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Nascar

"If the word 'NASCAR' is in your wedding vows ... you might be a redneck."

The most popular form of auto racing in the United States. NASCAR is an acronym for the "National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing."

The organization (and sport of stock car racing) has its roots in the American Deep South during the Prohibition period, when 'moonshiners', as they were called, would soup up their cars so they could outrun the police. After Prohibition ended, these moonshiners found themselves out of a job and instead of looking for more illegal activity, began racing against each other. It also has roots in Daytona Beach, Florida, where some people would race on the hard-packed sand beaches. Many speed records were in fact broken on those beaches. By the 1940s, these races with the former moonshiners became popular entertainment in the rural areas of the South. After years of having to put up with (some) unscrupulous and (more) unorganized promoters, several drivers and promoters, headed by Bill France Sr, founded the organization in Daytona Beach in 1948. It's that rare North American sports organization that has never had its predominance challenged (viz. USFL, World Hockey Association, ABA, innumerable attempts at new major leagues, etc.), which is testimony to France's business clout, vision, and force of personality.

The early years of NASCAR were mostly a period of growth. Most of the early tracks were short dirt tracks in the South. The first race of the "Strictly Stock" series (later to be known as the Sprint Cup, but then accurately named as the cars were stock right down to column-shifted transmissions whose linkages could not be rushed) was held in 1949 at Charlotte Speedway in North Carolina. The first series champion was a man by the name of Red Byron. The only track still on the series schedule from the 1949 season is Martinsville Speedway in Virginia. The first completely paved track and the first over one mile long was Darlington Speedway, which had its first race in 1950. In 1957, the new "fuelie" Chevrolets cleaned up so thoroughly that NASCAR banned fuel injection (a ban that persisted until the 2012 season, almost 20 years after the last carbureted road cars disappeared from US new-car showrooms); in retaliation GM not only pulled out but maneuvered the Automobile Manufacturers' Association trade group into banning its members from supporting racing in any way (a ban that was worked around within a year and gone within the decade). Then, in 1959, everything changed. For years, the Daytona event had been run on the Beach-Road Course, a half-beach, half-road course that used half of the Florida State Road A1A. Because the event was attracting large crowds — and because the occasional accident where said crowds became human guard rails — there needed to be a permanent track to race on, so the 2.5-mile Daytona International Speedway was built, and the first running of what would be known as the Daytona 500 was run on February 22, 1959. Today, the Daytona 500 is NASCAR's Super Bowl and World Series, unique in that it's the first event on their yearly schedule.

The 1960s and 70s were a time of growth for the organization and the sport of stock car racing. This is the time when the sport and organization really began to gain notice around the country and the world. Despite some races run in the Northern United States (and Canada) in the early years, stock car racing was still considered a Southern sport. However, with TV coverage, the sport began to find some popularity outside the South. In the 1960s, the Daytona 500 was usually taped and presented as part of ABC's Wide World of Sports package. However, in 1974, ABC began to broadcast the race itself live, starting with the halfway point. The first live, flag-to-flag coverage of the race was in 1979 by CBS, which included a memorable last-lap crash between Donnie Allison and Cale Yarborough, which resulted in a fist fight between the two drivers and Donnie's brother Bobby. The 60s and 70s were dominated by Richard Petty, who later became known as "The King", winning 7 Grand National (now Sprint Cup) championships and 200 races total.

The 1980s saw a slow, steady rise in NASCAR's popularity, in part thanks to a driver by the name of Dale Earnhardt, who won four Winston Cup championships in that decade. During that decade, the cars became less and less "stock" and turned into actual, purpose-built race cars; the days of buying a car and driving it to the track to race were over. The sport's slow expansion would turn into a boom in the 1990s, thanks largely to a driver by the name of Jeff Gordon, who was from — shock! — California and — horrors! — clean-cut, photogenic, and a good interview. In 2001, NASCAR lost Earnhardt, its biggest star, who had won seven Cup championships by that time. He was killed in a wreck in the final lap of the Daytona 500, which forced the organization to review its safety policies.

Today, NASCAR is one of the most popular sports leagues in the world, with audiences and drivers from around the world.

NASCAR is frequently the victim of Snark Bait and Public Medium Ignorance, ranging from light jabs (such as the worn-to-death "left turn contest" crack that provides the page image for the latter) to vicious attacks on both the sport and its fans. A backronym popularized among NASCAR's vocal Hatedom is "Non-Athletic Sport Centered Around Rednecks", which perfectly crystallizes the most common complaints about the sport. Because of its roots in the rural South, NASCAR is heavily associated with stereotypes of that region (see Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, an Affectionate Parody of the sport, for one of the canonical examples). Even if you are an Ivy League grad from Boston, admitting to being a NASCAR fan is an easy way to get called a redneck, although this is becoming less the case as the sport's popularity spreads beyond the South.

In addition, a fair number of motorsport fans, particularly European ones (among them the hosts of Top Gearnote ), like to contend that NASCAR requires less skill than other motorsports like Formula One and rally racing, as nearly all of the races take place on oval circuits instead of the more technical road courses found outside NASCAR. While the courses may be "simpler" from a technical standpoint, they require a completely different set of skills to race successfully on; a fair number of Formula One drivers have floundered when making the jump to NASCAR because they underestimated how big a shift this is.

For a list of current and famous former drivers, see the Character sheet.


The NASCAR circuit includes examples of the following tropes:

    open/close all folders 

[[folder: Tropes A-D]]

