Ranking the 10 Most Daring Drivers in NASCAR Today

Michael GuadalupeFeatured ColumnistJuly 31, 2013

Ranking the 10 Most Daring Drivers in NASCAR Today

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    NASCAR is filled with drivers who have different styles of racing.

    Some drivers will play it safe and will take a top-five finish instead of trying to push ahead for the win.

    Other drivers put everything on the line and make daring moves to try and get ahead of their competitors.

    To be daring in NASCAR, a driver needs to be fearless and be willing to risk everything to try and win a race. They need to be willing to do what others won't, which could be everything from spinning a competitor out to making a usual two-wide situation into a three-wide scenario.

    Daring drivers in NASCAR border on reckless but can save a car before things get to crazy. They aren't afraid to stand up to the sport's top veterans and always make the races more exciting.

    These are the 10 most daring drivers in NASCAR today.

10. Brian Vickers

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    It was hard to tell if Brian Vickers was being daring, or if he simply was a driver with nothing to lose back in 2011.

    He stood up to veterans like Tony Stewart and Matt Kenseth, and while he had nothing to show for it, he refused to back down.

    This season it's a different story with Vickers. He continues to race veterans as hard as he can, but he has a win this season and will more than likely end up racing for Michael Waltrip Racing sometime in the future.

    He's kept his same "race hard" mentality, but now he picks his battles.

    Brian Vickers starts this list because he's one driver who doesn't back down and challenges any veteran when he gets the chance, and it's paid off so far this season.

9. Marcos Ambrose

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    Marcos Ambrose is known for his road-course ability. He can be a challenge for the other drivers trying to compete on the two road-course tracks.

    He's not the best driver when it comes to oval racing, but given the chance, Ambrose can be just as daring on an oval as he is on a road course.

    He showed his daring ability this season during the second Daytona race when he tried to make it three wide in the front of the pack. He did manage to squeeze between Jimmie Johnson and Kasey Kahne, but his daring move would end up costing Kahne a chance to win the race. Johnson came back down the track and slid into Ambrose, causing a chain reaction.

    Ambrose saw an opportunity and went for it. He knew it would be a tricky maneuver, but he tried to push ahead to the lead nevertheless.

8. Clint Bowyer

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    When Clint Bowyer made the switch to Michael Waltrip Racing, he was a clear underdog heading into the 2012 season.

    After his performance and second-place finish last year, though, NASCAR fans got a chance to see how daring Bowyer and the No. 15 team can be.

    Whether it was pushing forward during the final laps of Martinsville and taking out Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon (with a little help from Newman) or turning Richmond into a fuel mileage race, Clint Bowyer made bold moves last season.

    While we haven't seen Clint pull off anything as daring during the regular season (more than likely do to his safe position in the standings), keep an eye out for Bowyer to show off his fearless driving during the Chase.

7. Matt Kenseth

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    Matt Kenseth seems like a quiet guy.

    He’s one of NASCAR’s most daring drivers, though.

    Besides going toe-to-toe with Tony Stewart at Bristol last year, Kenseth and the No. 20 team have taken gambles this season, which has paid off.

    Kenseth isn’t afraid to go three or four wide, and while it can cause him to be involved in wrecks sometimes, he is always pushing for the win.

    It was a big move for Kenseth to leave Roush-Fenway and head to Joe Gibbs Racing.

    And it takes a daring driver to have the success he’s had so far this season.

6. Brad Keselowski

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    The defending Sprint Cup champion became known for his dominance at the fuel mileage game last season.

    And while fuel strategy mainly comes from the crew chief, Keselowski is one of the best drivers at saving fuel and making sure he has more than enough for the end of a race.

    Besides winning races by daring to stay out while others would pit, Keselowski isn't afraid to go up against any driver and push them to the limits.

    He admires those who race hard, which was clear after his battle with Marcos Ambrose at Watkins Glen. Keselowski lost, but he gave credit to Ambrose and thanked him for racing him hard but still managing to race him clean.

