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All The WORST Moments to Run Out of Gas in NASCAR

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Joshua Lipowski

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What’s Happening?

Thus far in 2024, two NASCAR drivers have seen races derailed by running out of gas on or close to the final lap. It’s not the first time drivers have run out of gas at the worst possible time, and these are the worst.

  • For this list, we will focus on drivers who suffered a big setback from running out of gas at the wrong time. This includes many instances that cost drivers wins.
  • Fuel mileage races are not quite as common as they used to be. However, when they do pop up, they usually involve a miscalculation that results in a big loss.
  • Fans love fuel mileage races, but their reactions may vary depending on who they root for. Some have seen their favorite drivers take advantage, while others are on the opposite end of the spectrum.

5. 2016 Kansas – Multiple Trucks Run Out Because of Caution Clock

When people complain about the “Caution Clock” NASCAR implemented in the Truck Series 2016, this instance showcases why. Due to rules surrounding the “Caution Clock,” the pit road was closed when the caution came out, and Jordan Anderson, who had significant damage, stalled on the pit road. This left the pit road closed for one more lap.

As a result, multiple drivers ran out of fuel under caution because they could not pit when they originally expected to. This was not necessarily a heartbreaker for the drivers as much as it showcased issues with one of NASCAR’s rules at the time.

4. 2015 Pocono – The Top Two Run Out In The Final Three Laps

Fuel mileage races are at their best when the leaders are close together and trying to save fuel. This happened at Pocono in 2015, when Joey Logano and Kyle Busch battled up front while trying to save fuel Logano was the first to drop out, running out with three laps to go.

Busch tiptoed around the track for a couple of laps before his engine sputtered in turn one. Teammate Matt Kenseth swooped by on the outside to take the lead, and Busch’s car rolled to a halt on the access road in turn three.

3. 2009 Michigan (June) – Jimmie Johnson and Greg Biffle Gives Way to Mark Martin

The 2009 June race at Michigan also saw the top two drivers working to save fuel. Greg Biffle and Jimmie Johnson combined to lead 188 of the 200 laps in this race, but it all came down to fuel mileage. The two played a game of cat and mouse, trying to force the other to burn extra fuel while also trying to save fuel themselves.

Johnson ran out coming off of turn four coming to the white flag and would finish 22nd, the last car on the lead lap. On the other hand, Biffle sputtered throughout turns one and two, eventually running out on the backstretch, opening the door for Mark Martin. Martin took home the win after leading only half a lap all day long.

2. 2009 Michigan (August) – Jimmie Johnson Runs Out While Leading…Again…At the Same Track

Jimmie Johnson found himself in the same position at the same race track later that August. After leading 133 of the first 197 laps, the pole sitter and former teammate Brian Vickers hounded Johnson. This time, Johnson ran out with three laps to go, finishing 33rd, allowing Vickers to take home the win. In another twist of irony, Johnson’s teammate, Jeff Gordon, finished second in both races.

Johnson led 279 of 400 laps (69.75%) in Michigan that summer, far more than anyone else, but he didn’t even have a top-20 to show for it. Talk about a brutal ending. Johnson could not conquer Michigan for most of his career, but he finally won at the track in 2014.

1. 2024 Gateway – Ryan Blaney Runs Dry While Leading

This season at Gateway, it seemed Ryan Blaney would sneak a win thanks to great pit strategy and a little luck. Christopher Bell, the dominant car of the day, dropped back with engine troubles, and Blaney appeared to be on cruise control. However, Blaney’s crew chief made a critical miscalculation.

Coming to the white flag, he ran out of fuel and was passed by teammate Austin Cindric. What made this so heartbreaking was that fuel mileage was not a concern throughout the field. This was a completely self-inflicted error by Blaney’s crew.

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Picture of Joshua Lipowski

Joshua Lipowski

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