The Biggest Crashes from the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
Though owners, crew chiefs and drivers don’t want to be involved in crashes, wrecks are inevitable.
Sparks fly, fires blaze and sometimes drivers spar. They’re scary and inevitable. Daytona famously waits for The Big One.
And in 2014, there was no shortage of bone-crunching crashes. The impact can be felt straight through the television. One such crash on this list, while not as visibly appealing as some of the others, sent one driver home with a concussion (the only injury reported, a testament to how safe these cars have become).
These crashes are confined to the Sprint Cup, so even though the truck series saw its share of spinouts and collisions, this list stays true to the stock cars of the big leagues.
Thankfully no one was seriously injured in these crashes. With that said, buckle up and brace for 10 of the biggest crashes of the season.
Pile Up at Pocono
This pile up at Pocono looks more like the Ace Ventura slow-motion version of a crash. It. Took. So. Long. To. Unfold.
For all you former biology majors out there, picture a white blood cell eating bacteria one cell at a time.
"All I know is the 11 (of Hamlin) got loose out the outside nearly two rows in front of me, and the next thing I know, the 55 (of Brian Vickers) got turned in front of me," said Paul Menard on NASCAR.com. "And then there was nowhere to go."
Great Arm, Denny Hamlin
The Deliverminator, a.k.a. Denny Hamlin, took umbrage with Kevin Harvick when his No. 4 Jimmy John turned him sideways at Bristol. Tell the Red Sox to sign this arm.
There’s history between these two, history at Bristol. In 2013, Harvick stopped in Hamlin’s pit stall. In 2014, Harvick clipped Hamlin. Hamlin told ESPN/ABC (h/t Sporting News):
Last year was just not paying attention. He didn't know that I had a cut tire last year and he thinks he knows everything, and probably thought he knew everything again. I just wish I had some kind of car left so I could show him the favor back.
We're not even halfway, we're racing for the lead. It was a misjudgment. He's a good driver, he knows better. He just made a mistake.
At least this year Harvick took the fall. He said, per the Sporting News, "I just lost the front end, honestly. That thing would take off on the bottom, and I just misjudged the slide and just ran right into the side of him. It was totally my fault."
The two would finish first and third in The Chase, with Harvick running away from the field three months later.
Ryan Truex, MIS
Ryan Truex hit the wall hard at Michigan International Speedway, real hard. So much so that he left his car with a concussion.
“He’s in the hospital and they’re waiting for the doctor to come back in and see they will clear him for the race,” Joe Williams, Truex’s crew chief, said, according to David Goricki of The Detroit Free Press. “He was conscious, but they’re talking about his shoulder being hurt. I hope he can race.”
He did not race in the Pure Michigan 400.
Matt Kenseth’s crash on the road course at Sonoma was as violent as they come.
Kenseth got bumped by Dale Earnhardt Jr. and subsequently blew up a wall of tires. The crash tore Kenseth’s front bumper.
There were few crashes on this list that were as violent as this one.
“I felt good," Kenseth said, via NASCAR.com's David Caraviello. "These guys over here at JGR do a really nice job with the cars and the seats and the safety stuff, and NASCAR has done a great job as well, over the last half a dozen or dozen years in terms of getting the tracks and the cars and all that safer. I felt good.”
Kenseth was able to finish 42nd on the day.
Kyle Busch Rollover
Everybody awaits The Big One at Daytona, and during the rain-shortened Coke Zero 400, fans didn't wait long.
It's not bad. I mean, you're in a seven-point (safety) harness so things are all good. Your chest is held, your abdomen is held and everything is held and you just wait for (the track workers) to come in there and get you and turn you over, because it's way safer to get turned over in that seat because you already got turned over once then it is to try to undo the belts and bang your head off the ceiling and try to get out.
Aric Almirola ended up winning this race during a red-flag rain delay.
Parker Kligerman Is Talking About Practice?
The walls at Daytona International Speedway got some attention after Parker Kligerman drilled the wall during a practice session in February.
Kligerman went for a ride atop a car for several hundred yards before completely flipping and skidding for another hundred yards or so.
Naturally, Kligerman was upset with Joey Logano for catalyzing this mess. Kligerman said, via Mike Hembree, Nate Ryan and Jeff Gluck of USA Today:
It looks like the 22 (Logano) was just being overly aggressive. I want to talk to him about it. What are you doing? Why are you side-drafting in the first drafting practice we've got all week? I was actually backing out of the draft and trying to get out of it. I was in the wrong place at the wrong time.
I'm real upset about that. You're not learning anything racing like that in practice.
There was fire and even a lost camera thanks to this crash.
The Big One at Daytona
This is the second Big One at Daytona, this one coming in the big race: the 500.
Danica Patrick took a hard hit after Almirola side-swiped her.
“I felt everything was going pretty well," Patrick said to Fox Sports (h/t Jeff Gluck of USA Today). "It's just upsetting, a culmination of sitting around all day. It's a bummer, but that's the excitement of speedway racing that anything can happen. It's unfortunate I was on the short end of the accident, but that's the type of thing that happens."
This wreck involved a bunch of bottom feeders from Michael Waltrip to Almirola and Patrick.
They're Not in Kansas Anymore
This crash, which was set off by AJ Allmendinger, is a testament to the safety of these cars.
David Gilliland’s car burst into a fireball and left nothing but a smoking hull of metal behind.
Gilliland said on NASCAR.com:
I don't know what happened. It looked like the 47 and 51 got together and the 51 came back up the track and I hit him, and from there a lot of stuff happened. We are alright though. Just a little sore obviously. That is one of the hardest hits I have had in awhile. Hopefully it will be the hardest one for awhile to come, too.
The wreck involved Justin Allgaier too who said, “I'm here to race another day. The car, I can't say it is.”
This crash was big and ugly, but like Allgaier said, both lived to race on.
Jimmie Johnson ran out of gas, and Clint Bowyer landed a flip Carl Edwards would approve of.
Johnson gummed up the final lap with no fuel and as his car burned up it turned the rest of the field into smoke and chaos. Johnson, for his part, was apologetic. Bowyer, per usual, was matter of fact.
“I would grade it as a fail,” Bowyer said in the above video. “I felt somebody hit and said, ‘Oh, boy.’ It’s an eerie silence right there. You’re more nervous about what’s going to happen when she lands.”
Also, check out how calm the spotter was during the entire event. Impressive, most impressive.
Red Flag at Watkins-Glen
This crashed didn’t involve as many cars as some of the earlier ones, but the impact can still be felt. Ryan Newman, who would go on to finish second in the Chase behind only Harvick, got pinwheeled at Watkins-Glen in this mangled wreck.
It was enough to make Newman spout off on the Sporting News about the outdated safety features at the Glen, “It's a very antiquated racetrack and it isn't up to NASCAR standards at all. It's a shame that we have to have an accident like that to prove it. Hopefully something will change the next time we come back."
Mike McDowell, the other driver involved, also escaped just fine, “I'm good. I thank the good Lord because that was a bad wreck," McDowell said. "It seems like when I do it they are usually fairly big.”
This one was as nasty as they come, but thankfully no driver or spectator was seriously injured.
I hang out on Twitter @BrendanOMeara.