By Ed Morgans @writered21 on August 27, 2014
NASCAR racing is without a doubt one of America's most colorful and traditional sports. There is nothing more American than speed and finding out who is faster than who using the latest in auto technology. Drivers have been transformed over the last 20 years into multimedia stars, rather than just a bunch of good old boys going in circles at a short track on Saturday night. Here are the 10 biggest NASCAR stars right now.
There was a time when Kahne would have placed much higher on this list. He was featured in many commercials, most of which cast him in the leading-man role with women swooning for him. But on-track success has eluded Kahne in 2014, with no wins to show for the season. But he is 13th in the points with nine top-10 finishes, so the best may be yet to come.
Biffle is another driver who has been popular on the advertising circuit, mixing good lucks and a friendly demeanor into success off the track. Biffle stands 11th in the points and has much the same on-track profile as Kahne this season. Both he and Kahne are hoping to wrap up one of the 16 spots in the Chase for the Cup this season.
The 2012 Sprint Cup champion is right back in the thick of things in 2014, having won three races and sitting third in the point standings. He is perhaps known better, however, for his rivalry with Carl Edwards which has produced multiple on-track incidents and wrecks. That seems in the past and now Keselowski is trying to secure his place as a star with a second title.
Known for his backflip off the side of his car to celebrate wins (and his roles in Subway commercials), Edwards is eighth in the current points standings and has won twice this season. Edwards also appeared in the SEC Network film "The Stars are Aligned", discussing his allegiance to University of Missouri sports.
Known more for his on-track talent than anything else, it's a rare weekend that goes by where Harvick isn't in the thick of things battling for a top-five, no matter the race track. He's seventh in the points this season, has two wins and will be a factor in the Chase, seeking his first series championship.
Patrick is one of the few drivers on the circuit where all you have to do is mention her first name and everyone knows who you are talking about. Patrick hasn't found success on the track yet, but she is the center of ad campaigns for GoDaddy and Coke. No matter what she does on the track, it's always going to get attention during the broadcast. All that remains for her is a breakthrough win.
The winner of NASCAR's most recent race at Bristol last Saturday night, Logano is one of the series' young guard who has quickly become a major factor week in and week out. He's fourth in the points standings and the checkered flag at Bristol was his third of the season, tied for the most of any driver in 2014. This very well could be the year Logano, just 24, wins his first Sprint Cup title.
If you measured the top star in the sport simply on championships, then Jimmie Johnson would have no current equal. Johnson has won six Sprint Cup series titles, including five in a row from 2006-10. After two years without winning, he captured the series title again in 2013 and now is just one away from tying Dale Earnhardt and Richard Petty for the most series titles of all time. He's in truly elite company.
Gordon sneaks up to No. 2 on this list in part because his 2014 season has seen a resurgence of his race team, including three victories. Gordon leads the points standings and is a serious threat to win his first Sprint Cup title since 2001. He won his first (of four) all the way back in 1995, so Gordon also gets a nod here because more so than many, he has really stood the test of time in the sport.
Regardless of who wins from week to week, what the points standings look like, etc., there is no argument about who the biggest star in NASCAR is. It's Dale Earnhardt Jr., and it's not even close. The son of a legend lost to us too soon, all you have to do to know Little E is "The Man" is listen to the roar of a NASCAR crowd anywhere in this country when Earnhardt Jr. goes to the front. It's unlike anything else in the sport.
April 25, 2015 by Ryan Pritt
NASCAR drivers at the top found a lot of trouble at Bristol while Matt Kenseth's win jumped him up a few spots in this week's rankings. Read More
April 21, 2015 by Ryan Pritt
Several drivers have been knocking on the door of a win and a berth into the Chase all season. Matt Kenseth broke through on Sunday at Bristol, and these five others should be next. Read More
It was a quiet, uneventful day/night at Bristol for Danica Patrick, which is exactly what she and her team needed. Read More
April 17, 2015 by Ryan Pritt
After dropping last week, Jimmie Johnson shoots back up the power rankings with his second win of the season at Texas on Sunday. Read More
April 8, 2015 by Ryan Pritt
Kurt Busch and Ryan Newman fell outside the top 10 this week, while Hendrick teammates Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt Jr. each fell back. However, the top three remain the same. Read More
April 1, 2015 by Ray Gillette
Can NASCAR regain lost fans by simply changing up their race format? Read More
March 31, 2015 by Ryan Pritt
Brad Keselowski had many opportunities to wreck Denny Hamlin in the closing laps at Martinsville on Sunday, but raced clean. It was just the latest example of Keselowski's maturity this season. Read More
March 30, 2015 by Ryan Pritt
Denny Hamlin's victory at Martinsville on Sunday capped a huge day for Toyota, which should be a factor at short tracks throughout the rest of the year. Read More