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With 2018 Panini Victory Lane Racing Hobby Box set to hit shelves May 23, the cut sheet for the release makes the following claim:

Find a Top 6 Driver Autograph in EVERY CASE!

Which led me to wonder - which drivers are considered the Top Six drivers?

So, I did a little bit of research, purely unscientific and very briefly, to figure out for myself what this might mean.

Martin Truex Jr. is clearly a Top Six driver in the series, but as far as being a force in collecting? Not so much. If you just do a quick check of Completed listings on eBay, Martin Truex has hundreds of cards that, if I collected him, I would consider steals. Auto cards, Mem cards, insert and variation cards that go without bids, listed at prices that are way below what you expect.

Kyle Busch is probably the Top driver in NASCAR right now (certainly a Top Six driver). He does seem to sell better than Truex, but I found a 2010 Kyle Busch #18 Spellbound Swatches "U" #09/18 that sold BIN for $10. That's a pretty good price on that. I found a 2004 Press Pass Signings KYLE BUSCH Auto RC /50 that is listed with a BIN of $75 that remains unsold. Surprising? Maybe that is a bit on the high side, but still... How about a Kyle Busch 2004 Wheels Autograph card CarQuest and a Kyle Busch 2004 Wheels Autograph card Lowe's, each with BIN of $43. What a great pair of RC Autos. If those were Tony Stewart RCs, I probably would have gotten all three...and then there is a 2009 KYLE BUSCH AUTO PRESS PASS PREMIUM SIGNATURES listed for $20 that I might just get to get even though I don't collect Kyle Busch, just because it is such a great card.

What about Kevin Harvick? Well, a KEVIN HARVICK/CLINT BOWYER 2017 ABSOLUTE TEAM TANDEMS DUAL RELIC AUTO # 6/15 just sold for $31. I need to start looking at SHR drivers, because that is a steal. A 2017 Panini Donruss Gold Foil Autograph Kevin Harvick Auto #16/25 for $30? Not a bad price, I guess, when you compare it to the 2016 National Treasures Racing KEVIN HARVICK QUAD RELIC AUTO #5/25 that sold for $18.50 (with 12 bids on it...how is that possible?). A National Treasures Quad Relic Auto #/25 for under $20??? Are you serious?


My point is, these are absolutely the Top Three drivers in NASCAR right now, and their premium cards do not command nearly the value that they should. The 1 of 1 cards and maybe the sick patch auto cards do get a little bit of run, but for the most part I think there are a lot of cards available at pretty reasonable values that it really makes it difficult to justify paying premium dollars to break boxes.

Ouch, ouch, ouch.
You have to go with who Panini has contracts with and what they are putting out. These are their Top-6 drivers...

Dale Jr.
Danica Patrick
Tony Stewart
Jimmie Johnson
Kevin Harvick
Kyle Busch

They are going by top-6 collectible under contract, not top-6 best drivers ever or currently. Notice that half of them are now retired. They have no rights to make Jeff Gordon cards, but do make Richard Petty cards! But Petty signs a ton of stuff and there are plenty of pieces of MEM available for him too. They also don't have rights to make Dale Sr. cards. They consider the "Top-6" as the drivers that people want most who don't have vast amounts of AU/RU cards available. All of those drivers have a ton of stuff out there, but I think they are going more by the number of cards a driver is willing to sign for them. Jr., Jimmie and Tony definitely fit in there with the low-numbered AU's. Harvick, Kyle and Danica to some extent also.

The only true Top-6 drivers list they could come up with for current drivers would be (IMO):
Jimmie Johnson, Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch, Martin Truex Jr., Brad Keselowski, and either Hamlin or Kurt Busch. I hate putting any of those last 3 in there, as well as Harvick, but it's true. All are past champions (besides Hamlin) and all probably have the most wins of any other current drivers.
Browser kept freezing/stalling, so I just locked in what I already typed before I crashed the browser. Here's what else I wanted to say...

Did you ALL see the piece on FOX about the Top-50 drivers of all time recently? The one where they had all 21 on-air members of the FOX Sports NASCAR team vote for the Top-50 drivers ever. Then the votes were combined to create the final list. I only saw FOX air the Top-7 of that list.

My all-time Top-5 List would be:
1. Richard Petty - no one will ever come close to 200 wins

2. David Pearson (in a VERY close 2nd) - half as many wins in half as many races as Petty and 3 championships without ever running a full NASCAR season.

3. Jimmie Johnson - still a shot at most championships ever and could also pass Pearson on the wins list - no one will EVER win 5 straight championships again and JJ did it under a different format every time!

4. Jeff Gordon - 4 Championships and 90+ wins after the schedule was set to less than 40 races per season.

5. Darrell Waltrip - 3 Championships and 80+ wins while racing for several teams, including his own team that didn't last that long.

*Close, but not quite there, would be: Earnhardt Sr., Cale Yarborough and Mark Martin! My basis for these three = Dale Sr. had the championships, but not the race wins to be higher here; Yarborough's 3 straight championships moves him UP into this list; Martin finished 2nd in points SEVEN times in his career AND was also the all-time win leader in the now-Xfinity Series until Kyle Busch broke it and ran away. I think KyB eventually ends up in the discussion for All-Time Top-10 driver!

