytona 500 winner and a four-time Brickyard 400 winner. Johnson has also won the Coca Cola 600 three times. He was named the AP Athlete of the year in 2009 and has been named Driver of the year five times in his career. He has 71 career wins.
Red Byron: Byron won the title in NASCAR’s first season and their first “official” season. He also won the inaugural Daytona Beach Road Race.