10 Best Angry Outbursts in NASCAR History
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Any fan of any sport knows that athletes get emotional in the heat of battle.
NASCAR is no different and has seen its fair share of fiery actions on the part of drivers over the years.
Todd Bodine is the latest driver to show his emotional side, when he chucked his helmet at the passing truck of Nelson Piquet Jr. (at about the 1:45 mark of this video) after contact between the two resulted in a crash that took Bodine out of the Camping World Truck Series race last Saturday at Pocono.
Whether it's a bit of bumper cars during the race, a physical confrontation after the race, just a good ole chuck of the helmet, or some combination of the three, drivers have been finding ways to express their displeasure with other drivers for as long as NASCAR has been around.
As fans, it's that fire that we love to see. It lets us know that these guys really care about what they do and shows how driven these drivers are.
Not to mention, it's incredibly entertaining. Which brings us to this list, which is in no way all-inclusive. There have been way more than 10 great angry moments in NASCAR history. If there is one that comes to mind that isn't on this list, share it in the comments below.
With that said, here's our list—in no particular order—of 10 of the best angry outbursts in NASCAR history.
1979 Daytona 500: Cale Yarborough/Donnie and Bobby Allison
The 1979 Daytona 500 produced one of the most memorable finishes in NASCAR history.
But it was what happened after the finish that landed that day on this list.
By now, any fan with even the most primal bit of knowledge of NASCAR history knows how the story goes: With the entire East Coast marooned at home by a historic blizzard, CBS made television history with the first-ever live, flag-to-flag coverage of a NASCAR race.
All of those people trapped in their homes were treated to a classic duel between Cale Yarborough and Donnie Allison for the victory. As the two drivers thundered down the backstretch for the final time, they made contact and skidded into the Turn 3 wall, ending any chance of victory for both.
After Richard Petty blasted by and took his sixth 500 victory, the two dejected drivers—joined now by Donnie's brother, Bobby—exited their cars began to assign blame for the crash.
As things grew heated, Yarborough hit Bobby Allison in the face with his helmet, sparking a fight that saw both drivers hit the ground swinging and made the front page of virtually every sports page in America the next day.
Yes, "The Fight" went down in the annals of time as the moment that introduced the nation to this little sport called NASCAR and sent it on its way to the phenomenon it is today.
Loudon, 2005: Michael Waltrip/Robby Gordon
Robby Gordon has always had a reputation for being one of the more excitable drivers on the Sprint Cup circuit, and this day in September 2005 was no different.
Battling Michael Waltrip during the fall race at New Hampshire, contact with Waltrip's car sent Gordon spinning into the outside wall on the back straightaway.
Gordon, as one could imagine, was unhappy and decided to let Waltrip know about it under caution, stepping nearly in front of Waltrip's car before hurling his helmet at the driver's door.
As if the loss of a race car wasn't enough, Gordon called Waltrip a "piece of s***" on live television afterward, drawing a $50,000 fine and a 50-point deduction in the championship standings from NASCAR.
Bristol, 1993: Dale Jarrett/Bobby Hillin Jr.
Though the bulk of his Sprint Cup series career came with Robert Yates Racing, Dale Jarrett is also remembered as the first driver for Joe Gibbs Racing.
When the Sprint Cup Series hit Bristol in the spring of 1993, Jarrett was only a couple of months removed from delivering JGR's first victory in the Daytona 500.
After dropping out of the race as a result of contact with Bobby Hillin Jr., the usually-mellow Jarrett gave one of the better helmet throws that NASCAR has ever seen, landing a fastball right on the 9 in Hillin's No. 90.
This one isn't one of the more well-known angry moments in NASCAR history, but it makes this list because of the rarity of seeing Jarrett lose his cool, and, let's face it, the impressive accuracy of that throw.
Bristol, 2002: Kevin Harvick/Greg Biffle
As rare as it was to see Dale Jarrett lose his cool, seeing Kevin Harvick lose his was almost laughably common early in his Sprint Cup career.
Though he seems to have mellowed a bit as the years have passed, in the beginning of his career, Harvick was one of the most volatile personalities NASCAR had ever seen. For all the talent that he had—and talent was clearly abundant—it came as a package deal with his amazingly short temper.
Harvick retired early from the Busch Series (now Nationwide Series) race at Bristol in the spring of 2002 because of a crash caused by contact with Greg Biffle.
Harvick made no bones about the fact that he would let Biffle know his displeasure after the race and, true to his word, made a beeline for the driver after the race's conclusion.
Though the confrontation did not come to blows, this was one of NASCAR's more memorable driver conflicts thanks to Harvick's borderline-parkour acrobatics in getting to Biffle (seen at about the 0:35 mark of the embedded video).
Bristol, 2002: Ward Burton/Dale Earnhardt Jr.
After Harvick's Bristol antics in the spring of 2002, it was Ward Burton who put on a show when the Cup series returned to the half-mile bullring in the fall of that same year.
