With temperatures outside near boiling it got us thinking: Who’s the best active NASCAR driver during the summer months? The answer may surprise you … but it shouldn’t.
It’s long been believed that Tony Stewart is the best summer driver in the land based on his propensity to turn up the heat when the mercury in the thermometer rises. There’s good reason for that … he wins at a lot of the tracks that are on the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series schedule during June, July and August. If he’s not winning races, he’s usually finishing well.
While the Columbus Rocket is undeniably good during the summer months, he’s not the best there is. That distinction goes to the driver of the Hendrick Motorsports No. 24 Chevrolet – Jeff Gordon.
We compared the race starts and wins of active drivers who have six or more NASCAR premier series wins during three summer months. The stats and numbers are through August 2014 and do not include any of this summer’s races. For the purpose of this research, we only considered races in June, July and August to be summer races, although the calendar technically says summer doesn’t begin until near the end of June and runs through most of September.
After collecting all the stats, we discovered that Gordon had a slightly better record (in terms of winning percentage) than Tony Stewart, 13.2% to 12.4%. Gordon, the winner of four championships in NASCAR’s premier series, has been to Victory Lane 34 times in 257 starts during June, July and August. His best summer was 1998 when he celebrated six times: Sonoma, Pocono, Indianapolis, Watkins Glen, Michigan and New Hampshire.
Stewart has 23 race-wins in 185 starts. His best summer (and probably the source for the majority of his reputation for being a great summer driver) came in 2005 when he scored five victories. His five wins were his only wins that season – a season in which he claimed his second of three titles.
If you want to know who the best summer driver in the history of NASCAR’s premier series is, you have to travel all the way back to the 1950s. Two-time series champion and NASCAR Hall of Famer Tim Flock leads all drivers (current and past) with an amazing 31.6% winning percentage (18 wins in just 57 starts).
For more information and stats on the top-five active summer drivers in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, check out the above infographic.