  • Achilles' Heel: Every driver has a track they don't do well on.
    • But special mention must be given to Kyle Busch's abysmal Sprint Cup driving record at Kansas Speedway. Prior to the 2014 season, Kyle had never finished higher than seventh, managed only two top-tens, has had four DNFs that were the result of crashes, and has an average finish of 22.4. Kansas was the only track where Kyle does not have a top five finish in Sprint Cup competition — until October 5, 2014, in which he managed to finish third. Time will tell if he's shaken it off, though.
      1. October 2007: He was turned by Dale Earnhardt, Jr. in turn 3
      2. In October 2012, he was part of a wreck that involved Ryan Newman in the tri-oval.
      3. In April 2013, Kyle damaged his car in practice and had to go to a backup car (he qualified fourth, but he kept his starting spot because he switched cars before qualifying). He started out loose, and spun out just five laps in. 97 laps later, he got loose in turn 4, and as he spun off the banking, was t-boned by Joey Logano, leaving Kyle to finish 38th.
      4. The fall race was even worse for him; in post-qualifying practice, he crashed his car and had to switch to a backup car, starting 42nd. His brother Kurt wrecked his primary car in the same practice session, and had to start 43rd for changing to his backup car. How the two brothers fared when the race began contrasts greatly: Kyle started getting into a wreck on the very first turn on the very first lap with Danica Patrick and David Reutimann. Kyle was mostly undamaged, but he ran into trouble with the handling of his car all day during the race, and got spun on lap 182 from contact with Juan Pablo Montoya in the tri-oval, also collecting Mark Martin's car. Then on lap 201, while restarting from a caution caused by Marcos Ambrose's spin, Kyle was turned by Carl Edwards in turn 1, sending Kyle to spin and hit Brian Vickers, before turning back up and smashing the outside wall in turn 2, destroying the front of his car and leaving him with a 34th place finish. Meanwhile, Kurt had a quieter day, slowly picking his way through the field to a second place finish behind Kevin Harvick, his second runner-up finish of the season.
    • Sonoma was an Achilles' Heel to Dale Earnhardt, Jr., as prior to getting a third place finish there in June 2014 it was the only track where he did not have a top-ten finish.
    • Sonoma has also been an Achilles' Heel to Matt Kenseth, who only has one top-ten finish in his 15 starts there, and a DNF in June 2014.
  • The Alleged Car: Some of the teams at the very back suffer from this. For instance, in the first twelve races of 2014 J.J. Yeley and the #44 of XXXtreme Motorsport suffered four DNQs due to a lack of speed (three times they were the slowest car for the entire weekend, lagging the top 36 by more than a second and the next slowest car by multiple tenths) and two engine failures at Richmond and Kansas, while Dave Blaney and the #77 of Randy Humphrey Racing have eight DNQs - among them a particularly humiliating run at Daytona where the engine blew before Blaney could even make his time trial run on Sunday, and then the team had to withdraw midweek after losing their only restrictor plate car to a practice crash - a broken steering column at Texas and a start-and-park at Darlington. Both of these teams have withdrawn from multiple races in 2014 in an effort to improve their cars, to limited effect.
  • Alliterative Name: Jimmie Johnson, Kasey Kahne, Mark Martin, Scott Speed, Aric Almirola, and Junior Johnson just to name a few.
    • For bonus points, Kasey and Aric's middle names (Kenneth and an unidentified "A." name, respectively) also fall under this.
    • By coincidence, there has always been two Hendrick drivers with alliterative names since 2009: Jimmie Johnson in the #48, Mark Martin in the #5 from 2009 to 2011, and Kasey Kahne from 2012 to the present in the #5.
    • Now defunct Morgan-McClure Motorsports had an alliterative team name. Roush Racing also qualified for almost two decades, until Boston Red Sox owners Fenway Sports Group bought into the team, and strung their name into the middle of the team.
  • Aluminum Christmas Trees: After many years where construction was abandoned, Kern County Raceway in California actually exists, and is hosting K&N Pro Series races.
  • And Now For Something Completely Different: In 2013, when Matt Kenseth transferred from the #17 Ford at Roush Fenway Racing to the #20 Toyota at Joe Gibbs Racing. Note that Kenseth had been in the #17 since 2000, a total of 13 seasons in that car. In the early FOX telecasts of the Sprint Unlimited, the commentators had a few gaffes where they mistook Kenseth for Joey Logano, the #20's previous driver (now in the #22 Shell/Pennzoil Ford at Penske).
  • Anyone Can Die: Fatalities in NASCAR haven't been nearly as frequent as in Formula One (especially given the far greater number of cars on track and miles raced in total compared to F1), but they have happened. This was harsher in the early years, particularly from about 1959-1964, when the factory horsepower race went into high gear and new superspeedways like Daytona, Talladega, and Charlotte allowed speeds to increase dramatically while safety standards lagged far behind technology. Drivers basically wrestled two ton machines at speeds in excess of 150 mph in vehicles with manual steering, drum brakes that were prone to fading, no fuel cells, no inner liner tires, rudimentary roll cages, no window netting, no flame retardant driver's uniforms (they existed, but were not mandatory until Fireball Roberts' death), basic seatbelts, and essentially football helmets. Serious injuries and deaths were not uncommon in this era.
    • Dale Earnhardt's death in the 2001 Daytona 500 is probably the most infamous of them all. Ironically, Earnhardt's death would lead to NASCAR essentially inverting this trope, as the safety measures that have been developed in the years since his death (improved driver restraints, stronger and more resilent car construction, and greatly improved track crash barriers) have made the possibility of a driver death minuscule. However, these head and neck restraint systems were not mandatory until the end of 2001, when ARCA driver Blaise Alexander was killed at Charlotte Motor Speedway (ironically, Dale Earnhardt's eldest son Kerry was involved in said crash, and received minor injuries even though his car flipped on its roof).
    • Some other significant drivers who have also died:
      • Richie Evans, who played a similar role in NASCAR's Modified Division, was killed in a crash in 1985 at Martinsville. He had a total of 9 championshipsnote  and had over 100 wins in the series sometimes racing more then once in a day and winning all the races. Afterward, NASCAR began making changes to the Modified chassis to reduce their rigidity, which was believed to have played a role in his death.
      • Alan Kulwicki, the winner of the 1992 championship, died after a plane crash in late March 1993. Ironically, Davey Allison, one of Kulwicki's leading rivals for that championship, would die a few months later in a similar way, in a helicopter on the way to Talladega. As tribute to Kulwicki, Rusty Wallace did a Polish victory lap at each of his race victories beginning at the spring Bristol race, the weekend after Kulwicki's death (which is that the driver does a reverse trip around the track). At the season finale in Atlanta in November, race winner Wallace and championship winner Dale Earnhardt did a side-by-side Polish victory lap, carrying #7 and #28 flags in memory of both Kulwicki and Allison.
      • Adam Petty, son of Kyle and grandson of Richard, was killed in practice for a Busch Series race in 2000 when his throttle stuck exiting turn 2 and he crashed into the wall. This was followed by Kenny Irwin, Jr. dying at the same track in the Winston Cup series practice, which led to NASCAR running restrictor plates on the cars when they returned to the track in New Hampshire. See the Epic Fail entry for how that went.
      • Jason Leffler, who ran part-time for several years beginning in 2001, was killed in a Sprint car race on June 12, 2013.
    • On a lesser note, Anyone Can be Injured could be another trope, as several of the higher profile stars of the Sprint Cup Series have had notable accidents that sidelined them temporarily:
      • 2013: Denny Hamlin had a compression fracture when his car crashed head-on into a concrete wall on the last lap of the Auto Club race in M Arch while locked in a battle with Joey Logano for the lead, leading to him having to miss four races (Martinsville, Texas, Kansas, Richmond) for which Mark Martin (Martinsville) and Brian Vickers (the other three) filled in for him.
      • 2013: during the week before Watkins Glen, Tony Stewart crashed a sprint car in Iowa and broke bones in his right leg, which knocked him out of the Chase contention. He was replaced by road-course veteran Max Papis for Watkins Glen, Austin Dillon for Michigan and Talladega, and Mark Martin for the remaining races.
      • 2012: Dale Earnhardt, Jr. was sidelined for two Chase races (Charlotte and Kansas) after taking a concussion in a last lap crash at Talladega. He was replaced by Regan Smith for these two races.
      • 1994: Ernie Irvan, who ironically had succeeded his friend Davey Allison in the #28 Texaco-Havoline car, suffered a near-fatal crash during a Friday practice session at Michigan International Speedway. Two months later, he was walking on stage at the annual awards ceremony. Irvan had been in a close battle with Dale Earnhardt in the points race, and was still among the leaders in laps led at the end of the year despite missing the final 11 races. While Dale Jarrett filled in for him in the #28, Irvan made a comeback in October 1995, racing in the #88 until the following season when he and Jarrett swapped rides, and Jarrett got the iconic #88 that he would drive to his 1999 title. Irvan raced for a few more years, until suffering another practice crash at Michigan in 1999 (almost five years to the day of his previous crash), and while his injuries weren't quite as life-threatening, it was enough for him to announce his retirement.
  • Artifact Title: The cars stopped being anything close to "stock" in the 1980's.
    • Earnhardt-Childress Racing Technologies, the official name of the Research & Development alliance that includes Richard Childress Racing, Furniture Row Racing, Tommy Baldwin Racing and Circle Sport. The "Earnhardt" half, Earnhardt Ganassi Racing, officially abandoned the ECR group for 2013, switching to Hendrick Motorsports-supplied parts.
    • Along the same lines, Roush-Yates R&D. Yates Racing folded into Richard Petty Motorsports in 2010, although with that move Petty switched from Dodge to Ford.
  • Attention Deficit... Ooh, Shiny!: At the 2004 Tropicana 400 in Chicagoland, a crash occurred when eventual race winner Tony Stewart made contact with Kasey Kahne on a restart, starting a wreck that also collected Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and Dave Blaney. NBC started to show the replays, but was sidetracked midway though the first replay when a fight broke out in the pits between Stewart's and Kahne's pit crews.
  • Ascended Fanboy: Most of the current crop of younger drivers in the field like Kyle Larson, Trevor Bayne, Kyle Busch and Joey Logano grew up as fans of Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt, or Darrell Waltrip, among others. For instance, Denny Hamlin is still a card-carrying member of Gordon's fan club.
  • Awesome McCoolname: Buckshot Jones. Scott Speed. Lake Speed.
  • Ax-Crazy:
    • In general, Bristol and Martinsville, as short tracks where bumping and banging is a way of life, so are tempers boiling over.
    • Kyle Busch intentionally putting Ron Hornaday into the wall at 140 mph in a truck series race at Texas in 2011. Busch had had a long history of similar but less severe incidents that could at best label him an overly aggressive driver.
      • For irony, about a year and a half later, at Rockingham in 2013, Hornaday pulled pretty much the exact same move on Kyle Busch Motorsports driver Darrell Wallace, Jr, dumping him under caution after an on-track battle under green.
      • This may run in the family, as Kurt Busch has been known to wreck a few drivers on his own, including infamous feuds with Jimmy Spencer in his first years, and Jimmie Johnson in his recent years. Outbursts are the reason why Kurt was released from Penske Racing after six years, spent most of 2012 driving for the cheap Phoenix Racing team, and then a top-ten points finish in 2013 with Furniture Row Racing, before finally being put back on his feet by getting signed to Stewart-Haas Racing in 2014.
    • Carl Edwards at Atlanta in the spring of 2010, deliberately spinning Brad Keselowski on the front stretch as payback for wrecking him earlier in the race, as well as their famous 2009 encounter at Talladega, where Keselowski touched Edwards in the tri-oval, causing Edwards to spin backwards, go airborne, bounce off Ryan Newman's hood, and fly into the catch fence, then came to a violent stop in the middle of the track as the rest of the field came by. Although Edwards probably didn't intend to create an eerily similar inversion of said Talladega wrecknote . The reason: there were a larger number of blowovers from the CoT with wing instead of the rear spoiler, including both of these incidents, and Ryan Newman's and Mark Martin's blowovers at Talladega in fall 2009.
    • In the August 2012 night race at Bristol, Tony Stewart and Matt Kenseth tangled duelling for the lead. Stewart, after climbing from his car, waited for Kenseth to exit pit road, then threw his helmet at him, striking the 'V' on Kenseth's hood.
      • For the record, Bristol is a track that has a history of making many drivers Ax-Crazy, especially during the bottom-lane-only "bump-n-run" era that ended with a repave in 2007, which added progressive banking and allowed side-by-side racing in the vein of a typical mile-and-a-half track. The grinding of the top groove prior to the 2012 Night Race led to the drivers once again being forced into one-groove racing (this time, along the top groove right next to the wall), which contributed to the above incident and will likely result in more Ax-Crazy incidents in the future.
    • On lap 403 of the 2002 Sharpie 500, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. spun Ward Burton in turn 3, destroying Burton's car and causing a caution. Burton's response was like Stewart's in 2012: he waited for Earnhardt to come back around, and then threw his brakepads at him. This got Burton a nice standing ovation from the crowd, but also got him and his crew chief a summon to the Big Red Truck. Earnhardt would finish in third place.
      • Bristol is a track where you could easily be making a tally chart of how many people will visit the Oval Office after each race. The line is sometimes said to be busy there.
    • On lap 348 of the 2013 Food City 500, Joey Logano was battling Jeff Gordon for the lead when Denny Hamlin - his former teammate when he drove for Joe Gibbs Racing - nudged him into the back straightaway wall, giving some significant damage to his car. Later, Logano nudged Hamlin on the last restart when Brad Keselowski slipped back. Post-race, they exchanged words, which included a small scuffle. This earned an ovation from the spectators, and also Clint Bowyer, who said over the track's loudspeakers, "Hey everybody, it's Bristol. They're fightin'! How 'bout THAT! It's what you're supposed to do at Bristol."
      • The following week, at Fontana, it continued: Hamlin and Logano were battling side-by-side for the lead on the last lap, reminisicent of the last lap of the 2003 spring Darlington race between Kurt Busch and Ricky Craven. In the last turn, neither car wanted to lift, and Kyle Busch took advantage of his teammate's duel with Logano to pass them on the highside and give Joe Gibbs Racing their first Sprint Cup win at Fontana. Hamlin's and Logano's cars contacted, and Logano brushed the outside wall, although he still was scored as finishing in third place behind Kyle Busch and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. according to their positions at the moment of caution. But Hamlin took a worse hit, coming off the banking, screaming across the flat apron at high speed, and smashed into an inside retaining wall head on with enough speed to lift the back part of his car off the ground and cave in the hood. Even worse, the collision took place along a part of the wall that didn't have a SAFER barrier (much like Jeff Gordon's late crash at Las Vegas in 2008). Hamlin would be transported to the local hospital and was diagnosed with an L1 compression fracture in his vertebra, and had to sit out for five races, with the #11 being taken over in that time by Mark Martin and Brian Vickers.
      • And if Logano's day couldn't have been worse, besides this episode of his new rivalry with Hamlin, he hung back on the last restart in front of Tony Stewart, costing Stewart the win by sending him back to 22nd place. Stewart was furious and made this clear by engaging in a shoving match and exchanging words with Logano on pit road after the checkered flag. Several members of Danica Patrick's pit crew appeared to have been involved as well. Both of Logano's incidents with Hamlin and Stewart overshadowed Kyle Busch's win, which is kind of ironic given that Stewart's and Hamlin's confrontations with Logano are exactly the sort of incident you would expect Busch to be involved in, as seen elsewhere on this page.
    • For a super extreme case: Jeff Gordon, Clint Bowyer and their respective crews lost their minds and played this out all over the Phoenix track in November 2012 at the Advo Care 500. How it unfolded:
      1. It started when Gordon and Bowyer, while racing each other for a top five spot on lap 305, got together, which sent Gordon into the wall (and got him black-flagged for not maintaining minimum speed).
      2. Gordon, apparently reminded of an incident in Martinsville during the spring where Bowyer went three-wide for the lead and turned Gordon and Jimmie Johnson on a GWC restart (note that Gordon had dominated that race and lost to Ryan Newman because of that accident. It also would have been Hendrick Motorsports' 200th Cup victory, which instead took place at Darlington, c/o Johnson.), then limped around the track for several laps until he was again beside Bowyer on lap 312, at which point he turned down on Bowyer, clipping his rear end and sending them both into the wall, also collecting Joey Logano and Aric Almirola, causing a caution to come out just as race leader Kevin Harvick was about to cross the finish line to start the final lap.
      3. In response to that, Bowyer's pit crew jumped members of Gordon's as they were attending to what was left of his car.
      4. After several more pit crew skirmishes and attempts by both drivers to find and presumably whale on each other, NASCAR sent sheriff's deputies to escort Gordon to the Oval Office while series officials had to personally walk Bowyer into his hauler.
      5. A red flag was brought out to stop the cars on the back straightaway, as Bowyer's severely damaged car limped around the track for a lap leaking oil as he was driving back to pit road. The incident mathematically eliminated Bowyer's chances of catching Brad Keselowski for the championship title.
      6. Quite ironically, almost like Mood Whiplash, Gordon rebounded the next week by winning at Homestead and providing Hendrick Motorsports with their first win at that track. The result was that Gordon had won at least one race at every track on the current Sprint Cup schedule except for Kentucky. And the person who finished second behind him was.... Bowyer. For Bowyer, finishing second caused him to jump to that position in the points as a result of Jimmie Johnson having a drive train malfunction.
    • At the 2004 Tropicana 400 in Chicagoland, eventual race winner Tony Stewart hooked then-race leader Kasey Kahne into the wall on a restart on lap 127. Five more cars were collected: Dale Earnhardt, Jr., John Andretti, Dave Blaney, Jeff Burton, and Scott Riggs. In response to this, Kahne's pit crew came down to Stewart's pit to confront his pit crew, and a fight broke out. Karma hit Kahne's pit crew, as Stewart went on to win the race.
    • The 2005 Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire Speedway. A number of retributive incidents happened: Kyle Busch and Kasey Kahne tangled, and Kahne maneuvered his wrecked ride in front of Busch under caution, getting him a point penalty. Later on, an altercation happened between Michael Waltrip and Robby Gordon that saw Robby throw his helmet at Waltrip's car.
    • The 2014 Bank of America 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway: with a few laps remaining, Brad Keselowski and Denny Hamlin were racing when Hamlin checked up, causing Keselowski to move up the racetrack. After the race, Keselowski charged down pit road with displeasure towards Hamlin, and in the process, also hit both Matt Kenseth and Tony Stewart.
      • It looked as though Hamlin and Keselowski were going to fight it out but officials broke it up. Viewers were treated to the sight of Brad walking over to his hauler, thinking it was over when when out of nowhere came Matt Kenseth practically ambushing Keselowski from behind leading to an all-out brawl between them and their pit crews between a pair of haulers. Keselowski was fined and placed on probation for four races for his actions.
      • As a further note, Keselowski and Kenseth had clashed during the race as well, with Keselowski blocking Kenseth on the frontstretch and causing him to bounce off the wall. Later, while moving around to take the free pass, Kenseth sideswiped Keselowski to show his displeasure, which appears to have been the real reason why Brad later slammed into Matt on pit road after the race. Matt in turn noted that he had had his belts and HANS device off and his window net down, and felt that these factors plus the force with which Brad ran into him could have endangered his life, hence the extremely rare attack.
    • The 2014 AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway: once again, Brad Keselowski was involved in a post-race altercation with another driver. On the first attempt of a green-white-checkered restart, he made contact with Jeff Gordon as he made a three-wide pass to race alongside Jimmie Johnson for the lead, that cut Gordon's left rear tire, which then caused him to spin in turn 4. Gordon got trapped a lap down and finished 29th. Johnson took the checkered flag and Keselowski finished third. Afterwards, Gordon pulled up alongside Keselowski's car on pit road, obviously to express his displeasure. It appeared that Gordon was restrained for a moment before he fought it out with Keselowski. The fight also involved not only their pit crews, but also Paul Menard's pit crew (though they got involved to keep reporter Jamie Little from being caught up in the brawl). This one ended worse for Keselowski in that he appeared to be thrown to the ground by one of Gordon's pit crew members, and was seen spitting blood from his mouth when ESPN got a chance to interview him after the fact. By the time he got to the media center for NASCAR.com's Press Pass feature, he had two black eyes blooming.
      • Interestingly, neither driver actually started the fight — it was instigated by Kevin Harvick running in out of nowhere and pushing Keselowski toward Gordon.
    • At Martinsville in 2014, there was the interesting case of Brian Vickers vs. Kasey Kahne. On lap 160, Kahne, struggling desperately to stay on the lead lap, got tired of Vickers, trying to stay ahead of him and also on the lead lap, holding him up and laid the bumper on Vickers in turn four, which sent Vickers spinning. About 100 laps later, Vickers finally found himself alongside Kahne again and knocked him into the wall. Kahne, generally one of the more friendly drivers in the garage, retaliated about 20 laps later and sent Vickers slamming into the wall. The only thing that stopped any further incidents was NASCAR warning both drivers to stay off of each other for the rest of the race or face penalties.
    • Vickers, of course, has had history with this trope, most notably a season-long instance in 2011, where Vickers seemed to be wrecking someone literally every other week. Among the highlights was a season-long rivalry with Matt Kenseth which started and ended in the Phoenix races, exchanges with Tony Stewart at Sonoma which eventually left Stewart hung-up on the tire barriers in turn eleven, and a bizarre race at Martinsville in October where Vickers triggered no fewer than five cautions, with his reign of terror only coming to an end when an attempt to take revenge on Kenseth for an earlier encounter finally damaged his car beyond repair with about 20 laps left in the race. This was all spectacularly mis-timed on Vickers' part, since he pretty much knew that he would be out of a ride after 2011 due to Red Bull Racing closing up shop, and this season ultimately came within a hairs breadth of killing his career since no one on any tier of the sport would give him a full-time ride due to the unacceptable level of risk he now carried. Indeed, Vickers only got the chance to rebuild his reputation after Michael Waltrip had to pass on his first choice (see What Could Have Been, below) to fill-in the #55 in races where neither he nor Mark Martin were scheduled to run.
  • Badass Driver: There have been so many, but Dale Earnhardt is probably the first one that comes to mind. Tony Stewart, Jimmie Johnson, Matt Kenseth, and others have since filled Earnhardt's shoes for that position.
    • Cale Yarborough, known as one of the toughest and strongest drivers of all time. Partially, for his ability to win with "slow cars" that were very hard to drive. But what really makes him even more famously Badass was his fight with both the Allison Brothers during the 1979 Daytona 500 which was the first NASCAR 500 mile race to be broadcast on live television in its entirety. Combined with the fact that a blizzard swept through the East Coast, NASCAR acquired lots of fans who first witnessd Cale and Donnie Allison race hard for the lead on the last lap, wreck each other, then get out and fight as Richard Petty won his sixth 500. It also qualifies as a Crowning Momentof Awesome for both Cale and NASCAR.
      • Not mention losing his father at age 10, sneaking into the second ever Southern 500 at age 12. Being a star High school football player and even played Semi-Pro ball for four seasons. And racing and football were both very dangerous in those days.
      • Cale was also a Golden Gloves Boxer, which may have been a Chekhov's Skill for the above mentioned fight.
      • Yarborough is also the sport's first three-time consecutive champion. He did this against the likes of Richard Petty and David Pearson.
      • In 2012 Yarborough was elected into the NASCAR Hall of Fame and was said to be the toughest driver in the history of NASCAR.
    • Ricky Rudd was not afraid of anyone or anything on and off the track.
      • He holds the record for most consecutive starts of any other driver.
      • Rudd once won a summer race after the cooling system broke in the car. He was given an oxygen bottle and taken to the hospital after the interview.
      • He also finished seventh in the 1984 Daytona 500 with his eyes taped open after the lids swelled shut due to injuries sustained earlier in Speedweeks. See No One Could Survive That, below.
    • In 2013, Martin Truex, Jr. entered the Chase in a Wildcard position with a broken right wrist from a crash at Bristol, albeit it was short-lived as it was then taken from him as a result of penalties handed down to Michael Waltrip Racing for manipulating the final regular season race, at Richmond.
    • In the recent era, Tony Stewart is the epitome of this. He even owns his own team, and both he and Ryan Newman win races and contend for the championship. Stewart made the Chase in 2012, though, seeded higher in the standings with three wins; Newman, with just a win in Martinsville, was not as lucky.
    • The Busch brothers seem to flirt with this trope, but how been known to act like spoiled brats with they don't get their way which overall subverts this trope for them. Still, they have had moments of awesome in their driving skills: Kyle winning four races in 2013 and driving his wheels off in them, and there's Kurt driving for a single season at the second-class Furniture Row Racing with consistent enough finishes that a single car team based out of Denver, Colorado ended up in the Chase.
    • Ditto for Kevin Harvick. See for example the above-mentioned November 2014 incident at Texas, where he walks up behind Keselowski as he, Gordon and their pit crews are about two seconds from exploding into physical violence, commits the shove that allows Gordon to wring Keselowski by the collar - and then runs the other way as the other parties descend on each other.
  • Badass Grandpa: Mark Martin counts due to his excellent physical shape and competitveness. He also still qualifies very well - 4 pole positions in the 2012 season for a part-time driver only running 25 races, with a number of top-tens and top-fives included; with a pole coming in 2013 at Phoenix. In fact, this photo suggests that Martin actually bears a doppelganger resemblance to Clint Eastwood.
    • This is not an isolated phenomenon; NASCAR drivers frequently have far longer careers than those in other sports. In fact, it was not uncommon for drivers who begun their careers in The Fifties to not retire until The Eighties or even The Nineties. One prolific example is Richard Petty, whose career began in 1959 and did not end until 1992. This has tapered off at the Cup level since The New Millenium (most of the prolific drivers of The Eighties or The Nineties have retired, Martin and the original wave of Young Guns being notable exceptions), but in Nationwide and Trucks there are plenty of drivers in their fifties, sixties, and even their seventies. While not all of those older drivers had success, being able to still strap into cars at 200 miles per hour deserves respect.
  • Bald of Awesome: Todd Bodine, aka "The Onion".
  • Beware the Nice Ones:
    • Carl Edwards is suspected to have another layer below his friendly public appearance, as seen when he had a few shoving incidents with his former teammate Matt Kenseth in 2007. Later, he and Brad Keselowski had a rivalry that began when Keselowski sent Edwards into the catchfence at Talladega in April 2009. They also wrecked each other a number of times in Nationwide competition, and Edwards flipped Keselowski over at Atlanta in March of 2010. This relationship has been healed. He also had between 2006 and 2010 at least one altercation with Dale Earnhardt, Jr. at a Nationwide Series race and another with Kevin Harvick.
    • Kyle Busch and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. had a noticeable rivalry in 2007 and 2008. It started when the two wrecked together in Texas in April 2007, when Earnhardt, Jr. was slowing down to avoid Tony Stewart's spinning car and Busch ran into him from behind. While Busch left the track, sulking, and Hendrick Motorsports did a favor to Jr. by letting him log laps in Busch's car as Busch had apparently left the track. This was in part why Hendrick signed Earnhardt, Jr. on to replace Busch starting in 2008. Busch and Earnhardt, Jr. would have several more on-track incidents: in the fall of 2007, Earnhardt, Jr wrecked Busch at Kansas. In May of 2008 at Richmond, Earnhardt, Jr. was leading by the slimmest of margins over Busch when Busch spun him and sent him into the wall, costing them both the race (this got lots of boos for Busch, and he also lambasted Junior's sub-par performance). When the series returned to Richmond that September, Earnhardt, Jr. got his revenge on Busch by repaying the favor in turn 2.
