Ranking NASCAR's 10 Biggest Hotheads

Christopher Leone@ChristopherlionSenior Analyst IFebruary 13, 2013

Ranking NASCAR's 10 Biggest Hotheads

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    In any sport, tempers sometimes boil over after a particularly frustrating occurrence. NASCAR is no exception.

    Of course, in NASCAR, retaliating against a competitor isn't just limited to shoving or even fisticuffs. In most cases, it's got a lot more to do with 3,500-pound pieces of machinery driving at speeds of over 100 miles per hour, which is...let's be honest, a little more scary than a punch to the face.

    And sometimes, when the two mix, it's a lot more entertaining.

    Truth be told, almost everyone in the sport has had some sort of confrontation during their careers. But some drivers are more prone to having run-ins with others.

    These 10 drivers in particular have garnered somewhat of a reputation for going off when things don't go their way on race day.

10. Brian Vickers

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    Part of the reason why Vickers has dropped to part-time Sprint Cup status is because of how many drivers he had run-ins with in 2011.

    Vickers and Tony Stewart wrecked one another at Sonoma, while Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon, and Jamie McMurray were among those to criticize him at Martinsville in the fall.

    The longest feud he had, however, was with Matt Kenseth, which began with a wreck at Las Vegas in March and carried on all the way through the Chase.

9. Clint Bowyer

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    Bowyer is known as an easygoing, relatable, funny guy...for the most part.

    But his reaction to Jeff Gordon's intentional accident at Phoenix was nothing short of legendary.

    After getting out of the car on pit road, a furious Bowyer sprinted all the way to Gordon's trailer, where he proceeded to pound on the four-time champion's door as an all-out brawl ensued between their crews.

8. Ryan Newman

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    Something about Newman and springtime just doesn't mesh.

    In 2011, incidents with Juan Pablo Montoya at Richmond spilled over into an alleged fight in the NASCAR trailer at Darlington.

    Last year, Newman's Darlington opponent was Kurt Busch; a brawl between their teams after a late-race incident marred Rick Hendrick's 200th victory celebration.

7. Tony Stewart

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    Most of Stewart's outbursts came in his past, as the three-time Cup champion has become one of the sport's most beloved personalities in his roles as driver, owner and track operator.

    But when he was bad, he was bad—bad enough to require anger management classes.

    Reporters used to fear the hot-headed Stewart, who received numerous fines and probationary periods for his behavior in the first few years of his career.

6. Jeff Gordon

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    Long known as one of NASCAR's most respected drivers, Gordon has become a bit of a temperamental driver in the later stages of his career.

    Shoving matches with both Matt Kenseth at Bristol in 2006 and Jeff Burton at Texas in 2010 started the trend, while his intentional wreck of Clint Bowyer at Phoenix last November is a story that won't go away.

5. Juan Pablo Montoya

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    After making himself known more and more for his temper than his talent in Formula 1, Montoya moved to NASCAR—only to find more frustration and fighting.

    A long-standing dislike for Ryan Newman boiled over early in 2011 after incidents at Richmond and carried into Bristol last August.

    Before that, a flummoxed Montoya doubted a speeding penalty that cost him the 2009 Brickyard 400 in a tirade over his radio.

4. Danica Patrick

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    Known as a difficult driver in IndyCar, Patrick had run-ins with many driversover her career there, from front-runners like Ryan Briscoe to backmarkers like Milka Duno.

    That feistiness can help her in NASCAR, but only if she reins it in—after taking umbrage with Landon Cassill at Kansas last October, Patrick proceeded to wreck herself in a failed takedown attempt.

3. Kevin Harvick

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    In case you were never informed, "Happy" is indeed an ironic nickname.

    The drivers who Harvick's had run-ins with over his career reads like a "who's who" of recent NASCAR history: Greg Biffle, Ricky Rudd, Joe Nemechek, Joey Logano, Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch, and Amber and Angela Cope, daughters of 1990 Daytona 500 winner Derrike Cope.

    And that list is by no means complete.

2. Kyle Busch

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    The man they call "Rowdy" got himself shut out of the Texas Sprint Cup race in November 2011 after intentionally wrecking Ron Hornaday under caution in the Camping World Truck event two days prior.

    That was the conclusion of a year-long feud with Kevin Harvick, the most prominent of Busch's career, but by no means the only one. He's also had his differences with team owner Richard Childress and his brother, Kurt.

1. Kurt Busch

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    There's no way that anybody on this list can top the inaugural Chase for the Cup champion, whose hot head has cost him two jobs over the course of his career and made life a living hell for multiple owners.

    He's alienated reporters, infuriated fellow drivers, and been bemoaned for a general lack of respect for much of his career.

    Busch has made numerous attempts to humanize and calm himself, including the documentary "The Outlaw," but to many fans, his reputation will always precede him.

    For more from Christopher Leone, follow @christopherlion on Twitter.


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