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NASCAR's Top 10 Bumps, Spins and Rattled Cages


10. The “Bump & Run” becomes acceptable

Rusty Wallace had quite the enviable record at Bristol Motor Speedway during his Hall of Fame career: Nine wins, seven poles and this painful miss in 1998. Wallace led 240 of the 500 laps at Bristol — including 84 of the final 85. Jeff Gordon led the one that counted, though, after popping Wallace in Turns 3 and 4 coming to the checkers. Oddly, Wallace was more upset at Jimmy Spencer for getting in the way than he was at Gordon for doing what he needed to do to win.

by Vito Pugliese

9. Casey Atwood’s (who?) first win

Casey Atwood was one of the much-heralded “Young Guns” of the late 1990s and early 2000s. He won his first Busch (Nationwide) Series race here against Jeff Green in 1999 at the Milwaukee Mile, popping Green in the bumper in Turn 3 to drive by. Atwood would win one more race in 1999 before moving to the Cup Series, where he had a bit of a tough road to hoe as the teammate to Bill Elliott in Dodge’s 2001 return to Cup. Atwood was unceremoniously dumped by team owner Ray Evernham after the ’01 season and last competed in NASCAR in the 2009 Nationwide Series.

by Vito Pugliese

8. The Edwards-Keselowski Feud crescendo

We all know the story of Brad Keselowski and Carl Edwards. If you thought things were over in Atlanta following Keselowski’s turn at getting airborne, be reminded of what John J. told Col. Trautman at the end of First Blood: “Nothing is over!” Four months later, Edwards hooks Keselowski coming to the line in this Nationwide race at Gateway International Raceway in 2010 — a move Brad’s daddy took exception to (6:00 mark). Keselowski went on to capture the Nationwide title this season, car owner Roger Penske’s first title in NASCAR.

by Vito Pugliese

7. 48 - 24 + 15 = 39

At the Martinsville spring race in 2012, the Hendrick Motorsports bunch was fighting over who would bring home win No. 200 for car owner Rick Hendrick. Apparently, Clint Bowyer figured getting Michael Waltrip his third Cup win as a team owner took priority. Barreling into Turn 1 via NASCAR Thunder 2003, Bowyer moves Jeff Gordon which in turn wads up Jimmie Johnson (and himself). Ryan Newman drives away with the unlikely win, but the headlines highlighted what would turn into the best feud of 2012.

by Vito Pugliese

6. Further evidence that road racing rules

Tommy Kendall came within two laps of becoming one of the few road course ringers to break through and capture a Cup win on a road course. After taking out Mark Martin, he cuts a tire and hands the battle over to Davey Allison and Ricky Rudd. Coming to take the white flag through Turn 11, Rudd gets into Allison. However, the next flag Rudd sees wouldn’t be checkers, but a black flag for rough driving. Crew chief Joey Knuckles makes a gesture to live up to his name, NASCAR flags Allison the winner, and Waddell Wilson isn’t too happy — but Larry Mac helps clear things up.

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by Vito Pugliese

5. The wreck that defined “The Winston”

Before it became the Sprint All-Star Race, “The Winston” was NASCAR’s showcase of all-star talent. In 1989, Rusty Wallace was becoming a constant force in the series, but Darrell Waltrip was maintaining his role of holding things down for the old guard, having already won the Daytona 500 and at Atlanta and Martinsville. However, on this fateful day, Wallace makes contact with DW while battling for the win, sending the Tide Ride sliding through the infield and the boys in the pits scattering. The incident helped set the tone for the future of the anything-goes nature of the race, and was the singular incident that turned Waltrip from heel to hero (he would win most popular driver in 1989 and ’90). Waltrip and Dale Earnhardt (posthumously in 2001) were the only two drivers other than Bill Elliott to win the award from 1984-2002. This clip is the race in its entirety, taken from ABC’s closed-circuit feed, which provides more thorough coverage. The craziness begins at the 2:17:00 mark. And stick around for the unfettered post-race coverage.

by Vito Pugliese

4. You know what’s awesome? Road courses. In Canada.

As much as people love to rave about short tracks and the Truck Series dirt race at Eldora, there is nothing that rivals the action NASCAR fans see on road courses – particularly those in Canada. And this Nationwide race at Montreal confirms it. In it, Robby Gordon and NASCAR have a disagreement over who should be lined up where, and ends with Gordon doing victory burnouts and declaring himself the winner to ESPN’s Marty Smith. NASCAR declared the next day that he would not be racing at Pocono for ignoring a black flag issued to him and continuing to race.

by Vito Pugliese

3. “And both of them spee-yun!!!!”

Bob Jenkins goes up a couple of octaves, dogs howl and Big E cusses on TV. One of the greatest finishes in NASCAR history — and perhaps the main example cited by people who still bitch about North Wilkesboro no longer being on the circuit. Pick it up at the 6:50 mark with three laps to go. Also, why was in-car camera technology so much better 25 years ago?

by Vito Pugliese

2. “I just meant to rattle his cage…”

Once upon a time, four fresh tires trumped all — that is, unless they were assisted by four others attached to a black Chevrolet. Terry Labonte had four new shoes at Bristol with the race on the line and drove from sixth to the lead in four laps. He got into Dale Earnhardt a little bit coming to take the white flag, and Earnhardt, who claimed he only meant to give him a little bump back, sent him around and introduced one of the greatest phrases in the racing lexicon: “Rattle his Cage.” The crowd reaction was less than positive, as it appears 100,000 Stone Cold Steve Austins were in attendance at the 1:50 mark. Something to consider with last weekend’s dust-up between Chase Elliott and Ty Dillon: The No. 3 got its cage rattled by the son of the guy Earnhardt “passed” in the grass, driving truck No. 94. 9-4 = 5; Terry Labonte’s car number. You can’t make this stuff up, only figure it out.

by Vito Pugliese

1. The Coupes de Resistance

It’s the final lap of the 1976 Daytona 500 and Richard Petty’s Dodge Charger is trying to hold off David Pearson’s Mercury Montego. Petty’s side-draft through Turn 4 worked, but he didn’t quite clear that gargantuan front end on the No. 21 Merc. It was a lesson well learned, however: Petty would use this to his advantage in 1984 at Daytona en route to winning his 200th and final race over Cale Yarborough.

by Vito Pugliese