    • Tony Stewart and Jeff Gordon have had a few bad run-ins with each other on the track. Before 2001, Gordon's biggest rivalry was with Dale Earnhardt, though it never did get unpleasant between those two.
      • In 2012, Gordon's rivalry went to Clint Bowyer, which culminated in the altercation at Phoenix in November.
    • Tony Stewart had a notorious rivalry with Kurt Busch in 2007 and 2008 as they crashed together on several occasions, and tempers boiled. By receiving Busch and Kevin Harvick for teammates in 2014, one wonders if the team is going to be known as the team where tempers boil over easily.
    • Matt Kenseth, of all people, can be added to this list now after the 2014 Bank of America 500. Brad Keselowski got into his car on pit road after Kenseth had removed his HANS device and safety belts, and Kenseth retaliated by jumping Brad between the haulers. NOBODY saw that coming.
  • Bittersweet Ending:
    • Hendrick Motorsports' 2012 season. While all four teams made the Chase, Kasey Kahne finished in the top five for the first time in his career, and Jeff Gordon ended up getting the organization's first victory at Homestead-Miami at the season-ending Ford EcoBoost 400 (which had more than a few shades of redemption after his Ax-Crazy altercation with Clint Bowyer the previous week, including salvaging a top ten points finish), Jimmie Johnson watched his championship hopes literally go up in smoke after the rear-end gear went to pieces with thirty laps to go. Not to mention those hopes were already fading after slamming into the wall the previous week, and missing a lug nut on a pit stop mere laps before the mechanical failure, which all but guaranteed Brad Keselowski the championship title (itself the first time since Kurt Busch in 2004 that the championship winner did not drive a Chevrolet). If that wasn't bad enough, the timing was such that Clint Bowyer jumped over Johnson for second in the points standings. Of course, the other Hendrick drivers had run into troubles during their seasons: Kahne only made the Chase through a Wildcard slot, and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. had to miss out Charlotte and Kansas in the Chase because of a concussion he got in a 23 car crash on the last lap at Talladega.
    • Dodge's second period of involvement in NASCAR. Keselowski finally got them (and Roger Penske) a long-sought-after Sprint Cup (the first for the manufacturer since rejoining NASCAR in 2001)...but with Penske Racing moving to Ford for 2013, Dodge will now be left without a major tent-pole team and have to withdraw from the sport. But you cannot blame them, as Penske was the only team still running Dodge by 2012.
    • Tony Stewart broke his right leg in August 2013 which caused him to miss the remainder of the season, the first time since he debuted in the 1999 Daytona 500 that a Sprint Cup race didn't include Stewart's name. Jimmie Johnson said in an interview that it will be bittersweet clinching a Chase berth (heading into Watkins Glen, Johnson effectively had led the points standings for all but two of the first 21 races of the season going to the Glen, with a big 77 point lead over Clint Bowyer - large enough that Johnson could miss one race and still not lose much ground) without Stewart racing. He said, "From the way I understand it leaving Pocono, Tony's in that position for us to clinch. (That's) not the way I want to clinch, by any means, with him not being here at the race track.
  • Book Ends:
    • Jimmie Johnson's run of five championships in a row was preceded by Tony Stewart's second championship and followed by his third. Oddly enough, Cale Yarborough, the only other driver to win more than two championships in a row, also got this - with Richard Petty scoring championships six and seven the years before and after Cale's streak of three.
      • Johnson's run of championships was also bookended by his two worst finishes in the opening race, 39th at New Hampshire in 2006 and 25th at the same track in 2010. 2006 was actually followed up with finishes of 13th, 14th and 24th before he was able to pull off four seconds and a win in the next five races, with a sixth in the finale at Homestead, to overtake Matt Kenseth for the title. 2010 saw him immediately win the next week at Dover, then post six more top fives and a worst finish of ninth down the stretch to Sprint Cup number five. As a side note, those two openers represent half of his total Chase race finishes outside the top twenty during his five year title run (the 24th at Talladega and a 38th at Texas in 2009 are the others).
    • Richard Petty's seventh and final Cup championship in 1979 was followed by Dale Earnhardt's first Winston Cup Series championship. Earnhardt's seventh and last Cup championship, in 1994, was followed by Jeff Gordon's first championship.
    • Alan Kulwicki's 1992 championship was sandwiched between Dale Earnhardt's fourth and fifth championships (1990, 1991) and his last two championships (1993, 1994).
    • An inversion: The final race of the 1992 season, the Hooters 500, was the last NASCAR start for Richard Petty and the first Cup Series start for Jeff Gordon.
    • NASCAR begins and ends the Sprint Cup season in Florida - with the Daytona 500 in February and the Ford 400 at Homestead-Miami in November. From 1974 to 1980, the Cup season began at Riverside International Raceway and ended at Auto Club Speedway, both in California.
    • From 2011 to 2014, Phoenix hosted the first race to follow the Daytona 500 and also the last race before the Homestead finale, since 2011. That changed with the movement of Atlanta's race to the spring Phoenix spot in 2015 and that Phoenix race being moved to race #4.
    • In the Daytona 500:
      • Geoff Bodine's 1986 Daytona 500 win came in between Bill Elliott's first and second Daytona 500 victories (1985 and 1987).
      • Sterling Marlin's back-to-back Daytona 500 wins in 1994 and 1995 fell in between Dale Jarrett's first and second Daytona 500 victories (1993 and 1996).
      • Dale Earnhardt's sole Daytona 500 win (1998) came in between Jeff Gordon's first and second Daytona 500 victories (1997 and 1999).
      • Ward Burton's 2002 Daytona 500 win came in between Michael Waltrip's first and second Daytona 500 wins (2001 and 2003).
    • The Winston Million, a bonus prize offered to any driver who could win three of the four "crown jewels" of NASCAR (the Daytona 500, the Winston 500 (now the Aaron's 499), the Coca-Cola 600, and the original Southern 500), was offered from 1985 to 1997. '85 and '97 happened to be the only two instances of a driver actually winning it - Bill Elliottnote  and Jeff Gordon, respectively. It was reformatted into the No Bull 5 for 1998 specifically because of how hard it was to win the Million.
    • The period (2006-'10) where Sprint Cup regulars won five straight Nationwide titles was preceded by Martin Truex, Jr., then a Nationwide regular, winning back-to-back titles. The first driver to win a title after the beginning of the Series Declaration Rule, which eliminates Cup regulars from Nationwide title contention, was Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., who also went back-to-back on this count.
    • Steve Letarte's first and last career victories both came at Martinsville — his first in October 2005 with Jeff Gordon, and his last in October 2014 with Dale Earnhardt, Jr.
  • Boring Invincible Hero:
    • Jimmie Johnson, during the period between 2006 and 2010 when he won five Sprint Cup championships in a row, and then again when he nabbed number six in 2013.
      • 2011 offered up a subversion, with Johnson reeling off his usual string of top tens to open the Chase, culminating with a win at Kansas that left him just four points behind the similarly strong Carl Edwards. Then it all came unraveled the next week with a hard crash and a 35th at Charlotte, and by the time he wrecked at Homestead to close the season, Johnson had fallen out of the top five in final points for the first time in his career.
      • 2012 was an even bigger subversion. Johnson had the points lead through eight Chase races, the last two of which (Martinsville and Texas) he won off the pole while leading the most laps. Texas even featured a big one-on-one fight for the win between Johnson and Brad Keselowski, one which Johnson won decisively, making it a seeming statement victory for him. Then he made a completely different statement in the last two races, finishing 32nd and 36th at Phoenix and Homestead. He dropped 47 points to Keselowski in this span, and ultimately couldn't even hold second, getting passed by Clint Bowyer after the latter played fuel strategy to a second place finish at Homestead.
    • Jeff Gordon in the second half of the 1990s. He won 47 of the 161 races that were held between 1995 and 1999, including 10 races each in 1996 and '97, and a modern-era record-tying 13 in 1998. Not surprisingly, Gordon won championships in 1995, 1997 and 1998.
    • Matt Kenseth in 2003. He won the championship, led the points standings for 33 consecutive weeks, and did it all while winning only one race. As a result, the Chase for the Sprint Cup (which went into effect the following season) was often mockingly referred to as "the Matt Kenseth Rule", implying that his championship season was so boring that a playoff format had to be implemented to prevent something like it from ever happening again.
    • From 2001 to 2004, the late Dale Earnhardt's team, DEI, was the dominant force of restrictor plate tracks. In 2001, 2002, and 2003 each, they were 3 for 4 on plate races.
      • In 2001, Michael Waltrip won the Daytona 500, while Dale Earnhardt, Jr. won the Pepsi 400 (summer Daytona race) and the EA Sports 500 (fall Talladega race).
      • In 2002, Michael Waltrip won the Pepsi 400, while Dale Earnhardt, Jr. won both Talladega races.
      • In 2003, Michael Waltrip won the rain-shortened Daytona 500 and the EA Sports 500, while Dale Earnhardt, Jr. won the Aaron's 499.
      • In 2004, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. won the Daytona 500 and the EA Sports 500. He also finished in second place in the spring Talladega race (and would have likely won had the race not been ended under caution with five laps to go), and inside the top-ten at the Pepsi 400.
    • In 1967, Richard Petty won 27 of 48 races he entered, including 10 in a row. Both are all-time NASCAR records to this day.
  • Breather Episode: The All-Star race is a non-points exhibition in between Darlington and the Coca-Cola 600.
  • Brick Joke: At the spring Phoenix race, Team Penske's two cars swept the front starting row, with Brad Keselowski on pole on Joey Logano in second. The following week at Las Vegas, they did it again, but with Logano on pole.
  • The Bus Came Back: Ricky Rudd in 2007.
  • Call Back: After Tony Stewart broke his leg in a sprint car race in August 2013 and was sidelined for the remainder of the season, there was initially some debate as to who would be filling in for Stewart at the ovals after Watkins Glen (for Watkins Glen, Stewart's car was driven by Max Papis). NASCAR on ESPN's Twitter feed quoted Dale Earnhardt, Jr. as saying "I'd be the first to want to put Regan (Smith's) name in the hat [as a relief driver]", which was Earnhardt, Jr. referring to how Regan Smith filled in for him while Earnhardt was sidelined for two races in October 2012 from a concussion at Talladega. Ultimately, though, the role of relief driver would be filled by Austin Dillon at Michigan and Talladega and by Mark Martin at the other races.
  • Calvinball: The Rookie of the Year points system as of 2012 has still yet to be explained by NASCAR. The previous system, as obscure as it was, included several bonus points and even voting points. Which is why in 2000, Matt Kenseth won the Rookie of the Year award with only one race win (the Coca-Cola 600) while Dale Earnhardt, Jr. was the runner-up even though he won two races (the spring races at Texas and Richmond). Although Kenseth finished ahead of Jr. in the overall points, too (14th vs. 16th).
    • It would also explain why Ryan Newman won Rookie of the Year in 2002, despite Jimmie Johnson having both more wins (3 vs. 1 for Newman) and also finishing ahead of Newman in the overall points (5th vs. 6th), and leading the points standings for some time.
      • The reason for this is because NASCAR uses separate scoring systems for race points versus rookie points. Newman was more consistent than Johnson, and NASCAR looks at the driver's 15 best finishes. By comparison, Denny Hamlin was virtually guaranteed Rookie of the Year honors in 2006 when he won the Budweiser Shootout, won both Pocono races, made the Chase, and finished in third in the final points (and it takes wins, top-ten finishes and consistency to be in the Chase).
  • Catch Phrase:
    • " GENTLEMEN! START! YOUR! ENGINES!" ("Drivers" now that Danica Patrick is full-time)
    • Darrell Waltrip's "Boogity boogity boogity! Let's go racin', boys!" (and variants thereof) at the drop of the green flag at the start of Sprint Cup races on Fox.
    • The Big One is the unanimous term for any chain reaction crash involving five or more cars. They can happen at any track, but the restrictor plate races at Daytona and Talladega are especially known for them (see Disaster Dominoes, Failed a Spot Check, and Power Limiter below).
    • The free pass (which allows the first car not on the lead lap to regain a lap) is also known as the "lucky dog", or as Larry McReynolds calls it, a "pardon from the Oval Office".
    • "Cautions Breed Cautions" is used by all the broadcast teams to describe wrecks that occur on or just after restarts, especially if it is the result of a caution flag coming out after a long green-flag run or late in the race. The main factor in these incidents seems to be drivers trying to make up multiple positions while the cars are still bunched together, and therefore racing much more recklessly than they otherwise would. One example of this was at the 2007 Coca-Cola 600: restarting on lap 51 from a spin by Greg Biffle, the field made one complete circuit around under green and then a caution came out when Dave Blaney hit Tony Stewart from behind, as a group of cars had been slowed by Jimmie Johnson losing a tire tread, causing a ten car wreck. One lap after that restart, Tony Raines sent Jeff Gordon into the wall in the quadoval with enough force that Gordon's rear wheels lifted off the ground.
      • This can even happen at plate tracks - a six car crash occurred on lap 33 of the 2013 Daytona 500, two laps after a restart from a caution thrown for debris. At the 2012 Aaron's 499, a crash occurred off a late restart from Kurt Busch being spun by Brad Keselowski in the trioval when A.J. Allmendinger was clipped by Denny Hamlin and then clipped Paul Menard accelerating towards turn 1.
    • Green-White-Checkered: If a caution occurs in the final stages of the race, so that the planned finish would happen during a yellow flag, NASCAR will add extra laps to the event to finish the race under green flag conditions. They will end the caution with two laps to go by waving the green flag. The next lap will be one lap to go, and so the white flag will be waved. And then, the checkered flag will wave as the leader finishes the race.
      • Also known as "Checkers or Wreckers", as if the caution flag is thrown before the white flag is thrown, they will try again, for up to three attempts at a finish. If the white flag waves, the next flag, checkered or yellow, ends the race.
    • Often mentioned is "the Catbird Seat", used to refer to a driver in a precarious, enviable position, such as the last driver currently guaranteed a starting spot during qualifying, or leading the field with more worn tires or less fuel than everyone behind him, or the championship leader by a small margin.
  • Cheaters Never Prosper:
    • Michael Waltrip Racing, and HOW! See Scandalgate below for details.
      • Fall 2013 isn't the first time they've run afoul of NASCAR, and been crushed like bugs. Waltrip himself was found with an illegal fuel additivenote  at the 2007 Daytona 500. He got nailed with a 100 point penalty, and between that, a poor finish in the actual race and his inability to qualify for another race until the beginning of that summer, he spent the first third of that season sitting with a point total in Minusland.
    • Joe Gibbs Racing got to learn this lesson in 2014, when Denny Hamlin's car flunked post-race inspection at Indianapolis with improperly attached firewall block-off plates. Teams are allowed to have holes in the rear firewall to run ductwork for the brakes and a handful of other uses, but if they're not being used they must have block-off plates fastened to them to prevent air from coming up from under the car, which increases downforce and therefore grip and speed. This is also a safety issue, as any place that air comes up through a firewall is a place where fire can come through if there's a crash or a major engine failure. Hence NASCAR slamming the #11 with a P5 penalty,note  which carries a minimum of 50 driver and owner points deducted, $75,000-$125,000 in monetary fines and minimum six-week suspensions for associated personnel. In addition to suspensions for crew chief Darian Grubb and car chief Wesley Sherrill, as well as the maximum monetary fine, NASCAR decided to tag JGR with 75 owner and driver points,note  which dropped Hamlin and the team from 11th to 21st in points, to emphasize how critical this violation was. Unlike other major penalties in recent years, JGR chose not to appeal the penalties. With one top five and three top tens while driving with an interim crew chief, and a win at Talladega in May, Hamlin was still locked into the Chase.
  • Chronically Crashed Car:
    • 2013 Speedweeks for Carl Edwards truly lived up to this trope: his #99 Fastenal Ford Fusion was crashed four times - in Sprint Unlimited practice, in Daytona 500 practice, in his Budweiser Duel, and in the Daytona 500. He also wrecked a car at preseason testing at Daytona a month earlier, making this five.
    • In his time driving for Stewart-Haas Racing, Ryan Newman wrecked his #39 five times at Talladega.
      • This is not his first experience with this trope: despite winning a career and season high of 8 wins in 2003, his 8 DN Fs meant he lost the championship to consistent Matt Kenseth, who had only 1 win and 2 DN Fs. This was in part the reason the Chase for the Cup was created.
    • In the first 14 races (including exhibition events) of 2012 while at Phoenix Racing, Kurt Busch wrecked 14 cars, several of them in practice or qualifying sessions.
      • Unfortunately, these issues resurfaced in moving to Stewart-Haas for 2014 - he crashed the car five times in the first 11 races, including his win at Martinsville where he had a pit road collision with Brad Keselowski (resulting in some bumping and banging between the ex-teammates). These problems have prevented him from posting any top 20 finishes outside of the win and a third at Auto Club the week before, which has him stuck in 28th place in the points (keep in mind, if a driver falls outside the top 30, they miss the Chase regardless of wins).
  • Cluster F-Bomb: Drivers tend to drop these when they're chewing out their crew chiefs about poor handling or bad pit calls. National telecasts occasionally air these in censored form.
    • Greg Biffle had one of these aired after losing it when crew chief Matt Puccia forced a four-tire stop for a loose wheelnote  during the 2012 AAA 400. Lampshaded by Sportscenternote  analyst and ex-driver Ricky Craven as the sound of "a driver and team [losing] their chances at a title".
    • In 2012, a bleeped version happened in the 2012 Pure Michigan 400 that could be overheard on Dale Earnhardt, Jr.'s radio after Jeff Gordon came close to wrecking him.
    • Travis Kvapil dropped one at Pocono in August 2013 after being swept up in a wreck triggered by Danica Patrick losing control of her car in the tunnel turn. This was his second encounter with her in the last three races, also having been a victim of her missing her braking zone in turn one at New Hampshire two races before. (there, he side-swiped Danica as the two were limping back to the garage)
  • Commuting on a Bus:
    • Following his return to Indy Car, Juan Pablo Montoya did this in 2014, running two Cup races in Penske's #12. Ironically enough, though, it wasn't the road courses, where he had his greatest success, but rather Michigan and Indianapolis, the latter of which was probably the race Montoya felt worst about never winning during his full-time NASCAR career.
    • It's been rumored but not yet confirmed that Marcos Ambrose might do the same in 2015, possibly running the #12 alongside another handful of starts from Montoya. Of course, this would be much more difficult since Ambrose went all the way back to Australia to rejoin his former series, V8 Supercars.
  • Composite Track: Pocono Raceway is unique because each of its turns was copied almost wholesale from another track: Turn One is based on a defunct speedway in Trenton, New Jersey; Turn Two is based on Indianapolis's turns; Turn Three is based on The Milwaukee Mile. The struggle for the teams is how to get a setup for the cars that will work well for all three corners, and most drivers will tell their crew chiefs and engineers to tune for turn three, since that's the one that leads onto the 3,740-foot frontstretch, the second longest straight in NASCAR.
  • Cool Sword: Starting in 2014, Bristol Motor Speedway began handing out a ceremonial sword alongside its regular trophies, lampshading its nickname "The Last Great Coliseum". Here's Carl Edwards posing with his sword after the 2014 Food City 500.
  • Cosmetically Different Sides: The cars evolved into this, with the Gen-5 cars, which were identical between manufacturers except for engines and front grills. The Gen-6 cosmetic redesign was meant to avert this trope and return NASCAR to the slightly different cosmetic body styles that one saw with Gen-4 and earlier designs.
  • Crew of One: During a Truck series race in 2002, driver Morgan Shepherd changed his own tires.
  • Cut Himself Shaving: Carl Edwards once managed to break/damage something (either his leg, arm, or hand) while playing Frisbee. His friends asked him why in the world he would be honest about the origin of his injury, pointing out he could have claimed he was rock-climbing or, y'know, almost anything other than playing a game children are able to participate in without receiving a scratch.
  • Dark Horse Victory: This is generally used to describe many first-time wins for new drivers, or the surprise winners. Talladega Superspeedway is one track that is notorious for first-time or surprise winners, who have included the inaugural race winner Richard Brickhouse, Lennie Pond, Phil Parsons, Bobby Hillin, 1981 race winner Ron Bouchard, Brian Vickers in 2006, Brad Keselowski and Jamie McMurray in 2009, Kevin Harvick in 2010, and David Ragan in 2013. What contributes to Talladega's reputation for first-time and surprise winners is the fact that the finish line is past the pit road exit instead of in the tri-oval like Daytona has it. More than 15 Talladega races have been won through a last lap pass.
    • 2009 saw three Dark Horse Victory race winners.
      • Brad Keselowski won at Talladega in the spring, in a controversial finish (wrecking Carl Edwards).
      • Joey Logano won a rain-shortened New Hampshire race.
      • David Reutimann won a rain-shortened Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte.
    • 2011 should really just be called "Dark Horse Victory Year" for the Sprint Cup Series, because there were five first-time winners, who took wins mostly in the crown jewel races, whether running full Cup schedules or not.
      1. Trevor Bayne won the Daytona 500. He became the youngest winner of the Daytona 500 at 20 years and 1 day. He was also running a part-time Sprint Cup series schedule. This was his second Sprint Cup start (meaning he tied Jamie McMurray for fewest starts before his first Sprint Cup win). note 
      2. Regan Smith won the Showtime Southern 500 at Darlington in May, holding off Carl Edwards. note  In other crown jewel events, he had top 10s at the Daytona 500 (7th), Coca-Cola 600 (8th), and Brickyard 400 (3rd). Despite this success, he tapered off in 2012, and with six races to go in the 2012 season, Furniture Row Racing decided to replace him with Kurt Busch.
      3. David Ragan won the Coke Zero 400, the summer Daytona race. He had also nearly had a chance to win the Daytona 500, but was penalized for switching lanes on the last restart too soon so that Trevor Bayne could give him a better push. And he was runner up at the Coca-Cola 600 to Kevin Harvick.
      4. Paul Menard won the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis.
      5. Marcos Ambrose, the Australian V8 Supercars champion, won the race at Watkins Glen after overtaking Kyle Busch and Brad Keselowski in the penultimate lap. He defended this win in 2012, again managing to overtake Busch and Keselowski on the last lap.
      6. And while he already had the Talladega win in 2009, Brad Keselowski's second career win (and first in a full-time ride), at the spring Kansas race, already counts, as Brad had struggled through most of the season prior and won Kansas on fuel strategy to hold off Dale Earnhardt, Jr. for the win. It wasn't until a 1st-2nd-3rd-1st sandwich streak later in the season, including wins at Pocono and Bristol (neither of which are easy tracks to win on) while nursing a broken ankle, using a Wildcard to make the Chase and finishing fifth in the final points, that most people started taking him as a serious contender.
    • Keselowski's 2012 Cup championship ended a seven year period where the series had been dominated by Jimmie Johnson and Tony Stewart.note  It also qualifies because Penske Racing was the only full time team running Dodge equipment in 2012.note 
      • Furthermore, Keselowski won five races in 2012 and there were only four races where he finished worse than 20th placenote , the kind of consistency one needs to take a championship trophy.
    • David Ragan added another Dark Horse Victory in 2013 at the spring Talladega race, driving for the lower-tier team Front Row Motorsports, who had never won a Sprint Cup race before, even at a restrictor plate track, much less have their cars finish 1-2 (Ragan and David Gilliland). NASCAR on Fox noted that he was 100-to-1 in the Vegas odds coming into the race.
    • Hendrick Motorsports' origin story: a small start-up named All-Star Racing came to Martinsville in the spring of 1984, needing a win so badly that anything less would've seen the team shut down operations that very week. Few gave them a chance, as Geoff Bodine had never won on the Sprint Cup circuit and had finished 35th due to crash damage the week before at Darlington. Yet somehow, he managed to lead the final 49 laps and win the race, keeping All-Star alive for another week. Bodine and All-Star found two more wins and a top ten points finish that year, and they returned to the Sprint Cup Series for the 1985 season, albeit under a new name - that of the owner, a car salesman named Rick Hendrick.
    • Tony Stewart's win at the 2013 FedEx 400 at Dover counts in a lot of ways, namely the fact that he hadn't won at Dover since he swept both races at the track in 2000 (a Dover-winless drought of 12 years for him). Furthemore, he only led the last three laps through a pass on Juan Pablo Montoya. By comparison, Kyle Busch led 150 laps.
    • Brian Vickers winning at New Hampshire in July of 2013 counts, given he won in the #55, while running part-time, and racing for Nationwide points like Trevor Bayne's 2011 Daytona 500 win.
    • Alan Kulwicki's 1992 championship, full-stop. Heck, with six races to go he was trailing Bill Elliott by 278 points - although the third major player in that title fight, Davey Allison, was himself 154 back at the time - and no one really believed that an owner-driver shoe-string team could really overcome the powerhouse teams at Yates and Junior Johnson. Kulwicki actually invoked and lampshaded his status as the dark horse by having his manufacturer logo changed for the season finale at Atlanta so it read "Underbird" instead of "Thunderbird" (the latter being the make used by Ford in Cup competition at the time; coincidentally, both Allison and Elliott also drove Thunderbirds, in what was one of Ford's most dominant latter-day seasonsnote ).
    • In 2014, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. was this trope for two Sprint Cup courses he'd never won at before in what appeared to be a comeback seasonnote : Pocono and Martinsville (although he had achieved a number of top five and top ten finishes at both).
      • In both Pocono races, he took the lead late in the race and didn't look back. The June race was more of an upset considering that Dale Jr. basically stole the win from Brad Keselowski with five laps to go, taking the lead when Keselowski slowed behind the lap down car of Danica Patrick to get a hot dog wrapper off his grille. In August, he won by taking a splash of fuel with 30 laps to go, giving him better fuel mileage when he took the lead from Greg Biffle with 14 laps to go.
      • Martinsville was achieved thanks to taking the lead from Tony Stewart with three laps to go on a five lap shootout, while playing "spoiler" (having been knocked out of the Chase the week before in the Contender Round at Talladega due to a late race crash there, coupled with a right front tire failure at Kansas and a poor handling racecar at Charlotte).
    • The Chase field has always been comprised entirely of drivers from the multi-car powerhouse teams (Richard Childress Racing, Hendrick Motorsports, Joe Gibbs Racing, Michael Waltrip Racing, Penske Racing, Stewart-Haas Racing). 2013 broke this streak when Kurt Busch drove the #78 Furniture Row Racing Chevrolet into the Chase - a single car team based out of Denver, Colorado that in its past four years with Regan Smith at the wheel had never had a final points finish in the top twenty. Therefore, while Busch himself is not a Chase rookie (having won the first Chase championship in 2004, and making appearances in 2005-2007, and 2009-2011), the team itself was a Chase rookie. FRR ended up finishing tenth in the final points.
      • The 2013 Chase also saw its first Chase rookie in several years as said field had many of the typical regulars (read: Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon, Matt Kenseth, Kyle Busch), but it also saw a newcomer as Joey Logano made his first Chase in his first season with Penske Racing. In his four previous seasons with Joe Gibbs Racing, Logano had never finished better than sixteenth in the points.
    • A driver is said to be "playing spoiler" if they are not in the Chase and yet they win a Chase race. This has happened just 18 times in 100 Chase races. And that stat heavily weighted toward 2005, 2006, 2013 and, to a lesser extent, 2004 and 2011, the only years to date where more than one non-Chaser "played spoiler".
      • Joe Nemechek was the first to do it, at Kansas in 2004, actually out-battling another non-Chaser, Ricky Rudd, for the victory. This was the fourth, and to date, last win in Sprint Cup for "Front Row Joe", who also lived up to his nickname by winning the pole for the race. Greg Biffle would later take that year's season finale at Homestead, his first of three straight wins in this race, playing "spoiler" in the 2006 case.
