NASCAR: The 20 Most Dangerous Drivers in Cup History

Todd JacobsCorrespondent IDecember 30, 2010

NASCAR: The 20 Most Dangerous Drivers in Cup History

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    NASCAR's most dangerous drivers are never far away from a spectacular crash. Which of these drivers made the list?Jerry Markland/Getty Images

    The list of 20 most dangerous drivers of all time is a subjective task and will lead to endless debate.

    However, with the following 20 drivers listed, there should be no disagreements with anyone making the list.

    The obscure drivers may not jump to mind immediately but they deserve to make the list just the same.

No. 20: Darrell Waltrip

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    Darrell Waltrip never had the reputation as a dangerous driver but he was never afraid to show the bumper to the back markers.Mike Powell/Getty Images

    Darrell Waltrip's most famous run-ins were with Dale Earnhardt Sr. but he was never afraid to to be aggressive with the drivers logging laps at the back of the field either. Waltrip was never the most patient driver when he had a good piece.

    He was smart in his technique and back in the old days there were not as many cameras around.

No. 19: David Ragan

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    David Ragan wadded up more Roush Fenway metal than anyone else in the last two years.John Harrelson/Getty Images

    David Ragan is young and he takes chances. 

    Ragan must produce in 2011 and this could make him the most dangerous driver on the 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup circuit. 

    Ragan was expected to improve in regards to protecting his equipment but he has yet to prove he can finish all 36 races in one season.

No. 18: Jeremy Mayfield

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    Jeremy Mayfield was the first major NASCAR star ever suspended for drug use.Jason Smith/Getty Images

    Mayfield was never known as a dangerous driver until after it was known he may have driven under the influence of a controlled substance. 

    Jeremy Mayfield's NASCAR career ended in May of 2009 after failing a drug test.

    Although the drug test results were never released officially by NASCAR, they did specify it was a recreational drug and not performance enhancing.

No. 17: Jimmy Spencer

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    Jimmy Spencer was known as Mr Excitement when he raced and he earned the name on more than a few occasions.Craig Jones/Getty Images

    Jimmy Spencer was nicknamed "Mr. Excitement" by his peers and always did his best to earn the moniker. 

    Spencer was an old school driver that was never afraid to put himself and competitors in dangerous positions if it meant he had the opportunity to win.

No. 16: Dale Earnhardt Sr.

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    Dae Earnhardt Sr was at his most dangerous in restrictor plate races and he walked away from this wreck at Daytona in 1997.Getty Images/Getty Images

    One of Dale Earnhardt Sr.'s most famous quotes was, "I just wanted to rattle his cage."  The quote was delivered after he wrecked Terry Labonte for the win at Bristol. 

    Until he met his demise at the 2001 Daytona 500, Earnhardt took his most dangerous chances at the superspeedways and he walked away from many accidents at Talladega and Dayton.

No. 15: JJ Yeley

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    JJ Yeley has struggled to find a good ride since leaving Joe Gibbs Racing & his proclivity for tearing up race cars is legelndary.John Harrelson/Getty Images

    JJ Yeley is one of the most talented sprint car drivers on the short half-mile dirt tracks across the country, but he could never get the hang of racing the NASCAR Sprint Cup series. 

    Yeley's tour of duty with Joe Gibbs Racing was a mix of bad luck and over aggressive driving at times.

No. 14: Sam Hornish Jr.

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    Roger Penske is one of the most patient owners in the NASCAR Sprint Cup garage but he finally had to drop Hornish from his NASCA Sprint Cup team.Chris Graythen/Getty Images

    Sam Hornish Jr. was dominant in the Indy Racing League for Roger Penske but he has failed miserably in the NASCAR Sprint Cup series. 

    Sam Hornish's career in the Cup has been highlighted by spectacular crashes and zero trips to victory lane. 

    If this list were "Most Dangerous NASCAR Sprint Cup Drivers of the Decade" Hornish would be in the top five.

No. 13: Brad Keselowski

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    Brad Keselowski (09) earned his first NASCAR Sprint Cup win as he buried the throttle and held his line. This vaulted Carl Edwards into the catch fence at Talladega.Jerry Markland/Getty Images

    Brad Keselowski is heading into his second year with the NASCAR Sprint Cup series.

    His first season was marked by more than a few retaliatory bumps and shoves.

    Carl Edwards, Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin are among the NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers in battles with the young Keselowski early in his career.

No. 12: Cale Yarbourough

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    Cale Yarbourough earned his three consecutive NASCAR Sprint Cup titles by never backing down.Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images

    Cale Yarbourough was never afraid to take chances in his NASCAR Sprint Cup career. 

    He won three consecutive NASCAR titles by getting his front bumper under his fellow NASCAR competitors and rooting them out of the way. His most famous incident with Donnie Allison in the 1979 Daytona 500 showed how fierce a competitor he really was.

    In that famous crash he refused to let Allison win as he wrecked both cars on the final lap.

No. 11: Kurt Busch

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    Kurt Busch has torn up some equipment over the years & qualifies as a dangerous NASCAR Sprint Cup driver at times.Harry How/Getty Images

    Those that thought Kurt Busch may have mellowed with age were reminded of his long memory late in the 2010 NASCAR Sprint Cup season.

