The NASCAR Cup series is America's premier racing circuit, with a rich history of larger-than-life champions and a tall-tale origin story rooted in Prohibition-era bootlegging and rum-running. But the real fuel to the sport's popularity is the need for speed and the thrill of the all-out competition — which often runs as close to the edge as possible.
If you ain't rubbing, you ain't racing; if you ain't cheating, you ain't trying. The best of the best win by any means necessary, taking checkers at every style of track — short, road, plate, cookie-cutter, you name it. From Richard Petty to Dale Earnhardt to Jeff Gordon to Jimmie Johnson, NASCAR's winningest drivers have an "it" factor that’s hard to pinpoint but undeniable behind the wheel. These are the 30 all-time leaders in NASCAR Cup Series wins. (Note: Last updated Sept. 12, 2021)
1. Richard Petty – 200 wins
The King was a seven-time Cup champion (1964, '67, '71, '72, '74, '75, '79) who won the Daytona 500 a record seven times and won a hat-tipping 27 times — including 10 straight checkered flags — in 1967.
2. David Pearson – 105 wins
The Silver Fox was a three-time Cup champ (1966, '68, '69) known for his track versatility and rivalry with Richard Petty. Pearson passed away on Nov. 12, 2018, in his hometown of Spartanburg, S.C.
3. Jeff Gordon – 93 wins
The Rainbow Warrior made his Cup Series debut in the now-legendary 1992 Hooters 500 at Atlanta, which also happened to be Richard Petty’s final run. The poster boy for a new era in NASCAR, Gordon won four Cup titles (1995, '97, '98, 2001).
t-4. Bobby Allison – 84 wins
The 1983 Cup champ took the Daytona 500 checkers three times, but his 1979 fight with Cale Yarborough might be his most famous Daytona 500 moment.
t-4. Darrell Waltrip – 84 wins
"Boogity Boogity Boogity," Ol D.W. won three Cup championships (1981, '82, '85) before becoming one of the most beloved broadcasters in the sport’s history as a color commentator for FOX Sports.
t-6. Jimmie Johnson – 83 wins
Arguably the most underrated dynasty in sports, Johnson (and crew chief Chad Knaus) won seven Cup championships (2006, '07, '08, '09, '10, '13, '16) for Hendrick Motorsports. Johnson retired from full-time racing after the 2020 season, his legacy secure as he is tied with Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt for the most Cup titles.
t-6. Cale Yarborough – 83 wins
The first driver to three-peat as Cup champ (1976, '77, '78), Yarborough's feat has since been surpassed by Jimmie Johnson, who won five straight from 2006-10.
8. Dale Earnhardt – 76 wins
As iconic as any figure in sports, The Intimidator won a Cup record-tying seven championships (1980, '86, '87, '90, '91, '93, '94) before tragically dying at age 49 in a crash on the last lap of the 2001 Daytona 500. The Man in Black was also part of one of racing's royal families, as the son of early-pioneer Ralph Earnhardt and father of ever-popular Dale Earnhardt Jr.
9. Kyle Busch – 59 wins (active driver)
The 2015 Cup champion is a throwback personality that has rubbed fans, sponsors and car owners the wrong way at various points in his career. But Rowdy's talent is undeniable. In 2005, the phenom from Las Vegas became NASCAR's youngest Cup Series pole winner, at 19 years and 317 days. In 2021, Busch extended his streak of seasons with a win to 17 in a row by taking the checkered flag for the Buschy McBusch Race 400 at Kansas Speedway on May 2, his 36th birthday.
10. Kevin Harvick – 58 wins (active driver)
The 2014 Cup champion is 45 years old but still running strong, as his nine wins in 2020 were the most in his impressive career (topping eight in 2018). With four straight top-five points finishes, The Closer may be poised to claim another title.
11. Rusty Wallace – 55 wins
The 1989 Cup champion made a cameo in the 1990 racing movie "Days of Thunder" and was reportedly the inspiration for Cary Elwes' character, Russ Wheeler.
12. Lee Petty – 54 wins
Richard Petty's father won the inaugural Daytona 500 in 1959 as well as three Cup titles (1954, '58, '59) as one of the sport's true trailblazers.
t-13. Ned Jarrett – 50 wins
A two-time Cup champ (1961, '65), Jarrett is the father of 1999 Cup champ Dale Jarrett. The Jarretts became the second father-son combo to win Cup titles, joining Lee and Richard Petty.
t-13. Junior Johnson – 50 wins
The Last American Hero never won a Cup title as a driver, but he was a six-time Cup Series owner's champion with Cale Yarborough (1976, '77, '78) and Darrell Waltrip (1981, '82, '85).