      • Jeff Gordon, after narrowly missing the Chase in 2005, and then falling as far as seventeenth in points coming in to the race, took a win at Martinsville, completing a season sweep of the track, which along with the Daytona 500 and Aaron's 499 was his fourth win of the year. This was a turning point in his season, as Gordon would go on to string together several more top tens and get back to 11th in points on the last day. Additionally in 2005, Dale Jarrett won Talladega's Chase race, his last career Sprint Cup win. Kyle Busch also scored a spoiler win at Phoenix, which is the only time he's won a Chase race in his career.
      • 2006 was the biggest outlier, with five races "spoiled" by non-Chasers. Three of those (Kansas, Atlanta and Texas) went to defending Cup champion Tony Stewart, who, like Jeff Gordon the year before, had been narrowly locked out of the Chase due to a mediocre summer run. The season finale at Homestead went to Greg Biffle, and Talladega was claimed by Brian Vickers in controversial fashion (see below). note 
      • 2007 saw Greg Biffle claim Kansas after missing the Chase yet again.
      • 2008 wound up finally seeing a "clean sweep", with the Chasers winning all ten races, and thus averted this variant of the trope.
      • 2009 and 2010 saw the same non-Chaser win different Chase races with different teams: Jamie McMurray at Talladega in 2009 with Roush Fenway Racing and Charlotte in 2010 with Chip Ganassi Racing.
      • 2011 was the first time since 2006 where multiple "spoilers" claimed Chase races: Clint Bowyer at Talladega, and Kasey Kahne at Phoenix.
      • 2012, despite the efforts of Kyle Busch, repeated 2008 as a "clean sweep" by the Chasers.
      • 2013 joined 2005 and 2006 as a notable outlier in this regard - first, defending Cup champion Brad Keselowski missed the Chase and then played "spoiler" at Charlotte, breaking a 38-race winless streak. The following week at Talladega, Jamie McMurray held off Dale Earnhardt, Jr. to play "spoiler" for the third time in his career, snapping a 108 race winless streak, and rookie Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. took his first career top-five Sprint Cup finish (third place)note . Then, in the season finale at Homestead-Miami, Denny Hamlin played "spoiler" to end the worst season of his career on a high notenote , snapping a 44-race winless streak and keeping his streak of having a win in every season he'd run alive.
      • As of 2014, playing "spoiler" can also include a driver who fails to advance in the Chase beyond the end of the Challenger, Contender or Eliminator round, but goes on to win a race in one of the later rounds. The first case of this was at Martinsville: Dale Earnhardt, Jr. got knocked out of the Chase in the Contender round after three poor finishes resulting from a poor handling car at Charlotte and crashes at Kansas (from a cut tire) and Talladega (from late race contact with Greg Biffle), then won Martinsville, the first race in the Eliminator round. This happened in the second race of the Eliminator Round, as Jimmie Johnson dominated and won that racenote  after having also been cut from contention at Talladega.
  • Dating Catwoman: Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. and Danica Patrick have confirmed as of Valentine's Day 2013 that they are dating. Both are competing for Rookie of the Year in the Sprint Cup Series. Mike Joy shipped the relationship as "Stenica" during the NASCAR on FOX broadcast for Daytona 500 pole qualifying, and ESPN later ran live footage of them making a date night out of Richmond's Nationwide race in April.
    • After 32 races, Ricky had the upper hand in terms of race results, with one top five (third at Talladega) to Danica's none, three top tens to her one (8th in the Daytona 500), and 23 top twenties to Danica's seven. They did both make the 2013 All-Star Race, with Stenhouse transferring from a runner-up finish in the Showdown, while Patrick won the Fan Vote. And with Danica's Daytona 500 pole and Ricky's Atlanta pole, they also both debuted in the 2014 Sprint Unlimited, although it ended badly for both of them - Ricky, driving blind after submarining Kurt Busch during a crash in the tri-oval on the fifth lap of segment two, sideswiped a spinning but otherwise undamaged Danica, ripping the door panel off her car and spraying the underlying block of safety foam all across the track.
  • Deadpan Snarker:
    • The commentators sometimes use this trope in the broadcasts.
    • Tony Stewart. Ask him a dumb question and you will be roasted.
  • Deep South / Flyover Country: The associated stereotypes are commonly associated with the sport and especially its fans, to the point of serious Flanderization. Unfortunately, when you see some of the fans, it's easy to see why they get the labels.
    • Especially when Fox started to lampshade this through the use of country music in their broadcasts. Now they're just using the NFL on FOX music.
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: Kurt Busch in recent years. When he drove for Roush Racing and Penske Racing, he was known for his fiery temper and for run-ins with everyone ranging from the people on his team (like his crew chief or pit crew) or his team owner. Then he was forced out of Penske at the end of 2011, and ended up at the second-rate Phoenix Racing team for 2012. Then Busch got picked up by Furniture Row Racing with six races to go in the 2012 season and spent the 2013 season wowing fans by giving FRR more top five and top ten finishes than the team had ever had before and ultimately making the Chase. His new driving stance meant it was clear he had, as one article put it, "worked hard to change his image from petulant bad boy to outlaw racer."
  • Department of Redundancy Department: RCR note  Racing
  • The Determinator:
    • In 1996, Dale Earnhardt had a near-fatal wreck at Talladega when he flipped over while fighting Sterling Marlin for the lead and was hit by several more cars while on his roof. It looked fatal, but he walked away with a broken collarbone, sternum, and shoulder blade. And he didn't give up racing for points: the following week, he started his car at Indianapolis but was relieved by Mike Skinner at the first pit stop (NASCAR rules state that the driver who is in the car when the starting green flag is waved gets the points for that entry). And the week after that, despite still suffering from his injuries, Earnhardt won the pole position at Watkins Glen and finished in sixth place. Hence the issue of "It Hurt So Good" t-shirts afterwards.
    • Dale Earnhardt, Jr. had an interesting episode in 2004: on July 18, during an off-weekend, he crashed a Corvette while practicing for the American Le Mans Series Grand Prix of Sonoma at Infineon. The car burst into flames and gave him second and third degree burns on his neck, chin, and legs partially due to not wearing a protective balaclava with his helmet. He had to be relieved by Martin Truex, Jr. at the New Hampshire race the next week and then by John Andretti at Pocono. Like with senior Earnhardt, Junior started the car in both instances so he would get driver points for the entry.
    • Brad Keselowski's late summer 2011 run becomes even more impressive when one realizes that Pocono and Watkins Glen, the first two tracks he went to after breaking his ankle, require anywhere between 800 to several thousand gear shifts for the entire race due to the large range of speeds at these two tracks.note  While shifting doesn't always require use of the clutch in stock cars, it's also worth noting that many drivers brake with their left foot - and again, there's a lot of braking at both these tracks. That's a lot of stress to put on a broken ankle, and yet Brad pulled out a win and a runner-up finish at these two tracks, when the pain would've been at its worst.
    • Davey Allison was basically "playing hurt" for all of 1992, and it wasn't minor stuff either. To wit:
      • His first big wreck, at Bristol in early April, resulted in dislocated vertebrae and separated ribs, which would get a driver benched todaynote . Not Allison - he not only endured 400 laps at North Wilkesboro the next week, he won the race.
      • Then, just as he was getting over that, he got into a horrific crash at the very end of the "One Hot Night", aka the '92 All-Star Race, and the first nighttime race on a mile-and-a-half oval. Allison took the checkered flag while spinning off the front bumper of Kyle Petty, and wound up hammering the wall on the driver's side just shy of turn one. While his car was towed into Victory Lane, Allison was carted off to a local hospital, where doctors found that his ribs were broken again, along with a snapped collarbone. Despite this, Davey clambered back into the car for the Coke 600 and somehow finished fourth.
      • Then, just over two months later at Pocono, Allison had a wreck worthy of inclusion on the No One Could Survive That list below, getting turned off the front bumper of eventual race winner Darrell Waltrip on lap 149. That spin turned into a horrific rollover, with Allison's car flipping eleven times off the inside guard rail before coming to rest in the infield. While driving by the crash site under caution, Mark Martin was heard saying on the radio that they'd need a body bag for Davey, and Waltrip's first question in Victory Lane at the race was whether Allison was alright. Amazingly, Davey was at the track again the next week at Talladega, despite dislocating his wrist and cracking both his right forearm and his skull. In interviews with the press, he was initially reluctant to take off the pair of sunglasses he was sporting, and when he finally did, everyone could see a mess of busted veins in his eyes. This wreck forced Davey to perform mid-race driver swaps for the next two races (Talladega and Watkins Glen).
      • Despite all this, Davey kept racing, and even kept winning, including as late as the penultimate race of the season at Phoenix, which also got him back to the points lead due to a string of bad luck by Bill Elliott in the last six races. It was only one final wreck with Ernie Irvan at Atlanta, relatively minor compared to the above, that finally shut down Davey's shot at the Cup.
  • Dick Dastardly Stops to Cheat: Jimmie Johnson has hands-down the best cars in NASCAR, especially since it's financed by Rick Hendrick and Jeff Gordon. So why crew chief Chad Knaus was caught illegally altering the car prior to the 2006 Daytona 500 is anyone's guess. Knaus was suspended, the car was impounded, Johnson had to start the race from the rear of the field in a backup car and with Darian Grubb, an alternate crew chief (currently Denny Hamlin's crew chief) — and he won the race anyway. Similar circumstances happened after the 2012 Daytona 500, where Johnson's car was found to be illegally modified prior to the first practice. Although the points penalty and Knaus' suspension were overturned the second time, karma caught up to Johnson on the track, as he got hit hard by David Ragan in a crash on lap 2.
  • Disaster Dominoes:
    • At Daytona and Talladega, the difference between a single-car wreck and a Big One that obliterates half the field can be one or two cars getting turned in the right spot in front of the rest of the pack. A crash originating from the middle of the pack on forwards will likely collect a minimum of eight or nine cars, while you might have no more than four cars if the contact is near the back of the pack.
    • Engine failures: One engine failure on one model and you should expect a lot of teams to get worried because many of them share the same engine shop. For instance, at the 2013 Daytona 500, Matt Kenseth and Kyle Busch - Joe Gibbs Racing Toyotas - had engine failures within the span of about two laps at lap 150. Denny Hamlin, their teammate, was able to continue all the way to the finish in 14th place. Michael Waltrip Racing gets its engines from the same source as Gibbs - Toyota Racing Development - and watched Martin Truex Jr.'s engine go up in smoke a few laps after Busch and Kenseth. Fortunately, Mark Martin and Clint Bowyer both lasted to the completion of the race (Martin in third, Bowyer 11th).
      • This same thing happened at the 2013 FedEx 400 at Dover: Kenseth lost another engine while in second place, and about a hundred laps later, Truex blew up as well.
      • Three of six cars with Hendrick engine packages had failures at the 2012 Pure Michigan 400 - Tony Stewart, Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson. The other three with the Hendrick package - Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Kasey Kahne and Ryan Newman - managed to make it to the end, the former two being in the top-five at the end. Earnhardt may have escaped engine failure because he had wrecked his primary car in qualifying and had to use a backup car he had used at Fontana.
    • The entire "Cautions Breed Cautions" issue.
    • The 2013 Martinsville sprint race saw a number of cars get involved in two caution-causing situations. Martin Truex, Jr. got heavy damage on lap 180, and laps down got into another incident much later. Kurt Busch got into two wrecks - first a spin, and then later a hit into the wall that caused his engine to erupt in flames. Dale Earnhardt, Jr was part of Truex's first wreck, and later spun after contact with Danica Patrick.
      • As a matter of fact, if you looked at how many cars were driving with heavy body damage at that race, that just shows you why Martinsville is a demolition derby place for the Sprint Cup cars. Several of these cars even finished quite well, including runner-up Clint Bowyer, who spun on lap 180, got heavily damaged, and still finished ahead of Jeff Gordon's fully intact car.
  • Disconnected Side Area: At Sonoma, before the primary pit road was extended to 43 stalls in 2002, there was a second pit road known as Gilligan's Island. To elaborate:
    • It was located on the inside of the front stretch, while the primary pit road has always been on the outside. Cars that had the nine slowest qualifying speeds were relegated here. Being unlucky enough to be assigned to Gilligan's Island was considered an inconvenience and a competitive disadvantage, more so than even the disadvantages one would experience pitting on the backstretch at a short track at the time. Since the length of the Island was significantly shorter than the main pit road, if you pitted here, you were held from 15-20 seconds to make up for the time that would have been spent if the cars had traveled the entire main pit road.
    • The location (the staging area for the drag strip) was also landlocked by the race course, meaning crew members were unable to leave once the race began. Teams sent only the primary pit crew to Gilligan's Island. Once they were there, they could not access the garage area or their transporters to collect spare parts/tools unless a red flag came out. The only repairs that could be made were routine tire changes and refueling, as well as minor repairs. Auxiliary pit crew members, who were not part of the main crew, were staged in the garage area, and would have to service the car if it went to the garage. If a team pitting on Gilligan's Island dropped out of the race, the main pit crew was unable to pack up their supplies and prepare to leave (a common practice at other tracks) until the race was finished.
  • Down to the Last Play:
    • The very nature of restrictor plate racing has made this a recurring motif for races at Daytona and Talladega, due to the nature of drafting in the packs, especially at the latter. The reason that Talladega further encourages this is that the start-finish line is located past the pit road exit, as opposed to the middle of the tri-oval like it is at Daytona (apparently because Big Bill France wanted the seats by the pit-road exit to be just as valuable as the seats in the main tri-oval). Over 20 Talladega races have been won through a pass on the last lap, including at least ten in the past decade.
      • The first of Dale Earnhardt, Jr.'s four straight wins at Talladega, the 2001 EA Sports 500: Coming to the white flag, Bobby Labonte and Earnhardt, Jr. were side-by-side battling for the lead. Going into turn 1, Earnhardt dropped to the inside lane, bringing Tony Stewart and Jeff Burton with him. Labonte drifted up, out of the draft, in front of Bobby Hamilton. Coming out of turn 2, Hamilton touched Labonte from behind. Labonte was spun and collided with the fourth and fifth place cars of Ricky Craven and Johnny Benson, Jr. Labonte then flipped over on his roof, while Craven and Benson were sent into the wall, and collected 13 cars. While this wreck was happening, Earnhardt, Stewart and Burton were racing hard for the lead into turn 3, Stewart and Earnhardt side-by-side. Coming off turn 4, Earnhardt, Jr. had the extra momentum, and as Stewart and Burton fought for second place, he took off and won by more than a car length.
      • The 2010 Aaron's 499 broke numerous motorsports records, some of which had been records not broken since 1984: 29 different leaders (more than half of all of the drivers in the field), 88 lead changes (previous record was 75 in 1984), and the first time NASCAR's freshly implemented rule on three attempts at a green-white-checkered finish went to the maximum use. Topping it off was an unexpected winner: Kevin Harvick got Jamie McMurray loose enough in the tri-oval turn 1,000 feet from the checkered flag, allowing Harvick to get below McMurray without going below the double-yellow line. Harvick's win was his first since the 2007 Daytona 500 (ironically, Harvick was sponsored by Royal Dutch Shell and Pennzoil at both races). The fall race, the AMP Energy 500, won by Harvick's then-teammate Clint Bowyer, came one lead change short of tying this record.
      • The year after, at the 2011 Aaron's 499, where the lead change record of 88 was tied, but all lead changes happened within the scheduled distance (Harvick's pass on McMurray had happened in overdrive). Though this time, the race was memorable for several things:
      1. Hendrick Motorsports swept the top four starting positions (Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson on the front row; Mark Martin and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. on the second row).
      2. This finish was even more dramatic than 2010. At the white flag, Gordon took the lead with help from Martin after hanging at the back of the field for most of the race. Heading down the back straightaway, Johnson, pushed by Earnhardt, Jr., were in fifth and sixth place, while Gordon was dueling alongside Clint Bowyer, who had drafting help from Kevin Harvick. At the tri-oval, both Hendrick pairs and the Childress pair of Harvick and Bowyer were three-wide, and it looked like Bowyer was going to win his second consecutive Talladega race victory (having won the race in October 2010). By the time they reached the start-finish line, Johnson had cleanly squeezed past Gordon and stole the win from Bowyer by just a few inches in one of NASCAR's closest photo-finishes ever (0.002 secondsnote , which was close enough that Mike Joy said could barely capture it on the stop-motion camera at the linenote ). Gordon fell back to third, as Earnhardt, Jr. and Martin rubbed and Martin lost his momentum. To make things even better, the Roush teammates of Carl Edwards and Greg Biffle made a charge of their own starting in the tri-oval to make it a four-wide finish at the line.
      • In the 2011 Good Sam RV Insurance 500 (renamed fall race at Talladega), the use of the tri-oval for last lap passes was shown when Clint Bowyer slingshotted off Jeff Burton to win by a hood-length in a side-draft battle.
      • 2003 Aaron's 499: Dale Earnhardt, Jr. started 43rd after an engine change. He was caught up in a 27 car crash on lap 4, and received some pretty heavy damage to his front fender. It took Earnhardt a lot of pit stops under caution to repair damage to his car, and struggled for most of the race (and at some points was nearly a half-lap down, only making up the lost time through a caution), then overtook Matt Kenseth with two laps to go, and held off Kevin Harvick and Elliott Sadler as he won his fourth straight Talladega race. There was some controversy as it appeared Earnhardt went below the yellow line passing Kenseth for the lead in turn 3.
    • On getting into the Chase:
      • For something on a season-long scale, Jeff Gordon's charge to make the 2012 Chase definitely qualifies. In the first 11 races, he had just two top tens and seven finishes of 21st or worse (from a blown engine in the Daytona 500, and being crashed out at Talladega on lap 142 despite starting on pole). He didn't even string two top tens in a row together until mid-June, and his first win didn't come until the beginning of August (even then, that was in a rain-shortened Pocono race), followed by two top-three finishes at Bristol and Atlanta. Then there was the fall Richmond race itself, where Gordon missed the setup so badly that he went from the outside pole to 25th place and a lap down in the first 100 laps, while Kyle Busch had a solid top ten run going until his own car started fading later in the night. Gordon's team took the rather lengthy and relatively unusual step of unhooking the rear sway bar to try to change the handling, and even after it turned him into the fastest car on the track, it took Gordon until nearly the end of the race to finally get far enough ahead of Busch on the track to overtake him in the points. In the first eight Chase races, Gordon had an average finish of 11.12, five of these being top-ten finishes. After the Axe Crazy incident with Bowyer at Phoenix, he won his second race at Homestead, which at least meant that Gordon had his first set of back-to-back seasons with multiple victories since 2007.
    • The races at Watkins Glen from 2011 to 2013. In 2011 and 2012, the two times Marcos Ambrose won, he made the race winning pass on Kyle Busch with less than 3 laps to go. Both times, he was involved in a tight battle for the lead with Brad Keselowski over the last lap. Keselowski and Ambrose traded the lead several times on the last lap, with Ambrose getting clear in the last corners. In 2013, Ambrose crashed with six laps to go, and Kyle Busch won instead, but that last lap is still noticeable for the fact that Keselowski, after spinning out early, drove his car as hard as he could trying to get Busch loose so he could pass him, and for the third straight year, came up short in second.
    • Championship battles under the new point system have been very dramatic, even if they usually only involve one or two drivers:
      • 2011 was of particular interest as there was a heated battle for the point lead over the last five Chase races that saw the point lead bounce back and forth between Tony Stewart and Carl Edwards. Heading into Homestead, Edwards had a three point advantage over Stewart. At Homestead, Stewart led the most laps and won the race, and Edwards finished second. This left them tied atop the point standings, a tiebreaker that was decided in Stewart's favor by him having five wins vs. Edwards' one.
      • 2012 saw one between Brad Keselowski and Jimmie Johnson in the last five races. Keselowski took the point lead from Johnson at Dover, and held onto it until Martinsville. A pair of back to back wins by Johnson with Martinsville and Texas allowed Johnson to regain ground and assume the point lead from Keselowski. Then Johnson wrecked at Phoenix and had a drive train problem at Homestead, giving the point lead and title to Keselowski.
      • 2013 was this trope with the main title battle between Jimmie Johnson and Matt Kenseth over the course of the Chase. However, it wasn't a two man battle until Texas, which Johnson won while Kenseth finished fourth, giving Johnson a seven point lead, at which point Kevin Harvick was almost a full race worth of points back from Johnson.
    • Sprint Cup races at Auto Club Speedway have become known for dramatic finishes. Ever since the fall date was axed and the spring date shortened to 400 miles in 2011, three of the last four Sprint Cup races at the track saw the race-winning pass for the lead occur on the last lapnote , making races at the track sometimes just as exciting as the finishes at restrictor plate races:
      • 2011: Kevin Harvick passed Jimmie Johnson for the lead in turn 4 to take the win by 0.144 seconds. It was Harvick's sole lap led.
      • 2013: A side-by-side battle for the lead between bitter rivals and ex-teammates Denny Hamlin and Joey Logano happened over the last five laps. While they were bumping each other, it looked like the race would end in an extremely close photo finish similar to the Ricky Craven/Kurt Busch photo finish at Darlington in 2003. That is, until the last lap, when neither car would lift in turn 4. Logano bumped the outside wall, while Hamlin spun off the banking and slammed head-on into an inside wallnote , and Kyle Busch slipped past both of them to give Joe Gibbs Racing its first Sprint Cup in at Auto Club.
      • 2014: A spin by Clint Bowyer with two laps to go set up a green-white-checkered finish. The field fanned out on the ensuing restart, with Kurt Busch gaining the lead. He was still leading as the white flag waved. Heading into turn 1, Kyle Busch and Kyle Larson passed Kurt. A tense last-lap battle for the lead unfolded between the two Kyles. In turn 4, Larson got momentarily loose, and Busch slid in front of him to take his second straight win at the track. Larson finished second, denied an opportunity to do a weekend sweep after winning the Nationwide race, and Kurt finished third. The top ten was jumbled greatly by the restart, with positions 4-10 being (in order) Matt Kenseth, Tony Stewart, Jamie McMurray, Brian Vickers, A.J. Allmendinger, Paul Menard and Carl Edwardsnote 
    • The three elimination races during the Chase where the bottom four in the Chase field of 16 are barred from advancing to the next round become this, especially as the Chase field grows smaller and smaller. One does not only watch the lead changes and the battles for the lead, but also watches the midpack battles because those might tell who will be advancing to the next round and who won't.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?:
    • In the 2010 Kobalt Tools 500, when Carl Edwards turned Brad Keselowski and caused Keselowski to flip over once and crash on his driver's side, that it looked like a carbon copy of the last lap crash in the 2009 Aaron's 499 the previous year at Talladega was quickly pointed out by Mike Joy, just with Keselowski's and Edwards' roles reversed.
    • On a lighter note, many were quick to pick up on the similarities in Dale Earnhardt, Jr's. first two points wins with Hendrick Motorsports: both were in the June race at Michigan; both were winless streak busters (the second win, in 2012, broke a 143-race winless streak dating back to the first win, in 2008; the first win busted a 76-race winless streak stretching back to Richmond in May 2006); and in both wins, Junior carried a special paint scheme advertising one of the Christopher Nolan Batman films.note 
    • In a similar vein, Junior's third points-paying win with the team, the 2014 Daytona 500, featured an impromptu passenger during his victory lap in the form of Rick Hendrick himself, who briefly jumped into the driver's side window as Junior drove the car up and down pit road. Hendrick had previously done the same thing with Jimmie Johnson after the team's 200th win at Darlington Raceway in May 2012.
  • Duct Tape for Everything: For minor sheet metal damage anyway, which occurs fairly often, teams will use duct tape. Bear-bond is this turned Up to Eleven, as it can be used to basically rebuild lost sections of sheet metal that would cause aerodynamic issues at larger tracks. (At short tracks, the effects of aerodynamic forces are minimal enough to allow the cars to maintain minimum speed without sheet metal covering the front end.)
  • Disproportionate Retribution:
    • In the 2010 Kobalt Tools 500 at Atlanta, Brad Keselowski got into the back of Carl Edwards on lap 41, sending Edwards up the track into Joey Logano and ending both of those drivers' hope of a good finish. Edwards went 150 laps down repairing his car in the garage. With three laps ago, he retaliated by spinning fifth place Keselowski out, causing Keselowski to flip over and crash on his driver's side door. Edwards was parked by NASCAR for the balance of the race and put on a three-race probation.
      • To be fair, this was another demonstration of the Generation 5 car's rear wing problem, since in the replays, the cowl flaps and roof flaps on Keselowski's car could clearly be seen deploying, but they did not set the car back on the ground. Edwards likely was not anticipating Keselowski to blow over.
    • 2013 STP 400 at Kansas: Matt Kenseth won the pole, led the most laps, and won the race, which equated to 48 points (43 base points, plus three win points, one point for leading at least one lap, and another point for leading the most laps). Cut to a few days later: Kenseth's engine failed post-race inspection, because one of the eight connector rods was 3 grams under the legal limit. His pole award was revoked, he was docked 50 driver and owner points (all 48 points from his win, plus two more) and his win would no longer count towards bonus points when the Chase field was set in the fall (similar to what befell Carl Edwards after a post-race inspection failure following his 2008 win in Las Vegas). Crew chief Jason Ratcliff was penalized $200,000 and to be suspended for several races, and the team's owner points were to be frozen for 6 races. The engine builder, Toyota, would not receive any manufacturer points for 5 races. Joe Gibbs announced he would appeal the penalties.
      • Note that Kenseth wasn't slowed down by the penalty: he won the pole award (for automatic entry into the 2014 Sprint Unlimited) back at Richmond the following week, and he led the most laps at the two races that followed his penalty (Richmond and Talladega). The week after Talladega, NASCAR's appeals board agreed with Gibbs that the penalties were too harsh (in part because Kenseth had won the race in question), and reduced them significantly: reducing the 50 point penalty to a 12 point penalty (giving Kenseth back 38 points and putting him back up to the top five in driver points), and restoring the pole award and Chase seeding points, freezing the team's owners points for a single race, and reducing Jason Ratcliff's suspension to just the Darlington race. The Toyota manufacturers' points fine was increased to seven races, in part because they supplied the engine in question. For the record, Kenseth still won the Darlington race even though he was driving with a substitute crew chief, Wally Brown.
  • The Dreaded: There are select tracks that are this trope to select drivers. The tracks most likely to be considered dreaded are Talladega and Daytona, the restrictor plate tracks. This has in part to do with the fact that everyone's traveling at high speeds in one extremely tight pack, and even the slightest amount of contact between two cars is all that is needed to start a Big One.
    • Despite picking up wins at the track in the 1990s, by the late 2000s, Mark Martin dreaded Talladega simply because of the crashes.
    • One thinks that Rusty Wallace dreaded the plate tracks in his driving career, especially since he had violent wrecks at the 1993 Daytona 500 and 1993 Winston Select 500 (Talladega) where his car barrel rolled violently in the air.
  • Drives Like Crazy: In early 2013, this viral video surfaced of Jeff Gordon going in disguise to a car dealership, wishing to test-drive a Chevrolet Camaro, then completely terrifies an unsuspecting car salesman on hidden cameras.

