NASCAR evolved from some of the most masculine activities known to man - bootlegging, playing cat and mouse with the law, driving fast, and spending time in the garage souping up cars. Being this testosterone-filled to begin with, it's only gonna become more volatile when money, fame, and glory is thrown into the mix as well.
Some might say one of the best parts of NASCAR is the rivalries between the drivers, and some rivalries are definitely a lot more intense than others. Where some drivers are capable of leaving their aggression behind on the track, others bring it back with them to the pit, where things occasionally escalate into good old-fashioned pugilism. Who says NASCAR isn't entertaining? Here are some NASCAR rivalries that certainly escalated to the next level.
Jeff Gordon and Brad Keselowski got into a heated brawl after the AAA Texas 500 race in Fort Worth. After Jeff and Brad’s cars met up on the race track and Jeff suffered a flat tire, the 43-year-old NASCAR legend just didn’t want to let it go. The fight involved countless others, including driver Kevin Harvick, and left Gordon and Keselowski with minor injuries.
Tensions ran high during qualifying for TicketGuardian 500 at ISM Raceway in Phoenix. Daniel Suarez rushed over to Michael McDowell to go over some stuff that happened on the racetrack and, before any debate could even take place, the primal nature of man manifested itself. Considering the hotness of the moment, it’s pretty remarkable how composed the racers were when presenting their side of the story afterward.
Clint Bowyer had a lot to say to Ryan Newman after the checkered flag flew at the NASCAR All-Star Race. He made sure his fists sent that message. Bowyer rushed Newman’s car after the cool-down lap, frantically trying to land blows through the window before crew members separated them. Both drivers were called to the NASCAR hauler to talk with series officials.
Regan Smith had a good run going at Watkins Glen on a Saturday afternoon... until he wound up on the wrong end of overly-aggressive driving on the part of fellow title contender Ty Dillon - who sent Smith spinning around on a restart. Following the race, Smith would get into a tussle on pit road with Dillon and vowed to pay him back in a future race.
On September 18, 2005, at New Hampshire, Robby Gordon was involved in an incident with Michael Waltrip and went on to the track to get revenge by throwing his helmet at Waltrip's car. After the incident, Waltrip said: “He threw his helmet at my car! Well, that's just rude! The crash was his fault.” The helmet was later auctioned off to provide relief for victims of Hurricane Katrina, bringing in $51,000 for charity.
Tony Stewart and Matt Kenseth locked fenders as they battled for the lead and both cars piled into the inside wall. Then Stewart decided on his own version of vigilante justice, throwing his helmet at Matt Kenseth’s car during the race at Bristol Motor Speedway. NASCAR did confiscate Stewart’s helmet.
The Jimmy Spencer-Kurt Busch rivalry was one of the best in NASCAR history. Not only did the two often tangle on the track, but also they genuinely did not like one another off the track. After multiple on-track incidents and harsh words exchanged in the media, the rivalry came to a head at Michigan in 2003 when Spencer backhanded Busch in the face, leaving visible damage.
After Juan Pablo Montoya and Kevin Harvick crashed into each other at the Watkins Glen road course in 2007; the two drivers then got into each other's faces about who was at fault for the wreck. Clearly, someone's feelings were hurt and soon enough helmets are being grabbed and pushing ensues. The would-be fight was broken up before any serious physicality took place.
After sending Kevin Harvick into the wall during the Chevy Rock & Roll 400 in 2003, Ricky Rudd was confronted by Harvick and the two began to argue. The yelling soon escalated as Harvick allegedly threw his HANS device at Rudd and jackman Mike Scearce proceeded to jump on the hood of Rudd's car.
Denny Hamlin angrily confronted Nationwide driver Brad Keselowski after his car was spun out at Dover in 2009. Furious, Hamlin shoved Keselowski and the skirmish continued until crew chief Tony Eury Jr. intervened. This bout had roots in a 2008 incident during a Nationwide Race at Lowe's Motor Speedway in which their crews had scuffled. "You throw a rock, I'm going to throw a concrete block," Hamlin threatened.
Following the Chase race at Charlotte Motor Speedway in October of 2014, Matt Kenseth didn't take lightly to being wrecked by Brad Keselowski, so he hunted him down in the garage after the race, tackling Keselowski in between two haulers and putting him in a headlock before they got separated. Definitely one of the more memorable NASCAR feuds.
Harvick and Edwards were involved in one of the ugliest feuds and nastiest confrontations in NASCAR. Angry over comments Harvick made about him after a wreck at Talladega the previous week, Edwards confronted Harvick in the Nationwide Series garage at Charlotte in October 2008. The confrontation led to a scuffle that left a dent in the hood of Harvick's car and ended with Edwards' grabbing Harvick in a chokehold.
Tempers flared between Ryan Newman and Joey Logano following an Aug. 15, 2010 race at Michigan. Logano's No. 20 wiggled, careening into Newman's left rear quarter panel and spinning him out. The two confronted each other after the race, with Newman shoving Logano before track officials came over and broke up the altercation.
Tony Stewart confronted Joey Logano on pit road after the 2013 Auto Club 400 race. "He is a tough guy on pit road as soon as one of his crew guys gets in the middle of it,'' Stewart said. "Until then he's a scared little kid. Then he wants to sit there and throw a water bottle at me. He is going to learn a lesson."
Races at Bristol Motor Speedway have been known to get pretty contentious. Back in 2013, Denny Hamlin and Joey Logano - two former Joe Gibbs Racing teammates - had themselves quite the little dustup at the conclusion of the Food City 500, furthering a feud that had already been established earlier that season. Their fight would continue on Twitter.