Best Teams Ever bracket: NASCAR edition, Round 1

Yahoo Sports

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! The first round of polling closes at 1 p.m. ET/10 a.m. PT on Tuesday, March 31.

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.

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Best Team Ever: Nascar edition, Round 1 (Yahoo Sports illustration)
Best Team Ever: Nascar edition, Round 1 (Yahoo Sports illustration)

1998 Jeff Gordon vs. 2011 Tony Stewart

No. 1: Jeff Gordon

  • 13 wins in 33 races.

  • 26 top 5s.

  • 28 top 10s.

Gordon's 1998 season might be the most dominant of all time in NASCAR when adjusted for era. It was Gordon's third Cup Series title in four seasons and the third straight season where he won 10 or more races. 

No. 16: Tony Stewart

  • 5 wins in 36 races.

  • 9 top 5s.

  • 19 top 10s.

Stewart's third championship came in a season where he struggled for most of it. But he turned it on over the 10-race playoffs with five wins and beat Carl Edwards at Homestead in a race that helped inspire the current winner-take-all championship format.

1990 Dale Earnhardt vs. 2007 Jimmie Johnson

No. 8: Dale Earnhardt

  • 9 wins in 29 races.

  • 18 top 5s.

  • 23 top 10s

Earnhardt's fourth title was no sure thing until the end of the season. A win at Phoenix in the penultimate race pushed him ahead of Mark Martin in the standings and Earnhardt clinched the title with a third-place finish at Atlanta. 

No. 9: Jimmie Johnson

  • 10 wins in 36 races.

  • 20 top 5s.

  • 24 top 10s.

Johnson set the early NASCAR playoff standard for dominance with four straight wins during the Chase to seal his second straight championship as he finished in the top 10 in two-thirds of his starts. 

1977 Cale Yarborough vs. 2015 Kyle Busch

No. 4: Cale Yarborough

  • 9 wins in 30 races.

  • 25 top 5s.

  • 27 top 10s

Yarborough almost had the points lead for the entire season. He had it after a second-place finish in the season opener at Richmond and only lost it after he finished sixth at Pocono in the 18th race of the season. A second-place finish at Talladega a week later put Yarborough back into the points lead for the rest of the season.

No. 13: Kyle Busch

  • 5 wins in 25 races.

  • 12 top 5s.

  • 16 top 10s.

What Busch did after missing the first 11 races of the season because of leg fractures he suffered at Daytona was extraordinary. He easily clinched a playoff spot and scored his first win in 16 races in the winner-take-all finale at Homestead.

1981 Darrell Waltrip vs. 2017 Martin Truex Jr.

No. 5: Darrell Waltrip

  • 12 wins in 31 races.

  • 21 top 5s.

  • 25 top 10s.

Twenty-four of Waltrip's 84 career victories came in 1981 and 1982. Waltrip didn't take over the points lead until late in the 1981 season. Once he did, he was dominant and kept Bobby Allison at bay over the final seven races. 

No. 12: Martin Truex Jr.

  • 8 wins in 36 races.

  • 19 top 5s.

  • 26 top 10s.

Truex entered the 2017 season with seven career victories. He left with 15 after he led over 2,000 laps to win his first title. 

1976 Cale Yarborough vs. 1972 Richard Petty

No. 6: Cale Yarborough

  • 9 wins in 30 races.

  • 22 top 5s.

  • 23 top 10s.

Yarborough’s first title came in his age 37 season after he had already scored 31 wins in the Cup Series. His 23 top-10 finishes that season were a career-high that he would eclipse the following season. 

No. 11: 1972 Richard Petty

  • 8 wins in 31 races.

  • 25 top 5s.

  • 28 top 10s.

Petty actually had two fewer wins, nine fewer poles and over 2,000 fewer laps led than Bobby Allison. But he was so consistent that he beat Allison for the title. 

1987 Dale Earnhardt vs. 2013 Jimmie Johnson

No. 3: Dale Earnhardt

  • 11 wins in 29 races.

  • 21 top 5s.

  • 24 top 10s.

Earnhardt's third title was his most dominant as he led nearly wire to wire. After finishing fifth in the Daytona 500, Earnhardt never spent another week outside the top spot in the points standings following a win at Rockingham in race No. 2.

No. 14: Jimmie Johnson

  • 6 wins in 36 races.

  • 16 top 5s.

  • 24 top 10s.

Johnson was never lower than third in the points standings at any point during the 10-race playoffs. His lowest finish throughout the postseason was 13th at Talladega.

1974 Richard Petty vs. 1997 Jeff Gordon

No. 7: Richard Petty

  • 10 wins in 30 races.

  • 22 top 5s.

  • 23 top 10s

Despite winning the same number of races as second-place finisher Cale Yarborough, Petty won the title by over 500 points. Everyone else in the Cup Series that season finished more than 2,000 points behind. 

No. 10: Jeff Gordon

  • 10 wins in 32 races
    22 top 5s
    23 top 10s

Yes, Gordon had just one top-10 finish that wasn't a top five. Gordon won five of the first 11 races of the season and was no lower than second in the points standings for the final 22 races of the season.

1975 Richard Petty vs. 2019 Kyle Busch

No. 2: Richard Petty

  • 13 wins in 30 races.

  • 21 top 5s.

  • 24 top 10s.

Many of Petty's most dominant seasons came before NASCAR's modern era began. But this was certainly his most dominant season of the modern era. Petty only finished outside the top 10 when his car failed to make it to the finish. 

No. 15: Kyle Busch

  • 5 wins in 36 races.

  • 17 top 5s.

  • 27 top 10s.

Busch might have been better in 2018 but he didn't have a great Homestead. He's now the reigning Cup Series champion because he repeated the same consistency he showed in 2018 while winning the finale.

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