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[[folder: Tropes E-K]]

  • Early Installment Weirdness: The Camping World Truck Series started in 1995 with almost all races on short tracks that did not have fully functional pit roads. As a replacement for pit stops there was a "halftime break" during which the race was stopped and pit stops were made with no position changes. The format was abandoned with the advent of superspeedways in the late 90s.
  • The Empire: Hendrick Motorsports. Eleven Sprint Cup championships (along with 1 Nationwide and 3 Truck titles)... and each one made rednecks cry. Not to mention their expansive R&D programnote , which supplied the engines and chassis that Tony Stewart used to win the 2011 Sprint Cup.
  • Epic Fail:
    • After the deaths of Adam Petty and Kenny Irwin, Jr. in crashes at New Hampshire International Speedway, NASCAR decided to try implementing restrictor plates on the track (to date, the only time they have been used outside of Daytona or Talladega) for the September 2000 race. The result was that Jeff Burton led the full 300 laps of the race, with minimal passing possible. They immediately took plates off the Cup cars, though they kept them for the Nationwide cars for a few more years.
    • The Bleacher Report's list of the top ten biggest blunders of the 2013 NASCAR season includes: Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. wrecking his girlfriend Danica Patrick and Brad Keselowski at the Coca-Cola 600, the failure of a support cable to the FOX Sports Cable Camera during that same race, and a brawl between Nelson Piquet and Brian Scott and their respective pit crews following the Richmond Nationwide race.
    • The inaugural Sprint Cup race at Kentucky in 2011 ended up as a complete disaster. Not the race itself, but rather the fact that said race was overshadowed by the severe traffic issues that came up. This came down because:
      1. Speedway Motorsports, the track's owners, did not make any significant upgrades to the infrastructure in and around the track (beyond the increased capacity) in order to accommodate the sheer number of fans attending this race.
      2. Interstate 71, the nearby highway, became backed up eight hours before the green flag dropped. By 3:30 PM that afternoon, the highway was backed up for more than 15 miles to the north. By 6:00 PM, I-71 was backed up for up to 20 miles in both directions from the race track, and up to 10 miles on side roads.
      3. For an idea of how bad the traffic congrestion was: Denny Hamlin got caught up in the mess, though he made it to the pre-race drivers meeting on time.
      4. For the record, even at 8:55 PM, halfway through the race, the highway was still backed up pretty heavily.
      5. At 9:30 PM, to alleviate problems, the traffic pattern was changed to outbound, and those still trying to get to the track were turned away. And some fans had already been turned away because of a lack of parking.
      6. Quoting the Wikipedia article, "Those who made it to the race were only reported having to wait half an hour or more to use the restroom due to a shortage of port-a-johns. Others reported shortages at the concession stands."
      7. As ESPN's NASCAR writer Terry Blount put it, "This should have been a great day for NASCAR, a new Cup event for the first time in 10 years and a sellout crowd at Kentucky Speedway. Instead, the entire day was a horrible black eye for the sport at a facility that was completely unprepared for an event of this size and stature. Traffic jams are normal for a Sprint Cup race. This was not a traffic jam. It was a traffic catastrophe."
      8. Blount's article also compares the fiasco to the traffic congestion that occurred at the inaugural Texas Motor Speedway race, though he points out that in that case, the traffic jams were exacerbated by thunderstorms that had flooded and rendered several of the grass parking lots unusable.
      9. Speedway Motorsports responded by annnouncing that any unscanned Kentucky race tickets would be valid for any of the six remaining Sprint Cup races to be held at Speedway's tracks, or the 2012 Quaker State 400. In addition to this exchange, unscanned tickets could be exchanged for an equal number of tickets to either the Truck race or the Indy Car race held at the track later in the year.
      10. This photo shows you just a small sample of that traffic congestion.
    • Pretty much any race marred by widespread tire failures.
      • The October 2005 race at Charlotte, which saw 15 total cautions including 12 catastrophic tire failures, was one such example, and this race, plus a NASCAR-record 22 cautions in the May Coca-Cola 600, finally forced Speedway Motorsports, Inc. to repave the circuit for 2006, and may have cost then-track president Humpy Wheeler his job - it had been his idea to use diamond grinders on turns one and two prior to that year's running of the All-Star Race and 600, to smooth out the infamous bumps on that end of the track. No one foresaw the sweeping changes in handling this caused between the two ends of the track, something that helped cause most of the cautions. He then had the rest of the track ground for the fall race to address the issue, only to have that leave the surface abrasive enough to cause the mass tire failures. Wheeler's influence inside SMI crumpled afterward, and he would retire after the 2008 Coke 600.
      • But the most infamous by far is the 2008 Brickyard 400, where changes from the COT platform versus the Gen-4 design (namely, the shifting of the driver's position toward the center of the car) weren't accompanied by a reformulated tire compound. As a result of this and Indianapolis Motor Speedway's infamously rough surface, tires were being ground down to the point of blowing out after no more than 12 laps, and after several early wrecks because of the failures, NASCAR was forced to throw competition cautions after every ten green flag laps for the rest of the race. This may turn out to kill the franchise for NASCAR at Indy, as attendance collapsed by more than 60 percent over the next two years, and has made only small gains back since, raising questions about the race's profitability just as NASCAR is considering changes to the schedule for the 2015 season, when new TV deals with Fox Sports and NBC Sports go into effect.
      • The 2014 Auto Club 400 saw twenty tire failures in the race, which partially had to do with crew chiefs using lower pressure in their tires in an effort to increase grip in the cars, which when combined with the 200 mph speeds and aging track surface of Auto Club Speedway was a recipe for disaster. There were nine caution flags during the race, a number of them for tire failures, and the average green flag run was only 16.4 laps, and the longest green flag run was 28 laps. In spite of this, there was a dramatic last-lap battle for the lead between Kyle Busch and Kyle Larson, and a race high 35 lead changes among 15 leaders.
  • Every Car Is a Pinto: For the most part averted. You hardly ever see fire erupt from any cars when a big wreck occurs. However, a lot of smoke tends to come out of cars if there is an engine failure. For an instance of a car bursting into flames would be at the 2013 spring Martinsville race, when Kurt Busch lost his brakes and slammed into the turn 1 wall hard enough to cause his entire hood to combust (though fortunately a fire extinguisher in the car snuffed it out as soon as Busch came to a stop), spewing oil onto the track and leading to a six minute long red flag.
    • 2013 GEICO 400 at Chicagoland saw at least one car of every model lose an engine, probably the result of a lengthy rain delay that pushed the finish into the nighttime, and NASCAR not letting teams have a chance to retune their engines accordingly: the three car makers - Chevrolet (Dale Earnhardt, Jr.), Ford (Joey Logano), and Toyota (Cole Whitt, Denny Hamlin, Brian Vickers) - all suffered at least one engine failure on them during the last 140 laps.
    • A truly weird instance at the same year's Ford EcoBoost 400 - Paul Menard, having already suffered a tire failure after getting hit in the rear on a restart at lap 194, had some sort of failure on lap 230 that caused fluid to get all over the right rear tire and brakes, setting them aflame and spewing red hot chunks of metal all over the backstretch. Eventually led to an instance of Stuff Blowing Up, when the entire wheel erupted off the hub while his crew was trying to extinguish the fire on pit road. Mercifully, no one was injured in the incident.
    • Another truly weird instance was the 2014 Sprint Unlimited, where it was the pace car that managed to catch fire, due to a short in the caution light system.
    • A recurring issue with right front tires in the spring 2014 race at Richmond is that they would get cut, and cause fire to erupt around that wheel, leaving chunks of burning rubber on the track, and these fires could get so hot they sometimes melted the plastic frame of the car. Plagued by this issue were Clint Bowyer, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., Cole Whitt, and Reed Sorensen.
  • Everything Is Better With Spinning: The occasions where a driver managed to take a top-five finish or a win despite spinning out are pretty.
    • In the 2010 Aaron's 499, Denny Hamlin spun out on lap 77 in the tri-oval. Though he restarted in 32nd place after that caution and pitting to clean out his front splitter, it only took 28 laps and two more caution flags for Hamlin to retake the lead (though this could have something to do with the rules package that was in use). He led 17 laps (thirteen of them after his spin), and finished the race in fifth place.
      • For that matter, Hamlin's first career points win in the Sprint Cup Series, at Pocono in 2006, was also a spin-and-win, with Hamlin blowing a tire and spinning out in the Tunnel Turn on lap 51. It only took him another 52 laps (of 149 remaining after the spin) to get back to the front, and he also claimed the bonus points for leading the most laps.
    • Clint Bowyer won the fall 2012 Richmond race in spite of spinning mid-race off Juan Pablo Montoya's bumper. He even invoked it in his Victory Lane interview, saying the spin allowed him to get on a different pit sequence from the rest of the field, after which he took advantage of fuel strategy to get out in front of everyone else in the closing laps.
    • Brad Keselowski finished runner-up to Kyle Busch at Watkins Glen in 2013 for the third straight year in spite of spinning out early in the first turn.
  • Every Year They Fizzle Out: Played straight with Mark Martin and Dale Earnhardt for different reasons.
    • Dale Earnhardt won seven championships, and 76 wins in his entire Winston Cup career... and only one Daytona 500 - the 1998 running, plus two Pepsi 400s (1990 and 1993). When it came to the restrictor plate tracks, Earnhardt was undeniably the man you were up against if you wanted to win at Talladega (where he won ten times), the Sprint Unlimited, or the Budweiser Duels, but in the points races at Daytona, forget it. In his previous twenty tries at the Daytona 500, these near-misses, which the Bleacher Report ranked #6 on its list of the top ten NASCAR rivalries:
      • 1986: Ran out of gas 3 laps from the end while in the lead, then blew the engine trying to leave the pits.
      • 1990: Blew a tire after running over a piece of debris from Rick Wilson's blown engine while leading with just half a lap to go.
      • 1993: Passed on the last lap by Dale Jarrett.
      • 1995: Moved up from 14th to 2nd in the final 13 laps but couldn't pass Sterling Marlin.
      • 1996: Passed in the final laps, once again, by Dale Jarrett.
      • 1997: Was leading with ten laps to go when he got crushed between eventual race winner Jeff Gordon and the outside wall, with subsequent contact causing him to flip over. This is the race where Earnhardt is remembered for having his pit crew work intensely hard to keep the car running in the race after he flipped.
      • The irony is that it took Dale Earnhardt twenty attempts to win his only Daytona 500. It took Dale Earnhardt, Jr. just fifteen tries to win two Daytona 500s (2004 and 2014).
    • Tony Stewart has won four summer races at Daytona with the Coke Zero 400, three Sprint Cup titles, 48 wins in his entire career, three Sprint Unlimited races and three Budweiser Duels, but none of those 48 points paying wins include a Daytona 500. His near-misses:
      • 2004: After finishing second to Dale Earnhardt, Jr. in the Gatorade Duel, Stewart and Earnhardt, Jr. went on to dominate the Daytona 500 field, the two drivers leading a combined 156 of 200 laps (98 by Stewart, 58 by Earnhardt, Jr.). Following the last set of green flag pit stops, Earnhardt, Jr. took the lead from Stewart on lap 181 and never looked back, forcing Stewart to settle for a second place finish. This, to date, is one of Stewart's only two top-three finishes in the Daytona 500, the other a third place in 2008.
      • 2005: led the most laps again, but shuffled back to 7th on the last restart.
      • 2007: led the second-most laps to Kurt Busch, as the two of them together were noticeably faster than the rest of the pack. But on lap 152, while leading, Stewart got loose and lost control of the car in turn 4, and he and Busch both slammed against the outside wall. Stewart was credited with 43rd place.
      • 2008: Stewart was leading coming to the white flag, but he and his then-Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Kyle Busch got outdrafted by the Penske Dodges of Ryan Newman and Kurt Busch. Ironically, Newman would join Stewart's new team in 2009; neither driver won the 500 (Newman's 2008 win was with Penske in their #12 Alltel Dodge), though Stewart won the Coke Zero 400.
    • Mark Martin's 453 career top-tens was second-best in NASCAR at the time of his retirement,note  but he could never win the championship, finishing runner up 5 times.
      • 1990 combined this with a unique example of just how close he got to that title - he finished runner-up to Dale Earnhardt by 26 points, after sustaining a 46 point penalty for a parts violation earlier in the season. He would have won the title by 20 points if not for this penalty.
      • 2002 was another close call, as he finished less than 40 points behind Tony Stewart. He simply ran out of races to catch him.
      • 1997 deserves special mention, as even though Martin finished third, it was by just 27 points to Jeff Gordon - and 13 behind runner-up Dale Jarrett - the closest 3-way championship battle in the pre-Chase era (there had also been a multiple-ways championship battle in 1992 at the last race).
      • Martin's other three runner-up finishes were because he simply was just the next best driver in a year where the year's champion overwhelmingly dominated the circuit (444 points behind Dale Earnhardt in 1994, 364 behind Jeff Gordon in 1998, 141 behind Jimmie Johnson in 2009).
    • Jimmie Johnson vs. Daytona: Johnson's first Daytona 500 start in 2002 was a 15th place finish, and he won the poles at his first two plate races ever. From 2003 to 2005, his worst Daytona 500 finish was fifth. Then he won the race in 2006. But after winning that year, he didn't have a finish of better than 27th in the Daytona 500 until he won the race again in 2013, the result of an unlucky streak of mechanical failures and crashes. Fortunately, it appeared Johnson's luck at plate races had turned around, as Johnson then had a top ten at Talladega, and won the Coke Zero 400 when the series returned to Daytona in the summer, the first time since Bobby Allison in 1982 that a driver had swept the Daytona races in the same season.
      • Interestingly, Johnson was briefly thought to be this in relationship to the Sprint Cup after not only failing to win it in his fourth season (in constrast to other "young guns" like Tony Stewart, Matt Kenseth and Kurt Busch), but actually tying his then-worst points finish of fifth. The term "Next Mark Martin" was even thrown around, which sounds like Tempting Fate in hindsight, especially since all five of his championships consisted of Johnson shifting into high gear right when it counted the most.
      • The ability to win both Daytona races (the Daytona 500 and the Coke Zero 400) in the same year is very rare. Johnson's sweep is only the fifth time such a sweep has ever happened in the history of Daytona International Speedway, the other times being Fireball Roberts (1962), Cale Yarborough (1968), LeeRoy Yarborough (1969), and Bobby Allison (1982). Notice that that's a 31 year gap between Allison's Daytona sweep and Johnson's Daytona sweep. Among the drivers who fell short during this time includes Matt Kenseth, whose 2012 plate season saw him score two wins (Daytona 500 and October race at Talladega) and four top threes (third place finishes at the plate races he didn't win) for a miraculous second place average finish, but a dominant night at Daytona in July ultimately fell short after Tony Stewart got him on the final lap, and he had to settle for third.note 
    • Kyle Busch has become synonymous with "flaming out in the Chase", as it seems every year, he makes it then spends the whole time struggling around tenth in the points, no matter how well he was running in the regular season.
      • 2008 being the defining example. A series leading eight regular season winsnote ? Check. A 400+ point lead (the equivalent of three races worth of points) at Richmond? Check. Knocked to the bottom of the Chase points by parts failures in each of the first three Chase races? Check. Just barely made it back to tenth by the end? Check.
      • 2011: Four wins in the regular season, with 12 top-fives and 16 top-ten finishes in those races. In the Chase, Busch had only four top-eleven finishes, and five finishes worse than 20th place. Not to mention being parked for the Texas race due to his on-track incident with Ron Hornaday in that weekend's Truck Series race.
      • 2012 inverted this and serves as a case that rivals Mark Martin's 1990 season - Busch had his best Chase run ever that year, scoring seven top fives (albeit winless) and the second-highest points earned total of any drivers during the Chase races. However, he had fizzled during the Race to the Chase, and ended up getting squeezed out of the postseason in the last regular season race by Jeff Gordon. He only had one win - in April at Richmond - and he and Matt Kenseth were the two best average finishers at Talladega (with Kenseth finishing third in the May race and winning in the fall race, and Busch finishing second in the May race and third in the fall race).
      • 2013 saw some improvement, as even though Busch ended up out of contention after Phoenix, he was still ranked fourth in points at the end, his personal best. Not having any wins in the Chase, not to mention his DNF from a crash at Kansas Speedway, kept him from having a shot at the title.
    • Looking at the statistics on runners-up to champions in the recent years (Jeff Gordon in 2007, Carl Edwards in 2008, Mark Martin in 2009, Denny Hamlin in 2010, Carl Edwards in 2011, Clint Bowyer in 2012, Matt Kenseth in 2013). After such a strong season, during which they are hyped up to be the next future champion, expect them to flame out the following year.
      • Carl Edwards is actually a recurring fixture of this particular type of flame-out. He's finished at least tied for second three times in his career (in 2005note , 2008 and 2011). He's never finished in the top ten in points in the following seasons, and had corresponding winless streaks of at least 52 racesnote .
      • Greg Biffle also missed the 2006 Chase, and even defending champion Tony Stewart couldn't manage to back up his regular season performance well enough to get in - although he ended up winning three Chase races anyway, a likely reason why NASCAR expanded the 2007 Chase to 12 drivers, a rule change that would have granted both Stewart and Biffle Chase spots had it been in effect that year.
      • 2006 runner-up Matt Kenseth didn't drop off the wagon as dramatically as the rest of these, but he still failed to follow up his impressive run in 2007, dropping from four wins to two, and from second to fourth in final points.
      • 2007 runner-up Jeff Gordon went from six wins and a modern-era record thirty top tens to zero wins, nineteen top tens and about the same "we'll just be taking up Chase space" sentiment that Tony Stewart expressed in 2011, only this time it was a Self-Fulfilling Prophecy.
      • 2009 runner-up Mark Martin actually went into what may or may not be his swansong after he missed the Chase and failed to win in 2010.
      • 2010 runner-up Denny Hamlin is legendary in this regard - everyone thought he would put it all together in 2011 and deliver Toyota its first championship, but the self-destruct that cost him the 2010 championship carried into 2011, as he had only one win, limped into the Chase on the Wildcard, and ultimately parted ways with crew chief Mike Ford after it became clear that the two no longer trusted each other.
      • Initially, it looked like 2012 runner-up Clint Bowyer was going to avert this for 2013, as he was second in points for a big chunk of the regular season. However, his central role in Spingate and the subsequent media hounding got him out of sorts enough that his driving suffered in the Chase - although he got six top tens in the Chase, only two of those (third at Martinsville, fifth at Homestead) were top fives, and that was enough to keep him from seriously contending for the Cup, ultimately finishing seventh. It also didn't help that, much like Mark Martin, Jeff Gordon and all three of Carl Edwards' letdown seasons before him, he failed to win a single race.
      • Averted with Jimmie Johnson in 2013. In spite of coming up short to finish third in the 2012 season, the following season saw him have lots of momentum. Winning the Daytona 500 and generally being the best driver on the circuit, period, gave Johnson the momentum he needed to recover from the disappointment of losing to Brad Keselowski in 2012. He led the point standings for 28 of 36 races, even accumulating the equivalent of a two-race point lead for a time during the summer.
      • 2013 runner-up Matt Kenseth appears to be exhibiting this trope again in 2014. Through the first 18 races of 2013, he had three wins, and seven top ten finishes. Through the first 18 races of 2014, he had zero wins, five top five, and 10 top ten finishes.
    • Martin Truex, Jr. was in the Chase playoffs in 2007 and 2012, but he went over six years and 218 races between his first and second wins, from the June 2007 race at Dover to the June 2013 race at Sonoma. Several times, an untimely caution or his car's handling stole a win from him at the last minute:
      • In April 2012 at Kansas, he had the car to beat for the vast majority of the race, leading 173 of 267 laps. Then, the sun came out for the first time all day late in the race, and Truex got "wrecking loose" as the track surface heated up. On the other hand, Denny Hamlin reacted favorably to the warmer track, and wrestled the lead from Truex with 30 laps to go. Martin made a valiant effort to get the lead back after that, and got some help when overcast conditions returned with ten to go, but ultimately couldn't get back around Hamlin and had to settle for second.
      • In September 2012 at Atlanta, Truex was actually leading with five laps to go, with barely enough fuel to go for a green-white-checkered finish. Then a caution came out when Jamie McMurray cut a tire, forcing Truex to pit. Denny Hamlin assumed the lead and held off a charging Jeff Gordon for the win, and Truex had to settle for fourth place.
      • In April 2013 at Texas, Truex led over 140 laps, the second most laps of anybody on the track, but a slower pit stop allowed Kyle Busch to overtake him at pit stops under the final caution, and Truex had to settle for second.
    • Dale Earnhardt, Jr. had a streak of bad luck from June 2008 to June 2012, and there were several occasions where it looked like he would break his lengthy winless streak, but came up short (such as running out of gas at the 2011 Coca-Cola 600 while leading at the white flag). Michigan would be his sole win in 2012 and he struggled in the later part of the season, especially after the concussion he took at Talladega. Earnhardt had one of his best Chase runs in 2013, earning more points than any other driver during the Chase races except for Jimmie Johnson. Only in 2014 did Earnhardt find his first multi-wins race season since 2004, with a win in the Daytona 500 breaking a 55 race winless streaknote  and a season sweep of Pocono Raceway in the summer.
    • Juan Pablo Montoya was this trope to oval tracks. At Richmond in 2013, he was leading and seemed en route to victory lane when a caution came out for Brian Vickers crashing into the wall, forcing him to pit and costing him the race to Kevin Harvick. It repeated itself at Dover: Montoya was leading with three laps to go (having taken over the lead when Jimmie Johnson jumped the restart box), but then his car got loose with three laps ago, costing him the race to Tony Stewart.
    • While Jimmie Johnson's streak of bad luck in the Daytona 500 in between his two wins in the race was notable, it must be noted that it took him until June 2014 to win a race at Michigan International Speedway, his 69th win overall, due to bad luck late race, even when he has posted several top tens at the track. For example:
      • In both 2009 races, he ran out of gas while leading, and on the last lap in the June race, losing to Mark Martin, who scooted past Johnson to steal the win. The second time, Jimmie was compelled to admit that fuel mileage races in general are a weakness of his. Johnson's much stronger as a driver at short tracks like Dover and Martinsville.
      • August 2012: Blew an engine while racing Brad Keselowski for the lead with five laps to go
      • June 2013: Cut a tire while running second with less than five laps to go
    • Johnson's run when it comes to races at Charlotte Motor Speedway noticeably changed when the track was repaved in 2006. Prior to the full track repaving, he'd won three Coca-Cola 600s and a couple of the October 500 mile races. After the repaving in 2006, Johnson had some top five and top ten finishes, but he's only won twice since then - October 2009 and May 2014.
    • Kansas City has been Kyle Busch's Achilles' Heel. Until a third place finish in 2014, he never finished better than seventh place and he only has one top five and three top tens there, plus a period from 2012 to 2013 where he had three straight DNFs for crashes. And it's not like he's a slouch at the other intermediate tracks - two of the four races he won in 2013 were quad-oval 1.5 mile tracks (Texas and Atlanta), and he also has won the past two Sprint Cup races at Auto Club, a 2-mile track which races similarly to Kansas and Chicagoland, and Busch has won at Kentucky and Chicagoland, 1.5 mile tracks with the same tri-oval design that Kansas uses.
  • invokedExecutive Meddling:
    • The numerous and seemingly yearly changes to the Chase and points systems.
    • Anytime there is a crew chief change, driver swap or crew swap due to lack of chemistry or performance. One example: in four years at Hendrick Motorports, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. has gone through three crew chiefs - his cousin Tony Eury, Jr. from February 2008 to April 2009, Lance McGrew from April 2009 to the end of 2010, and Steve Letarte (previously crew chief for Earnhardt's teammate Jeff Gordon) since the beginning of 2011. Letarte got Earnhardt, Jr. into the Chase twice.
      • Jimmie Johnson had his pit crew swapped during the fall 2010 Texas race. His original crew had been performing sub-par pit stops all day long, costing Johnson numerous spots on pit road that he increasingly wasn't able to make up on track, all while his main championship rival Denny Hamlin was dominating the race. After Jeff Gordon and Jeff Burton crashed together and dropped out, Johnson's crew chief Chad Knaus and Rick Hendrick summoned Gordon's pit crewnote  to Johnson's stall to handle his pit stops for the rest of the race. Jimmie's original crew was re-assigned the duty of packing Gordon's pit stall. This allowed Jimmie to salvage a ninth place finish.
      • Likewise, Stewart-Haas Racing effectively swapped teams for Danica Patrick and Kurt Busch in late 2014, including crew chiefs Tony Gibson (Patrick to Busch) and Daniel Knost (Busch to Patrick). The reason the crew chiefs were swapped was because SHR believes that Busch might respond better to a more "old-school" style crew chief a la Jimmy Fennig, the chief with whom he won the 2004 Sprint Cup. Patrick, meanwhile, mostly worked with promoted race engineers during her Indy Car tenure, due to it being a tradition in that series, and SHR wants to see if she might respond better to a crew chief with that background. Knost is Ryan Newman's former race engineer, and also worked in that capacity on Patrick's part time effort in 2012. Both crew chiefs brought over the cars they had previously been utilizing as well in order to keep them from having to learn new playbooks, as well as give the drivers a chance to try out different setups from what they've been using to date.
    • Any changes made to the cars to make the races more exciting.
      • This has become extremely evident at the 2012 Daytona 500, where the cars had vast restrictions, keeping them from doing the controversial two-car tandem that was prevalent at the previous year's race (for proof compare the DRIVE 4 COPD 300 (Nationwide race at Speedweeks) to the Daytona 500, both events of which are held at the same racetrack, at the request of the fans (Fan meddling anyone?).
      • The Gen-6 redesign is meant to both improve the racing and make the cars more aesthetically pleasing, as well as bringing the cars' appearance closer to that of their street models, like they did before 2002 (and, by extension, increasing brand recognition for the manufacturers). Again, this at the behest of a fanbase that constantly complained about the COT (now re-dubbed "Gen-5") design, which aside from constant accusations of poor handling, also reduced "brand recognition" between manufacturers to a set of stickers on the front bumpers.
    • The officials are accused by some drivers of using the caution flags to keep the field together and make racing more exciting. Most of the drivers feel they are there to entertain people anyway so outside of a select few they don't seem to care too much.
  • Failed a Spot Check: At Talladega or Daytona, due to the nature of restrictor plate racing, one car bobbling a little bit in the middle of the pack at the wrong time is all that is necessary to cause you and upwards of ten other drivers to crash.
  • Family-Unfriendly Death:
    • Russell Phillips was killed in a crash during a 1995 race at Charlotte, NC; the wreck basically pulverized him against the catch fence.note  This crash and a frightening crash at Talladega in 1996 where Dale Earnhardt flipped after hitting the tri-oval wall head on at 200 mph and was hit in the roof by Sterling Marlin and several other cars (and broke a collarbone and sternum) eventually led to the introduction of what was nicknamed the Earnhardt bar, a metal brace located in the center of the windshield that reinforces the roof in case of a blowover crash.
    • Don McTavish's horrific fatal crash at Daytona in 1969. Tape-delayed race broadcasts warned viewers that accident footage would be shown.
    • Fireball Roberts' crash at the 1964 World 600 at Charlotte.
    • Before the window net was mandatory the driver's head could be seen hanging out of the car. Indeed, the window net was made mandatory because of an incident where Richard Petty slid halfway out of the car IN THE MIDDLE OF A BARREL-ROLL. (which he somehow survived)
  • First Name Basis: Most of the drivers go by their legal first name. However, some drivers actually go by their middle names. For instance, Denny Hamlin's actual first name is James, Dale Earnhardt, Jr.'s first name is Ralph, etc.
  • Flipping the Bird: A number of memorable deliveries of this have happened.
    • 2001 Daytona 500: On lap 85, Dale Earnhardt did this rather like an irate driver in traffic (which, in a way, he was), on Kurt Busch. Mike Joy "interpreted" it as Earnhardt telling Busch, "Kurt, you're number one." Busch recalls this as his only-ever encounter on the track with Earnhardt, and this was also the last time Busch and Earnhardt competed in the same race, given Earnhardt's fatal crash 114 laps later.
    • 2010 AAA Texas 500: Kyle Busch did this to a NASCAR official who was enforcing a penalty on him. One (lap penalty) plus one (finger raised) equalled three (lap penalty).
    • 2012 Irwin Tools Night Race (Bristol): Danica Patrick flipped the bird at Regan Smith after Smith wrecked her. It was ranked in Sports Illustrated's top 50 sports moment photos of 2012. For NASCAR fans, however, her failure to throw her helmet at Smith left it overshadowed by Tony Stewart's reaction to wrecking with Matt Kenseth on the caution before that.
  • Floating Head Syndrome: On the official website for a few months in early 2013.
  • Follow the Leader:
    • In the wake of Alan Kulwicki's championship, several drivers attempted to start their own single-car owner-driver teams. None of these owner-drivers did anywhere near as well as Kulwicki, since few if any of them had his level of Gadgeteer Genius. In fact, Bill Elliott's lengthy winless streak can mostly be laid on his attempt at being an owner-driver. The last member of this trend, Robby Gordon, essentially shut down his team after a very limited 2012 schedule, due to sponsorship woes. The most recent owner-driver to win a championship was Tony Stewart in 2011, but his team has four full-time cars - Stewart himself plus Kevin Harvick, Danica Patrick and Kurt Busch. Additionally, Stewart shares ownership duties with Gene Haas, and the team is heavily subsidized by Hendrick Motorsports, such that his cars are often from the same generation of R&D as those of Hendrick's in-house drivers (for comparison, Phoenix Racing, which also gets its parts from Hendrick, often has to settle for outdated chassis and engines from previous seasons).
    • The Young Gun movement also manifested as such, with pretty much every team giving one hotshot young guy or another a shot at a Cup car in the hopes of finding the "Next Jeff Gordon".
      1. For a while, this worked spectacularly, producing future champions like Tony Stewart, Matt Kenseth, Kurt Busch and Jimmie Johnson, along-side other long-tenured Chase-caliber drivers like Elliott Sadler, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Kevin Harvick and Ryan Newman. However, as more and more of the top-tier slots began to be filled, results for the second wave of Young Guns, both in the short and long-term, began to taper off - of the 2003 crop, only Jamie McMurray and Greg Biffle remain in anything resembling Chase-worthy rides, and Biffle's the only one of the two actually operating at a high level. Likewise, Kasey Kahne and Kyle Busch are the only drivers from their respective Rookie classes (2004 and 2005) to maintain consistent employment across their careers to date.note 
      2. 2006 was better, producing Denny Hamlin, Clint Bowyer and Martin Truex, Jr., but after this point the rapid depletion of Young Gun ranks in the lower series (often with disastrous results in the Sprint Cup Series - see Scott Wimmer, Brendan Gaughan, Johnny Sauter, and Reed Sorenson, among others) became ever more apparent as second- and third-tier Cup teams began to gamble on drivers from outside NASCAR altogether, or on obviously lower talents, often to underwhelming results. The 2007 Rookie class has a grand total of 7 career victories and one career Chase berth,note  the 2008 class is almost extinct and produced one total victory,note  and the 2009 class is only looking up thanks to Joey Logano's breakout 2013 and 2014 seasons. Logano also happens to be the last driver to win a race in their Rookie season, and until the 2013 crop was the last driver to even garner a top ten race finish in his rookie season.
      3. 2010 and 2011 saw the Young Gun movement all but grind to a halt because of the failure to properly develop young talent in the lower series across the mid-2000s. Kevin Conway ('10) and Andy Lally ('11) won Rookie of the Year by default,note  and both were gone by 2012. 2012 was hardly any better, as it was only a "Rookie battle" in the sense that two drivers (Stephen Leicht and Josh Wise) declared and then started enough races to maintain eligibility. Both of them start-and-parked the majority of their races, Leicht won ROTY despite starting just 15 events to Wise's 30, and then he followed in Conway and Lally's footsteps by withdrawing from NASCAR competition.
