Restrictor-plate tracks are known for the expected unexpecteds of NASCAR racing.
You know there’s going to be a tornado of activity at some point, but you have absolutely no clue when or where it’s going to strike, and who is going to sustain the kind of damage that will put them out of commission.
Drivers say they love these tracks — what else are they going to say? — but the vast majority loathe Talladega and Daytona. But fans turn out and tune in for those unexpecteds mentioned above.
So in the final 50 laps of each restrictor-plate race, like the one to be held in Talladega on Sunday, one can be sure you will see carnage. That’s the only guarantee though. Will it happen with 40 laps remaining, or 40 yards remaining of the final lap? Will it happen once or five times?
Nobody knows. Here’s a look at five of the most spectacular Talladega wrecks since the safer barriers were added around 20 years ago.
The List of Spectacular (alphabetically)
No. 78 Kurt Busch (2013)
As Kurt Busch continued to rebuild his career after Penske jettisoned him, he first went to low-budget Finch Racing and then improved slightly when he went to Furniture Row Racing. While driving the No. 78 car, this happened.
No. 99 Carl Edwards (2009)
Our first glimpse of what was to come with Brad Keselowski was when he won his first career race, bumping Carl Edwards from in contention for the win to flying in the air at nearly 200 miles per hour. Edwards hit the catch fence, which held firm (thank goodness). Watching it live was eye-popping.
No. 38 Elliott Sadler (2003)
Elliott Sadler flew and rolled and it looked pretty nasty, but thankfully his car was able to slow down naturally, on its own, instead of slamming into a wall. But there’s no question this was one of the more jaw-dropping wrecks NASCAR has ever seen.
No. 14 Tony Stewart (2012)
It started with your standard bumping on the track but in the end? Michael Waltrip and Tony Stewart locked horns and Stewart ended up flipping around like one of those old 1980s-era slinky toys.
No. 20 Matt Kenseth (2016)
Matt Kenseth went airborne after running into Danica Patrick, and the car didn’t seem to want to stop flying in the air for half of the backstretch.
All I can say is, thank goodness for safer barriers and safer cars in general. When you watch these clips, you wonder how people escape these wrecks, but these days they do.