No matter how skilled they are, every NASCAR driver has had the unfortunate experience of getting into a crash. One can only imagine the helplessness felt by these drivers as they fly through the air or slam into the wall at speeds of up to 200 mph.
While just about every NASCAR race features some sort of crash, this slideshow will feature some of the craziest, most shocking and most death-defying wrecks in the history of NASCAR.
From legends like Richard Petty, to virtual unknowns like Michael McDowell, “The Big One” isn’t prejudiced in deciding whom to strike.
Here are the 25 most ridiculous Sprint Cup crash photos of all time.
With just 14 laps remaining in the 2007 Dodge Dealers 400 at Dover International Speedway, Kurt Busch got loose and bumped into the wall, losing control of his car in the process.
What ensued was a chain reaction of crashes as Busch slid down the racetrack. Kasey Kahne got under the bumper of Busch, causing Busch’s car to end up on the hood of his.
As the 2006 NASCAR All-Star race was getting set to move into its final phase, Tony Stewart and Matt Kenseth got into each other.
With Kenseth working the high line, Stewart appeared to move up the track and ride Kenseth into the wall. Stewart then got sideways as Kenseth pushed him along the wall and sparks flew.
During the final restart of the 2007 Kobalt Tools 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway, Dale Earnhardt Jr. lost a tire heading into turn one. This caused Earnhardt to fly up the race track and slam Jamie McMurray hard into the wall.
The friction created plenty of sparks and the impact completely totaled Earnhardt’s car. While Earnhardt was crashing, however, his lost tire made some headway as it rolled down the track.
The 1960 Daytona 500, just the second installment of NASCAR’s Super Bowl, is perhaps best known for its record 37-car pileup, the largest crash in NASCAR history.
While the field is limited to 43 cars today, there were 68 cars entered in the 1960 Daytona 500.
That means that more than half the field was eliminated in this single wreck. Junior Johnson would go on to win the race.
This crash in the 2010 Pennsylvania 500 began when Jimmie Johnson drove through the back of Kurt Busch’s car, forcing Busch up the track and hard into the wall.'
A.J. Allmendinger then slammed into Elliott Sadler, prompting him to get into Regan Smith.
After bouncing off Smith, Sadler took a huge lick off the SAFER barrier. Sadler later said that it was hardest hit he had ever taken in a racecar.
An open throttle was the culprit in this fiery crash at the 2011 Goody’s Fast Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway.
The malfunction caused Truex to clip Kahne and force him into the wall. The impact caused flames to shoot out from under Truex’s mangled hood.
After winning the 2011 Sprint Cup All-Star race and the $1 million that goes with it, Carl Edwards decided to for a spin on the grass.
As Edwards was doing some celebratory donuts, he hit an infield drainage pipe and absolutely destroyed the front end of his winning car.
Although Edwards was a bit miffed that he had just wrecked a winning car that could be used in the future, he proceeded to do his signature backflip anyway.
This crash occurred during the 135th lap of the 1999 Daytona 500 when Kenny inadvertently got into the back of his teammate, Dale Jarrett.
The contact forced Jarrett up the track and into a host of cars. Among the 10 drivers involved in the pileup was Steve Park, who nearly ended up airborne due to the force of the crash.
This high-flying wreck was the result of Carl Edwards attempting to exact revenge on Brad Keselowski for nearly forcing him into the crowd during a race at Talladega the previous year.
Edwards purposely got under Keselowski and sent him flying. Edwards would go on to draw a hefty fine for his dangerous actions.
In this photo, Elliott Sadler is in the early stages of a crash that sent him flipping high in the air, only to crash onto the infield upside down.
Sadler’s car then proceeded to roll a number of times with several pieces of equipment flying off the machine.
The cause of the wreck looked innocent enough as Joe Nemechek got into the back of Sadler, but the result was nearly disastrous.
In one of the more vicious-looking crashes in NASCAR history, Richard Petty went careening into the wall separating the track from pit road during the 1970 Rebel 400 at Darlington Raceway.
This was obviously before the advent of the SAFER barrier, so Petty’s car essentially exploded on contact and went flipping through the air.
Petty later said in an interview that he didn’t remember anything that happened after hitting the barrier.
Michael McDowell is responsible for the only crash on this list that didn’t occur during a race. While trying to qualify for the Samsung 500 at Texas Motor Speedway in 2008, McDowell lost control of his car heading into turn one.
This made McDowell’s car fly up the track and nearly head on into the wall. The car then jumped into the air and proceeded to roll down the track while engulfed in flames. Luckily for McDowell, he got out unscathed.
On the final lap of the 2007 Daytona 500, Clint Bowyer was having a solid run in the top 10. Before reaching the start-finish line he got in a massive wreck caused by Kyle Busch, however, dropping him to 18th.
Despite this, Bowyer crossed the line in spectacular fashion as he slid along the track on his roof with flames shooting from his car.
While the crash ruined Bowyer’s day, it didn’t hamper an exciting finish that saw Kevin Harvick edge Mark Martin by .02 seconds for the win.
With the checkered flag out for the 2009 Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway, Kyle Busch looked to be on his way to victory.
