Ranking the Wildest NASCAR Moments in Dover International Speedway History
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Before you continue, let me get one thing straight, okay?
They do not call Dover Downs the "Monster Mile" for nothing.
It may look unassuming to the untrained eye, but many drivers would be eager to tell you otherwise. Ask Casey Mears when he lost control there in 2003 and caused a massive accident early on. Ask Dale Earnhardt Jr. how bad his head hurt when he bounced off the wall there driver-side first.
Dover has had no shortage of wild moments, and given the fact that it plays such a pivotal role in the Chase, it could be just as big a wild card as Talladega Superspeedway. Of course, given the track has as much personality as Darlington Raceway, to win here would be no easy feat.
So, if you think you can tame this concrete mile speedway, take a lesson from the following gentlemen. You just might learn how to tame the monster.
10. An All-American Win
Given the magnitude of the events that transpired in New York City, Washington D.C. and Shanksville, Pennsylvania on September 11, 2001, people were looking for even a hint of good news.
That good news came in the form of Dale Earnhardt Jr.
The race that was to take place at Loudon following the 9/11 attacks was postponed, making the MBNA Cal Ripken Jr. 400 at Dover the next race on the schedule. A lot of fans were eager to get back to racing in the whirlwind days following the attack, but once the cars took the green flag, fans were relieved and ready to get back to business, as were the drivers.
2001 had been the year of Junior, as he had become NASCAR's (and America's) favorite son. So when he took the win in the first race back following 9/11, it gave America a reason to smile again. It was a step in the right direction for our country.
9. In the Beginning...
The Busch name is synonymous with attitude. Both Kurt and younger brother Kyle have a lot of it, and there is no doubt that we'd be getting much of the same if any of their offspring decides to strap on a helmet and get to racing. They'd have success, yes, but they'd have a temper more suited for a sailor.
Kurt's rookie campaign in the truck series set records, as he won four times and finished second in points. But it was his third win of the season that really stood out when he came from the back to the front to win at Dover.
He had won the pole, but in practice, a tire let go, sending his No. 99 Exide Ford into the wall. He was forced to start 34th, but was leading by Lap 147. He battled with Mike Wallace for the lead until Lap 198, when Wallace ended up in the wall. Wallace would take his wrecked mount and express his distaste for Busch's method of victory under the ensuing caution, but Busch had won the race all the same.
Was this a harbinger for things to come?
(Fast forward to 1:40 in this video to see this incident)
8. The Right-Front Blues
We've seen our fair share of odd crashes over the years, but this is one of the oddest.
In the second race of the 2004 Chase for the NEXTEL Cup, Matt Kenseth was having a good points day when he had a tire go down. He started slowing down and was about to make a pit stop to get it fixed when he lost control of his No. 17.
Despite trying to save it, the car ended up smashing into the tire barrier before climbing it. The mess caused a 12-minute stoppage while the track crew cleaned it up, but Kenseth was ultimately okay. Props to Jimmie Johnson's crew for being some of the first on the scene.
7. That Had to Hurt
Kasey Kahne took the racing world by storm as a rookie in 2004. He racked up such a large amount of top fives and top 10s that fans were certain he would win a race or two in 2004. He came close, tantalizingly close, but faced repetitive heartbreak.
No heartbreak he had that year would be as bad as the heartbreak he had that June at Dover.
The No. 9 Dodge of Kahne was leading, which was a typical sight in 2004. He seemed to be pulling away from his closest challenger, Mark Martin. But when the No. 41 of Casey Mears dropped some oil on the track, Kahne went from looking at the track ahead to looking at oncoming traffic, as his Dodge backed into the wall (sans SAFER barrier) hard.
Brian Vickers, Robby Gordon and Matt Kenseth were also wiped out in the wreck, but thankfully nobody was injured, which was a miracle given the enormity of the impact from Kahne's Dodge.
Just another day at Dover, right?
6. Jones vs. Bessey
Around the time one of NASCAR's most underrated feuds kicked into high gear between Buckshot Jones and Randy LaJoie, Jones had a brief run-in with Joe Bessey at Dover.
Late in the going at the 1997 MBNA 200, it was looking to be a downright brawl for the lead between LaJoie and Jones, both of whom absolutely detested each other. With LaJoie leading, Jones was in second with Bessey in third, not too far behind the two.
Jones was able to take the lead from LaJoie without too much trouble, but while they were fighting it out, Bessey was able to overcome LaJoie for second. His sights were now set on the smarmy young whippersnapper in the No. 00.
Coming onto the backstretch with 13 to go, Bessey was on the inside when Jones came down. In response, Bessey held his line, and Jones caught the bad end of the deal in the form of a No. 00 Aquafresh Pontiac with a slightly used up nose.
