The Greatest Moments of NASCAR's All-Star Race
12. 2011 Sprint All-Star Challenge
Teammates playing not-so-nice
The 2011 Sprint All Star Race came down to JGR teammates Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin battling for the win. Hamlin fades high exiting Turn 2 as DW says, “Put eem een the wawll!!!” Kyle’s post-race reaction was succinct (NSFW — and another memorable radio wire yank from Shrub). I understand him being mad for getting run up into the wall, but did Busch really have it won? He never even got along side of him …
11. 2004 NEXTEL All-Star Challenge
With friends like this ...
Kurt Busch offers a hand to Roush teammate Greg Biffle here in 2004. Unfortunately, you couldn’t really bump draft with Gen 4 cars. Not at Charlotte. And certainly not through the quad-oval. What results is a 195 mph debacle, taking out the two team cars (nearly a third) as well as Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, Kevin Harvick, among others. It also helped set the stage for Biffle’s then-girlfriend (now wife) Nicole getting into it with Busch’s then-wife (now ex) Eva at Texas two years later. Note: Check out Junior driving through it and missing everything, and the sound of the 97 impacting the wall. Ouch. PS: Hang around for Sterling's interview at the end. Just because it's Sterling.
10. 2001 The Winston
Answering the question of why NASCAR doesn’t race in the rain
Picking up the action at 3:33, the race gets going just as it gets going raining. Cars sideways and loose into Turn 1 as the skies opened to take the green. NASCAR made the unprecedented decision to let those involved in the wreck go to a back-up cars since it was a non-points paying exhibition race. One of those involved, Jeff Gordon, rebounded and won in his replacement ride.
9. 2007 NEXTEL All-Star Challenge
Oh Brother, Why Art Thou Wrecking Us?
Following up Kurt’s move on Biffle from ‘04 is brother Kyle executing this maneuver that I once tried in my fourth career season in NASCAR Thunder 2003. There’s no way in hell it was going to stick, but it’s the All-Star Race and it was for the win. Mike Joy’s summation isn’t much different than what we’d hear over the next five years or so. This incident, in part, also helped set the stage for Busch’s move to Joe Gibbs Racing a year later. Kurt gives a great interview around the 3:00 minute mark.
8. 2000 The Winston
A rookie rules the roost
Fresh of his first career win at Texas Motor Speedway a month earlier, Dale Earnhardt Jr. pits while running second for a couple of adjustments to get him a car capable of contending for the win. He proceeds to mow down the veterans in front of him, then takes on the defending Winston Cup champion, Dale Jarrett for the win. I miss seeing that exuberant guy — not the quiet and corporate one — celebrating at the start/finish line with his team. Also miss the other guy coming into congratulate him by putting him in a headlock.
7. 2002 The Winston
The Mayor’s politically correct observation
Sometimes the fastest car doesn’t always win — the smartest team does. Jeff Burton’s No. 99 bunch led by crew chief Frankie Stoddard did just that in the first segment of the 2002 running of The Winston. Burton’s pit was positioned just 50 yards from the start-finish line, so the required four-tire stop was delayed until the last lap. Burton didn’t end up winning the 800K purse, but it was a slick move nonetheless.
6. 1998 The Winston
The well goes dry
In 1998, the new Ford Taurus was on a tear. Engineered from the get-go to make maximum downforce and excel on intermediate tracks like Charlotte, this was in a perfect position to continue its early-season dominance. That is until Jeff Gordon and his Ray Evernham-engineered No. 24 showed up. Gordon and Mark Martin had dominated the event, and the former was leading into the last lap of the final 10-lap segment. With Martin and Bobby Labonte on new tires and gobbling up his lead, the 24 took the white flag and all went silent. As in, the fuel tank ran dry and the engine shut off. Later, Evernham said they forgot to refuel it. Hmmmm ... maybe. Or maybe they didn’t want to call attention to something else. Gordon would go on to win the 600 a week later.
5. 1996 The Winston
Mikey makes his move
Michael Waltrip had been racing for 10 years and made 309 career starts when he raced his way into The Winston in 1996. On the final lap Dale Earnhardt rattles (who else?) Terry Labonte’s cage, clearing the way for Mikey and the Wood Brothers Ford to cruise home to his first Cup win. As Waltrip would later recount, his first thoughts upon celebrating were, “It doesn’t count.” He would have to wait another five years for his first points-paying Cup win to come to fruition.
4. 1985 The Winston
Ka-Ching and Ka-Boom
Speaking of hiding stuff, how about Darrell Waltrip’s quick thinking after winning the inaugural running of The Winston in 1985? His Junior Johnson Monte Carlo SS takes the checkered flag and then the weirdest thing happens … it blows up! That’s just really funny how, after running exactly 70 laps, a Junior Johnson engine just comes apart after winning. I mean what are the odds?
3. 1987 The Winston
“The Pass in the Grass”
Yeah, it’s kind of a misnomer. It’s not really “a pass” in the grass, so much as it was the “Block Bill, Almost Spin Yourself Out, Save it in the Grass.” There was something special about that mid- to late-80s generation of cars and those bias-ply tires that made the series such a thing of beauty. Sliding sideways, smoking the rear tires at 170 mph, cars that legitimately looked “stock” and “Woaaah, Nelly!” … How about Keith Jackson calling the action?
2. 1989 The Winston
Rusty makes a hero out of a heel
While The Winston (i.e., All-Star Race) was first run in 1985, it wouldn’t be until 1989 that it truly came of age with this watershed moment. Fast forward to the 23:00 mark for the fireworks. Coming down to take the white flag, Rusty Wallace makes ever such slight contact with Darrell Waltrip, sending the latter sliding through the grass. What followed was a fracas in the garage area, with a bench clearing brawl between Waltrip’s Tide team and Rusty’s Kodiak crew. While it did cost Jaws $185,000, it helped transform him from a subject of derision to fan favorite, propelling him to the series’ Most Popular Driver in 1989 and 1990.
1. 1992 The Winston
One Hot Night
While the 1989 dust up between Darrell and Rusty may have ruffled some feathers and bruised some egos, the 1992 running of The Winston sent Davey Allison to the hospital. Guys in cars do weird things when there’s big money on the line, and on the last lap, they did just that. Kyle Petty’s Mello Yello Pontiac pulls down to pass Dale Earnhardt, and things get interesting. Of note, Petty never makes contact with Earnhardt. This also proves you don’t have to be going 200 mph on a 1.5-mile track for the racing to be exciting, and why SAFER Barriers should line every racing-surfaced exposed wall at every track. No exceptions.