15. Tony Stewart – 49 wins
Smoke was a three-time Cup champion (2002, '05, '11), but it’s hard to feel like even that much success was an underachievement for such a talented driver. The always-entertaining and oftentimes-volatile Stewart retired in 2016 at age 45 after a series of injuries and a controversial sprint car wreck that resulted in the death of fellow driver Kevin Ward Jr. in 2014.
16. Herb Thomas – 48 wins
The two-time Cup champ (1951, '53) was the inspiration for the character Doc Hudson in the movie "Cars."
17. Buck Baker – 46 wins
The first back-to-back Cup champion (1956, '57), Buck was the father of 1980 Daytona 500-winning driver, Buddy Baker — who still owns the race record for speed at 177.602 mph.
18. Denny Hamlin – 45 wins (active driver)
Hamlin may be known more for his rivalry with Joey Logano and close friendship with Michael Jordan, with whom he launched a new racing team (23XI Racing) in 2021. But make no mistake, the two-time Daytona 500 winner (2016, '20) still has plenty left in his own tank to win a Cup title before shifting all of his focus on car ownership.
19. Bill Elliott – 44 wins
Awesome Bill from Dawsonville was the 1988 Cup champ, but is more well-known as the sport's 16-time Most Popular Driver and the father of current fan favorite, Chase Elliott.
20. Mark Martin – 40 wins
The best driver never to win a Cup title, the ageless wonder finished second overall a painful five times, most recently as a 50-year-old in 2009.
t-21. Tim Flock – 39 wins
A two-time Cup champ (1952, '55), Flock was the brother of NASCAR's second-ever female driver, Ethel Mobley.
t-21. Matt Kenseth – 39 wins (active driver)
The 2003 Cup champ has finished in the top 10 of the final standings 12 other times in his career. Kenseth is no longer a full-time driver but still getting the occasional chance to move up the all-time wins list.
23. Bobby Isaac – 37 wins
The 1970 Cup champ had a need for more speed than NASCAR could provide, setting 28 world speed records on the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah in 1971.
24. Brad Keselowski – 35 wins (active driver)
At 37, the 2012 Cup champion is in his prime, with four straight finishes of eighth or higher in the points standings entering the 2021 season.
t-25. Kurt Busch – 33 wins (active driver)
The 2004 Cup champ and older brother of Kyle Busch was the 2014 Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year, finishing sixth at the Brickyard in his first and only run.
t-25. Fireball Roberts – 33 wins
A star baseball pitcher, Edward Glenn Roberts Jr. earned his nickname "Fireball" due to his fastball. Tragically, Roberts' nickname took on a different meeting after he suffered second- and third-degree burns over 80 percent of his body following a wreck in Charlotte in 1964; Roberts died less than two months following the fiery crash.
26. Dale Jarrett – 32 wins
The 1999 Cup champion was the son of legendary driver Ned Jarrett. Dale had an opportunity to go the University of South Carolina on a full golf scholarship out of high school, but chose to follow in his father's footsteps, instead.
28. Martin Truex Jr. – 31 wins (active driver)
The 2017 Cup champion followed that up with back-to-back runner-up finishes and has now won at least one race seven straight seasons.
t-29. Carl Edwards – 28 wins
Cousin Carl never won a Cup title, losing the 2011 tiebreaker to Tony Stewart. Edwards was known for his physique, doing backflips off his car in victory lane and retiring at 36 years old prior to the 2017 season.
t-29. Rex White – 28 wins
The 1960 Cup champ grew up during the Great Depression, suffered polio as a child and learned his way around a car by working on his family's Model T.
31. Joey Logano – 27 wins (active driver)
The 2018 Cup champion has six other top-10 finishes in his career and has won at least one race in 10 straight seasons. The soon-to-be 31-year-old has firmly established himself as an annual title contender and more than likely won't finish his career with just one.
t-32. Dale Earnhardt Jr. – 26 wins
The namesake of Dale Earnhardt was a 15-time winner of the Cup Series Most Popular Driver award and a two-time Daytona 500 winner before retiring to join the broadcast booth for NASCAR on NBC. Earnhardt Jr. is slated to join his father in the NASCAR Hall of Fame as part of the Class of 2021, which is scheduled to be inducted in early 2022 because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
t-32. Fred Lorenzen – 26 wins
The first driver to ever top the $100,000 winnings mark in a single season, Fast Freddie won 8-of-16 starts in 1964.