    Keselowski has been an underdog in the sport, but he hasn't let that hold him back from going up against the best.

    Even when he had a solid position in the Chase last season, Brad would always try to win and never held himself back to get a decent finish.

    He dared to push himself to the limit, and it was a huge reason he won the championship in 2012.

5. Jeff Gordon

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    Jeff Gordon is not only one of the most experienced drivers in NASCAR; he's also one of the most daring.

    Gordon isn't afraid to make a race go three or four wide, and he's also not afraid to let other drivers know how he's feeling.

    He showed his daring last season by taking out Clint Bowyer last year at Phoenix. It was extremely dangerous, and it also crushed the No. 15 team's Chase hopes.

    Jeff isn't afraid to bump a driver out of the way, and he showed this during the 2012 Budweiser Shootout where he tried to bump Kyle Busch out of the way and ended up flipping his car.

    Throughout his history in NASCAR, Gordon has stood up to some of the best drivers, The Intimidator included, and has never backed down from a challenge.

4. Juan Pablo Montoya

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    Juan Pablo Montoya can be like a tornado on a NASCAR track.

    He's definitely not afraid to bang and bump while trying to push forward, and we've seen more of his daring style this year than in earlier seasons.

    He's had solid runs throughout the year, but Montoya really stands out on road courses.

    He knows how to pass and isn't afraid to spin someone out of his way. In fact, it’s common at the two road courses run in the Sprint Cup Series for at least one driver to get mad at Montoya for racing them too rough.

    He's daring enough to give any driver the chrome horn, regardless of how they might feel after the race.

3. Kyle Busch

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    Kyle Busch definitely lets his emotions get the best of him, but when a situation gets dicey, Kyle is usually one of the best drivers to handle it.

    He isn’t afraid to go all or nothing to try and win a race. His performance during a Budweiser Shootout a couple of years ago was proof of how he never gives up. Busch had saved the car more than once from wrecking, and he still went out to win the shootout.

    Only a handful of drivers will continually give everything they can to go for a win, and even fewer can handle a car in a dangerous situation as well as Kyle Busch can.

    While his daring nature on the track can sometimes turn reckless, there's no denying that Kyle is usually one driver to watch during late-race restarts.

2. Kurt Busch

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    Like his brother, Kurt Busch knows how to handle a car in a sticky situation.

    And like his brother, Kurt lets his emotions get the best of him.

    NASCAR fans have seen Busch voice his opinion to the press several times over recent years. Whether he’s trying to get into Jimmie Johnson’s head or threatening a reporter on air, Busch has never been afraid to be as daring off the track as he is on the track.

    And when Busch is on the track, he’s driving the wheels off a car.

    He isn’t on the strongest team this season, but he’s managed to qualify well for several races and was even in the top 10 of the point standings a couple of weeks ago until being caught up in a wreck with Ryan Newman at New Hampshire.

    Busch will stand up against any driver in the sport. While he may not be on a team that has huge pockets to buy anything needed to get to Victory Lane, he makes up for it with his daring both on and off the track.

1. Tony Stewart

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    Tony Stewart could be considered either the most daring driver in NASCAR today or the most reckless.

    NASCAR fans know how much Smoke hates it when people block him, and he's not afraid to put someone in the wall if they don't get out of his way.

    He's also not afraid to put it all on the line and try to win a race, regardless of the risk that could be involved.

    Smoke tried to pull a daredevil move last year at Talladega and ended up destroying almost the entire field of cars. He also butted heads with Matt Kenseth at Bristol and wrecked his car along with Kenseth's instead of falling back to second.

    We saw another gutsy move by Stewart and the No. 14 team at New Hampshire this season as they gambled on fuel mileage and lost big time.

    Tony Stewart is the kind of driver who will do whatever it takes to win, no matter how daring the challenge.