Ranking the 10 Most Overrated Drivers in NASCAR

Paul Carreau@@PaulCarreauAnalyst IJuly 31, 2013

Ranking the 10 Most Overrated Drivers in NASCAR

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    Every driver that gets to drive in NASCAR is there because they have a tremendous amount of talent and are one of the best drivers in the world.

    Whether they are a driver consistently running at the front of the field, or one that is asked to start-and-park on a weekly basis, they are in the top series because they have honed their skills and paid their dues.

    But, regardless of who the driver is, there are certain expectations. Some drivers have met and far exceeded those expectations while others fail to meet them.

    In the slides ahead, we will count down the 10 most overrated drivers currently in NASCAR today. Whether it is a lack of wins, or just a string of a few bad seasons, these drivers are currently not living up to expectations.

10. Brad Keselowski

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    Brad Keselowski is the current defending Sprint Cup Series champion, but you might not know it looking at how this season has gone.

    After two seasons that saw Keselowski score a combined eight wins, Keselowski has been shut out of the win column through 20 races on the 2013 schedule.

    He currently sits 13th in the point standings and is in danger of becoming just the second driver to fail to qualify for the Chase the season following a championship win.

    There is no denying that Keselowski has a wealth of talent and will be a Chase contender for years to come, but it seems like his 2012 championship win was more a case of a driver overachieving than what we should realistically be expecting from them on a yearly basis.

9. Mark Martin

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    As a Mark Martin fan, this hurts. The 54-year-old Martin, while still one of the most respected drivers on the circuit, has had very little success in recent years.

    In 2009, his first season driving for Hendrick Motorsports, Martin saw his career get rejuvenated. After going winless in his previous three seasons, Martin scored five wins en route to the fifth second-place points finish of his career.

    Since then, things have gone downhill. Martin failed to record a win in either of his final two seasons driving for HMS, his last two full-time seasons on the circuit.

    The last two seasons have seen Martin driving on a part-time basis for Michael Waltrip Racing. In 38 races for the team, Martin has scored just 14 top-10 finishes.

    His car visited victory lane a couple of weeks ago when Brian Vickers piloted the No. 55 Toyota to a win in New Hampshire. Meanwhile Martin has finished 25th or worse in four of his last seven races.

8. Ryan Newman

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    If not for his win in Indianapolis this past weekend, Ryan Newman would be higher up on this list. Newman has been a full-time competitor since 2002 and has scored multiple wins in a season just twice in his career.

    Newman is a 17-time winner in the Sprint Cup Series, but eight of those came in 2003. Since 2006, Newman has qualified for the Chase just twice, and his best points finish in that time frame was a ninth-place finish in 2009.

    Even with his Brickyard win, Newman only finds himself in 16th place in the standings. That is the lowest he has been in the points through 20 races since 2006.

7. Paul Menard

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    In 421 combined starts between the Sprint Cup Series and the Nationwide Series, Paul Menard has scored a total of just two wins.

    He has just 29 career top-10 finishes in 239 Sprint Cup Series starts, and he has failed to ever qualify for the Chase in six full-time seasons. His best finish in the year-end standings was his 16th-place effort last season.

    People have often speculated that the only reason Menard continues to find himself in the Sprint Cup Series is because he is sponsored by the chain of hardware stores that his family owns.

6. Martin Truex Jr.

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    Earlier in the season, Martin Truex Jr. snapped a 218-race winless streak. His win in Sonoma was only his second career victory at the Sprint Cup level after having plenty of success in the Nationwide Series.

    As a Nationwide Series driver, Truex was a 13-time winner, and two-time series champion, winning the title in both the 2004 and 2005 seasons. Those were his only two full-time seasons in the series.

    Since making the jump to the Sprint Cup Series, Truex has competed in 281 events. He has posted 83 top-10 finishes, and is a two-time qualifier for the Chase.

    Truex has never finished a season ranked inside the top 10 in points. His personal best is a couple of 11th-place finishes—one in 2007 and one in 2012.

    It will take many more wins and a few top-10 point finishes for Truex to ever shed his overrated label.

5. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

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    Ricky Stenhouse Jr. is only 25 races into his Sprint Cup career, so maybe calling him overrated is a bit harsh.

    When you are tabbed by Jack Roush to take over the No. 17 car for Matt Kenseth, you are being asked to fill some pretty big shoes. Twenty races into his rookie season, Stenhouse has failed to deliver.

    While he consistently finds himself right around the top 20, Stenhouse has failed to record a single top-10 finish on the season. He currently sits in 21st place in the points, 15 spots behind the driver he replaced.

    It certainly would have been a stretch to expect Stenhouse to win a race this season, or qualify for the Chase, but posting a handful of top-10 finishes certainly wasn't asking for too much.

4. Juan Pablo Montoya

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    After making his Sprint Cup Series debut in the season's final event of 2006, Juan Pablo Montoya became a full-time competitor beginning in 2007.  

    Through six seasons, Montoya has only notched two wins, and both of those came in road course races. The main question surrounding Montoya is whether or not he is capable of winning on an oval.

    Twice this season Montoya came close to answering that question with a resounding yes. A late-race caution in Richmond took a sure win away from Montoya. A few weeks later in Dover, Montoya was overtaken for the win by Tony Stewart with three laps to go.

    Montoya has posted 55 top-10 finishes in his 237 career starts, and has qualified for the Chase just once. His eighth-place finish in 2009 is his only points finish better than 17th in his career.

3. Joey Logano

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    Already in his fifth full-time season of Sprint Cup Series competition, it is easy to forget that Joey Logano is only 23 years old. His youth is no reason not to label him overrated though, as he has clearly never lived up to the hype that was generated upon his entrance into the sport.

    Logano does boast an impressive Nationwide Series resume. In 119 starts he is a 20-time winner, and has posted an average finish of seventh place.

    It is in the top series where he has had marginal success. In 167 Sprint Cup starts, Logano has posted just two wins and has made no appearances in the Chase. His best points finish came in 2010 when he finished 16th.

2. Danica Patrick

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    Danica Patrick gets a small benefit of the doubt because she is still a rookie. But with the amount of media attention she receives, you would think that she was a former five-time series champion.

    Patrick has competed in 30 Sprint Cup Series races with just one top-10 finish, an impressive eighth-place run at this year's Daytona 500. Two-thirds of her Sprint Cup starts have resulted in a finish outside the top 25.

    Patrick may have been best suited to run another season or two in the Nationwide Series while she continued to learn the ropes of stock car racing, though her Nationwide career was almost as unimpressive.

    In 60 career starts in NASCAR’s second-tier series, Patrick posted just seven top 10s with only one of those resulting in a top-five finish.

1. Dale Earnhardt Jr.

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    Dale Earnhardt Jr. is the sports most popular driver, but he is also the most overrated. While Earnhardt has managed to greatly improve his consistency in the last couple of years, his lack of wins continue to plague him.

    Since joining Hendrick Motorsports in 2008, Earnhardt has scored just two wins and only 72 top 10's in 198 races. By comparison, David Reutimann and David Ragan have scored as many victories over that time span.

    Earnhardt has qualified for the Chase in three of his five seasons driving for HMS, but only once has he finished the season ranked inside the top 10.


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