Ranking the 10 Strangest Accidents in NASCAR History

Joseph SheltonContributor IIIMay 9, 2013

Ranking the 10 Strangest Accidents in NASCAR History

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    Tighten your belts, you are now entering the Speedway Zone.

    Accidents in NASCAR are as commonplace as breathing in your everyday life. Although the causes of these accidents (blown tires, hot tempers, minor bumps) can be limited, every once in a while you'll witness an accident that leaves you scratching your head and asking yourself how in the world that happened.

    Here is a list of the strangest accidents in NASCAR history.

10. 1998 USA 200 at Daytona

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    During the 1998 Goody's Dash Series season opener at Daytona, fans were treated to exciting pack racing that only a track like Daytona could produce.

    Of course, another Daytona staple is the high speeds and the ensuing instability of the race cars circling the track. Often enough, an unstable race car could very likely go over, as evidenced in the numerous accidents that have taken place at Daytona and Talladega over the years.

    But what about whenever two cars turn turtle?

    Early in the race, the No. 48 of A.J. Franks was leading when coming off of Turn 4 he was turned sideways. His wheels caught into the surface of the track and he flipped onto his roof. The pack was bearing down on his overturned Pontiac when Will Hobgood's car was sent around. As a result, he too turned over.

    Hobgood eventually ended up on his wheels while Franks was stuck upside down. Both drivers escaped injury.

    Did anyone else notice the yellow car randomly spin in the background?


9. 2002 EA Sports 500 at Talladega

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    When Sterling Marlin was sidelined with a neck injury late in the 2002 Winston Cup season, it opened the door for several other championship hopefuls. Coming into the 2002 EA Sports 500 at Talladega, one such hopeful was rookie sensation Jimmie Johnson.

    NASCAR fans witnessed history the week before at Kansas when Johnson left the weekend as the first rookie to ever lead the Winston Cup points. Due to that, when qualifying was rained out at Talladega, Johnson claimed the pole by default while perennial title contender Mark Martin started on the outside pole.

    Things changed before the green flag even had a chance to be picked up.

    While warming the tires, the steering on Martin's No. 6 Ford locked up, and he shot back down the track and into Johnson.

    Martin clipped the right front of Johnson's No. 48, causing significant damage to both cars and sending both into the grass. In the ensuing chaos, Martin was black-flagged and forced to come to pit road to correct the problem while Johnson started the race.

    However, Johnson too came onto pit road almost immediately after to fix the damage done to his Chevrolet. Both drivers would go on to have dismal days, as Martin would finish 30th, two laps down, and Johnson would suffer a debilitating engine failure that left him 37th in the end.

8. 2008 NASCAR Nationwide Testing at Daytona

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    Steve Wallace has never had sterling luck when it comes to keeping his cars in one piece. More often than not during his Nationwide Series career he was either backward or turning others backward. 

    But in 2008, things just got absurd.

    During preseason testing at Daytona, he was taking his No. 66 Rusty Wallace Inc. Chevrolet through the paddock on his way to the track when he lost control and crashed into the fence. Not a speedway fence, no. A chain-link fence. As you can see, his Chevrolet lost that battle.

    There is no hiding from that sort of shame. None at all.

7. 2013 DRIVE4COPD 300 at Daytona

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    One of the strangest accidents in recent memory also happened to be one of the scariest. 

    Coming to the checkered flag at this year's DRIVE4COPD 300 at Daytona, chaos erupted as Regan Smith's No. 7 Chevy was turned into the wall. As usual in the midst of a heated pack race, those behind him were wadded up as well.

    Meanwhile, the No. 32 of rookie Kyle Larson got airborne and into the fence, shearing off the front of his car. Now, although this isn't the first time an airborne car clobbered the catch fence, what makes this strange is the enormity of the accident as several fans were seriously injured

    Fortunately, there were no fatalities, and no drivers were injured.

6. 1995 Goody's 500 at Bristol

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    Dale Earnhardt. Terry Labonte. Bristol Motor Speedway.

    Thank you very much.

    Two of NASCAR's old guard put on a memorable show for the Bristol crowd in August of 1995, in a spectacular, yet strange, finish. Although Labonte took his No. 5 Chevy to the Winner's Circle, it was Earnhardt in his black No. 3 Chevy who stole the show.

