We asked. They answered.
The midway point of the NASCAR Cup Series season is a natural time for superlative pieces, analysis and projections. We wanted to do that again this year, but we also wanted to hear from those who have the most unique perspective to give their opinion — the drivers themselves.
Nineteen Cup Series drivers answered our six questions, ranging from “Who is the greatest NASCAR driver of all time?” to “At this point in the season, which driver (other than yourself) is your pick to win the 2020 Cup Series Championship?”
The results are in, and listed in full below.
Who is the greatest NASCAR driver of all time?
Note: The three drivers who have won seven championships at NASCAR’s top level comprised the top three spots, with Johnson’s peers voting him the greatest driver of all time in this exercise. Johnson edged “The King” by one vote, with Dale Earnhardt finishing third. It’s the ultimate sign of respect for Seven-Time, who is driving his last full-time Cup Series season this year. Perhaps the most intriguing result is Kyle Busch finishing fourth. “Rowdy” is the all-time career wins leader in both the NASCAR Xfinity Series and NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series. He’s put up win totals across all three national series at a dizzying rate and will only grow them over the rest of his career.
Other than yourself, who is the best active NASCAR Cup Series driver?
Note: The younger Busch gets the nod here, despite having no Cup Series wins yet this season. That he’s still clearly No. 1 in the minds’ of drivers is a testament to his natural-born talent and the respect he’s won over years of competition. Busch, the 2019 series champion, remains the only multi-time series champion other than Jimmie Johnson currently driving a full-time schedule at NASCAR’s top level. Of the five drivers who received votes, Hamlin is the only one without a title.
Who is the best active NASCAR Cup Series crew chief?
1. Rodney Childers, 63%
2. Chris Gabehart, 16%
t-3. Justin Alexander, 5%
t-3. Alan Gustafson, 5%
t-3. Chad Knaus, 5%
t-3. Paul Wolfe, 5%
Note: No question produced a wider gulf between first and second place. Childers and driver Kevin Harvick have undeniable chemistry, which has resulted in 30 wins and one championship since the start of the 2014 season. Harvick currently sits first place in the points standings and has four wins through 19 races, driving a fast car every single week. Gabehart is the newbie of the group, but his results are undeniable — 11 wins in 51 races since taking over as Denny Hamlin’s crew chief.
RELATED: Comparing Childers and Gabehart
At this point in the season, which team (excluding your own) has been the best?
1. Stewart-Haas Racing, 42%
2. Team Penske, 37%
3. Joe Gibbs Racing, 21%
Note: Stewart-Haas Racing clearly is led by Kevin Harvick, who tops the standings by nearly 100 points through 19 races. Beyond Harvick, though, the Stewart-Haas Fords have been fast across the board since the return from the COVID-19-forced pause. Cole Custer became the first Sunoco Rookie of the Year contender to win a race since 2016 when he was victorious at Kentucky, and Aric Almirola has rattled off eight consecutive top-10 finishes — including five consecutive top-five results.
Which Cup Series driver (other than yourself) gets the best consistent performance from their equipment?
Note: That championship contender and series points leader Kevin Harvick wins here tells you that, while he has a fast race car every week, he knows how to get the most out of it — and he knows how to take care of. It’s the ultimate sign of a respected veteran. Speaking of veterans, this list is full of experienced drivers who seemingly put together top finishes every week. The inclusion of Timmy Hill, who drives for MBM Motorsports, is a nod of respect for his ability to push its car to its limits while still taking care of his equipment.
At this point in the season, which driver (other than yourself) is your pick to win the 2020 Cup Series Championship?
1. Denny Hamlin, 53%
2. Kevin Harvick, 47%
Note: It’s been the “Big Two” since we’ve returned to racing in May, and drivers have clearly taken notice. The up-front battles between Denny Hamlin and Kevin Harvick should last throughout the entirety of the NASCAR Playoffs — and ends, according to the drivers, with Hamlin taking home his first championship.