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Which Current NASCAR Drivers Could Be Considered Superstars?

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Door Bumper Clear posed an interesting question last week on their podcast. Who are the six biggest NASCAR stars of the day? Brett Griffin brought it up based off of his version of the 80/20 rule.

He theorizes that 80% of fans root for 20% of the drivers. Freddie Kraft pushed back somewhat by asking about NASCAR’s most popular driver, Chase Elliott. Is Chase Elliott really a superstar, or is he just a popular driver?

Saying that 80% of fans root for 20% of drivers is obviously oversimplified, but it is a nice round number. That, by Griffin’s math, means that NASCAR has roughly six superstars. Who are those drivers, and what is it that makes them superstars?

Chase Elliott

Chase Elliott is NASCAR’s most popular driver, and he has won that award for five consecutive seasons. Even if, to Freddie Kraft’s point in the clip above, Elliott is not a big personality like a Kyle Busch or a Denny Hamlin, Elliott still has a massive following. He may not be as well-known outside of the sport as other superstars of the past, but, he is NASCAR’s most popular driver and a Cup Series Champion.

Kyle Busch

Kyle Busch is a very polarizing NASCAR driver, and understandably so. His antics and aggressive style have rubbed a lot of people the wrong way, but, his aggressive style also appeals to certain people. The old saying by Dale Earnhardt is, “It doesn’t matter what they’re saying as long as they’re making noise”, and that rule applies in a lot of regards to Kyle Busch. His following also goes beyond just boos at the race track.

According to MVPindex, Kyle Busch had the most social media engagement amongst NASCAR drivers heading into the 2023 season. He has a major following, and those fans react to what he posts. He is a superstar driver, even if he is not universally liked.

Denny Hamlin

Denny Hamlin is NASCAR’s lightning rod. He has both said and done many controversial things. The reaction to his win at Pocono just a few weeks ago depicts his current status in the sport very well.

He also is in a position as a sort-of “voice of the drivers” to an extent with his “Actions Detrimental” podcast. He’s a lightning rod, but, much like Kyle Busch, Hamlin gets attention because he is a controversial winner. He again falls into that category of a superstar driver that is not universally well-liked.

Kevin Harvick

Kevin Harvick is a driver that has an interesting appeal. He’s not as active on social media as other drivers, but he truly is the last link to the “Dale Earnhardt” generation of drivers. Harvick is the one that replaced Earnhardt after all.

Therefore, he has an appeal to the older NASCAR fans, and those who grew up watching the older generations of NASCAR racing. That’s not to say he does not have younger fans, but the appeal he has is very different from the younger drivers just coming into the sport.

Joey Logano

Joey Logano is a Two-Time Cup Series Champion, and that should be enough to call him a superstar. However, according to MVPindex, Logano was also the second most engaged driver on social media heading into this year behind Kyle Busch. While Logano has had his fair share of rivalries, he is not quite the lightning rod that Busch and Hamlin are, yet, Logano is not as well-liked as Elliott.

He’s up there, but, he does not seem to have quite the same following as drivers like Busch, Hamlin, or Elliott. However, Logano has enough of a following and has accomplished enough to be included on this list.

Bubba Wallace

This may be a polarizing selection, but, Wallace is a very recognizable face even to casual NASCAR fans or the general public. During the 2020 season when NASCAR was making changes aimed at making the sport more inclusive, it was Wallace who was often at the forefront of that. Going back to that MVPindex list, Wallace sits behind only Busch, Logano, and Elliott as the driver with the most engagement on social media.

Regardless of how some feel about him and his sometimes overly aggressive driving style, Wallace is a recognizable face. He draws attention, even if he is not the best driver on the NASCAR circuit.

As far as who is truly a NASCAR “Superstar”, that is tough to debate. To limit the list to just six may even be too many or too few. However, based on DBC’s idea of the six superstar drivers, here are our best six picks.

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Joshua Lipowski

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