|Greatness by the numbers|
Amazingly, the debate still rages in some corners over whether Johnson is first-ballot Hall Of Fame material after his retirement from the sport. By the numbers, however, there is little need for debate.
Compared to the greats of the sport, Johnson more than holds his own in terms of career winning percentage. In fact, a cursory stroll through the record books places the Hendrick Motorsports driver behind only two drivers in the entire history of the sport.
The legendary “Silver Fox,” David Pearson is the all-time leader in career winning percentage, having won 105 of his 574 career races on what is now the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. That’s a phenomenal winning percentage of 18.2, placing him well above his closest pursuer and longtime rival, Richard Petty.
Petty won a record 200 times in 1,184 career starts -- a 16.8 winning percentage – while en route to seven series championships and iconic status as the King of NASCAR.
Johnson ranks third overall at 15.5%, followed by Cale Yarborough (83 wins in 560 starts/14.8%) and Ned Jarrett (50 wins in 352 starts/14.2%) Jeff Gordon ranks sixth overall and second among currently active drivers with 87 wins in 707 career starts (12.3%).
Bobby Allison ( 85 wins in 718 starts/11.8%) and Dale Earnhardt, Sr. (76 wins in 676 starts/11.2% also won more than 10 percent of their career Cup Series starts, placing them seventh and eighth in this admittedly unscientific survey of drivers with lengthy careers and multiple multi-win seasons.
Of the eight drivers listed, six are already enshrined in the NASCAR Hall Of Fame. Gordon is a veritable shoo-in when he eventually decides to hang up his helmet.
With a sixth NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship looming realistically on the horizon for 2013 and the expectation of many more successful campaigns to come, it’s time to end the debate and give the Lowes Chevrolet driver his due as one of NASCAR’s all-time greatest drivers.
To do anything less requires complete and willful ignorance of the facts.