From Dale Earnhardt to Kyle Busch: The Top 25 Bump-and-Runs of All-Time
Nextel Open 2005: Brian Vickers Steals All-Star Spot from Mike Bliss
Drivers will do a lot of things when $1 million is on the line. Vickers showed in 2005 that drivers will also do a lot when they are attempting to qualify for a shot at $1 million as well.
Vickers ran down Bliss in the closing laps of the Open, but he had just reached the bumper of Bliss’ car on the final lap. Without time to attempt a traditional pass, Vickers went with the bump-and-run.
Bliss spun through the grass off the front bumper of Vickers, and although he made it across the finish line, he was edged out by Vickers. Bliss was understandably fuming after the race, but Vickers got to move on to the main event.
Chicagoland 2006: Jeff Gordon Dumps Matt Kenseth for the Win
Neither driver is known for being aggressive, but the action was intense as the two battled for the lead in the closing laps at Chicagoland.
Gordon made several attempts to get underneath Kenseth, but the No. 17 was able to pinch Gordon down and continue to maintain the lead. Gordon had the faster car, and he wasn’t going to let a potential win get a way.
He gave Kenseth a slight tap, but at 185 mph, even a slight bump can cause problems. Kenseth’s car wiggled up the track a bit before spinning down toward the inside wall. The No 17 wasn’t damaged, but he lost more than 20 spots. Meanwhile, Gordon cruised to the win.
Watkins Glen 2007: Tony Stewart Doesn’t Need to Use the Bumper
As the laps dwindled at The Glen leader Jeff Gordon was doing all he could to hold off a hard charging Tony Stewart. “Smoke” had reached the back bumper of the No. 24 several time but had yet to make a move for the top spot.
With two laps to go, Stewart chased Gordon into Turn 1. In his desperation to stay out front, Gordon locked up the brakes and wheel hopped his car into a spin. Stewart inherited the lead and went on to win, and he never had to actually put the bumper to Gordon.
Talk about intimidation. Everyone watching the race knew the bump-and-run was coming, even Gordon. Plain and simple, Gordon choked. In his attempt to avoid getting knocked out of the lead by Stewart, he knocked himself out.
Michigan 2006: Dale Earnhardt Jr. Wins and Nearly Loses a Hand
This now Nationwide Series race featured some classic Michigan action with Junior and Carl Edwards using different lines as they battled for the top spot.
The two came together on the final lap, and Junior put the bumper to the No. 60 of Edwards. As Edwards went spinning, Junior went on to win. It was a move that Edwards himself as used numerous time, but for some reason he took exception.
While Junior celebrated by waving out the window to the crowd, Edwards returned to the track and slammed into the side of Junior’s car. Replays showed that Edwards came within a few feet of destroying Junior’s hand.
It is an incident is often forgotten because nothing serious actually happened, but it could have been one of the ugliest retaliation’s in NASCAR history had the sport’s most popular driver lost a hand.
Montreal 2007: Robby Gordon Refuses to Answer Black Flag
In a forgotten Nationwide race in Montreal, road course experts Marcos Ambrose and Robby Gordon took part in one of the strangest finishes in series history.
Ambrose was all over Gordon in the closing laps, and he was attempting to bump his way by, spinning Gordon just as the caution flag flew. NASCAR ruled that Ambrose’s bump occurred before the caution came out, and ordered Gordon to restart back in the pack.
Gordon disagreed with the ruling and refused to answer the black flag. When the race restarted, he delivered a bump-and-run of his own to Ambrose, finished the race, and proceeded to celebrate as if he had won.
In the end, Kevin Harvick won the race. Gordon was disqualified, and Ambrose ended up getting spun by a driver that wasn’t even supposed to be on the track. Why NASCAR restarted the race with Gordon in the wrong starting spot is a mystery, but it sure made for a classic finish.
Daytona 2009: Tony Stewart Gets the Best of Kyle Busch
Stewart had established his No. 14 Chevy as the car to beat all night, leading more than 100 laps and being all but untouchable out front.
His third career win in the July event at the track seemed like a foregone conclusion until Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin got hooked up on the final lap, pushing Busch to the lead.
