Welcome to the Best Team Ever bracket series, where the greatest of all time have their most dominant seasons stacked up against each other until we ultimately crown a champion in each sport. The tournament will be decided by fan vote, so be sure to submit yours below! Check out the first round of voting here, the second round of voting here and the Final Four voting here. The championship round poll will close at noon ET on Tuesday.
Note: The NASCAR bracket includes drivers only from NASCAR’s modern era, which is from 1972 onward, so not every season of Richard Petty’s was eligible for consideration in this tournament.
Jeff Gordon vs. Dale Earnhardt. Of course.
Our final round to determine the best individual season ever for a NASCAR driver comes down to two of the most famous drivers in the last 25 years of NASCAR who were each others’ biggest competitors in the 1990s.
Gordon and Earnhardt combined to win seven titles in the 1990s. Earnhardt took home the Cup Series titles in 1990, 1991, 1993 and 1994 while Gordon won championships in 1995, 1997 and 1998. That third season of Gordon’s was his best season ever. And it might have been the best season of any NASCAR driver in the modern era.
Earnhardt’s best season came in 1987, long before Gordon was around in the Cup Series. But there were still some pretty big names that Earnhardt had to beat that season. Earnhardt beat Bill Elliott, Terry Labonte, Darrell Waltrip and Rusty Wallace for the title that season while Ricky Rudd and Bobby Allison also won races and Davey Allison recorded two wins and 10 top-10 finishes in just 22 races.
No. 1: Jeff Gordon
13 wins in 33 races
26 top 5s
28 top 10s
Gordon became the first driver to win at Sonoma while winning the championship in 1998. He also became the first driver to win two Brickyard 400s with his win over Mark Martin and Bobby Labonte.
No. 3: Dale Earnhardt
11 wins in 29 races
21 top 5s
24 top 10s
Earnhardt led 3,357 laps in 1987. Elliott was the closest driver to him in that category with 1,399. No other driver led over 1,000 laps.
Perhaps more remarkably, Earnhardt actually improved on his average starting position of 7.3. Earnhardt’s average finish throughout the season was a whopping 5.9. The only drivers to have average finishes inside the top six in the last 35 years? Yep, 1987 Dale Earnhardt and 1998 Jeff Gordon (5.7).
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