Does Danica still have collecting sway? That is, are Danica cards holding their value, still popular, etc.?

Notice that I did not say anything about Jimmie Johnson or Tony Stewart, because I have not seen aftermarket prices drop much, if at all, on any Smoke stuff or Jimmie stuff. At least, not by what I've been trying to buy...not a lot of "steals" out there. I think that Dale Jr. stuff is still holding value pretty well, too.

But to my point - Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick do not command the value that they probably should.

The Top Six active drivers IMO are:
Kyle Busch
Kevin Harvick
Martin Truex
Brad Keselowski
Denny Hamlin
Kurt Busch

Any one of those can win any race they are in. I have to keep Jimmie off of the list because he has not been a weekly threat for two years now...I am sure he will get a win this year and make the Chase, but I don't see him winning more that.

As for the FOX show - I saw that they were doing it, but I missed the show. It is so tough to compare generations. Equipment is different, the population of the sport is different. I am not so sure that Richard Petty is as prolific if he was racing today. There are way more guys that have a chance to win today then there was when Petty and Pearson were running.

Case in point - 1976 Daytona 500, the two of them are racing for the win. Petty clips Pearson, they both wreck short of the finish line. Petty's crew comes out and tries to push him across, while Pearson gets his wreck headed towards the finish line and he wins the race driving through the infield grass, basically. 13 seconds pass from the time they wrecked until Pearson crosses the finish line. Petty with the help of the pushers, Petty gets his car started and crosses the finish line in front Benny Parsons, who finished third, but it was almost 20 seconds AFTER Pearson crossed.

Which means it was Petty and Pearson, and Benny Parsons was a distant third about a minute behind them (about two laps down?). I know there are races today where one car is that dominant, but I think for Petty and Pearson they were racing a bunch of guys who had a neat hobby...

Don't get me wrong - the list of the best NASCAR Drivers of all time should certainly have Petty and Pearson on it, but the top two spots are Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon - they dominated when there were a lot more dominant cars on the track each week. Then Petty, Pearson, and Dale Sr. Put Tony Stewart in the top ten (3 Championships, 49 wins), behind Waltrip and Yarborough (those guys both had 80+ wins). Bobby Allison had a Championship and a lot of wins, so he is probably a Top Ten. Mark Martin could certainly be up there (5 time runner up), but not top ten. After Kyle Busch wins his 2nd Championship this year, he will be nudging into the top 10 all time...

Johnson, Kyle Busch, Harvick, Truex, Larson and Keselowski. My top 6
I can agree with your list, Tony. I didn't put Larson in my list b/c he is still young and doesn't have the stats to back up being that high in the list of current drivers yet. He will get there eventually though. Chase Elliott will also join that list whenever he starts getting wins instead of 2nd place finishes. I think Johnson, Harvick and Kurt Busch will all have to retire before Larson and Elliott can be put in the Top-6 list of current drivers though.

I did finally get to see the Fox Sports Top 50 All-time Updated list. I don't totally agree with it, but it's pretty good. I wouldn't change much about the Top-25! Even at #50, Logano would not make my Top-50 list though. I wrote down some notes while I was watching that program.
It turns out that 8 of the 16 drivers that I collect made the all-time list. I don't actively collect some of those drivers anymore (Ambrose, Jarrett, Kahne) and some will never make the Top Anything (Pastrana, Harraka, Jen Cobb). But one driver that I've collected for years is just now a Cup RC and could end up in the list decades from now (Bubba Wallace).

These are the drivers I collect that made the new Top-50 List and their position on it:
#2 Jimmie Johnson
#4 Jeff Gordon
#12 Kyle Busch
#19 Mark Martin
#24 Dale Jarrett
#32 Davey Allison
#37 Dale Jr.
#39 Ricky Rudd
The overall Top-10 of that list is hard to argue against. Only 2 modern drivers were added into the Top-10 of the original NASCAR Top-50 List made in 1998 (Johnson and Stewart).
Here is the full Top-10 List as voted on by the 21 members of the Fox Sports team:
1. R. Petty
2. J. Johnson
3. D. Pearson
4. J. Gordon
5. D. Earnhardt
6. D. Waltrip
7. C. Yarborough
8. B. Allison
9. T. Stewart
10. Lee Petty

I find it hard to argue that those should be the Top-10 of all time. I could argue for spots, but those are still the top ten drivers ever in NASCAR at this point. ONE DAY, Kyle Busch will move into that list and I think Harvick can join the ranks too. They are going to need more championships though. Personally, I think KyB can do it without another championship if he keeps getting wins at the rate he has been going for the last several years. He's already #15 in all-time Cup wins and adding his wins in CWTS and NXS puts him well ahead of most drivers for wins in the Top-3 Series'. Harvick is pretty high on that list too.
I guess no one had an opinion on the Fox Sports Top-50 List.