Stewart wasn’t going to be denied, and he loosened up Busch coming out of Turn 4 and attempted to pass the No. 18 on the high side. When Busch moved up to block, Stewart cut across his rear bumper, turning Busch into the outside wall.
“Smoke” picked up the win, but he made it clear during the post-race interviews that he was less than thrilled about what he had to do to get it.
Richmond 2005: Carl Edwards Shows No Sympathy for Hometown Driver
It was the Busch Series back then, and Elliott Sadler appeared headed to a victory in front of his home track fans at Richmond until a late caution brought the field back together.
He retained the lead on the restart, but Edwards quickly closed the gap. Exiting Turn 2, Edwards drove through the back bumper of Sadler’s car. Sadler managed to keep his car off the wall, but Edwards grabbed the lead and picked up the win.
Edwards is popular with the fans, but his smooth talking in post-race interviews hides the fact that he is as ruthless as any driver in the series right now. There’s nothing wrong with being aggressive, but Edwards certainly doesn’t like to own up to his tactics.
Nashville 2004: Michael Waltrip’s Wacky Win
Waltrip has 11 career victories in the Nationwide Series, but none stranger than his victory at Nashville in the then Busch Series.
Kyle Busch and Clint Bowyer were battling for the lead on the final lap when Bowyer decided to try the bump-and-run heading into Turn 3. Bowyer stuffed Busch into the wall, wrecking both cars.
Robby Gordon and Johnny Benson were collected in the accident as well, leaving the fifth-place-running Waltrip to inherit the lead and the victory.
Talladega 2009: Carl Edwards Goes Airborne
More often than not, the bump-and-run is used at a short track, but Brad Keselowski didn’t get the memo.
Driving for James Finch, Keselowski became a surprise factor for the win at Talladega in 2009. Coming to the checkers, he was running on the back bumper of leader Carl Edwards. Keselowski pulled his No. 09 to the inside of the No. 99, and when Edwards tried to block, Keselowski turned him sideways.
The bump caused Edwards’ car to go airborne and crash into the outside fence, tearing the No. 99 to shreds. Keselowski won the race, but the violent crash was part of an on-going feud between the two drivers.
Martinsville 2009: Jimmie Johnson Denies Denny Hamlin a Win
Hamlin had the car to beat all afternoon, but as the laps dwindled it was clear that Johnson was going to be a factor.
With 15 laps to go Johnson put the bumper the back of Hamlin’s No. 11, shoving him up the track just enough to stick his nose underneath. Johnson was able t overtake Hamlin in the next corner and pulled away to the win.
At the time, it was Johnson’s fifth win in six starts at Martinsville. In many ways, this was Johnson’s last stand. Hamlin has reeled off three straight wins at the track since Johnson’s bump-and-run.
Richmond 2001: Ricky Rudd Pays Back Kevin Harvick
It was the year that Kevin Harvick took over for Dale Earnhardt after the legend’s tragic death at Daytona. With 18 laps to go in the race, Harvick decided he would try to channel his inner Earnhardt.
He tabbed the rear bumper of Rudd, sending the No. 28 Ford toward the inside wall. Rudd made an incredible save, and with six laps to go, he had tracked down Harvick.
Rudd repaid the favor, bumping his way by Harvick to regain the lead. From there, he cruised to an easy win and taught the rookie a lesson.
What’s that old saying? “If you’re going to hang them, hang them high.”
Bristol 1997: Jeff Gordon’s Last Lap Bump on Rusty Wallace
Wallace is one of the best drivers in the history of Bristol Motor Speedway. His nine wins are the second-most in track history, but he would have one more if not for a well-timed bump from Gordon.
Despite having the dominant car for most of the night, Wallace’s No. 2 machine began to get loose during the final run. Gordon trailed by two car lengths entering the final lap, but he decided to make a desperation move after taking the white flag.
Gordon dove hard into Turn 1, tapping Wallace just enough to send his already loose racecar up the track. Gordon snuck to the inside, took the lead, and went on to win the race.
Bristol 1995: Terry Labonte Survives Bump from Dale Earnhardt
Technically, this bump-and-run attempt was a failure, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t one of the best of all-time.
