NASCAR is a sport made up of big personalities. One of the aspects of NASCAR that keeps fans interested is the way the drivers act toward each other off the race track and how that affects what the drivers do on the race track.
Since the first running of the Daytona 500 in 1959, the personalities in NASCAR have been on display for fans to see. The biggest personality in the sport is also the most popular driver in the history of NASCAR: Dale Earnhardt Sr.
Earnhardt was called The Intimidator because he often put fear into his competitors on the race track but was not afraid to speak his mind off the race track as well.
The same kind of personality that Earnhardt displayed in the 1980s and 1990s is found in many of the drivers today.
It is difficult to see some of the drivers' personalities because they are not outspoken on television. The best way to gauge a driver’s personality is to follow him or her on Twitter. Some drivers will tweet messages that they may not say in front of the camera.
NASCAR would not be what it is today without the big personalities that make up the sport.
Here is a list of the biggest personalities in NASCAR today…
Danica Patrick came into NASCAR with a lot to prove. Many people think she does not deserve a spot in the sport, while others adore her. It cannot be easy to have so many expectations but not able to live up to the hype. Luckily she has a personality that allows her to deal with all of the distractions off the race track.
Patrick has a soft personality, but when she gets mad, she has no problem letting her temper take over. Patrick has had her run-ins with some drivers on the race track. She does not back down from a fight.
Although her strong personality when she gets mad is comical at times, she is a good addition to the sport. Just having her around allows people to disagree on whether or not she belongs in the sport. Any publicity is good for NASCAR, and Patrick has no problem generating publicity for the sport.
Jeff Burton’s 20-year career in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series is coming to an end. As he transitions from the driver's seat to the announcer’s chair, Burton can reflect on a career where he was known as “The Mayor.”
Burton is often looked upon to be the spokesman for the drivers in the Sprint Cup Series. He has a good feel of how the drivers are reacting to rule changes or controversy on the race track. His personality is often much like a good politician. He seldom gets wrapped up into controversy, but usually has a strong opinion.
When Jeff Burton speaks, people tend to listen. That is why it made so much sense for him to move in front of the camera once his racing career is over.
Carl Edwards is another driver who will probably end up in front of a television camera when his career is over.
Edwards is much like his former teammate, Jeff Burton. He has strong opinions about NASCAR, but he usually says the right things and avoids controversy.
Edwards is also the strongest voice for Ford Racing from the driver’s seat. If the Ford teams are falling behind the competition, Edwards is usually the driver who speaks up and demands changes.
Having the chance to interview Edwards last year, I can say he has a great personality and is one of the nicest guys you will ever meet.
Jeff Gordon’s personality has changed over his 21-year career in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.
Early in his career Gordon was known as “Boy Wonder.” He took the sport by storm by winning three championships in his first five years in the sport. Some fans viewed Gordon as an arrogant, young, rich kid from California. That was not necessarily the truth, but perception is everything to fans.
Over time Gordon has become a role model for other drivers and a spokesman for NASCAR. Gordon played a major part in mentoring Jimmie Johnson early in his career, and when he speaks out about a rule change, it gets people’s attention.
Gordon does not have an overpowering personality, but when he gets mad, people know it.
While most of the drivers made their way onto this list because of outspoken personalities, Jimmie Johnson made the list because he is just the opposite. Johnson always says the right thing and seldom starts fights with any drivers on or off the race track (except with teammate Jeff Gordon in 2010 at Talladega).
Johnson’s personality makes him a difficult driver to hate. He is the closest thing NASCAR has had to a perfect driver since The King retired in 1992. He wins races, gets along with other drivers and he gets along with the media.
The only problem with Johnson’s personality is that he makes winning in NASCAR look so easy.
Kevin Harvick has a big personality. Most fans either love Harvick or despise him.
Harvick has the tendency to be outspoken at times. He is not afraid to speak his mind or go after other drivers after the race. His temper is good for the sport because he does not let it get out of control like other drivers.
Harvick should fit in well with his new teammates at Stewart Haas Racing.
Tony Stewart has a very strong personality. He is not afraid to express his thoughts, but he can also be one of the most caring drivers outside the garage.
Stewart came into the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in 1999 with a dominating personality on and off the race track. Stewart had tons of talent, but his mouth often got in the way. Once he was able to control his emotions, Stewart began to win Championships.
The three-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Champion has changed since he became part owner of Stewart Haas Racing. Stewart had no problem wrecking his cars when Joe Gibbs was paying the bills. Now that the money comes out of his own pocket, a calmer Stewart has appeared.
Stewart still speaks his mind and will let other drivers know when he is not happy. He has a big personality, and although some fans might not like it, Stewart is great for the sport of NASCAR.
Brad Keselowski is another driver who is not afraid to speak his mind. Some fans think Keselowski is too arrogant for his own good, but when a driver wins a championship, he has the right to be arrogant.
Keselowski made his full-time debut in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series 2010. He was coming off back-to-back top-three finishes in the NASCAR Nationwide Series. He struggled his first year finishing 25th in the standing.
His career and personality took off in 2011 when he finished fifth in the point standings. Keselowski was not afraid to let people know he was one of the best drivers in the sport. He often used his Twitter account (@keselowski) to express his thoughts. In 2012, Keselowski was fined for tweeting during a red flag at Daytona.
After Keselowski won the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship, he became the default spokesman for NASCAR. He appeared on many talk shows and news outlets to promote the sport and talk about his championship. Keselowski’s personality allowed him to be a great ambassador for the sport.
Is it possible that “Rowdy Busch” has finally calmed down and focused on driving?
Entering the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in 2004, Busch was a 19-year-old kid from Las Vegas who had a win-at-all-cost philosophy. It did not matter how he had to get to the finish line, as long as he got there first. This philosophy often ruffled the other drivers. Going through other cars to win the race is not the way to make friends in NASCAR.
Busch's career and his personality began to change in 2010 when he became owner of a Camping World Truck Series team. His team, Kyle Busch Motorsports, became the first team to win the championship in its first season. Busch had more responsibility and his win-at-all-cost philosophy was tamed a little.
Busch’s personality began to change again in 2011 when he married Samantha Sarcinella. No one thought that anyone could tame Busch, but his wife seems to be doing a good job.
Some people miss “Rowdy Busch” and say he was good for the sport, but his strong personality is not gone. Rowdy still shows up at the race track every now and then.
Kurt Busch may have the strongest personality in NASCAR.
Known as the American Outlaw, Busch has no problem speaking his mind. It is no secret that he does not have a great relationship with the media. While other drivers can overlook the dumb idea of sticking a microphone in a driver’s face as soon as he or she wrecked, Busch has a hard time controlling his emotions. Busch has had many encounters with the media in his career.
After departing from two of the most prestigious race teams in NASCAR (Roush Fenway Racing and Team Penske), Busch had to calm his personality once he started racing for Furniture Row Racing last season.
Busch was able to avoid controversy in 2013 and was the major reason why the single-car team from Colorado was able to make the Chase.
The American Outlaw should be back this season as Busch begins his career at Stewart Haas Racing. Teamed up with the big personalities of Tony Stewart and Kevin Harvick should make for a fun season for race fans…if you like drama.
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