Burton's situation draws a lot of similarities to Dale Jarrett's from '93. In '02, Burton had started the year off with a Daytona 500 victory, just as Jarrett did 11 years prior. He was also similarly mild-mannered and rarely got himself on television for doing something crazy.
But after Dale Earnhardt Jr. got into Burton and spun his No. 22 car into the wall, Burton had no problem letting Earnhardt know how unhappy he was with him under the ensuing caution period.
Burton chose the less destructive (and expensive) route and chose to hurl his heat shields at the Budweiser Chevrolet as it passed by under caution, but that didn't mean the message was any less heartfelt.
Bristol, 2008: Kyle Busch/Carl Edwards
What has endeared Bristol Motor Speedway to fans for decades is its reputation for close quarters, lots of contact, and hot heads, which makes it no surprise that no less than four of the ten moments on this list happened at Tennessee's concrete coliseum of speed.
Kyle Busch dominated the 2008 running of the fall night race at Bristol, leading over 80 percent of the event. But when Carl Edwards saw his opportunity on the final restart of the night, he pounced, putting the bumper to Busch to slide by and drive off to the victory.
An angry Busch decided to send a message to Edwards with a little doorslamming after the race was over, but probably got more than he bargained for when an unimtimidated Edwards returned the favor by turning the younger Busch brother around in a show of defiance.
The duo's postrace shenanigans earned them each a six-week probation period from NASCAR, but no other penalties.
It's hard to tell what the fans enjoyed more from this Bristol moment: the fact that Edwards stood up for himself and didn't let Busch push him around in postrace, or the fact that Busch led more than 400 laps that night and didn't win.
Watkins Glen, 2007: Kevin Harvick/Juan Pablo Montoya
While Bristol is notorious for its tendency to lead to crumpled fenders and hurt feelings, Watkins Glen has been steadily rising on the list of tracks that can provide some great moments involving angry drivers.
Juan Pablo Montoya and Kevin Harvick are two of the fiercest competitors that NASCAR has. So when the two came together late in the 2007 event at the Glen, fans knew there was the potential for some fireworks.
That potential was realized when Harvick got out of his car and approached Montoya, who was clearly in no mood to be pushed around. Their conversation led to a couple of shoves, but nothing overly physical.
But it still provided an exciting moment.
Darlington, 2011: Kevin Harvick/Kyle Busch
As their earlier appearances on this list have shown, Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick have both had their share of trouble avoiding confrontations in their NASCAR careers.
When Busch intentionally spun Harvick late in the 2011 Southern 500 at Darlington, it didn't take a genius to figure that Harvick would have words for Busch after the race.
Busch isn't an idiot and tried to avoid Harvick after the race, even darting back out onto the race track as Harvick drove towards him as seen in the video.
This cat-and-mouse game led to one of the most bizarre scenes in NASCAR history. As Harvick, who had parked his machine in front of Busch on pit road, exited his car and approached Busch's window, Busch stepped on the throttle, sending Harvick's driverless car crashing into the pit wall.
The situation pushed the boundaries of postrace confrontations and came close to crossing the line between being a spirited competitor and putting people in danger. NASCAR gave the two strict instructions to race each other clean and placed them on suspension for six races.
The buzz around the two remained for a few weeks, but both drivers minded their manners and the situation eventually died down.
Texas, 2011: Kyle Busch/Ron Hornaday
Busch got involved later in the year with Harvick...sort of.
While running in the Camping World Truck Series race at Texas Motor Speedway, Busch became agitated when he felt Ron Hornaday—driving a truck owned by Kevin Harvick Inc.—ran him into the outside wall as the two trucks passed a slower vehicle.
Busch put his nose on Hornaday's bumper and ran the No. 33 truck head-on into the outside wall at well over 140 mph after the caution flag had already waved.
NASCAR dropped the hammer on Busch, suspending him for the rest of the weekend, forcing him to miss both the Nationwide and Sprint Cup Series races at Texas.
Every moment on this list had been mostly comical. Some were, at the most, controversial. But this one was dangerous. Busch stood the chance of seriously injuring Hornaday, which rightly drew the ire of the sanctioning body and warranted a suspension.
Texas, 2010: Jeff Gordon/Jeff Burton
Jeff Gordon is in no way the most physically imposing presence on the Sprint Cup circuit.
So seeing him walk down the back straightaway at Texas Motor Speedway, knowing what was coming next, was one of the best moments NASCAR has had in the last five years, at least.
Gordon and Jeff Burton tangled under caution during the 2011 AAA Texas 500. Burton said the contact was unintentional; Gordon didn't care.
He unbuckled and exited his No. 24 Chevrolet, and the NASCAR world watched as this man who had once drank milk on stage in lieu of champagne at the Sprint Cup awards banquet walked towards Jeff Burton looking like he was ready to duke it out.
Gordon didn't disappoint. He looked ready to go 12 rounds when he got his hands on Burton, though the two were quickly separated by NASCAR officials.
This kind of emotion and physicality is the epitome of a great NASCAR moment. It was the kind of show of passion and emotion that shows the fans that the drivers care.
And that's what makes the fans want to care, as well.