Labonte had the car to beat and the lead, but heavy lap traffic allowed Earnhardt to close. He got to the back bumper of the No. 5 just in time for the final lap.
As the two exited Turn 4, Earnhardt slammed into the back of Labonte’s car. Labonte stood on the gas and was able to cross the finish line ahead of Earnhardt before spinning off the nose of the No. 3. The No. 5 car was reduced to a smoking pile of sheet metal, but his wrecked racecar managed to make it to Victory Lane.
Bristol 2008: Carl Edwards Bullies Kyle Busch
The two drivers combined to win 17 races in 2008, and this was one of the rare head-to-head showdowns between the two.
Busch dominated most of the night, leading 415 of the 500 laps. A victory for Busch seemed like a foregone conclusion, but Edwards had other ideas. He bumped his way around Busch on the final restart, and pulled away for the win.
The action didn’t end there, and Busch ran into Edwards on the track after the race. Edwards responded by spinning out Busch and continuing with his celebration.
Daytona 1979: A Boxing Match Breaks out in the Infield
One of the classic races in the sport’s history featured a duel between two legends. Cale Yarborough and Bobby Allison were battling for a win in the Daytona 500, and the racing got physical on the final lap.
Rather than a traditional bump-and-run, the two began making contact as they raced side-by-side. Both drivers lost control, hitting the wall and ending up in the infield grass.
Richard Petty would skate by for the win, but the real action was still going on between Yarborough and Allison. Fists were flying between the two drivers, and Bobby’s brother Donnie joined the mix.
The race was the first to be televised start to finish by CBS, and it is safe to say that the fireworks on and off the track helped shaped an image for the sport that has helped carry NASCAR to the mainstream.
Richmond 2008: Kyle Busch Becomes Most-Hated Man in NASCAR
This was another example of a failed attempt at a bump-and-run, but the impact of Busch’s bump on Junior can’t be underestimated.
The action picked up after the unstoppable car of Denny Hamlin cut a tire with 18 laps to go. Junior inherited the lead until a caution set up a green-white-checkered finish. Busch dove to the inside of Junior on the restart and shoved the No. 88 up the track and into the wall. Busch slid up the track as well, opening the door for Clint Bowyer to sneak by and win.
After the race Busch was booed mercilessly by the fans, but his message was clear. He doesn’t care what a driver’s last name is. He doesn’t care what the fans think of him. He is willing to do whatever it takes to win.
Infineon 1991: Ricky Rudd Loses Win on Controversial Call
A wild final 10 laps left several race leaders spinning, and had Davey Allison out front with one lap to go.
Rudd had made several runs at Allison in the final laps, but he couldn’t get around him for the lead. On the final lap, he stood in the gas when Allison tried another block attempt and the two cars made contact.
Allison went for a spin, and Rudd cruised to a win, or at least that is how it appeared. NASCAR inexplicably threw a black flag on Rudd and awarded the victory to Allison. To this day, it remains one of the strangest decisions race officials have made. For whatever reason, this bump-and-run was not acceptable.
Richmond 2003: Johnny Sauter Wins Wild Busch Series Event
For those that don’t watch what is now called the Nationwide Series, the 2003 Funai 250 at Richmond was one of the greatest races of the last decade.
Scott Riggs had an epic rant about Ron Hornaday Jr., mocking Hornaday’s “King of Restarts” nickname as well as calling him the “most disrespectful” in the series.
That was just the beginning.
The closing laps featured a heated battle between Matt Kenseth and Johnny Sauter. Kenseth bumped his way to the lead coming to the white flag, and Sauter responded by practically running over Kenseth in the next corner.
It was more of a slam-and-run than a bump-and-run, but Sauter came away with the win.
After the race, Sauter said that his move was “absolutely” intentional, and Kenseth had another thing coming if he thought he could rough him up.
Pocono 2000: Jeremy Mayfield Isn’t Intimidated
Before he was busy defending himself in the courtroom for drug-related issues, Mayfield was actually a decent racecar driver. In 2000 at Pocono, he delivered one of the gutsiest bump-and-runs in NASCAR history.
Trailing the legendary Dale Earnhardt with one lap to go, Mayfield closed the gap in the tunnel turn. Entering the final turn, he nudged Earnhardt out of the way and picked up the win.