The accident ended Buckshot Racing's day, but before they packed up and left, they decided to make sure that Bessey knew they weren't happy with him by blocking off the entrance to Victory Lane. This was no sweat for Bessey, as he drove through the crew on his way to celebrate.
I could only imagine the smile on LaJoie's face when this all unfolded.
5. The Big One...?
When you hear "The Big One," you immediately think of the grinding crashes at Daytona and Talladega where 17 or 18 drivers are unlucky enough to get swept up in the mess and at least one or two drivers feel the need to turn their car turtle somehow.
But at Dover? Man, c'mon...wait, really?
Late in the June 2004 race at Dover, Dave Blaney and Michael Waltrip made contact following a restart and Blaney was sent spinning. Spinning car, plus narrow track, plus restart equals absolute mayhem that is uncharacteristic for Dover of all places.
Jimmie Johnson, Greg Biffle, Jeremy Mayfield, Blaney and Jamie McMurray were among those left cursing under their breaths (or loudly, depends on their prerogative). But fortunately (and thankfully), all drivers walked away without injury.
Fast forward to 8:13 to see the carnage.
4. Wild Ride, Part One
If they were to eliminate Dover from the NASCAR schedule tomorrow, Joey Logano would probably be one of the happiest guys on the planet. Sure, he's had plenty of success there in the Nationwide Series, but he's had two of his most vicious accidents there.
Dover's retaining walls are unforgiving, especially down the frontstretch and the backstretch, and Logano found this out during the 2011 5-hour Energy 200, when he got loose coming to the checkered flag and slapped it hard. His No. 20 Toyota rocketed back down the track and into the path of Clint Bowyer's No. 33.
Bowyer's No. 33 was launched onto it's side and almost over the pit road wall while other cars were caught caught up in the mess, such as Steven Wallace's No. 66 Toyota and defending Nationwide champion Brad Keseloski's No. 22 Dodge.
The crash, although spectacular, was injury-free, and Carl Edwards took the victory ahead of all the carnage.
3. Think He's Mad?
Getting Jimmy Spencer mad is akin to pissing off a rattlesnake. It just doesn't bode well for whoever they're mad at.
Case in point: At Dover in 1996, both he and Wally Dallenbach were running mid-pack when trouble broke out in front of them. Contact was made between the two as he tried to slow down, and as a result, both drivers were among the casualties is the mess.
It was an accident. That's racin'. It happens. Take your pick of racing witticisms, but the result was the same in that both Fords lay crumpled up at the exit to pit road. But it doesn't end there.
Spencer exited his car and instead of just walking away or just sauntering off into the sunset, he bolts to Dallenbach's Ford as if he was Usain Bolt going for the gold, and proceeds to subject the hapless driver to a verbal tirade that (thankfully) the television cameras couldn't pick up.
Dallenbach got out as Spencer walked back to his car, and the two exchanged a few more barbs before Spencer ultimately walked away. I guess Dallenbach should be grateful he wasn't viewed in the same light as a young Kurt Busch back then.
2. How Did He Do That?
Seriously, how did he do that?
While qualifying at Dover in June of 2006, Jimmie Johnson was poised to put up a decent qualifying time when his No. 48 snapped loose coming off of Turn 4. The Chevrolet was sliding backwards heading straight for the inside wall, and everyone knew that disaster was imminent.
The car spun the other way while sliding towards the wall, and when it didn't hit the wall it executed a series of 360-degree spins, with each one coming tantalizingly close to smacking the wall. However, he got his car corrected and drove to the garage without so much as a scratch on the Lowe's Chevrolet.
Although he would spin out in the race, he'd come back to finish sixth while Matt Kenseth took the win. 2006 was definitely Jimmie Johnson's year.
Check Jeff Gordon in the video at :18.
1. Wild Ride, Part Two
Joey Logano made headlines early in his Sprint Cup career with this accident, as it stands out as one of the most vicious wrecks in recent memory. This wreck was uncharacteristic for Dover, but then again the "Monster Mile" hasn't been that sweet on rookies anyway.
Following a restart early in the second race of the 2009 Chase for the Sprint Cup, Logano was tagged from behind by the previous occupant of the No. 20 Home Depot Toyota, Tony Stewart. Logano slid down the backstretch before shooting back up the track into the No. 43 of Reed Sorenson, who was hit by the No. 7 of Robby Gordon and the No. 1 of Martin Truex Jr.
Sorenson's Dodge was pushed underneath Logano's Toyota, sending it up and over, barrel-rolling it's way down the banking before coming to rest on all four tires. A brief moment of tension ensued before Logano radioed his crew, telling them he was okay. Applause erupted from the crowd as Logano then emerged shaken, but otherwise okay.
How's that for wild?
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