      4. However, during the 2010-12 hiatus in Rookie development, the big Cup teams also started to get back into the act of properly developing younger drivers for future Cup rides, and 2013 started seeing the first signs of this, as both Danica Patrick and Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. have nabbed top ten race finishes, although both ran into strugglesnote . Even so, they're considered disappointments in the short-term as neither of them has been an immediate game-changer in the way of the late '90s or even early 2000s drivers.note 
      5. The upcoming 2014 class is much more of a throwback to the early 2000's, with no less than eight rookies,note  all between age 20 and 27 (and six between 20 and 23), spread across six different teams, including a pair of two-car Toyota teams (Swan Racing and BK Racing) who are going all-in on Young Gun rookies (Cole Whitt and Parker Kligerman at the former, Alex Bowman and Ryan Truex at the latter). But with most of these Young Guns at lower-tier teams,note  the two most promising prospects by far are Austin Dillon and Kyle Larson, and even they have their own set of yellow flags (such as Larson's very quick ascent through Trucks and Nationwide, even more so than past Young Guns, and the fact that he's going to Ganassi, which chewed up McMurray and Montoya, even if McMurray has won just four races under the Ganassi banner and just broke a winless streak by winning at Talladega. Dillon's second Nationwide season is considered disappointing by some compared to both his Truck run and his first Nationwide campaign, although that's almost entirely down to his lack of wins - after all, he became the first driver to snag a national touring championship without one).
  • Foregone Conclusion: So true with the Cup championships prior to the introduction of the Chase. It's also still possible even today in the Nationwide and Truck Series, as those don't have a Chase. It was possible that a driver could actually clinch the championship with one race left before the season finale, and basically render the last race as a non-point battle for the runner-up spot.
    • Such runaway championships included:
      • 1975: Richard Petty beat Dave Marcis by 722 points. Petty actually clinched with four races left on that year's schedule.
      • 1993: This one bears similarities to 2007 (see below) because the only two drivers close enough to be battling for the championship title were Dale Earnhardt and Rusty Wallace, who together won half of the 30 races of that season (six by Earnhardt, ten by Rusty). Heading into the season finale, Earnhardt had 4,387 points, 126 ahead of Rusty. The third place person in the points at the moment, Mark Martin, was at 4,047 points, which was 214 points behind Rusty and 340 behind Earnhardt, nowhere close enough for Martin to mathematically catch either of them. Ultimately, Earnhardt would only need to finish 34th or better to clinch the championship that year without worrying about how Rusty finished (Rusty won the season finale at Atlanta; Earnhardt finished that race in tenth).
      • 1994: Dale Earnhardt beat Mark Martin by 444 points.
      • 1998: Jeff Gordon beat Mark Martin by 364 points
      • 1999: Dale Jarrett beat Bobby Labonte by 201 points
      • 2000: Bobby Labonte beat Dale Earnhardt by 265 points
      • 2001: Jeff Gordon beat Tony Stewart by 344 points
      • 2003: Matt Kenseth had clinched the championship at the penultimate race. Despite having a last place finish at the last race for an engine failure, he was still 90 points ahead of Jimmie Johnson. That he had only won a single race was NASCAR's reasoning behind instituting the Chase playoff system, which was built to put more emphasis on consistency and wins.
    • In the Chase era, who will be the title contender can be obvious in the last few races, especially if only one driver is anywhere close in points to mathematically catch the leader.
      • In 2009, this applied to Jimmie Johnson and Mark Martin, teammates.
      • In 2012, the points battle was between Brad Keselowski and Jimmie Johnson at the three races preceding Phoenix. At Phoenix, after Johnson crashed, Keselowski had a 20 point advantage over him at the end. At Homestead, Keselowski only needed to finish 15th or better to win the championship without needing to worry about how Johnson finished. And when Johnson had a drive train malfunction with 30 laps remaining, the deal was sealed in Keselowski's favor.
      • In 2007, the only two drivers close enough to be battling for the championship were Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon, with Gordon being 86 points behind Johnson. The third place person in the points, Clint Bowyer, was nowhere close enough to mathematically catch up with them, 241 points behind Johnson. And to add insult to injury, Bowyer wound up losing 105 more points in the final race. Gordon would have been the title winner under a pre-Chase points system.
      • While not this mathematically, Jimmie Johnson's 2008 title was treated as such when he managed to accumulate a 183 point lead after seven races. In fact, Carl Edwards' win in that seventh race (Atlanta) was ruined by the fact that Johnson finished second, keeping Edwards' gains on him to a bare minimum. While Edwards did win two of the last three races (Texas and Homestead), it wasn't enough to overcome that monstrous point lead, moreso because Johnson won that one race (Phoenix) that Edwards hadn't.
      • 2013 became favored to Jimmie Johnson thanks to Matt Kenseth running into an ill-handling car at Phoenix in the fall allowing Johnson to maintain a lead of more than half-a-race worth of points.
    • The new Chase format for 2014 seems explicitly designed to avert this, given that the top four drivers after Phoenix will be mathematically tied going into Homestead.
  • Forgot Flanders Could Do That: Bill Elliott winning four races between 2001 and 2003, in his late 40s, after going 7 years without a win.
  • FOX: The first network to promote this sport in primetime.
  • Fragile Speedster: Toyota Racing Development's 2013 engine package appears to be subjected to this trope: Joe Gibbs Racing ended up leading 3,373 laps in the 2013 season (1,783 by Matt Kenseth, 1,227 by Kyle Busch and 363 by Denny Hamlin), which was very narrowly second to Hendrick Motorsports (3,438 laps led, with 1,985 by Jimmie Johnson, 434 by Jeff Gordon, 677 by Kasey Kahne, and 342 by Dale Earnhardt, Jr.), and their drivers led the circuit with twelve wins (seven by Matt Kenseth, four by Kyle Busch and a single win by Denny Hamlin). Unfortunately, the engine problems that plagued TRD in Daytona, when 3 of 6 cars (Kenseth, Busch, and Martin Truex, Jr.) blew up, kept dogging them throughout most of the regular season: Kenseth dropped an engine from the lead about 160 laps into the Dover race, and Truex (Michael Waltrip Racing is also supplied by TRD) blew up 120 laps later while running second. TRD engines have suffered at least eight in-race failures this season (with the others including Clint Bowyer at Fontana and Atlanta, and Kyle Busch at Charlotte), more than all Chevrolet and Ford engines combined (Chevrolet has had only six: Dale Earnhardt, Jr. in Budweiser Duel practice, at the Coca-Cola 600, while leading at Michigan, and in the Chase opener at Chicagoland; Paul Menard at Daytona in July, and Jimmie Johnson at Michigan in August), not to mention a number of other instances of drivers being sent to the back of the starting grid for engine failures in practice.
    • Of course, TRD's 2012 engine package had much the same ups and downs. Between Joe Gibbs and Michael Waltrip Racing, cars with TRD engines won ten races that year (thrice by Clint Bowyer, five times by Denny Hamlin, and once each for Joey Logano and Kyle Busch), second only to the Hendrick block (ten for their in-house drivers, and four at Stewart-Haas). At the same time, though, Kyle Busch had three straight weeks with engine failures in June, which ultimately were what derailed his Chase hopes, and Denny Hamlin had a master switch failure in the fall at Martinsville which eliminated his chances at competing against Jimmie Johnson and Brad Keselowski for the championship.
    • In the first eight races of the 2014 season, it looked like Stewart-Haas Racing's 2014 package was a victim of this if one looks at Kevin Harvick in the races following the Daytona 500:
      1. His Jimmy John's sponsored #4 lived up to the company's slogan, "Freaky Fast", at Phoenix, leading 255 laps en route to his second victory at the track in a row.
      2. With the same sponsor the next week at Las Vegas, it looked like Harvick was in position to dominate the second half of the race when a front wheel hub broke, relegating him to 41st.
      3. Then, with another fast car (this time in the Budweiser colors) at Bristol, Harvick had a spectacular engine failure while running in the top five on lap 451, which set the car ablaze and stuck him with 39th place.
      4. Harvick suffered a tire failure very early at Auto Club, and finished 36th, two laps down. To be fair, this had nothing to do with Harvick's car but with the Goodyear tires the teams were using, as multiple drivers fell to the wayside with tire failures during the race.
      5. Harvick then overcame a broken chain in the rear end to finish seventh at Martinsville
      6. At Texas, Harvick started 3rd, and even tried to challenge Tony Stewart for the lead for about a lap. Then his engine blew up 28 laps in and he was left with a finish in 42nd place.
      7. At Darlington, Harvick had another domineering Budweiser colored car, leading 238 of 374 laps en route to his first ever win on the egg-shaped oval after passing Dale Earnhardt, Jr. at the white flag in a green-white-checkered finish.note 
    • The irony of this all is that it seems only the race packages being used on Harvick's cars have issues. In the Las Vegas, Bristol, and Auto Club races, he was the worst-finishing Stewart-Haas car in the field. In these races, Tony Stewart had two top-five finishes, Kurt Busch had a third place finish at Auto Club, and won at Martinsville, and Danica Patrick had finishes of 21st, 18th, and 14th. Although Kurt did have an engine failure at Phoenix.
  • Frank's 2000 Inch TV:
    • One of these was built along the backstretch at Charlotte, and formally debuted in 2011. At 200x80 feet (2584" diagonally), it broke the record for world's largest video board formerly held by the Dallas Cowboys stadium.
    • Texas decided to do it Up to Eleven in 2014, installing a 218x94.6 foot video board nicknamed "Big Hoss".
  • Frivolous Lawsuit: The 2012 DRIVE4COPD 300 featured a horrifying crash in which Kyle Larson's car was torn by the catch fencing, sending parts into the grandstands that injured 28 spectators. Now three of those injured have decided to file a lawsuit. Just look at this pair of articles that mention this and read the article comments.
  • Fun with Acronyms: When Phil Parsons Racing began operations in the Nationwide Series in 2008, they were known as MSRP Motorsports, with each initial corresponding to one of the owners (besides Phil and his wife Marcia, the team was co-owned by Randy Humphrey and his wife Stacey). This also happens to be a common initialism for the phrase "Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price", a common term in automotive sales. When they started Cup operations in 2009, they ran under the name Prism Motorsports, which is a phonetic inversion of the original name.
  • Fun with Subtitles: At the 2014 Coca-Cola 600, while airing audio of Clint Bowyer chewing out crew chief Brian Pattie for making him pit twice under green to fix one loose wheel,note  NASCAR on Fox made creative use of their infobox that displays below the box with a driver's name, which usually displays either race position/laps led, historical nuggets or context for whatever audio's playing at that moment; in this case the box read "Not Happy".
  • Gadgeteer Genius: Alan Kulwicki, NASCAR's last owner-driver champion with a single car team.
  • Game-Breaking Injury:
    • Hall of Famer Richard Petty once drove a then-Winston Cup race with a broken back.
    • His fellow Hall of Famer Darrell Waltrip ran two laps (It Makes Sense in Context) in a race with a shattered left femur.
    • Ricky Rudd in the 1984 Daytona 500. See Badass Driver, above, and No One Could Survive That, below, for context.
    • Sterling Marlin was forced to miss the rest of the 2002 season after a crash at the Protection 400 due to cracked vertebra in his neck, forcing him to possibly lose the title and spelling the beginning of the end of his career.
    • Tony Stewart missed the last fifteen races of the 2013 season when he broke his leg in a Sprint car accident.
  • Genre Savvy: Sometimes, a driver on a plate track will be savvy enough to drop all the way to the back of the pack if they know the Big One is coming, and this means they just need to not lose the draft. When the crash happens, such drivers can just apply the brakes and snake through the damaged cars. This was seen in the 2014 spring Talladega race when a number of cars like Ryan Newman, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Carl Edwards and Michael Waltrip were hanging at the back of the pack with 20 laps to go, leading the Fox commentators to speculate that they were hanging out at the back on purpose because they were expecting something to happen. A wreck did happen with 13 laps to go when Jimmie Johnson got loose in turn 4 and collected a bunch of cars including David Ragan, Joey Logano and Kurt Busch.
    • Wrong Genre Savvy: Of course, a driver can spend too long hanging out at the rear of the pack and then find himself unable to advance late, particularly with the questionable aerodynamics of the restrictor plate version of the Gen-6.note  Dale Jr. ended up 26th in that spring Talladega race, and later admitted in a post-race interview that he should've made his move in the race sooner than he did.
  • Gilligan Cut: This NAPA commercial from 2003 starts with Michael Waltrip saying, "It's been the best driving the NAPA #15 for the past two seasons. But this year's going to be real special: the entire Dale Earnhardt, Inc. family is joining me in spreading the word about NAPA quality." Cut to Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and Steve Park mocking Michael's previous NAPA commercials, like "I'm at the wrong track!" and "I didn't know that I was good looking!"
  • Golden Snitch: Averted. The Daytona 500 is by far the most prestigious race, but by being the opening race of the year, it doesn't count any extra in the standings.
  • Gory Discretion Shot:
    • In an unintentional example, while the 2012 Daytona 500 was under a caution flag, on lap 160, Juan Pablo Montoya's car broke and he crashed into a jet dryernote . Since it was not under green where drivers are allowed to pass, only a stationary camera caught the incident and the impact itself was at the bottom of the screen and halfway out of frame. Both the truck and his car burst into flames in a way rarely seen in racing, creating one of the most surprising twists to a race that had already been postponed a day due to weather.
    • Elliott Sadler's hard crash at Pocono in August 2010 happened in a blind spot of the track. Because of this, the cameras could capture several angles of Kurt Busch's wrecking car, but there was only a glimpse of Sadler's super hard hit into the inside wall. That angle can be seen in this excerpt from ESPN's broadcast at 3:50.
    • Another unintentional but interesting case was the 2009 Aaron's 499 at Talladega: the starts of two big crashes that happened during the race (on lap 7 and lap 180) both happened when Fox cut to show a shot from David Ragan's in-car camera.
  • Guest Road Course Driver: Some lower rate teams hire "road course ringers" to drive their cars at the two road courses on the schedule, Sonoma and Watkins Glen.
  • Hair-Trigger Temper: Kurt Busch will get mad at something in a race, every race.
  • Heroism Equals Job Qualification: Tiny Lund got his 1963 Daytona 500-winning ride with the Wood Brothers after pulling regular driver Marvin Panch out of his burning car.
    • Sort of. While it had something to do with it, Lund was chosen because he was considered the best driver available at the time (Leonard Wood asked the hypothetical question "if you were leading late in the race, who would you least want to see in your rear view mirror?" Lund, known for his tenacity, was chosen. This fact in no way takes away from his heroic act, nor the fact that he won the damned thing...
  • invokedHey, It's That Guy!:
    • Yes, Indy Car fans, that's A.J. Foyt driving the Wood Brothers #21 to victory in the 1972 Daytona 500.
    • Mario Andretti also won the Daytona 500, his win coming in 1967. He's also the only foreign-born winner of the 500.
    • Dario Franchitti made a brief stab at NASCAR in 2008. He didn't have anywhere near the level of success as his forebearers, though, and Ganassi shifted him back to Indy Car at mid-season.
  • High Driver Turnover Rate: The #22 Shell/Pennzoil Ford at Penske Racing has had a high turnover rate. As the #22 alone, it was driven by Kurt Busch for the 2011 season. After Busch was fired from Penske, it was taken over by A.J. Allmendinger, who drove it until the Kentucky race, after which he was suspended for substance abuse, at which point Sam Hornish, Jr. took over the car for the rest of the 2012 season (though not racing for driver points as he had declared for Nationwide series points). In 2013, the car is driven by Joey Logano. And if you include 2009 and 2010, when this team was still the #12, you also add David Stremme and Brad Keselowski to that list. The Blue Deuce itself has had just three drivers since debuting in 1991: Rusty Wallace (until 2005), Kurt Busch (2006-2010), and now Brad Keselowski (2011-present).
    • Kurt Busch himself since 2010 has gone through multiple car numbers - in 2010, he was in the #2 Miller Lite Dodge for Penske. In 2011, he was in the #22 Shell/Pennzoil Dodge for Penske while Brad Keselowski was transferred to the #2. When he was fired from Penske at the end of the season, he went to Phoenix Racing, taking over the #51 Chevrolet for the first 30 races of 2012. After the fall Talladega race, he was transfered to the #78 Furniture Row Chevrolet to replace Regan Smith.
    • The Hendrick Motorsports #25 underwent this for more than a decade after Ken Schrader's departure.
      1. Ricky Craven was initially hired to drive for 1997, and aside from two races he sat out due to a concussion (where he was replaced by Todd Bodine and Jack Sprague), he drove the entire year.
      2. However, the lingering effects of the concussion got him benched for a longer period in 1998, with Wally Dallenbach, Jr. and Randy LaJoie spending extended periods in the re-numbered #50 (the team would switch back to #25 for 1999). Craven was eventually released in favor of Dallenbach, who lasted until the end of the 1999 season.
      3. Jerry Nadeau was hired for 2000, and a win in that year's finale secured him for 2001 as well. However, Nadeau wound up being fired after one top ten in the first eleven races of 2002, and was replaced by Joe Nemechek.
      4. Nemecheck in turn posted eight top tens in 57 starts before being released near the end of 2003.note 
      5. His replacement was Brian Vickers, the 2003 Nationwide champion and easily the most hyped member of the 2004 Rookie class. While Vickers was undoubtedly a disappointment in the #25, he had the longest tenure of any driver during this period at just over three years, before being released at the end of 2006.
      6. His replacement, Casey Mears, brought the hope that he could improve his standing in NASCAR after years of struggling under the meandering Ganassi organization. Unfortunately, Mears demonstrated that he was actually one of the problems with that Ganassi team, as he won just one race on fuel strategy, and a switch to the #5 for 2008 brought significant regression and his termination at the end of the year.
      7. Meanwhile, for 2008, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. took over the #25, which was renumbered #88, and finally brought an end to the turmoil as he's now in his seventh season in the car (second only to Schrader's nine seasons during the life of the team).
    • The second team of BK Racing and their predecessor, Red Bull Racing,note  has switched car numbers every time it switches drivers, which is generally once every two years:
      • As the Red Bull #84, it was driven by A.J. Allmendinger from 2007-'08.
      • When the team switched to Scott Speed in 2009, it switched to #82.
      • When Kasey Kahne took over in 2011, the car switched to #4.
      • After moving under the BK banner in 2012, the driver became Travis Kvapil and the car number became #93.
      • With the shift to Alex Bowman in 2014 came a new sponsor, Dr. Pepper, and another new number, 23, based on the "23 flavors" of the original Dr. Pepper formula.
  • I Call Her "Vera": Not too common, but sometimes race teams do name their cars. Some fans have personal nicknames for the cars.
    • Blue Deuce for the #2 Miller Lite Ford at Penske Racing that Brad Keselowski drives, for instance
  • Identical Stranger: There is an article on Athlon Sports.com called "NASCAR Notables and their Celeb Lookalikes", which shows how several drivers bear resemblance to other famous celebrities, some of them fictitious characters (namely, suggesting that Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. has a face that resembles Woody, and Jimmie Johnson's crew chief Chad Knaus looks like Gollum).
  • I Do Not Like Green Eggs and Ham: Most detractors become at least casual fans after attending their first race in person.
  • I Know Mortal Kombat:
    • Denny Hamlin had never raced at Pocono Raceway prior to his rookie season in 2006 (the Nationwide Series has never raced at the track, and the Truck Series only added it to their schedule in 2010). He had, however, raced the Tricky Triangle quite a bit in the PC game NASCAR Racing 2003 Season, which is widely regarded as one of the most accurate recreations of the sport seen up to that point. Hamlin translated his skills in the gaming world to the actual track, and justified receiving the Rookie of the Year Award by sweeping both races (something considered improbable for a rookie driver, much less at Pocono, though it should be noted that Jimmie Johnson swept the Dover races during his 2002 rookie season). He's added two more wins at this track since then, a figure tied with Rusty Wallace, Darrell Waltrip and Tim Richmond for third on the all time list at the track (only Jeff Gordon, at six, and Bill Elliott, at five, have surpassed the four-time winners club at Pocono).
    • Members of defunct developer Papyrus, the group behind the above mentioned NASCAR Racing series, created a website called iRacing.com in the mid-2000s, using the code from the 2003 edition as a foundation. The site is widely praised for its realism, and began being used as a racecar simulator by a number of drivers after adding NASCAR to its mix of series in 2010. For instance, Dale Earnhardt, Jr.'s real-world results jumped significantly after he joined the site in early 2011 - he had slumped to midpack during the 2009 (25th in points) and 2010 (21st) seasons. This led to three straight Chase appearances.
  • Improbable Age:
    • Kyle Busch was winning races right away in his first Cup year, turning 20 during the season. That said, he managed only 20th place in the final points that year (2005), as he was a bit too reckless back then. Although to be fair, Hendrick Motorsports was in a minor slump anyway, as only Jimmie Johnson made the Chase that year (though had the 2007 or 2011 points system been used, Gordon would also have had a Chase berth and also made every single Chase run through 2012 because he was in 12th at the cutoff race then with three wins (2007), or a Wildcard provisional (2011)).
    • Kyle Larson's Sprint Cup rookie run in 2014 is bound to be a repeat of Kyle Busch as he is moving to the #42 Target Chevrolet at Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing and bumping Juan Pablo Montoya out, when Larson's only had one season in the Nationwide Series.
    • Brian Vickers won a Nationwide championship in 2003, being 20 years and 19 days old at the time of the season finale. The incredible thing of his career is to think that as of October 2013, he started more than 400 races before even turning thirty.
    • The Camping World Truck Series started enforcing this to an extent in 2013, lowering the age limit on tracks at or under one mile in length (and road courses, although there's only one of those on their schedule) from 18 to 16. The first driver under the old age limit to win a Truck race was Chase Elliott (age 17 and 9 months), who drove the Hendrick Motorsports #94 to victory at the aforementioned road course, Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, in September. Erik Jones, at 17 and 5 months, would break Elliott's mark a few months later, piloting the Kyle Busch Motorsports #51 to victory at Phoenix in November. Jones in turn was superseded by Cole Custer, who was sixteen years, seven months and 28 days old when he won at New Hampshire in September 2014, driving the Haas Racing Development #00.
    • Speaking of Chase Elliott, he's become this full-stop as he continues to work his way up Hendrick's development ladder. Now at the wheel of the JR Motorsportsnote  #9, he became the second-youngest winner of a Nationwide Series racenote  after his first win in that series at Texas in April 2014, while simultaneously becoming the youngest driver ever to lead the Nationwide points, all at 18 years, four months and one week old. Then, one week later, he skipped his senior prom to race at Darlington, where he became the fourth driver ever, and the first in 62 years, to win a national series race at the track in his first start. To the surprise of almost no one, he only held the points lead for about six races, giving it back to veteran teammate Regan Smithnote  after a parts failure-induced crash at Charlotte. But he would surprise almost everyone a couple months later by getting back to the lead with his third win at Chicagoland, and from there spent the rest of the season building that lead until it reached 52 points following the penultimate race of the season at Phoenix, meaning that Elliott, with one week in the season to spare, locked up a likely-unbeatable record for youngest champion of any NASCAR national series at 18 years, 11 months and 11 days. (the old record was held by Vickers) This also makes him the first Rookie of the Year candidate to win an overall series championship on NASCAR's national level.
  • Improbable Parking Skills: At Bristol, given the small size and tight space, it takes several hours and specially trained drivers to park the team transporters in the track infield.
  • Incredibly Lame Pun:
    • In the 2003 Aaron's 499 at Talladega, after Rusty Wallace's #2 Miller Lite Ford took heavy damage in a 27 car crash on lap 4, Mike Joy described the car as looking like it was "recycled" after being repaired in the garage and coming out all duct-taped up.
    • In the 2009 Aaron's 499 at Talladega, when Jeff Gordon (driving a retro Pepsi Challenge paint scheme) started a large crash early in the race, Darrell Waltrip said, "The old Pepsi Challenger is getting opened up, like a can of Pepsi."
    • At the 2012 GEICO 400 at Chicagoland, Allen Bestwick said Matt Kenseth's slow pace was "not shocking" after a shock had fallen off his car.
    • During a practice session for the 2014 FedEx 400 at Dover, as the commentators were joking about The Orange Cone (a reference to the cone that normally marks the commit line for pit road, which has spawned a Twitter account; at Dover, because of the proximity to the racetrack, its normal spot is instead simply an orange box) being up in the fence with several other cones as a marker for the turns, Darrell Waltrip eventually got to "Cone-y Island".
    • Pretty much no one could resist "Lights out" after Erik Jones won his second straight Phoenix Truck race following a region-wide power failure that prevented the race from being completed. (it had also delayed the start by an hour before enough power could be delivered to the track to run the lights) The official NASCAR Twitter feed and ESPN during their coverage of the next day's Nationwide race (in which Jones also participated, running Joe Gibbs' #20) were among the more prominent sources making the pun.
  • Indian Burial Ground: Talladega Superspeedway was supposedly built on an Indian burial ground, leading to allegations that the track is "cursed". Terry Gilliam (better known for directing Monty Python and the Holy Grail) made a 20 minute short in 2010 called The Legend of Hallowdega that looks into this, and has cameos by Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and Darrell Waltrip.
  • In Name Only:
    • The Generation 5 car used purely cosmetic fiberglass bodies over tube-frame chassis, powered by pushrod V8 engines backed by 4-speed manual transmissions and rear-wheel drive. They take the identity of front-wheel-drive unibody sedans typically sold with a 4-cylinder engine and automatic transmission.
    • Modern-day "paint" schemes are actually made of an adhesive wrap that is applied to the car in several large sections, since the wrap is more aerodynamic than actual paint would be. Here's the application process for Kyle Busch's Skittles paint scheme from Phoenix in March 2014.
  • Instant Expert: There is the occasional driver who jumps to the Sprint Cup Series and does not struggle right away.
    • Tony Stewart's Sprint Cup debut season. He graduated from the Indy Car circuit, debuting in NASCAR's highest series with an outside pole position in the 1999 Daytona 500. He won three races and two pole positions and finished fourth. Stewart completely ran away from the other drivers who were competing for Rookie of the Year honors.
    • Jimmie Johnson lost the Rookie of the Year award to Ryan Newman, but his first Sprint Cup season included poles at Talladega and Daytona, and won three races (both Dover races, and the sprint Auto Club race).
    • Denny Hamlin's rookie season in 2006 saw him win both Pocono races, make the Chase, and finish third in the final points, granting him Rookie of the Year honors.
    • Jamie McMurray made his Sprint Cup debut when he was hired by Chip Ganassi to drive the #40 Coors Light Dodge after Sterling Marlin was benched for the last seven races of the 2002 season with a fractured vertebra. In the second of his six starts in the #40, McMurray held off Tony Stewart and Bobby Labonte to win at Charlotte, his first ever race on a non-restrictor plate track (he had debuted in the #40 at Talladega).
  • In the Blood: Multiple generations of drivers from the same family is a recurring feature in the Sprint Cup Series. The Pettys (Lee Petty, Richard Petty, Kyle Petty), Earnhardts (Dale Earnhardt, Dale Earnhardt, Jr.) and Jarretts (Ned Jarrett, Dale Jarrett) are particularly notable in this regard. There have also been a number of brothers who have raced together in NASCAR - Rusty, Mike and Kenny Wallacenote ; Tim, Bob and Fonty Flock; Bobby and Terry Labonte; Kurt and Kyle Busch, etc.
  • Irony: Stewart-Haas Racing's 2013 season. It was announced in July at New Hampshire that Ryan Newman would be leaving the team at the end of 2013 and his ride would be taken over by Kevin Harvick. Weeks later, Newman had an emotional win in the Brickyard 400, one of the biggest purses on the schedule. Then team owner Tony Stewart broke his right leg in a sprint car accident on August 5th, sidelining him and taking him out of the Chase picture, putting Newman in a Wildcard position, which means that while Stewart and Danica Patrick were not in Chase contention, the driver who leaving the team got into the Chase (although Stewart's car still contended for the owner's points Chase).
  • Ironic Echo:
    • In Fox's 2010 Aaron's 499 (Talladega) broadcast, around lap 158, Darrell Waltrip made a comment about Ryan Newman having bad luck at Talladega (as at that point, he had had one engine failure and two crashes in the past three races). 30 laps later, during the first attempt at a green-white-checkered finish, Newman was turned by Joey Logano in turn 3, collecting an additional seven cars, leading Mike Joy to call Darrell out on his comment about Newman having bad luck.
    • The August Pocono races of 2012 and 2013 almost caused an interesting one for Jeff Gordon and his crew chief Alan Gustafson. The 2012 race, shortened by thunderstorms, was held on August 5, Gustafson's birthday. Gordon won that event. The next year, the race was held on August 4, Gordon's 42nd birthday (a birth date he shares with President Barack Obama, and Kurt Busch)). Gordon almost won the race, and was in fact leading with two laps to go, but his decision to take the inside lane on the last restart with two laps to go (from a caution caused by Matt Kenseth spinning) cost him, as he ended up being overtaken by Kasey Kahne and had to settle for second place. Adding more to the irony is the fact that Busch was third.
    • July 2013: At the New Hampshire weekend, in the Nationwide race, Kyle Busch won and Brian Vickers was second. In the Sprint Cup race, Vickers won and Busch was second.
    • March 2014: At Auto Club Speedway, in the Nationwide race, Kyle Larson won and Kyle Busch was second. In the Sprint Cup race, Busch won and Larson was second.
    • In the 2014 Kobalt Tools 400 at Las Vegas, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. was leading at the white flag, then ran out of gas and was passed by Brad Keselowski for the win, and finished second. 11 races later, at Pocono, the reverse happened: Keselowski was leading on the last restart, and with four laps to go, Dale Jr. passed himnote  and stole the win.
  • It Is Pronounced Tro-PAY:
    • Travis Kvapil. His last name is usually pronounced "QUA-ful" by race announcers (think the ball in Quidditch).
    • The 'W' in Clint Bowyer's last name is silent.
  • It's Been Done: 2013 Nationwide Series champion Austin Dillon is the first driver to win a national touring championship without winning a race to do it. However, this was done once before on the regional level - 1994 Busch North (now K&N Pro East) champion Dale Shaw.
  • It Will Never Catch On:
    • While covering a televised practice session for the 2013 Sprint Showdown (the "last chance" race for drivers not already in the Sprint All-Star Race), Darrell Waltrip recalled the opening of the condominiums located by Turn 1 of Charlotte Motor Speedway, in 1984. After winning a race at the track in 1985, he had been offered his pick of any of the condo units for $75,000. His response was to say that no one would ever want to buy one because there was no interest in living at a racetrack. Within two years, the average price had jumped by $200,000; by 1991, a second condo suite had opened; and today, they go for upwards of a half-million dollars, with a lengthy waiting list to boot. Other tracks, including but not limited to Charlotte's sister tracks Atlanta and Texas, have installed their own condo suites.
    • During a pratice session at Atlanta in August of 2014, DW related the story of the time Rick Hendrick called him at the end of 1993 to ask him what he thought of Hendrick's new superstar, Jeff Gordon. Darrell bluntly told Rick that Jeff "would never make it" and referred to him as a "crash artist" because of how much equipment he had torn up in his rookie season on the circuit. That Atlanta race was the occasion of Gordon's 750th start in the Sprint Cup Series, in a career that has to date produced four championships and 91 wins, which are fourth- and third-best among all drivers in series history. Not to mention that all of Gordon's starts are consecutive from his debut at that same track in the 1992 season finale,note  which is the longest streak from the start of a career, the longest active streak by 223 over Matt Kenseth, and the second-longest streak of all time behind Ricky Rudd's mark of 788.
  • Karma Houdini: Dale Earnhardt spinning out leader Terry Labonte to win at Bristol in 1999, among many other examples, to "rattle his cage".
  • Kicked Up Stairs: Happens every once in a while to crew chiefs. For instance, Tony Stewart's longtime crew chief Greg Zipadelli at Joe Gibbs Racing was a partnership that ended in 2009 when Stewart decided to form Stewart-Haas Racing. Zipadelli stayed with the #20 and crew-chiefed Joey Logano for three seasons. After Stewart won the 2011 championship with crew chief Darian Grubb, Grubb was transferred to Gibbs and assigned to Denny Hamlin, Stewart received Steve Addington from Penske Racing for 2012, and Zipadelli became Stewart's competition director.

