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The Most CONTROVERSIAL NASCAR Superspeedway Finishes

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Joshua Lipowski

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Superspeedway races like Daytona and Talladega often lead to some highly controversial finishes. Whether it’s a poorly timed caution flag determining the winner, a questionable driver decision, or anything in between, races are often decided under controversial circumstances. These are the MOST controversial superspeedway finishes in NASCAR history.

  • There is a laundry list of controversial results at superspeedway races. For this list, we are trying to look at the ones that gave the most visceral reaction from the fanbase and the drivers.
  • Any superspeedway race is eligible for the list. This means any races at Daytona, Talladega, and post-2021 Atlanta,
  • Controversial finishes often split the fanbase. It seems like a guarantee sometimes that fans will be upset by however a finish was.

5. 2003 Aaron’s 499: What Yellow Line Rule?

Late in the 2003 spring race at Talladega, amid Dale Earnhardt Inc.’s reign on the track, Dale Earnhardt Jr. made his move. He made a 3-wide pass for the lead heading into turn 3, but, he dipped 2 wheels below the yellow line. The rule was and still is that drivers cannot advance their position below the yellow line.

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NASCAR reviewed it during the closing laps of the race, eventually determining that Earnhardt Jr.’s pass was clean. The determination was that he had advanced his position before going below the line. Did he? You be the judge.

4. 1959 Daytona 500: 3 Days to Determine a Winner

The very first Daytona 500 in 1959 came down to Lee Petty going up against Johnny Beauchamp. The two swapped the lead back and forth in the closing laps. On the last lap, the two crossed the finish line in a virtual dead heat, and Beauchamp was initially declared the winner.

However, NASCAR was not sure and elected to examine the finish. NASCAR reviewed every finish line photo they could for the next 3 days. Eventually, Petty was announced as the winner by 1 yard.

3. 2004 Aaron’s 499: Untimely Caution Flag

In 2004, Jeff Gordon put an end to the DEI dominance at Talladega, but, the fans did not take it too kindly. Gordon and Dale Earnhardt Jr. battled for the lead late in the race when a caution came out. In these days, there was no Overtime, so, the race ended under caution.

NASCAR determined that Jeff Gordon was in the lead, not Earnhardt Jr. The fans revolted by throwing beer cans at Gordon’s car as he tried to do a burnout. It was not the last time he would get beer-bombed at Talladega either.

2. 2020 Yellawood 500: What Yellow Line Rule? Part 2

The 2020 Yellawood 500 made everyone question what the yellow line rule was anymore. The finish of the race was marred by swerving race cars going above and below the yellow line, and Denny Hamlin came out the victor despite clearly going below the line to pass for the lead. From there, NASCAR gave out penalties.

Second-place finisher Matt DiBenedetto was penalized for forcing a driver below the line and Chris Buescher was penalized for the same infraction back in the field. Hamlin, however, was not penalized despite clearly passing below the line. The entire finish was a mess, and fans hope to never see something like this again.

1. 2015 Good Sam Roadside Assistance 500 at Talladega: Overtime Fiasco

The 2015 fall race at Talladega was a series of questionable official calls. NASCAR declared before the race that there would be only one overtime attempt to prevent a wreckfest ending, only for the first attempt to see a crash before the green flag was taken. NASCAR decided to wave off that attempt and do it again.

This was when Kevin Harvick, who admitted on the radio that he could not keep up with the pack, was allowed to stay on the track despite clearly being unable to meet minimum speed. On the next restart, Harvick turned Trevor Bayne in the middle of the field, setting up another crash that ended the Overtime attempt. NASCAR did not have a good angle of where the cars were when the caution came out, and Joey Logano was declared the winner over Dale Earnhardt Jr. This race led to the implementation of the Overtime line, which fans loathed.

While superspeedway races produce some of the most exciting races in NASCAR, they also produce some of the most controversial. Those finishes will continue to come over time.

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Picture of Joshua Lipowski

Joshua Lipowski

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