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Rotoworld Rewind

Rotoworld's Top 50: NASCAR

by Dan Beaver
Updated On: October 4, 2018, 4:04 pm ET

Who were the most popular drivers in Rotoworld’s NASCAR section in 2015? Check out our top 50 based on traffic to driver pages. Click on any of the links below to see all of our top-50 player reviews:

 

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1. Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Junior has never shown the same degree of aggression as his father, but his skill behind the wheel is genetic. He picked up some old-school fans through those same genes, but his nice guy attitude added plenty of his own. Earnhardt has never gone through an awkward stage with his fans.

2. Jeff Gordon

Gordon was one of the most popular Young Guns in the mid-1990s until he started winning too frequently. Now that he is retiring, fans are willing to accept his legacy once more and they will appreciate his Martinsville fall win because they had one last chance to see one of NASCAR’s greatest drive.

3. Kevin Harvick

With NASCAR’s new knockout-style playoff format, drivers do not need to dominate to win the championship, so there was an open question about the ability of Harvick to back up his 2014 Sprint Cup. He removed any shadow of doubt with first- or second-place finishes in six of his first seven races and fans stayed on his bandwagon all year.

4. Jimmie Johnson

So long as Johnson remains in contention to catch and pass the legendary Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt Sr. in terms of career championships, he is going to garner a lot of attention. His teammate Gordon proved that strong drivers can be in contention until their final season, so Johnson will remain an object of curiosity until he hangs up his helmet.

5. Danica Patrick

NASCAR’s Drive For Diversity program is based on the notion that all aspiring racers need role models. Patrick did not cut her teeth in stock cars, but she serves as an inspiration for girls across the nation in all forms of racing. With a new contract in place through at least 2017, she is likely to become the first female winner of a NASCAR Cup race.

6. Matt Kenseth

Kenseth has always been popular with the fans and his fellow drivers and he was one of the least likely candidates to get suspended for rough driving. His dustup with Joey Logano defined the limit of his good guy persona and fans will see more bellicosity from him in the next few years.

7. Kyle Busch

Depending on one’s point of view, Busch’s Sprint Cup Championship was either marred or enhanced by his early season obstacle. Forced to sit out 11 races due to injury, simply making the playoffs was an accomplishment and he will go into the record books as one of NASCAR’s biggest dark horse winners in the Modern Era.

8. Carl Edwards

Edwards was trying much too hard at the beginning of the season and that often caused him to gamble on setups and jump the cushion in the second half of races. A fuel-mileage victory in the Coke 600 got him into the playoffs. Once Edwards began to drive within his means and ability, he rattled off top-15s and ended the year with 19 consecutive.

9. Brad Keselowski

Keselowski was one of the cockiest drivers to enter the NASCAR series in recent seasons, but he managed to back up his bluster with victories. He continues to walk a fine line of belligerence and charm that keeps fans wondering what he is going to do next. If the past two seasons are an indication, 2016 will feature another championship run.

10. Joey Logano

If Logano did not know the definition of Pyrrhic Victory before, he certainly does now. Both his and Kenseth’s fate would have been much different in 2015 if not for their confrontation at the end of the Kansas fall race. Patience is truly a virtue in NASCAR on certain occasions.

11. Kurt Busch

Busch made news early in the season when he was suspended for three races following allegations of domestic abuse by his former girlfriend Patricia Driscoll. He made a huge statement at Phoenix in week four by finish fifth and would have won the following race at Auto Club if not for a late-race caution. In fact he wouldn't be silenced until the final race and scored top-10s in two-thirds of his starts.

12. Denny Hamlin

Hamlin got off to a tough start in 2015 and it was not until the midway point of the season that he managed to score back-to-back top-10s. Even then, he had difficulty scoring three consecutive strong runs until Michigan in August, but that turned his year around and he finished top-10 in all but three of the final 14 races.

13. Tony Stewart

Fans knew some of the fire was dissipating from “Smoke” even before Stewart announced 2016 would be his final year of Cup competition. Like Gordon last year, that does not mean he will not have a significant impact on the playoff picture, but only if he can turn up the heat in the summer and fall like he did for so many years.

14. Jennifer Jo Cobb

Before Danica arrived on the circuit, Cobb was plugging away in the Camping World Truck Series. She has always lacked the sponsorship to contend for a championship in that series, but with roots in Late Model Dirt cars, she is more closely aligned with NASCAR’s fan base than the former IndyCar driver.

15. Kyle Larson

The question of when Larson would win a race was almost answered at Homestead in the 2015 finale. If not for a late-race caution, he had the momentum to get to Victory Lane. Once that first win comes, many more will follow and a third fulltime season will probably bring the experience he needs.

16. Martin Truex Jr.

All season, the No. 78 was the little team that could. They rivaled only Kevin Harvick at the start of the season for consistent top-10 finishes, but back-to-back accidents at Sonoma and Daytona robbed them of their momentum. They still managed to finish in the Championship Four and that will equate to more exposure in 2016.

17. Ryan Newman

Newman tried the same formula in 2015 that worked so well in 2014. Unfortunately, it did not play out as well last year because he failed to consistently improve during the final 10 Chase races. It has been 88 races since his last victory and one has to be aware that Richard Childress has another grandson waiting in the wings for his chance at the big leagues.

18. Kasey Kahne

Kahne was the caboose on the Hendrick Motorsports train all-too-often last year and with a contract that runs till the end of 2018, he’s going to have to fight to become relevant in this star-studded organization. With only three top-fives last year, he never really came close to winning and that keeps him flying under the radar.

19. Austin Dillon

By Modern Day standards, Dillon did not have a bad sophomore season. He scored five top-10s and seven more top-15s and now that he is settling into a rhythm he will keep on improving. He will be at his best on similarly-configured, 1.5- and two-mile tracks based on his fourth-place finish at Michigan last August.

20. Chase Elliott

As heir to the No. 24 and defending 2014 XFINITY Champ, Elliott garnered a lot of attention last year. So much is expected of him in 2016 that anything short of winning a Cup race will seem like a disappointment, but he will score several top-10s during the season and run well on courses where Hendrick Motorsports typical shines.

21. AJ Allmendinger
22. Clint Bowyer
23. Trevor Bayne

24. Justin Allgaier

25. Sam Hornish Jr.

26. Michael Waltrip

27. Brian Vickers

28. Jeffrey Earnhardt

29. Ryan Blaney

30. David Ragan

31. Jamie McMurray

32. Erik Jones

33. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

34. Cole Whitt

35. Brian Scott

36. Reed Sorenson

37. Paul Menard

38. Chris Buescher

39. Bobby Labonte

40. Regan Smith

41. Landon Cassill

42. J.J. Yeley

43. Alex Bowman

44. Casey Mears

45. Greg Biffle

46. Aric Almirola

47. Jeb Burton

48. Josh Wise

49. Travis Kvapil
50. Brett Moffitt

Dan Beaver

Dan Beaver has been covering fantasy NASCAR for more than 20 years with a little help from his >650,000 record database. He can be found on Twitter @FantasyRace.