With how competitive NASCAR drivers are, the money at stake, the glory to be earned, and the agony of defeat, there is sure to be disagreements about what happens on track. Sometimes this spills off the track, and fights break out.
With all of the fights in NASCAR history, narrowing it down to five is a difficult task. We at the Daily Downforce took that task and were able to narrow down the top-five fights in NASCAR history.
5. Brad Keselowski vs Denny Hamlin, Matt Kenseth, and Tony Stewart (2014 Bank of America 500)
There’s a lot to break down here. Brad Keselowski was unhappy with how he was raced during the Chase race at Charlotte in 2014. After the race he attempted to spin out Denny Hamlin unsuccessfully. Keselowski then proceeded to side-swipe Matt Kenseth on pit road running into the back of Tony Stewart.
Stewart would back up into Keselowski on pit road, damaging Keselowski’s front end. Hamlin and Keselowski eventually found each other in the hauler parking lot, and after words were exchanged, Keselowski retreated between two haulers. Enter Matt Kenseth.
Kenseth sprinted between the haulers grabbing Keselowski. The two were separated by pit crews and NASCAR officials after exchanging words with each other. That was all for the night, but that was not the last time Keselowski would ruffle feathers that season.
4. Clint Bowyer vs Jeff Gordon (2012 Advocare 500 at Phoenix)
Jeff Gordon and Clint Bowyer had multiple run-ins during the 2012 season, and Phoenix was the last straw. After contact with Bowyer in the late laps, Gordon came back onto the track to hunt Bowyer down. Once that happened, Gordon wrecked Bowyer with two laps to go all but ending Bowyer’s championship hopes.
Gordon was confronted by Bowyer’s pit crew in the garage, while Bowyer ran like Usain Bolt to Gordon’s hauler. Bowyer was stopped by crew members before getting into the hauler. Gordon was penalized 25 driver and owner points, put on probation along with crew chief Alan Gustafson, and fined $100,000.
Ironically, the two would finish 1-2 in the season finale Ford 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway the following week. After that, they would both be in the Fox Sports booth together for the 2021 season. So, it seems it’s safe to say the two settled their differences.
3. Brad Keselowski vs Jeff Gordon (2014 AAA Texas 500)
In the closing laps of the AAA Texas 500, the first year of the modern win-and-you’re-in system, Jeff Gordon and Brad Keselowski tangled, cutting Gordon’s right rear tire, putting him out of contention. Gordon then went to confront Keselowski on pit road.
After a brief discussion, Keselowski tried to walk away before Kevin Harvick pushed him back towards Gordon. From there it was on. Gordon’s pit crew and Keselowski’s pit crew made a scrum between the cars and pit wall.
The wreck ultimately cost Gordon a spot the 2014 Championship 4 at Homestead-Miami. A race that Gordon would lead 161 laps. Would Gordon have won his fifth championship had this not happened?
2. Rusty Wallace’s Pit Crew vs Darrell Waltrip’s Pit Crew (1989 Winston)
In the final laps of the 1989 Winston All-Star Race, Rusty Wallace turned Darrell Waltrip off of turn four sending Waltrip through the grass. Understandably, Waltrip and his crew were hot under the collar following the incident, and elected to settle the dispute in the garage area after the race.
While Wallace’s crew was taking his car to pit road, Waltrip’s crew confronted them. The ensuing melee was eventually broken up by security, but that did not satisfy Darrell Waltrip. After the race, Waltrip said something that would become legendary.
“I just hope he chokes on that $200,000,” Waltrip said.
1. Cale Yarborough vs the Allison Brothers (1979 Daytona 500)
No NASCAR race in history was as important as the 1979 Daytona 500. The first Daytona 500 broadcast live, flag-to-flag. It came down to Cale Yarborough and Donnie Allison in the final laps.
After trying to pull out to pass down the backstretch, Yarborough clipped the wet grass sending his car out of control into Allison. The two wrecked in turn-three ending their chance at victory. Bobby Allison came by turn-three to talk with his brother after the race.
The rest, as they say, is history. Yarborough and the Allison brothers tussled in the infield, ending up on the ground. And with that, NASCAR was in front of a national audience, and well on its’ way to becoming the giant it is today.
There are plenty of iconic fights in NASCAR history, and there are certain to be more. When will the next NASCAR scuffle be?