5 of the Best Confrontations in NASCAR History
On Sunday at Talladega, defending NASCAR Sprint Cup champ Tony Stewart set off a 25-car wreck, which somehow Matt Kenseth avoided, allowing him to come away with the win under caution. Fortunately this huge pile-up didn’t lead to any infield confrontations, but quite often they do.
The NASCAR circuit has produced its fair share of high-profile feuds over the years (many involving Stewart). Most of the time, these disputes are settled with a few choice words and some mild jostling. On the other hand, it’s never a huge surprise when two drivers come to blows after trading paint. Here’s a look at a few of NASCAR’s most memorable confrontations:
Cale Yarborough vs. the Allison Brothers (1979)
The 1979 Daytona 500 was the first-ever NASCAR race to be aired on TV in its entirety, but Cale Yarborough made sure that the race would be remembered for a different reason. Yarborough and Donny Allison entered the race’s final lap in a dead heat, with each driver attempting to force the other out of position. The rough racing caused both men to wreck, though Yarborough blamed Allison for the entirety of the incident. While the rest of the field was finishing the race, the two combatants were throwing haymakers at each other on national television. The incident, known simply as “The Fight,” led to a massive ratings boost for NASCAR events and played a huge role in the growth of the sport’s popularity.
Rusty Wallace vs. Darrell Waltrip (1989)
This memorable incident occurred at the 1989 All-Star race, an exhibition event held solely for prize money, but that didn’t stop Rusty Wallace from racing like it was the Daytona 500. Darrell Waltrip entered the race’s final lap with a commanding lead, and seemed to be a lock for the $200,000 prize. Instead, Wallace spun Waltrip out and gained a decisive, if unsportsmanlike, victory. Needless to say, Waltrip’s crew was not pleased by this result, and sprinted over to confront their rivals. A few harsh words and shoulder bumps later, and the infield at the Charlotte Motor Speedway had disintegrated into a massive riot. The episode sparked in a swell of support for Waltrip, while Rusty Wallace became one of NASCAR’s biggest villains.
Kevin Harvick vs. Greg Biffle (2002)
During this 2002 incident at Bristol, Kevin Harvick had taken exception with the way Greg Biffle had sent him into the wall, and told reporters that’d he’d be “waiting when he comes in here.” Harvick spent the race’s final laps perched on the top of his car, waiting for his foe to finish the race. Sure enough, the former high school wrestler made good on his word by leaping over Biffle’s parked car and grabbing him by the collar, forcing a group of officials to come between the two men. Judging by the wild look in Harvick’s eyes, Greg Biffle is lucky that they did.
Kevin Harvick vs. Ricky Rudd (2003)
Just one year after the shocking events at Bristol Motor Speedway, Kevin Harvick was back in the headlines for this dust-up with Ricky Rudd. Rudd, known throughout the circuit as a firebrand, had wrecked the No.29 car with only a few laps remaining in the Chevy Rock & Roll 400. Harvick responded by bumping Rudd’s car after the race, causing a bizarre confrontation between the two crews. At one point during the wild scene, an enormous member of Harvick’s pit team jumped on the roof of Rudd’s prototype car and nearly caved it in. The two drivers exchanged many heated words, but race officials were able to diffuse the situation before any real damage was done.
Tony Stewart vs. Kasey Kahne (2004)
Tony Stewart is no stranger to confrontation, but his crew bore the brunt of this 2004 brawl. Rookie driver Kasey Kahne had led at Chicagoland until a delay allowed Stewart to replace his tires. The freshly outfitted No. 20 car got a huge jump on the restart and clipped Kahne, causing him to spin out and lose his lead. In a scene straight out of the WWE, Kahne’s entire pit crew ran over to confront Stewart’s, leading to an all-out brawl between the two factions. NASCAR officials raced to the scene and quickly put a stop to the fight, but not before it made for some great television.