Tony Stewart was all over his bumper, though, and ended up clipping the back of Busch’s car, sending him high into the wall and nearly into the fence.
That was not the end of Busch’s nightmarish run, as he was then smashed from behind by Kasey Kahne and in the driver’s-side door by Joey Logano.
In the early stages of the 2009 AAA 400 at Dover International Speedway, Joey Logano was contacted from behind by Tony Stewart, the former driver of the no. 20 Home Depot car.
This forced Logano onto the grass and then back up the track where he was hit by Reed Sorenson.
Logano’s car then shot up into the air and rolled down the track seven times before finally coming to a stop.
On the final lap of the 2010 AMP Energy Juice 500 at Talladega Superspeedway, with several cars running in close quarters, A.J. Allmendinger’s car was upended.
This caused Allmendinger to soar over a few other cars and land on his roof while on the apron. Allmendinger then rolled a few times before his car came to a safe stop on its wheels.
The crash caused an immediate end to the race, in which Clint Bowyer edged Kevin Harvick by a nose.
On the 62nd lap of the 2007 Allstate 400 at the Brickyard, Jimmie Johnson innocently cut a tire.
Nobody could have expected what would ensue as Johnson’s car smashed into the wall and flames began to shoot out of the back of the No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet.
In a measure of safety, Johnson bailed from the car and ran up the track to avoid any possible complications that could have been caused by the fire.
With three laps remaining in the 2009 AMP Energy 500 at Talladega Superspeedway, Brad Keselowski got into the back of Kurt Busch. This sent Busch down the track like a torpedo, starting a wreck that took out multiple cars.
Among them was Mark Martin, who ended up on his roof momentarily with sparks flying off his car as it slid down the track.
Luckily for Martin, the car corrected itself and was back on its wheels after a couple seconds.
Down the stretch of the 2001 Daytona 500, Ward Burton got into the back of Tony Stewart, setting off when of the biggest crashes in the history of the race.
Burton’s car got under the bumper of Stewart’s, causing Stewart’s car to go sideways and then fly into the air and onto the hood of Robby Gordon’s car.
Stewart’s car than flipped numerous times and was hit by multiple cars while on fire before coming to a rest on its roof.
All told, 20 cars were involved in the wreck.
Richard Petty was involved in yet another violent crash during the 1988 Daytona 500.
Petty was clipped from behind, causing his car to elevate and barrel-roll down the track while propped along the fence intended to protect spectators.
An incredible amount of debris flew off Petty’s car, including both of his front tires.
Once his car came to a stop on the track, the remaining shell of his vehicle took one more hard hit, causing it to spin rapidly before finally settling in place.
With just five laps left in the 2009 AMP Energy 500 at Talladega Superspeedway, Ryan Newman was involved in one of the scarier wrecks in recent memory.
Marcos Ambrose checked into the back of Newman’s car, causing it to shoot toward the apron. Newman then got into Kevin Harvick, causing Newman’s car to do a complete flip and land on the hood of Harvick’s car.
Newman’s car then went all the way back up the track on its roof, hit the wall, and went back down the track before stopping on the grass.
Newman’s car was so mangled that the safety crew had to peel off the roof to get him out. Luckily, Newman came out virtually unscathed.
During the 1996 Winston Select 500 at Talladega Superspeedway, a seemingly innocent looking bump between Jeff Gordon and Mark Martin set off a massive wreck.
When Gordon and Martin checked into each other, Martin moved down the track, causing a huge pileup of cars that is difficult to make out due to a large cloud of smoke.
Somewhere within the crash, Ricky Craven’s dismantled car was shot into the air before landing and eventually rolling to a safe stop on the track.
As the 2006 Ford 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway was coming to a close, Juan Pablo Montoya in his first Sprint Cup start, was involved in one of the most fiery crashes you’ll ever see.
Just a few laps earlier, Montoya seemed to inadvertently spin out Ryan Newman, causing a caution. Newman would get his revenge, however, as he got into the back of Montoya.
This sent Montoya into the wall with such force that his fuel cell erupted, blowing open the back of his car. The car came to a stop in the infield, allowing Montoya to hop quickly out of the car.
This was the beginning of a Montoya/Newman feud that still exists today.
On the last lap of the 2009 Aaron’s 499 at Talladega Superspeedway, Carl Edwards held a slim lead over rookie Brad Keselowski.
Sensing a chance at victory, Keselowski became very aggressive, getting into the back end of Edwards’ car and sending it spinning.
While it was spinning, Edwards' car was upended by another car, causing it to fly high into the protective fence above the wall. Edwards’ car fortunately landed upright, but the front end of the car was set ablaze.
Neither the fans nor Edwards were injured, but Edwards obviously had his feelings hurt, as he got revenge on Keselowski the following season during a race at Atlanta.
The most ridiculous Sprint Cup crash photo comes courtesy of Ryan Newman at the 2003 Daytona 500.
Ken Schrader got into the side of Newman, forcing Newman toward the apron. As Newman’s car slid down the track, it began to lift into the air. Once Newman’s car reached the infield grass, it proceeded to roll down the track.
Debris flew off the car, and it hit the ground with such force that the axels were torn right off the car.
After a few seconds of rolling, Newman’s car finally came to a rest on its side.