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New Hampshire's Most Memorable NASCAR Moments

Kyle, Adam and Pattie Petty

12 memorable NASCAR moments from New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

10. 2002: Ryan Newman’s First Career Win

2002 was the last true Rookie of the Year battle to have some substance. Ryan Newman and Jimmie Johnson were in high-profile rides, and both over-delivered on their preseason hype. The ’02 New Hampshire 300 was run under the constant threat of rain. Newman and Johnny Benson Jr. battled for their first career wins, while Kurt Busch was looking for his second.

by Vito Pugliese

9. 2005: Robby Gordon Being Awesome

After some back and forth with Michael Waltrip, Robby Gordon gets the short end of the stick at New Hampshire in 2005. Gordon then goes Harry Callahan, walking into traffic armed with only his helmet and throws it at Waltrip’s car. His post-incident commentary is one of heart-felt emotion. Shortly thereafter, Waltrip offered Robby a ride in one of his Busch Grand National cars to make up for the incident, and they auctioned off the projectile/helmet for charity.

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8. 2005: Stewart vs. Newman for the Win

This race is listed simply because it was one of the most entertaining at New Hampshire. From Robby Gordon walking into traffic, Kasey Kahne exacting revenge on Kyle Busch, and this down-to-the-wire battle between Ryan Newman and Tony Stewart, it had a little of everything. Newman got the better of his buddy, but this run helped Stewart capture his second Cup title.

by Vito Pugliese

7. 2011: The Ticking Time Bomb

While the incident with Dr. Jerry Punch was the final straw in the tale that was Kurt Busch and Roger Penske, this exchange, caught with ESPN reporter Jamie Little in late 2011, provided some foreshadowing. Looking back, it’s hard to blame Busch for his response given the gravity of the situation.

by Vito Pugliese

6. 2009: Kurt’s Greatest Hits

Crew chief Pat Tryson and the team’s spotter tee it up at the :50 mark for Kurt Busch to knock it out of the park. Earmuffs, kids.

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by Vito Pugliese

5. 2010: Bowyer Wins Race, Loses Championship

Is it paranoia if they’re really out to get you? After winning the first race of the 2010 Chase, Clint Bowyer was docked 150 points when his car was found to be out of tolerance. The fine doomed Bowyer’s hopes of contending for the title right out of the gate. Bowyer and his Richard Childress Racing team maintained that the car got out of spec when the tow truck bumped the back of the car, pushing it to Victory Lane after it ran out of gas. That No. 14 car coasting around would go on to win the championship in a tie-breaker nine weeks later.

by Vito Pugliese

4. 2003: DJ is a Lucky Dog

There was a time in NASCAR when yellow didn’t mean slow down, it meant speed up and drive like a maniac back to the line. When Jimmy Spencer and Dale Jarrett got together in 2003, it was a prime example of why that’s not a good idea. Check out the video as Jarrett starts to unbuckle as the field storms towards him, sitting helpless in the middle of the track. This would be the last time drivers raced to the yellow flag (until the 2007 Daytona 500, which saw the track blocked with cars upside down and on fire. But whatever).

by Vito Pugliese

3. 1993: Davey Allison’s Final Start

It’s hard to believe it’s been 20 years since the first NASCAR Cup race in New Hampshire and even more so that it’s been 20 years since we lost Davey Allison. Allison would lose his life in a helicopter accident just two days later, arriving at Talladega on a Monday to watch fellow Alabama Gang member Neil Bonnet and his son David test a Busch Series car. Allison would succumb to injuries Tuesday morning on July 13th. He was 32 years old.

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1. (tie) 2000: Kenny Irwin Jr. (Aug. 5, 1969 – July 7, 2000)

The year 2000 was a dark one for NASCAR, which lost three drivers in a six-month span — Adam Petty, Tony Roper and Kenny Irwin Jr. A stuck throttle sent Irwin’s car head on into the Turn 3 wall, similar to Petty’s accident just two months earlier. Irwin was a star in the USAC Series, coming up at the same time with Tony Stewart. Irwin’s death was the first in a Cup car since Neil Bonnet and Rodney Orr were killed in separate accidents during practice at Daytona in Feb. 1994. Irwin’s accident, coupled with Petty’s and Roper’s, were the prologue to safety innovations thrust into high gear after the last-lap death of Dale Earnhardt at the 2001 Daytona 500. In an eerily tragic coincidence, Marty Smith, now with ESPN, posted this article the day prior to Irwin’s fatal accident.

by Vito Pugliese

1. (tie) 2000: Adam Petty (July 10, 1980 - May 12, 2000)

Adam Petty’s fatal crash on May 12, 2000 in Loudon is one of the most poignant moments in not only the history of New Hampshire Motor Speedway, but for the sport as a whole. As noted in the previous entry, fatalities in NASCAR occurred in each major series in 2000: Tony Roper in the Truck Series, Petty in Busch and Kenny Irwin Jr. in Cup. Sadly, Dale Earnhardt’s death nine months later was the true moment that triggered a sudden need for safety enhancements. Petty’s incident, though, was the initial wake-up call the sport needed to embrace the notion that something was wrong. How much so? When NASCAR returned in the fall, the Cup race was run with restrictor plates on the one-mile track. Petty’s memory lives on with the Victory Junction Gang Camp and the perpetual tribute offered by his father, Kyle.


by Vito Pugliese