It was rare to see anyone challenge “The Intimidator” on the track, especially an unproven driver like Mayfield was at the time. Give him credit for showing no fear and for making a race at Pocono a little less boring.
Richmond 1986: Kyle Petty Falls into First Cup Win
Petty was running fifth in the closing laps of the race. He was heading for a solid day, but his winless drought was going to extend to 171 races.
Meanwhile, Darrell Waltrip and Dale Earnhardt were battling for the lead. Earnhardt went for the bump-and-run, but he and Waltrip both went for a spin when Earnhardt put the bumper to Waltrip in Turn 3.
Third-place Joe Nemechek was collected in the aftermath, and fourth-place Geoff Bodine plowed into Earnhardt. Suddenly, Petty found himself in the lead after being a non-factor for the win.
Petty didn’t use the bump-and-run to pick up his first career win, but he definitely benefitted from the move.
Bristol 2002: Kurt Busch Muscles Up Jimmy Spencer
Spencer was known as one of Bristol’s toughest competitors, and Busch was a second-year driver seeking his first career win in the Cup Series.
When Spencer took the lead with 34 laps to go, the race should have been over, but nobody told Busch. The next lap, he tapped the rear bumper of Spencer’s Dodge and muscled his way back into the lead.
Busch was unapologetic and Spencer was shocked. The bump-and-run would be the catalyst for a prominent feud between the two drivers that eventually led to Spencer punching Busch after a race at Michigan. Spencer was suspended, and Busch’s popularity took a serious hit as many people blamed his lack of respect on the track for all the problems.
Daytona 1976: David Pearson Limps Across for the Win
On the final lap of the Daytona 500, Pearson used a slingshot maneuver to grab the lead from Richard Petty. Petty used a crossover move to regain the lead, but when he attempted to slam the door on Pearson, the fun really began.
Pearson didn’t lift, and he slammed into the rear of Petty’s No. 43. Both cars jumped sideways, hitting the wall and sliding into the infield grass. Petty was unable to get his car refired, but Pearson limped through the grass and crossed the finish line for the win.
It was a classic showdown between two of the sport’s all-time greats.
Bristol 2002: Jeff Gordon and Rusty Wallace Experience Déjà Vu
Did I say that Wallace would have one more Bristol win if not for Gordon? Well, you better make that two.
Both drivers entered the race mired in long winless droughts, but it appeared Wallace was going to end his. Gordon had other ideas.
He didn’t need last lap heroics this time around. With five laps to go, Gordon used an identical bump-and-run maneuver to grab the top spot and went on to pick up the win.
In terms of perfect execution of the move, Gordon’s bumps and Wallace were textbook examples.
All-Star Race 1992: One Hot Night
It was the second of back-to-back wins in the event for Davey Allison, but it was a far cry from his 1991 win when he led every lap of the event and crossed the finish line uncontested.
This time around, he would have to fight off Dale Earnhardt and Kyle Petty.
Driving a chassis known nicknamed 007 because of the car’s ability to pull out wins regardless of the circumstances, Allison’s Ford again lived up to its title.
Heading into Turn 3 on the final lap, Petty loosened up Earnhardt, sending the No. 3 spinning. He then set his sights on the leader Allison coming to the finish line. Petty attempted another bump-and-run, and this time Allison went spinning.
Allison slammed into the outside wall, but he managed to cross the finish line first. The wrecked actually knocked Allison unconscious, and he didn’t find out he had won the race until he awoke at the hospital.
Bristol 1999: Dale Earnhardt Rattles Terry Labonte’s Cage
I told you earlier that these two would make another appearance.
This time Earnhardt had the dominant car, but some late race pit strategy had him restarting outside the top-five with four fresh tires late in the race.
Earnhardt charged back through the field and wasted little time dispatching Labonte when he reached the bumper of the No. 5. Earnhardt sent Labonte spinning into the outside wall, causing a multi-car wreck behind him. Meanwhile, Earnhardt cruised to the win.
He was greeted in Victory Lane by a shower of boos, and Earnhardt delivered one of the most famous post-race lines in NASCAR history.
“I didn’t mean to wreck. I just wanted to rattle his cage a little.”