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NASCAR's Bonehead Moves of the Chase Era

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NASCAR drivers' biggest on-track mistakes.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. — 2009 Daytona 500

If there’s one place where Dale Earnhardt Jr. is nails, it’s on a restrictor plate track, and especially at Daytona. In 2009, he kind of misjudged — or flipped out — on the lapped car of Brian Vickers and triggered “The Big One” in the Daytona 500. This incident pretty much set the tone for the year for Earnhardt. He’d part was with his cousin and crew chief Tony Eury Jr. before midseason embarking on a two-year journey of mediocrity before joining forces with Steve Letarte. 

Marcos Ambrose — Sonoma, 2009

This one will haunt Ambrose for years, mainly because it’s on every highlight reel from posts like these, and anytime the series shows up to Sonoma. In the closing laps he was saving fuel — as he should — but tried to save another little bit as the car was going uphill. As Murphy’s Law would have it, the car wouldn’t re-fire. Doesn’t liquid flow in the opposite direction or something in the Southern Hemisphere? Maybe that’s what he was thinking. Maybe.

Kyle Busch — Texas, 2011

NASCAR had enough of “Boys Have At It”, following this dust up between Ron Hornaday and Kyle Busch at the Truck Series race at Texas in 2011. Hornaday was in a close points battle with Austin Dillon and Johnny Sauter when he started rubbing fenders with Busch. With the caution flying and lights ablaze, the latter set his sights on the former’s bumper, and didn’t lift until they both were a heaping mess of twisted sheet metal. The wreck took Hornaday out of the Truck Series championship and Busch out of the Cup Series Chase, as well. It also nearly cost him his ride, as sponsor Mars/M&M’s had to be “sweet talked” by the Joe Gibbs Racing brass into sticking around.

Boris Said and Tony Stewart — Watkins Glen, 2010

We all know how Tony Stewart feels about blocking, and Boris Said didn’t quite give Smoke the room he needed headed into the esses at Watkins Glen in 2010. Tony, as Tony does, dumped Said into the Armco and ruined the Red Bull team’s shot at a win with its road course ringer. Said Heads take heart; not all was not lost for brother Boris. He would return a year late and try to beat up Greg Biffle.

Kyle Busch — Texas, 2010

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As if getting bounced off the wall by David Reutimann at Kansas wasn’t enough for Kyle Busch, this series of events at Texas helped seal the deal. As if one middle finger wasn’t enough to get his point across to the NASCAR official, Kyle doubled his pleasure – and penalty – by offering a second. After invoking the Bill of Rights and being overruled, he left Texas officially out of contention for the title.

Danica Patrick — Darlington, 2012

It’s one thing to spin somebody and make it look like an accident, and it’s another to take yourself out in the process. That said, it’s still another to spin somebody out and yourself … and then over-correct back into on-coming traffic. Danica did this at Darlington in 2012, and it didn’t turn out so well. As Bill Dance would say, the best course of action going forward: “Don’t do that.”

Carl Edwards — The 2011 All-Star Race

Best way to celebrate winning over one million dollars? Destroy your car you planned to run in the Coca-Cola 600! Carl Edwards was going for a victory slide through the grass after his All-Star Race win in 2011, but ended up hooking a manhole cover and destroying his front end. Then again, they may have actually been hiding some trick front-end stuff from not passing inspection? If that was the plan learned from DW and Junior, then mission accomplished.

Clint Bowyer — Martinsville, 2012

In the closing laps at Martinsville in the spring of 2012, Clint Bowyer did his best to deny Hendrick teammates Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson a shot at winning No. 200 for Hendrick Motorsports. While he was going for a win for himself and MWR, he ended up taking out both the 24 and 48, parting the seas for Ryan Newman, and setting the stage for one of the most epic retaliations in history at Phoenix later in the year.

NASCAR's Scoring Tower – Phoenix, 2012

Speaking of Phoenix November 2012, what’s the best thing to do with the track blocked while driving into the sun? Floor it! As the checkered flag fell, so did parts, fire and the remaining inventory of the Cars of Tomorrow. Aren’t there rules in place to prevent this type of stuff?

Dale Earnhardt Jr. — Texas, 2014

Junior’s dad made “The Pass in the Grass” one of the most famous NASCAR images of all time. But this 2014 redux at Texas didn’t turn out so hot. Well, it did get kinda hot when the car caught on fire — but with the new ride heights this year and the gully washer of rain from the previous day, clipping the grass was apparently ill-advised as it immediately ripped off the left side of the car before the wall demolished the right. Lesson learned for Charlotte, Atlanta and anything with a tri-or quad-oval going forward. The sign says, “Stay Off The Grass.”