    Busch retaliated against Jeff Gordon for a small incident during the Martinsville race but he made it known it was payback for an incident in Sonoma four months prior to Martinsville.

    In the Sonoma race Jeff Gordon raised the ire of several Cup regulars including Busch. Gordon cut down Busch's tire as the two battled for ground late in the race.

No. 10: Kevin Harvick

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    Kevin Harvick has matured as a NASCAR Sprint Cup driver but in his early career he was considered a dangerous NASCAR Sprint Cup driver.John Harrelson/Getty Images

    Kevin Harvick began his NASCAR Sprint Cup career by taking the seat of the legendary Dale Earnhardt Sr.

    The pressure and the expectations were immediate and Harvick took many chances in his first few seasons. This led to a reputation as a dangerous driver early in his career.

No. 9: Steve Park

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    Steve Park was tabbed by Dale Earnhardt Sr to drive his first car in the early years of DEI.Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images

    Steve Park's NASCAR Sprint Cup career was littered with spectacular crashes and a few wins for his first owner Dale Earnhardt Sr. 

    Park's most spectacular crash came at the expense of then teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr. at Pocono Raceway. Park and Dale Jr went careening down the dangerous back stretch crashing into the inside guardrail and Park flipped several times. 

    The following is the TNT coverage of the crash on YouTube.

No. 8: Jeff Gordon

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    Jeff Gordon's crash at Dover ranks among the hardest impacts in modern sprint cup racing.Nick Laham/Getty Images

    Jeff Gordon's career is winding down and his patience is wearing thin. Over the last several years he has been involved in some of his most devastating accidents.

    Gordon has also been the victim of retaliation over the last few years as drivers have grown tired of the veteran NASCAR Sprint Cup champion.

No. 7: Juan Pablo Montoya

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    Juan Pablo Montoya has torn up plenty of equipment in his day and he taken more than a few drivers out of a race when he has lost patience.Chris McGrath/Getty Images

    The NASCAR Sprint Cup circuit has been a challenge for Juan Pablo Montoya and when he gets frustrated he may be the most dangerous NASCAR Sprint Cup driver heading into the next decade. 

    Juan Pablo Montoya has been involved in dust-ups with his own teammate Jamie McMurray and Kevin Harvick in recent years but those incidents are just the tip of the iceberg. 

    Montoya has learned to use his bumper and has never been afraid to mix it up.

No. 6: Kyle Busch

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    Kevin Harvick punted Kyle Busch to end the 2010 NASCAR Sprint Cup season.Chris Graythen/Getty Images

    Kyle Busch has won more NASCAR races in the three divisions over the last two years than any other driver.

    When winning races it is impossible not to take a few chances. Kyle Busch has been a marked man since entering NASCAR Sprint Cup and he has been the victim more than the aggressor in most instances. 

    Busch is not afraid to retaliate and (as in most sports) the officials always see the retaliation.

No. 5: Carl Edwards

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    Carl Edwards finished the season strong but he began the season wadded up at Daytona.John Harrelson/Getty Images

    The most dangerous Cup driver of 2010 was Carl Edwards hands down.

    Carl Edwards deliberately wrecked Brad Keselowski twice: once in the Cup race at Atlanta and once in front of the entire field at Gateway. 

    Both decisions could have ended tragically and the wreck at Gateway was compounded by the entire field coming to checkered flag with gas pedals mashed to the floor.

No. 4: Geoff Bodine

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    Geoff Bodine's worst crash of his career took place at Daytona.Robert Laberge/Getty Images

    Geoff Bodine and Dale Earnhardt Sr. were rivals for many years in the NASCAR Cup series, but Geoff Bodine annoyed more NASCAR drivers than just "The Intimidator." 

    Bodine was an ornery competitor in his day and he was never concerned about how it played out in the garage after the race was in the books.

No. 3: Robby Gordon

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    Robby Gordon tears up plenty of sheet metal but he is the owner of his own team since the early part of the decade.Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    Since Robby Gordon began racing his own equipment he has become less competitive on the NASCAR Sprint Cup circuit. 

    Gordon is still a good bet on the road courses but on the superspeedways, mile and half tracks, Gordon is only good for one thing: caution flags.

No. 2: Ernie Irvan

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    Ernie Irvan's reputation as one of NASCAR's most dangerous drivers is legendary.David Taylor/Getty Images

    Ernie Irvan was known by all of his fellow NASCAR drivers as the most dangerous driver on the track. 

    Most of his career many drivers avoided working with him on the track. 

    Irvan was never afraid to take chances in his career and in a recent interview with NASCAR Race Hub on Speed TV, he spoke of his reconciliation attempts. Speaking before a driver's meeting, Irvan apologized to all the drivers for his aggressive style and vowed to be a better driver.

No 1: Todd Bodine

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    Todd Bodine was a driver many NASCA Sprint Cup series drivers considered the most dangerous when he was on the circuit in early career.Craig Jones/Getty Images

    Having since moved on to the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, Todd Bodine was a wrecking machine during his NASCAR Sprint Cup career.

    Bodine has won two championships in NASCAR trucks but never made his mark in Cup. The only marks Todd Bodine made in Cup was along the walls of all the tracks he visited. 

    Bodine was not only the most dangerous NASCAR Sprint Cup driver in the history of the sport, he may have the record for most monetary expenses per race in NASCAR history.

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