[[/folder]]

[[folder: Tropes L-P]]

  • The Lady In Black: Darlington Speedway, "the track too tough to tame," gets this nickname from the fact that this egg-shaped superspeedway-that-races-like-a-short-track tends to give cars a signature "Darlington Stripe" caused when a driver brushes the outside wall.
  • Lampshade Hanging: The outside wall in turn three at Pocono Raceway has the words "What Turn 4?" painted on it, further pointing out its unusual layout relative to most of the other tracks in NASCAR.
  • Large Ham: The commentary teams on the Fox networks become famous (or infamous, depending on your point of view) for this, in contrast to ESPN's more reserved style (TNT appears to have been attempting to split the difference in its final years). NBC appears to be aiming for a more Fox-like commentary, based on their hiring of Rick Allen, previously best known for his coverage of the Trucks for FS1 and predecessor Speed.
  • Last Name Basis: Sometimes when announcers mention a list of drivers by their first and last names for current race standings, Dale Earnhardt Jr. is referred to as "Earnhardt, Jr" or even "Junior". Similar cases exist with drivers who have common first names, like Jeff Burton and Jeff Gordon, or David Stremme, David Ragan, David Gilliland, and David Reutimann.
  • Loads and Loads of Characters: The sheer size of the fields in the Sprint Cup Series (43 cars, vs. 26-28 for most Indy Car races, and 20 for Formula One) guarantees this, even if you dismiss the back quarter-to-half of the field as "extras".note  Not to mention all the drivers in the Nationwide and Truck Series who are worth talking about, either on their own merits in those series, their prospects for future openings in the Cup, or even fallen Cup drivers who found later success in these series. And then there's the large number of notable past drivers, not to mention that crew chiefs and even owners sometimes get as much attention as their drivers...
  • Locked In The Bathroom: One promotional on ESPN commercial in 2011 says Jimmie Johnson will do anything to win. He'll even lock Kasey Kahne in the port-a-potty, and then go eat a steak sandwich. The commercial was much funnier because it had already been known that Kahne was going to join Hendrick Motorsports in 2012 and become a teammate to Johnson.
  • Long Title:
    • The Missouri-Illinois Dodge Dealers Ram Tough 200, a former Truck Series race.
    • Those "Your Name Here" races tend to get long names: the 2012 Indianapolis race was called the '2012 Crown Royal Presents the Curtiss Shaver 400 at the Brickyard'.
      • Outdone by the same race in 2013: 'The Crown Royal Presents the Samuel Deeds 400 at the Brickyard Powered by BigMachineRecords.com.'
  • Loophole Abuse:
    • Lots of this in the earlier years, with Smokey Yunick becoming especially notorious for this.
    • In the 1997 All-Star race, Hendrick Motorsports built a special car for Jeff Gordon, nicknamed "T-Rex" after lead engineer Rex Stump (coincidentally, it was sponsored by Jurassic Park: The Ride), which was entirely inside the rulebook at the time, but exploited every gray area that rulebook contained. The car ended up being a full second faster than any other car in existence at the time, including the other cars in Gordon's stablenote , and he ultimately flattened the rest of the field in the race. NASCAR called Rick Hendrick into the office a few days later and told him that T-Rex's setup would be illegal for the Coke 600 and all further races, and shortly after issued a new, far thicker rulebook to prevent further "experimentation".
    • In the 2002 All-Star race, drivers had to make a pit stop during the first segment. Jeff Burton made his on the 40th of 40 laps, which was possible only because he was assigned the pit stall that was before the start/finish line, and so he had to drive a much shorter distance at pit road speed limit. Subsequent versions of this rule included a specific lap for the stop, in order to close this loophole.
    • Jimmie Johnson and Chad Knaus have been accused of abusing a grey zone in the 2012 rear suspension package, to "yaw" the rear end out to a substantial extent, which has allowed him superior handling and speed in the race. These complaints reached a peak at the Brickyard 400, where Johnson led 99 of 160 laps and won by nearly five seconds. About a month later, NASCAR tightened the rules concerning this grey zone to cut down on such abuse.
      • To be fair, Johnson wasn't alone on working in this area - "yawing" or "skewing" the car out was a very common tactic to try to increase side force and get better grip in the turns, with the universal indicator of this being "dog-tracking", where the rear-end of the car would slant to the left, leaving a substantial amount of spoiler directly exposed to the air. It could be seen on practically every car in the field in 2012 - it just so happens that Johnson and Hendrick were ahead of the field on this, as they so often are. In the Gen 6 car, NASCAR took further steps to minimize skew by removing the components which the teams were experimenting with in the first place - and the Penske penalties at Texas were due to parts that would've allowed them to skew the rear ends.
    • When he drove at Joe Gibbs Racing, a story goes that Tony Stewart was told by Gibbs that he could no longer compete in races outside of his Sprint Cup obligations. So Stewart entered a USAC National Midget race using the pseudonym "Smoke Johnson" with the crowd at the track being none the wiser. After winning the feature, "Smoke Johnson" got out of his car and revealed himself to the crowd as Stewart.
    • Richard Petty was black flagged in the lead with 2 laps to go but was able to stay out and win with the three lap rule. This loophole is now sealed as any black flags inside three laps to go result in the immediate pulling of a driver's scorecard - see Ted Musgrave in the 2003 Ford 200, for instance, who jumped a green-white-checkered restart and, with his last two laps not counted, coughed up that year's Truck Series championship to Travis Kvapil.note 
  • invokedLove It or Hate It: Each track has its share of drivers who love it, and those who outright hate it. It's especially noticeable with the restrictor plate tracks.
  • Ludicrous Speed: Restrictor plate tracks aside,note  nearly ever site that hosts a Cup race experienced record speeds after the introduction of the Generation 6 car in 2013. Mile-and-a-half tracks rapidly approached 200 miles per hour at the start-finish line for qualifying sessions, meaning they were most likely topping that mark at corner entry before the brakes are applied; Tony Stewart finally laid down a mark of 200.111 mph at the line at Texas in November 2014,note  which with the rule changes below will likely stand as the record for mile-and-a-halfs. The 2-mile Michigan International Speedway had consistently been topping 200 mph at the line (which would result in something between 215-220 at corner entry) since a repave in 2012, most recently seeing 206.558 for Jeff Gordon's record pole run in August 2014.note  Race pace, particularly since the shift to knockout qualifying (which, being closer to race conditions, causes most teams to run closer to race setup), hasn't been that far off. These cars are still running roughly the same horsepower (approximately 850-900) as they were with previous body styles, but with the streamlining put into the Gen-6, and particularly an increase in downforce in 2014 due to both a taller spoiler (which was presumably meant to slow the cars) as well as the elimination of the post-race ride height rule, which allows the cars to ride "slammed" down onto the track all the way round, reducing airflow (and thus destabilizing air pockets) under the car, drivers have a better "feel" for the track than they have in several years, which allows them to use less brake in the corner. These speeds led to NASCAR announcing that the 2015 engines would have tapered spacers applied at all tracks to reduce horsepower down to around 725,note  along with a reduction of the rear spoiler by 2 inches (8 to 6) to take away some of the downforce.
  • Madden Curse:
    • Inverted with the cover for NASCAR '14, as Tony Stewart broke his leg before voting for the cover driver even began.
    • Subverted with the cover for its predecessor, Inside Line, released in November 2012. Despite failing to win in 2013, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. nonetheless had his best points finish since arriving at Hendrick Motorsports at 5th place, also tied with 2004 and 2006 for the second-best finish of his career (he finished 3rd in 2003, the last year of the pre-Chase era), and won the 2014 Daytona 500.
  • Mascot:
    • Digger was an attempt at this by NASCAR on Fox. See the YMMV tab for the results.
    • More successful is Miles the Monster, the Mascot of Dover International Speedway, who also appears on the race winner's trophy. As seen at the entrance to the track, he's a concrete obelisk with bright red eyes, clutching a stock car in his hand. His name is derived from the track's longtime nickname "The Monster Mile" (given as such because of the high banking, which greatly increases speed compared to fellow one-mile tracks New Hampshire and Phoenix, and the tight walls, which are very easy to hit because of the high speeds. Drivers slapping the wall out of turns two and four, in a manner similar to the "Darlington stripe", is a fact of life at Dover, and the track has also played host to a number of Big Ones over the years, such as a 20-car wreck in turn three in June 2004, and a rollover by Joey Logano in the same turn in September 2009).
  • The Men in Black: In a literal example, Martin Truex, Jr. and the Furniture Row Racing pit crew wear primarily black fire suits and the car is a pure dark black
    • Color-inverted with Dale Earnhardt: they called him the "Man in Black" because of his iconic black #3 GM Goodwrench Service Plus Chevrolet Monte Carlo and his aggressive driving style, even though he and his pit crew wore white fire suits.
    • Jimmie Johnson and his team tend to be known as the Men in Blue, because the Lowe's Chevrolet SS is typically a Lowe's dark blue or white with Lowe's text in blue. Typically, they also all wear blue or blue-white fire suits.
    • For the most part, one could treat Matt Kenseth's team as the Men in Yellow since his Dollar General Toyota Camry is usually painted bright yellow and they all wear yellow fire suits.
  • Min-Maxing: "Start and Park" racers. These teams qualify for races then run a couple laps, earning prize money for competing with minimal wear and tear to their cars for the highest net profit. Smaller teams will typically run a Start and Park car to help fund another car they use for the full race until they can build up sponsorships.
  • Mock Millionaire: Convicted con artist/team owner Angela Harkness.
  • Must Have Nicotine: David Pearson and Dick Trickle were famous for smoking in the cars. Both drivers had a cigarette lighter and ashtray in the car and had custom fit their helmets so they were big enough to get a cigarette in.
  • My Friends... and Zoidberg:
    • Before the 1996 First Union 400 at North Wilkesboro, co-Grand Marshal John Boyd gave the command to fire engines as "Gentlemen, and Jimmy Spencer, start your engines!"
    • Matt Martin before the 2nd race of the 2005 Gatorade Duel: "Gentlemen, and Dad (Mark Martin), start your engines!"
    • At the three NASCAR on FOX races in 2012 where Danica Patrick was present, Darrell Waltrip said his signature catchphrase as, "Boogity boogity boogity! Let's go racin', boys and Danica [Patrick]!" This will likely be the way he says it at the FOX races of 2013, now that Danica Patrick is racing fulltime in the Sprint Cup Series.
      • As of Auto Club, it seems that DW has gone back to just a simple, "Let's go racin', boys!"
      • Speaking of which, at at least one race so far in the 2013 season, the grand marshal did say, "Drivers, and Danica, start your engines!"
  • Mood Whiplash:
    • DEI's 2001 season on the whole. Dale Earnhardt died on the last lap of the Daytona 500, and the race's teams won five races (Steve Park and Michael Waltrip each won once, while Dale Earnhardt, Jr. won three races).
      • Michael Waltrip has described the 2001 Daytona 500 as this. Earnhardt crashed on the last lap in turn 4 and was killed, but Waltrip didn't learn about Earnhardt's death until after he'd been to victory lane and talked to Ken Schrader. This hit really hard for Waltrip because Earnhardt was also his team owner.
      • The mood whiplash bounced back to tears of joy the following week when Steve Park won at Rockingham.
      • Dale Earnhardt, Jr.'s 2001 season hence also qualifies as a season long example. His father's death at that Daytona 500 was the low note. On the high note, he won three races - the Pepsi 400 at Daytona, plus Dover and Talladega - and finished eighth in the final points. As you can see, two of his three wins were restrictor plate races, and Junior was one of the few drivers to have top-tens at all four plate races that year.
    • In the 2007 Autism Speaks 400, around lap 260, Mike Joy reported the passing of Bill France, Jr. This preceded a commercial break. When they came back, Joy's somber tone was gone as he and the FOX analysts were now covering a wreck between Tony Stewart and Kurt Busch (the latter was parked after pulling up alongside Stewart on pit road and nearly hitting a pit crew member).
    • Hendrick Motorsports (and fans of its drivers) suffered this going from the 2013 Party in the Poconos 400 - where Jimmie Johnson dominated and won, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. wound up a strong third, and Jeff Gordon got a decent 12th place result (Kasey Kahne unfortunately broke the drive train on lap one, and wound up 36th) - to the next race, the Quicken Loans 400 - Johnson was again the best finisher, but in 28th after blowing a tire in the closing laps, and his three teammates combined to average 38th place after two more wrecks and an engine failure. The team did bounce back with all four teams being in the top twelve the following week at Sonoma.
    • Martin Truex, Jr. after the Spingate scandal. First, he was in the Chase on a Wildcard, then bumped because of points penalties handed out to Michael Waltrip Racing's teams for manipulating the finish of the Richmond race. Then his sponsor NAPA Auto Parts announced its decision to leave MWR early, and MWR announced it was going to shut down Truex's #56 team, forcing Truex to find another ride for 2014. Then he signed on at Furniture Row Racing to replace Kurt Busch, a bit of a relief for a driver who had just had that much bad luck placed on him.
    • One could argue that NAPA executives experienced this going from 2013 to 2014, as at one point the company considered withdrawing from NASCAR altogether in the wake of Spingate. Instead, they merely moved down to the Nationwide Series and teamed up with another familiar face, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., helping him and Rick Hendrick put together a deal to move promising development driver Chase Elliott into a brand-new ride at JR Motorsports, with NAPA on the hood. Come the end of the 2014, and this partnership has already yielded three wins and a series championship.
    • Transitioning from one type of track layout to a different type of track layout can cause this for crew chiefs when it comes to setups:
      • The Daytona 500 is followed by Phoenix, a one mile short-track
      • The spring race at Talladega, NASCAR's longest and fastest track, follows the spring Saturday night race held at Richmond, a 3/4 mile oval. Likewise, a reverse sharp transition happens in the Chase when going from 2.66 mile Talladega to the half-mile paperclip at Martinsville.
      • Bristol's two races are in between a pair of events held at 1.5 and 2 mile tracksnote 
  • New Rules as the Plot Demands: NASCAR is pretty guilty of this, especially as Jimmie Johnson kept winning championship after championship, and the Chase keeps getting tweaked to make it more "exciting". So far, the Chase has been through three iterations, with the most recent version coming in 2014. That's about five points systems in just over a decade if you're keeping count.
    • In order, the Chase's evolution:
      1. 2004-2006: The top ten drivers in points, and any drivers within 400 points of the leader, make the Chase. The first-place driver in the standings is reseeded to 5,050 points; the second-place driver starts with 5,045, and incremental five-point drops continue through the list of title contenders.
      2. 2007-2010: The Chase field was expanded to twelve drivers. This rule change occurred because Tony Stewart won three Chase races in 2006 but was not part of the Chase due to a bad run during the summer. Greg Biffle played "spoiler" at the Homestead finale, also as a non-Chaser, when he'd been runner-up in 2005. Now, the top twelve drivers had their point total readjusted to 5,000 points with the drivers getting a ten point bonus for each of their race wins. Brian France said, "The adjustments taken put a greater emphasis on winning races. Winning is what this sport is all about. Nobody likes to see drivers content to finish in the top 10. We want our sport - especially during the Chase - to be more about winning." The new point system and expansion of the Chase field would have given Stewart and Biffle Chase berths had it been used in 2006. Not that it mattered because Jimmie Johnson won championships 2-5 with this system.
      3. 2011-2013: Due to the changing of the point system to make even further emphasis on winning races, the size of the Chase field didn't change. But the points reseeding changed accordingly: like with the 2004-2006 formula, the top ten drivers in points at the end of the regular season made the Chase automatically, their point totals reset to 2,000 points with an additional 3 points seeded on for each race win. However, chase berths #11 and 12 were changed: rather than simply being the drivers in 11th and 12th place at Richmond, they were made "Wildcard" spots, given to the two drivers 11th-20th place in the points with the most wins. These drivers did not get the 3 point bonus for their race wins. This Wildcard had been implemented as a result of two instances where drivers who had multiple wins were at a spot lower than 12th in points due to poor summer runs (Kyle Busch in 2009 had won four times by the cutoff, and Jamie McMurray had won two races prior to the Richmond cutoff (Daytona 500 and Brickyard 400) in 2010. Ironically, the 2011 and 2012 Wildcards were the drivers who were 11th and 12th in points after 26 races - Brad Keselowski and Denny Hamlin in 2011; Kasey Kahne and Jeff Gordon in 2012.