    After wrecking Rusty Wallace earlier in the night and damaging his nose during a restart, Earnhardt found himself running down Labonte's sizable lead as the laps wound down. As they approached a gaggle of lapped cars, Earnhardt figured he had to make a move.

    He bumped Labonte, in hopes of moving him out of the way. Instead, Labonte chased it, bounced awkwardly off of Ward Burton and smashed the front of his Monte Carlo into the frontstretch wall. 

    That didn't matter, as it wasn't enough for Earnhardt to claim the win. Instead, he settled for second place. Still, he made sure that if he couldn't win, his presence would be felt in Victory Lane.

5. 2011 5-Hour Energy 200 at Dover

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    Rookies have it tough, but sometimes, things are tougher than they need to be.

    Case in point: At the 2011 5-Hour Energy 200 at Dover, rookie Alex Kennedy was going along, trying to get a good finish when his No. 23 Dodge found the wall off of Turn 2. Once he bounced off the wall, he shot across the track and impacted the backstretch wall.

    Instead of staying where he was, he decided to try and take it back to pit road. However, his steering column locked up, and Kevin Swindell had no place to go. Swindell's Ford was demolished while Kennedy's front clip was almost sheared completely off.

    Ouch. 

4. 2008 Aaron's 312 at Talladega

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    Driver stupidity knows no bounds.

    During the spring Nationwide race in Talladega in 2008, fans were treated to a typical Talladega race with plenty of lead changes and side-by-side pack racing. Many were expecting to see Kyle Busch win his fourth straight race, while many more were expecting The Big One to strike. 

    Busch fans would be disappointed, while TBO fans were delighted.

    Late in the race, the No. 61 of Kevin Lepage was coming off of pit road, and instead of staying below the yellow line as the rest of the pack bore down on him, he decided to join them even though he was going much slower than they were.

    The result? A huge wreck that saw Carl Edwards go airborne and several good cars get destroyed, including Busch's No. 18 Toyota. Blame of the wreck was placed squarely on Lepage's shoulders. 

    As long as he has been in NASCAR, it was surprising to see him pull such a stunt.

3. 2007 Daytona 500

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    Late in the 2007 Daytona 500, Ken Schrader and Dave Blaney were both having decent runs. However, when Carl Edwards planted his No. 99 Ford into the wall, the ensuing beating and banging left Blaney's No. 22 with a flat right-front tire. 

    As if he was expecting a big wreck to happen, he took to pit road at full speed, trying to scrub off some momentum.

    Meanwhile, Schrader is running side-by-side with Clint Bowyer when his windshield happens to fill with a runaway yellow Toyota. Schrader first plowed into Blaney, then he plowed into the wall. 

    Of course, this moment was going to be overshadowed by a fateful last lap that went down in the history books, as Kevin Harvick mounted a charge that landed him in Victory Lane.

2. 2012 Pure Michigan 400

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    Not in a million years could such a hit produce no injuries at all.

    Early in the Pure Michigan 400 last year, pole-sitter Mark Martin was in a group of cars when the No. 42 of Juan Pablo Montoya and the No. 47 of Bobby Labonte made contact, sending Labonte around. 

    As Martin got his Toyota slowed up, he was hit from behind by the No. 5 of Kasey Kahne, sending both cars around. 

    Martin's car barely glanced the pit wall, which swung his car back around. It looked to be a tame hit, however, as his rear swung back around he made contact with the end of the pit wall. 

    The concrete pierced the driver's side of the No. 55, but miraculously Martin emerged unscathed as the wall went through the side of the car behind his seat. 

    It's amazing how this wasn't any worse.

1. 1990 Budweiser 250 at Bristol

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    Of all the crashes that are etched into the memory of every NASCAR fan, this one ranks high on the list.

    During the Busch Series Budweiser 250 at Bristol in 1990, Michael Waltrip was having a fairly good day when contact from Robert Pressley sent him into the outside wall. 

    What looked to be a small hit turned into a terrifying ordeal as an open crossover gate left an opening in the wall that split Waltrip's car down the middle. 

    Certain that Waltrip was hurt, if not dead, those who witnessed the crash were surprised when Waltrip stood up and emerged virtually unharmed from the wreckage.

    Just watching the interview with his older brother Darrell brings home the enormity of the crash. Thankfully, Waltrip was able to stick around NASCAR for many years to come.