Bristol has been the home of so many key sports moments that it’s a challenge to put them in any kind of order. Should you go with the great finishes, the great mid-race moments, maybe even the great skirmishes?
Oh yes, those skirmishes. Let’s roll with that because there have been some classics.
Bristol will bring out the best in hot tempers. With its close quarters and lightning-fast laps, its tight pit-road parameters — you name it — can add more gasoline to a firey sport that already has an official fuel partner (Sunoco).
So don’t light a match, because it seems like when the circuit is visiting Bristol, the atmosphere is already flammable enough.
And the fans love it. Here are five notable NASCAR moments at Bristol that had shall we say (cough cough) disagreements.
#5 Rusty Wallace vs. Jeff Gordon
In 1997, Jeff Gordon was quickly ascending to the top of the NASCAR Cup Series — and even a legend like Rusty Wallace couldn’t keep him from of adding one of his 10 race wins that season. On the final lap, Gordon caught up with a race-leading Wallace and nudged him just enough to take the lead and force Wallace into the runner-up spot.
Gordon had asserted himself as a young driver not willing to sit idly by without attempting a pass on the tight track.
#4 Kyle Busch vs. Brad Keselowski
Busch had a historic weekend in Bristol back in August 2010. For the first time in NASCAR history, he won the trucks race, the Xfinity race, and the NASCAR Cup race all in the same weekend — something he had attempted many times but just barely missed.
But a simmering feud between the younger Busch brother and recent Cup Series addition Brad Keselowski also was quite memorable from Bristol — when Brad got ahold of the microphone during driver intros and blurted, “Kyle Busch is an ass!” to the roar of the crowd.
#3 Jeff Gordon vs. Matt Kenseth
In 2006, we got a glimpse into how ticked-off Jeff Gordon could get. In the final moments of the race, Gordon and Matt Kenseth were knocking each other around on the half-mile track, and Gordon was about to get the last shove when it came to the final lap.
Kenseth slammed into Gordon, knocking him out of contention, and Gordon got out of the No. 24 car and went after him after the race, shoving him while on pit road. “I wasn’t happy about it, and I showed him after the race,” Gordon said.
#2 Dale Earnhardt, Sr. vs. Terry Labonte
Dale Earnhardt, Sr. was known for ticking off opposing drivers (and ultimately, scaring them). Terry Labonte was known for being a relatively quiet, gentlemanly participant. Both were champions in the Cup Series but reached victory lane using their own styles of racing.
In 1995 and 1999, the two drivers butted heads in the front of the pack. In 1995, neither one of them nabbed the win, but in 1999 Earnhardt wrecked Labonte and it led him to say, “I just meant to rattle his cage a little bit.”
#1 Jimmy Spencer vs. Kurt Busch
In 2002, Kurt Busch was just a young driver looking to kick off a successful career, and Jimmy Spencer was a veteran driver who was winding down his NASCAR career. The elder Busch brother was all over Spencer for much of the race, and afterward, the two butted heads.
Or more accurately, as Spencer once put it (paraphrased) — “his nose kept running into my fist”. Spencer still loathes Busch to this day.