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Honorable Mentions: Kurt Busch, Mark Martin
5. Bobby Labonte
Bobby Labonte started the turn of the century by winning the NASCAR championship. He gave team owner Joe Gibbs his first win as a team owner.
Labonte took the lead in April and held onto it for the entire year to win his first championship. He won four races that year and managed to hold off Dale Earnhardt Sr.'s late-season surge to win the championship.
The competition was tough when NASCAR entered the new millennium. But Labonte held his fellow competitors back and won the championship by more than 200 points.
With his championship win and his competitiveness throughout the early part of the decade, Labonte was one of the top drivers of the 2000s.
4. Matt Kenseth
Matt Kenseth brought Jack Roush his first championship win in 2003. After years of attempting to win a title with Mark Martin—and getting close four times—Kenseth was the driver to get it done for Roush.
He didn't do it with wins, but instead, Kenseth did it with consistency. He only won one race in 2003, but managed to hold the points lead for most of the year. Kenseth only had two DNF's for the entire year.
Leading the points after 33 of the 36 races in 2003, Kenseth led the points standings more than any driver since Richard Petty led after 41 of 48 races in 1971.
Kenseth was the final champion crowned by the Winston sponsor. He's also the last driver to win the championship prior the Chase setup in NASCAR.
Kenseth had a nearly perfect year in 2003, grabbing the points lead early and never looking back. He continued to be a threat for the championship throughout the 2000s and was one of the best drivers of the decade.
3. Jeff Gordon
Gordon continued to be one of the top drivers into the 2000s. He won the title in 2001, winning six races that year. The championship was a close battle during the first half of that year, but eventually, Gordon gained momentum and left the competition behind.
He won the championship by 349 points.
Gordon continued to be a title contender throughout the rest of the decade, though he didn't manage to win another championship.
Gordon was one of the top drivers in the 2000s, and he still continues to be one of the top drivers in NASCAR.
2. Tony Stewart
Tony Stewart—known by fans as "Smoke"—has been a major part of NASCAR ever since he debuted at the end of the 1990s. In the 2000s, though, Tony saw a lot of success, winning the championship in 2002 and 2005.
In 2002, he managed to comeback from a last-place finish in the season-opening Daytona race to being a title contender by the end of the season. He came through at the end of the season and pushed forward to win the title.
In 2005, he had five wins, 17 top-five finishes and 25 top-10 finishes.
Stewart has been known for his hot temper, and while it has gotten him in some trouble with the NASCAR officials, it's also made Stewart somewhat of a fan favorite.
With his championships alone, Stewart is easily one of the top drivers of the decade. Mix in his consistent winning and title contentions, and Stewart ranks among the best.
1. Jimmie Johnson
Jimmie Johnson was one of, if not the, best driver in the 2000s era of NASCAR.
Winning the title from 2006 to 2010 is not easy feat. Clearly, Jimmie was the man to beat, and no one was able to do so during the second half of the decade.
Johnson, though, was a factor to win the championship throughout the 2000 decade. He was the first rookie to lead the point’s standings (2002), and he also became the first rookie to win both races at a track during one season.
His accomplishments speak for themselves, like winning 10 races in 2007.
Johnson was the best driver in the 2000s, and he continues to remain one of NASCAR's best to this very day.