NASCAR Sprint Cup: The 11 Biggest Crashes of 2011

David DeNennoContributor IIIDecember 1, 2011

NASCAR Sprint Cup: The 11 Biggest Crashes of 2011

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    No NASCAR season is without its share of vehicular carnage and destroyed automobiles. Even running at the slowest speeds allowed in the sport, a violent run-in is a possibility at every turn and every lap.

    Though NASCAR saw fewer violent wrecks in 2011 than in years past, the season was certainly not without its intense moments of metallic carnage.

    Some ended hopes and dreams of a championship. Some were embarrassing. A few involved many cars, while others only claimed a lone victim.

    Here they are, in no particular order.

Brad Keselowski by Himself at Road Atlanta

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    There is no actual live footage of this sequence of events, but the simulation seems to portray this wreck in a convincing fashion.

    Either way, Brad Keselowski's Miller Lite Dodge was completely wrecked when he hit the wall during a test session in Atlanta.

    He was hospitalized and walked away (gingerly) with only a broken ankle. However, that did not seem to hurt his driving: he won the very next Sprint Cup race in Pocono.

    It made for a great story and was probably the most gutsy individual performance of the entire season.

Tony Stewart Gets Paid Back in Sonoma

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    The commentators on the video do a fine job of explaining why this wreck occurred.

    It was not an accident. Bottom line: Brian Vickers was simply doing the same thing to Tony Stewart that Stewart had done to him earlier in the race.

    The results were a little different. Vickers continued to race after being spun by Stewart. Stewart ended up with the rear of his car stuck on a pile of tires.

    I have never seen a car end up quite like this.

Kyle Busch Loses His Mind (again)

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    Although this wreck occurred in the Camping World Truck Series, it is impossible not to include it in this compilation.

    It ended Ron Hornaday's chance at title in the Truck Series. It also mathematically eliminated Kyle Busch from the Chase because he was not allowed to race his Sprint Cup car in Texas.

    Beyond that, it bludgeoned Kyle Busch with negative attention from all angles: NASCAR, his sponsors, Joe Gibbs Racing; really, the vast majority of the racing community.

    Aside from being a fairly nasty wreck under caution, this was one of the bigger stories in all of NASCAR in 2011.

Denny Hamlin Loses the Breaks

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    There was nothing Denny Hamlin could do in this situation.

    Thankfully, he was unharmed. I believe Jimmie Johnson's wreck around the same spot years ago at Watkins Glen was a little worse, but not much.

Carl Edwards Wins $1,000,000 and Wrecks

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    As the video clearly shows, this was entirely self-inflicted.

    Carl Edwards will likely never live this down. This was the single most embarrassing wreck of the year.

    I would trade the shame for the check that Edwards received for winning the All-Star race.

    The video begins with the wreck live, however the true violence of the crash is better seen at the 2:00 mark when it is slowed down and replayed.

Jamie McMurray Does Not Give Brian Vickers the Benefit of the Doubt

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    The Martinsville Chase race was very rough. Few cars made it to the finish line unscathed.

    Jamie McMurray's crash does not look incredibly intense upon impact, but it is clear that the force of the collision was very severe when considering what it did to the back of his car and the batteries that were left out on the track.

    It did not end there. McMurray chased Brian Vickers down almost three quarters of the track to exact his revenge.

    As the video shows, this effort did not pan out the way McMurray intended and he ended up damaging the front of his car before it finally could go no further.

    Jamie McMurray: "I don't have any power, just so you know." 

    Team Radio: "Your battery is on the ground up there."

Jimmie Johnson and His Sixth Straight Title Hopes Hit the Wall

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    This crash did not mathematically eliminate Jimmie Johnson from contention for the championship, but most people realistically wrote him off after this wreck in Charlotte.

    Aside from that, it was a very hard hit. These types of accidents are some of the scariest in the sport. Whenever a driver loses control and goes straight into a wall, it is difficult not to recall the crash that killed Dale Earnhardt Sr. in 2001.

    Had this crash occurred ten years earlier, Jimmie Johnson may have lost much more than just his breath in the car.

    Reagan Smith had a very similar crash at Talladega this year.  The link is here

    It is difficult say which one was "bigger." Jimmie Johnson's just carried with it a bit more significance.

Martin Truex Jr.'s Throttle Gets Stuck in Martinsville

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    The most significant aspect of this crash is that Kasey Kahne, as he states in the video interview towards the end, knew instantaneously that Martin Truex Jr. had some kind of mechanical failure.

    There is no anger in his voice, only a hint of regret. Often, wrecks like this ignite tempers after the race.

    Kahne knew that this was so bad that it could not have been done on purpose.

    It was a classy act on the part of Truex Jr. to get out of his car, run back, and make sure that Kahne was okay.

    This crash is a testament to the fact that any driver, on any lap, can have their day end in the blink of an eye.

A Big One in Phoenix

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    The video describes the result better than I can in words. Needless to say, many cars were damaged.

    Interestingly, Brian Vickers shows up yet again on this list. Apparently he did not forget this incident, as he ended up clashing with Matt Kenseth again in the Chase races at Martinsville and Phoenix.

    After overcoming a blood clot and taking medical leave in 2010, Vickers had a very rough return to NASCAR in 2011.

Nasty Finale in Watkins Glen

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    Much like the Phoenix crash, just watch the video.

    David Reutimann's car basically collides on the right side of the track and ends up on the left side after almost completely flipping over.

    It is amazing that no one was seriously hurt in this skirmish.

Daytona Kicks off the Season with a Bang, Literally

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    Undoubtedly, this was a big crash. The bigger story here is that this crash may have helped Trevor Bayne win the 2011 Daytona 500.

    As the commentators note, it took out almost half of the field.

    In the post-crash interview, the reporter asks David Reutimann if he thinks that he will will be able to get his car back out on the track.

    Reutimann responds that, "it would be a miracle." The reporter then comments that, "sometimes miracles happen at the Daytona 500."

    How true those words came to be in 2011.

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