        2013 finally broke this pattern, with fourteenth place Kasey Kahne (again) taking the first Wildcard with two wins, while Martin Truex, Jr. in twelfth took the second Wildcard on a tiebreaker over Ryan Newman, albeit this was temporary as Newman took the Wildcard after Truex was docked 50 points along with his fellow MWR drivers for the "Spingate scandal. This also surprisingly led to a 13 car Chase field for that year, as Jeff Gordon, who had wound up one point outside tenth but failed to win a race, causing him to miss out completely at first, was added due to NASCAR deciding that Gordon had been an unfair victim of MWR's attempt to manipulate the finish.
      4. 2014: The field was expanded to sixteen drivers, with the emphasis for qualifying for the Chase being shifted to primarily race wins, with points only applying if fewer than sixteen of the top thirty drivers in points win a race in the regular season (which, if the trends of 2012 and 2013 are seen, is very likely). Once the Chase begins, a "knockout" bracket-type system is used to determine the champion. Four drivers are eliminated after each three-race round based on finishing positions in points. A win in any of the three races counts as automatic advancement into the next round of the Chase.
        1. Challenger Round: Comprised of races #1-3: Chicagoland, New Hampshire, and Dover. For this round, all drivers are reseeded with 2,000 points, plus three points for each race victory picked up over the first 26 races. After Dover, the drivers placed 13th through 16th are eliminated. Those who continue on are reseeded with 3,000 points each, while those who get eliminated are locked into those 13th-16th place finishes in the final points for the year.
        2. Contender Round: Comprised of races #4-#6: Charlotte, Kansas, and Talladega. The field is now down to twelve drivers. Drivers positioned #9-#12 at the end of this round are eliminated and can finish no higher or lower than those point positions in the final point standings. Those who continue on get reseeded with 4,000 points.
        3. Eliminator Round: Comprised of races #7-#9: Martinsville, Texas, and Phoenix. The field is now down to eight drivers. The bottom four, positions #5-#8, get eliminated after Phoenix.
        4. The four drivers remaining after the first nine races run for the title at Homestead-Miami Speedway. These drivers have their point totals reset to 5,000 points. They also use a different scoring system. Whereas in all the Chase races leading up to this the points scoring was the same for finishing positions (with one bonus point for leading a lap and another one for leading the most laps), the title contenders don't get bonus points for leading laps. The champion is the first contender to cross the finish line.
    • Less noticably, NASCAR has made other moves, whether regarding technical details (spoiler height, weight, et cetera) or track procedures (no racing back to the caution, and pit road speed limits), and can adjust these as it sees fit.
      • To be fair to NASCAR many of those rules are for safety. For instance, racing back to the caution was stopped because of the risk that cars running at race speed could pose to wrecked cars and to personnel out on the track. The breaking point was a near-accident in 2003 involving Dale Jarrett at Loudon. Meanwhile, the first major change to the {=COT=} (the switch from wing to spoiler) was done to stop the aero-rollovers that had become alarmingly common during the previous year. Ryan Newman's and Mark Martin's flips at Talladega in fall 2009 were the final straw. The Gen-6 redesign was done at the behest of fans and drivers who complained of poor handling in the {=COT=} design and lack of brand recognition.
      • There is a blue flag for localized cautions (which warns drivers to slow down but stay at race speed), but after the death of a track worker at Daytona International Speedway in a Dash Series race in Speedweeks 2004, NASCAR has been reluctant to use this caution flag and use full course cautions whenever track workers or emergency personnel need to head on the track.
    • There was also a sweeping set of rule changes enacted after the Spingate at Richmond, which included:
      1. Drivers must race at 100% of their ability, meaning deal-making, giving up a position for a teammate or "artificially altering" the finish of a race, could result in penalties.
      2. Spotters are no longer allowed to use digital radios for a private channel that could allow cars to make deals through the spotters.
      3. Only one spotter per car can be present on the spotters' stand, with cameras installed on each roof to enforce this (there are, however, a few tracks where drivers usually prefer or need to have two spotters, such as the road courses and at the restrictor plate tracks, stationed at different points on the track).
      4. While double file restarts were unchanged, the rule that the leader controlled the restart was removed, after a number of incidents where the leader appeared to hang back on the restart, or there was confusion about who was leading, leading to drive-through penalties or cautions, such as when Paul Menard slid his tires leading the final restart at that Richmond race, and Carl Edwards appeared to jump him, then went on to win the race. Now, either car can go at the drop of the green flag.
    • During the first two races with the "knockout qualifying" system in 2014, many drivers like Brad Keselowski and Jamie McMurray complained that NASCAR did not allow them to cool their engines with cooling units on pit road after a qualifying lap, forcing them to drive around the track at dangerously slow speeds while other cars doing their runs were going at 200 mph. NASCAR took note of this and beginning at Bristol, they allowed cooling units to be used to cool the engines down on pit road.
    • Qualifying for the Sprint Unlimited has changed very frequently. Since 2008, how a driver qualifies for the event has changed at least five times:
      1. 2002-2008: Automatic berths for drivers who won a pole position during the previous season and former winners of the event
      2. 2009: A field of 28 cars, with 24 of them being the top six teams from each of the four car manufacturersnote  in owners' points, as well as four spots for previous Shootout winners.
      3. 2010-2011: The 2009 field was controversial, so eligibility (with no size limitations) was changed to have the Shootout be comprised of: the 12 drivers from the previous season's Chase, previous Budweiser Shootout winners, drivers who had previously won a points race at Daytona (whether it be the Daytona 500 or Coke Zero 400), previous Sprint Cup champions, and the last 10 Rookies of the year.
      4. 2012: Automatic bids went to the top 25 drivers in series points (from defending series champion Tony Stewart through 25th place Brian Vickers), as well as any Daytona points race winner who was not otherwise qualified and who competed in at least one race in 2011 (which enabled drivers like Bill Elliott, Geoff Bodine, Derrike Cope, Michael Waltrip, Jamie McMurray, Trevor Bayne, Terry Labonte, and Ken Schrader to be entered).
      5. 2013-2014: With the change in race format and change of the race name to the Sprint Unlimited, NASCAR reverted to the 2002-2008 eligibility rules: all drivers who won pole positions via time trials (except for winners of practice one, should qualifying have been rained out) and previous Unlimited/Shootout winners that have attempted to qualify for any of the 36 points races in the previous season.
      6. 2015: The field is expanded to 25 cars, with the field being composed of the 16 drivers from the previous year's Chasenote , drivers who won pole positions via knockout qualifying, previous Unlimited winners that attempted to qualify for any of the 36 points races in the previous season, previous Daytona 500 front-row starters (both the inside polesitter and outside polesitter) if they did not win a pole position at any of the other 35 races during the previous seasonnote , and the remaining spots are filled out by the highest drivers in the previous season's final points standings to not be eligible for the Unlimited under any of the other qualifications.
  • Noodle Incident: This happens when the commentators refer back to something in a previous race but do not go too far into specifics. In the 2009 Aaron's 499, for instance, Darrell Waltrip compared Carl Edwards' last lap crash to the 1987 crash Bobby Allison had taken (which tore out a section of catch fencing and led to the introduction of restrictor plates), but did not specify details on what happened in Allison's wreck.
  • No One Could Survive That: Every blowover wreck ever, especially the violent ones, looks horrific and probably fatal. However the fatal crashes in NASCAR have usually been the sudden hard hits — such as the one that killed Dale Earnhardt — rather than the spectacular rolls. The irony being that onlookers often underestimate the danger of a sudden violent stop and overestimate the danger of a series of survivable impacts because the second looks much more dangerous.
    • Michael McDowell at Texas Motor Speedway in 2008 was this because of how many times it flipped and also because he crawled out unharmed.
    • Rusty Wallace took a violent wreck at the finish line at Talladega in 1993 where he went airborne after being tagged by Dale Earnhardt. He had also flipped violently at the Daytona 500 after being struck by Michael Waltrip.
    • Elliott Sadler had a few violent tumbles at Talladega in 2003 and 2004 - in turn 3 in 2003 and at the finish line in 2004.
    • Dale Earnhardt's violent crash in the 1996 Die Hard 500 at Talladega. He went into the tri-oval wall after being struck by Ernie Irvan and Sterling Marlin, flipped and slid across the track, in front of the pack, collecting an additional 12 cars. Video of the crash showed what appeared to be a fatal incident, but once medical workers arrived at the car, Earnhardt climbed out and waved to the crowd, and refused to be loaded onto a stretcher despite suffering a broken collarbone, sternum, and shoulder blade. At Indianapolis, the following week, he was relieved by Mike Skinner at the first pit stop (this was the race where Dale Jarrett introduced the tradition of "kissing the bricks"). When Earnhardt won the pole at Watkins Glen just two weeks after the Talladega crash (which turned out to be the last pole of his career), T-shirts came out with his picture that said "It Hurt So Good".
      • Inverted with his fatal crash - being sent into the wall by Sterling Marlin - which was said to have looked relatively less serious and hard compared to other NASCAR crashes, like the wreck on lap 173 that led to the race being red-flagged for a lengthy cleanup. Such as his above mentioned wreck and...
    • Tony Stewart from the the lap 173 wreck was not seriously injured despite his car barrel-rolling twice in midair after being pushed over Robby Gordon's car.
      • Stewart also flipped very violently on top of several other cars in a 23 car crash on the last lap of the fall Talladega race in 2012. Well, not flipped, but he did end up on his side after being struck by Clint Bowyer and also was on top of Paul Menard and Kasey Kahne. Ironically, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. was involved and would be forced to sit out the next two races with a concussion, replaced by Regan Smith for those two races (he was already lingering from the effects of a concussion he had sustained in a testing crash at Kansas in August).
    • Ryan Newman had a VERY violent blowover crash at the 2003 Daytona 500.
      • For the record, Newman went up in the air a lot in 2003. He nearly got turned on his side at Talladega in the largest recorded crash in Sprint Cup history.
      • He was also involved in a couple of blowover incidents in 2009. For one, he slammed into an already semi-airborne Carl Edwards at the 2009 Aaron's 499, which basically "pushed" Edwards into the catch fence while also tearing the front end off of Newman's car. Then there was this violent rollover in the fall race at Talladega, which was basically the death knell for the rear wing as all the theories of it "catching" pockets of air during high-speed spins came to the forefront in the aftermath.
      • The Generation 6 received its first blowover at Talladega in May 2013, when on lap 182, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. squeezed between J.J. Yeley and the outside wall, causing Yeley to shoot across the track, cut across the front bumper of Marcos Ambrose, and struck Kurt Busch at the right angle that Busch actually turned sideways and flipped over. Then he landed right on top of Ryan Newman, and was struck again by Bobby Labonte after his car landed on the ground.
    • Michael Waltrip has had his share of this trope. In the 2004 Daytona 500, his car flipped over three full times and landed on its roof. But that's nothing compared to some of the others he's been through: he flipped in 2005 at Talladega. But nothing will beat his incredibly violent crash at Bristol in 1990, when after making contact with Steve Grissom, Waltrip hit a turn-out gate at the corner exit, broke the gate and went head-on into the end of the wall, disintegrating the car on impact and collapsing the car into itself. Waltrip only suffered bruises in the incident.
      • Mike Harmon had a similar, yet even more extreme, encounter with the turnout gate at Bristol during a Busch Series practice session in August 2002. It also had shades of From Bad to Worse - Harmon's engine exploded into flames after impact, and then the car was run over by Johnny Sauter. Like Michael Waltrip, though, Harmon came away with only minor injuries.
    • Kyle Busch in a Nationwide Series race at Talladega in 2007, that looks remarkably like the wreck Elliott Sadler had in the same turn in the Sprint Cup race held in October 2003.
    • Ricky Rudd's horrible flip at Daytona in 1984.
      • In 2007 he got into what appeared to be a minor wreck but had broken his ribs and shoulder causing him to have to sit out.
    • Jerry Nadeau was almost killed in 2003 at Richmond, after his throttle hung going into a turn. The head trauma he sustained ultimately ended his career and led to the installation of SAFER barrier in the outside walls of every turn at the oval tracks.
    • This pair of matching wrecks between Carl Edwards and Brad Keselowski, with one turning the other airborne (although the Atlanta incident - Edwards turning over Keselowski - was deliberate, although the Talladega incident was clearly an accident).
    • Mark Martin had a particularly frightening one at the Pure Michigan 400 in 2012, with the car spinning onto pit road and the driver side getting impaled on the end of the opening in the pit wall, which punctured the oil cooler. A few feet further forward likely would have subverted this trope and actually killed him. By the next race, Michigan International Speedway added abuttments to the pit openings to provide a wider, flatter surface for the cars to hit, which also had the benefit of protecting teams whose pit stalls were next to the openings. (in the incident, that was Kasey Kahne's pit. Ironically, Kahne's car spun into the tri-oval grass as part of the contact that sent Martin spinning onto pit road. Kahne's car was repaired well enough to salvage a third place finish. A tire that happened to be sitting where Martin's car hit narrowly missed injuring several of Kahne's pit crewmen.)
    • Danica Patrick had a very violent wreck on the last lap of the first 2012 Gatorade Duel at Daytona. She was in the lower lane when Aric Almirola got into Jamie McMurray, causing Almirola to spin, collecting Patrick. Patrick's car sped across an apron at almost full speed and smashed diagonally into the inside wall, destroying the car. She was uninjured. Thankfully the SAFER barriers had been installed on the wall in question or the impact would have been worse.
    • In 2010 the Saturday Night Special at Bristol Charlie Glotzbach t-boned Larry Pearson in the drivers side.
    • A horrific Big One in the first Truck Series race at Daytona, in 2000. Watch it, because it makes Dale Earnhardt's fatal crash in the 2001 Daytona 500 look like a minor incident. Geoff Bodine got it the worst - his truck went airborne, slammed into the catchfence, burst into flames, then came back onto the track and was hit by two other trucks, the second of which also burst into flames. While he had to be taken to Halifax Medical Center in a neckbrace, Bodine lived and continued to make occasional starts in the three national series over the next decade, his last being the 2011 Ford 400. The crash itself was very similar to Bobby Allison's Talladega wreck in 1987.
    • The last lap of the 2013 DRIVE 4 COPD 300 Nationwide Series race at Daytona: the field crashed coming to the checkered flag. The worst was Kyle Larson, whose car was hit by Brian Scott and Justin Allgaier, and Larson was sent into the catchfence (similar to Carl Edwards' Sprint Cup wreck at Talladega in 2009). The impact was at a crossover gate which lacked the same level of reinforcement as the surrounding catchfence, which allowed his front tires and engine to pierce said catchfence, shearing them off and sending debris into the grandstands; basically the entire front part of the car was sheared away. Also, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. submarined under Alex Bowman. 28 spectators were injured by debris sent through the fence and into the stands.
    • Pocono in 2010 when Elliott Sadler, after contact with Kurt Busch and Jimmie Johnson, went face-first into the wall (effectively hitting a building) at 160 miles per hour, on a nearly perpendicular angle. The front of the car, including the engine, was ripped completely off and scattered across the track, the estimated G-forces were the highest seen in a car accident, and the vehicle itself went from about 160mph to about 20mph in a braking distance of three feet. And Sadler got out of the car and walked away under his own power, though he needed to lie down to get his breath again afterwards. Due to its location in a blind spot not covered well by cameras, only one camera actually caught the impact (partially out of frame at that) and the cameras were able to get better angles of Kurt Busch's involvement in the crash. By the next year, the older ARMCO barrier (basically a slightly modified highway guardrail) present at Pocono during the crash, which jutted out in the region where Sadler hit and kept the car from bouncing off of it properly, had been replaced by modified SAFER Barriers in a much smoother configuration.
    • Denny Hamlin at the 2013 Auto Club 400 smashed hard head-on into an inside retaining wall with no SAFER barrier on the last lap fighting Joey Logano for the lead, caving in the front part of his car's nose and actually causing the back end of the car to lift of the ground. He fractured a vertebra that required him to miss four races, with Mark Martin replacing him at Martinsville and Brian Vickers replacing him at Texas, Kansas, and Richmond. Hamlin started the car at Talladega, but was relieved by Vickers under the first caution flag.
  • Odd Friendship: Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Michael Waltrip and Steve Park, the three drivers in the DEI stable, had one of these with TLC after the death of Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes in a car accident in Honduras in 2002. This was in part due to the fact that somebody leaked autopsy pictures of Lopes, which befell reminders of the controversy about disclosing autopsy photos of Dale Earnhardt after his death in the 2001 Daytona 500. The three DEI drivers each drove with a single black stripe under the left headlight decals on their cars for the 2002 spring Richmond race.
  • Once for Yes, Twice for No: Some variation thereof is used when it comes to pit strategy if the crew can't hear the driver on the radio.
  • One Steve Limit: Averted with some drivers who have common names. There are at least four Davids active in the Sprint Cup Series today: David Gilliland, David Reutimann, David Ragan, and David Stremme. And just to make it even more confusing, Gilliland and Ragan drive full-time for the same team, Front Row Motorsports, with Reutimann also joining their ranks for multiple races in 2014. Closer to the front of the pack, there are now two Kyles, Busch and Larson. Played straight with drivers named "Dale", as the only one with that name still in the series is Dale Earnhardt, Jr. However, in Dale Jr.'s first full season (2000), there was also Dale Earnhardt, Sr. and Dale Jarrett. To differentiate them, they were often referred to by last name to differentiate Jarrett from the Earnhardt drivers.
  • Only Known by Initials:
    • Subverted with J.J. Yeley, whose full name is Christopher Beltram Hernandez Yeley. The initials are a nickname derived from the names of his father and a family friend ("Jimmy" and "Jack", respectively).
    • Played straight by A.J. (Anthony James) Allmendinger.
  • Out of Focus / Demoted to Extra: A lot of older drivers fall into this during their twilight years on the circuit, although there are more than a few subversions.
    • Bobby Labonte seems to be a straight version of these, having won a Sprint Cup title in 2000 and placing in the top ten in points as recently as 2003, before slumping into the middle of the field and bouncing around from race team to race team (including a tenure in the 43 at Petty Enterprises, right before they folded into Gillette Evernham to form Richard Petty Motorsports). For the last couple of years, he's driven the 47 for third-tier Toyota team JTG Daugherty, and struggles to even post top-10s in individual races, let alone get anywhere near that in the points.
      • June 2013 may have seen the first steps toward Bobby being Put on a Bus - JTG Daugherty announced that A.J. Allmendinger would race in the 47 for five races, starting at Michigan that very month. While Labonte was take Allmendinger's usual seat in the #51 at Phoenix Racing, the next race with Allmendinger in the 47 was at Kentucky, where Austin Dillon was already slated to take the 51. As a result, Bobby sat out Kentucky, bringing his streak of consecutive Sprint Cup starts to an end at 704.note 
    • On the other hand, Rusty Wallace managed to subvert these by snapping a 105-race winless streak in 2004 by winning at Martinsville, and then made the Chase in 2005, his retirement year.
    • Mark Martin has zig-zagged this for most of the 2000s, even before he started zig-zagging 10-Minute Retirement as well.
    • Flash-in-the-pan rookies who don't develop into truly great drivers tend to fall victim to these as well. For every Denny Hamlin, who is undeniably top dog at Gibbs these days, has yet to miss a Chase in all of his full-time seasonsnote , and had a pretty strong run in five Cup starts of 2005 (including a pole and three top-tens), there are several drivers of the likes of Hamlin's ex-teammate J.J. Yeley, who came in with a blaze of hype to replace Bobby Labonte, barely made an impact during his tenures at top-flight teams, and now struggles to make the field in unsponsored start-and-park rides.
    • Brian Vickers' has spent much of his career to date zig-zagging these. To elaborate:
      1. He was THE hot rookie prospect coming into 2004, having just become the youngest Nationwide champion at age 20note  and moving up to the Hendrick #25 with the belief that he could be the next Jeff Gordon.
      2. He spent three years in the 25 spinning his wheels in the middle of the pack, and his only Cup win at the organization (fall of '06 at Talladega) came with a firestorm of controversy, as he wrecked both Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and then-teammate Jimmie Johnson, nearly costing the latter a championship.
      3. For 2007, he wound up with Toyota start-up Red Bull Racing, and generally struggled to make the field. When he was in the field, though, an odd thing happened - he began to run more consistently in the top ten than he ever had at Hendrick.
      4. By 2009, Vickers and Red Bull were strong enough to get a win (August at Michigan) and a Chase berth together. Unfortunately, Vickers developed a heart condition about a third of the way into 2010, benching him for the rest of the season. When he returned the next year, both he and Red Bull were a shadow of their former selves, and Vickers had developed a serious temper, burning several bridges by driving recklessly (particularly noted at the Toyota/Save Mart 350 and the fall Martinsville race).
      5. When the team imploded at the end of 2011, their successor BK Racing snubbed him for lesser-known names Travis Kvapil and Landon Cassill, leaving Vickers without a ride for 2012, and seemingly finished in Sprint Cup.
      6. Then Michael Waltrip offered him a seat in the 55 at Bristol, and Vickers led a quarter of the race, finishing fifth. Seven more 2012 races in the 55 with Vickers netted two more top fives and another two top tensnote , better than many drivers who ran the full schedule. These results led to a lot of talk that Vickers deserved a full-time Cup ride in 2013, although circumstances prevented such a ride from opening up. Nonetheless, Vickers will field the 55 for nine races in 2013 (with Michael Waltrip driving three races, and Mark Martin the remaining 25). He also secured a full-season Nationwide ride with Joe Gibbs, where he's been among the top five in points for the majority of the season to date. On the Cup side, Vickers would strengthen his case for a full return even more, with a victory at New Hampshire in July.
      7. About a month later, Vickers was officially announced as the full-time driver of the team for 2014 and '15, with Aaron's re-upping their sponsorship for all 36 races in both seasons. The latter item, especially, was considered a notable coup in a sport where the vast majority of teams now have multiple sponsors on the cars during the course of a season (among the small number of other cars/drivers who have one primary sponsor include Jimmie Johnson (Lowe's) and Danica Patrick (Go Daddy.com)), and a vindication of Vickers' efforts to rebuild his reputation over the previous two years.
  • Over Drive: This term will often be used in broadcasts when a race is extended past the scheduled distance due to a green-white-checkered finish.
    • As for the actual trope, trying to drive beyond the natural limits of car and driver based on track size usually result in disaster. Kasey Kahne's spinout at Darlington in 2013, while battling Kyle Busch for the lead, is a good example of this.
    • Fuel gambles serve as an inversion - the drivers deliberately go slower to try to save fuel and stretch their load an extra few laps.
  • Overshadowed by Awesome:
    • Dale Earnhardt, Jr. is this big time. However his father is considered by many as the greatest of all time. It also doesn't help that because he is at Hendrick Motorsports, his teammates are Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson, who have ten championships and over 150 wins combined.
    • Anyone related by Hall of Famers Richard Petty, Rusty Wallace or Darrell Waltrip, so this applies to Kyle Petty, Kenny Wallace, and Michael Waltrip, for instance.
      • What's even more impressive in Richard Petty's case is that late father Lee was a Hall of Famer himself, having won three championships and 54 races, including the inaugural Daytona 500 (in a photo-finish that took three days to officially call, as this was before electronic scoring loops). And yet many casual NASCAR fans are, at best, tangentially aware of Lee's existence while everyone knows about Richard.
    • Subverted with the Busch brothers. Although Kurt Busch won the 2004 NEXTEL Cup championship, fairly early in his career, younger brother Kyle has more race wins as of 2013 (27 vs. 24 for Kurt), let alone how often Kyle wins in the Nationwide and Truck Series.
    • The finish to the 2007 Daytona 500 will almost always be some variant depending on who you talk to about it or how you watch the replays: The ultra-close finish (0.020 sec.) of Kevin Harvick over Mark Martin in a drag-race to the line could be overshadowed by the huge wreck happening behind them, or vice versa. The same can be said about Clint Bowyer crossing the finish line on his roof while on fire.
    • Michael Waltrip's first win at the Daytona 500 in 2001, overshadowed by Dale Earnhardt's fatal crash in turn 4. Earnhardt's crash, which only involved himself and Ken Schrader, and completely overshadowed an 18 car crash that happened on lap 173 and had been the highlight of the race up until that point. As Earnhardt was also Waltrip's car owner, it made it a hollow victory at best. He couldn't really celebrate his Daytona win until the series' return to the track in the Pepsi 400, holding off the field while his teammate Dale Earnhardt, Jr. dominated the field to go to victory lane.
    • The 1989 race at North Wilkesboro. Dale Earnhardt and Ricky Rudd spun battling for the lead on the last lap causing a fight between the drivers and their crews, and costing Earnhardt the championship to Rusty Wallace.
    • Sterling Marlin's win at the 1994 Daytona 500 was vastly overhadowed by the deaths of drivers Rodney Orr and Neil Bonnett in practice crashes during Speedweeks.
    • Regan Smith's win at Darlington in May 2011 - the first of his career, in fact - was quite memorable for his ability to hold off Carl Edwards, but more people remember the post-race altercation between Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch.
    • The finish to the 2009 Aaron's 499 at Talladega, with Carl Edwards flying into the catch fence after being turned backwards by Brad Keselowski, greatly overshadowed the two Big Ones that had occurred earlier in the race (on lap 7 and lap 180).
    • 235 laps into the 2012 Advo Care 500k at Phoenix, the big story was Jimmie Johnson blowing a tire, hammering the wall, and going to the garage, which gave Brad Keselowski a huge advantage in the championship battle. By the end of the race, this was just about forgotten amidst the chaos from the Clint Bowyer-Jeff Gordon Ax-Crazy confrontation, and the Big One that occurred on the subsequent green-white-checkered finish, after NASCAR failed to throw the caution for Danica Patrick's wreck just before the white flag (some believed her car limping around should have warranted a caution with the oil it was leaking; the result was that several cars, including Kurt Busch and Mark Martin, collided from slipping in oil).
    • There were four possible big stories at the 2013 Daytona 500: the frightening crash the day before in the Nationwide Series race that had destroyed part of the tri-oval catchfencing and hospitalized 28 spectators when Kyle Larson's car went airborne; Jimmie Johnson winning his second 500 (and breaking a seven year streak where he had finished no better than 27th in the race); the Generation 6 car making its Sprint Cup debut; or Danica Patrick being the first female to: be a polesitter in the Daytona 500, lead green flag laps in a Sprint Cup race, and have a top 10 finish in the Daytona 500. Most media seemed to cover #1 and #4, shedding some of the spotlight away from Jimmie Johnson, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and Mark Martin.
    • It is standard for the defending Sprint Cup champion to be honored at the White House by the sitting president. Brad Keselowski's meeting with Obama was on April 16, 2013. This article illustrates the contrasts between the meeting and the previous day.
      • Keselowski being honored by the president also counts as Mood Whiplash. The very next day, both Penske teams (Keselowski and Joey Logano) received very severe penalties related to rear-end housings in their cars that had failed pre-race inspection at Texas: both drivers were docked 25 owner and driver points (dropping Keselowski from 2nd to 4th in points, and Logano from 9th to 15th), and both of their crew chiefs and car chiefs were suspended for six races.
  • Patriotic Fervor: Typically, at the Coca-Cola 600 (Charlotte race held on the Sunday before Memorial Day) and the Coke Zero 400 (Daytona's summer night race, held on the Saturday closest to the Fourth of July), most teams will give their cars special "patriotic" paint schemes, since these two races are held close to major American public holidays. It's a less common but not unheard of sight at Atlanta as well, which runs the Sunday before Labor Day.
  • The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything: Field-fillers, aka start-and-park teams, which start races with the intention to retire within a few laps, as not to risk damage to their cars, or not to pay for extra sets of tires. They are considered controversial in NASCAR since they take away positions from drivers who plan to run the full race. However, for now they're a necessary evil, as there aren't enough teams with full sponsorship (a must if a team plans to actually run a full Cup race) to fill out a 43-car field.
    • In 2013, NASCAR didn't ban start-and-park, although they started discouraging the practice, by reducing the winnings money for the bottom five finishing positions and redistributing that money among the top 35 finishing spots, to encourage drivers to run races to completion. This did have the added change of seeing more unsponsored teams seek out corporate sponsors to allow them to do this. In the first short-track run of 2013, the Subway Fresh Fit 500, the last place finisher was Scott Riggs with brake failure due to an early crash. And some of the Front Row Motorsports teams changed practice: Josh Wise in the #35 was a start-and-park driver in 2012, but in 2013, he started running races to completion, also picking up sponsorship from Blockbuster, while David Ragan and David Gilliland also picked up sponsors as well. Ragan and Gilliland then provided a 1-2 finish at Talladega, proving that FRM was not entirely backseat team. Indeed, the only example of start-and-park still running the majority of the schedule in this season were Phil Parsons Racing, Humphrey Smith Racing,note  and Leavine Family Racing, which only attempted 28 of 36 races.
    • And for 2014, all three of these teams have made major shifts - Humphrey Smith co-owner Mark Smith actually shut down his Cup entry at the end of the 2013 regular season, and the other co-owner Randy Humphrey struck out on his own. Once his new team, simply named Randy Humphrey Racing, finally qualified for a race, they demonstrated their intent to run full races most weeks, as they only fell out at the Texas race due to steering failure after completing 272 of 340 laps (however, due to qualifying struggles, Humphrey has since scaled back his operation to part time, mostly in order to continue being able to run full races). Meanwhile, Leavine reduced their schedule to 20 races but entered into an alliance with Penske and recruited driver Michael McDowell, who brought sponsorship from Christian radio station K-LOVE with him (they've also gained sponsorship from JPO Absorbents and Tommy Williams Drywall for a handful of events). Ironically, Parsons, despite losing both McDowell and K-LOVE (who were only sponsoring a handful of races anyway), went ahead and re-did the math on their team in order to be able to run full races each week despite near total lack of sponsorship. The only teams running start-and-park in 2014 are running extremely limited schedules, like the #87 out of NEMCO-JRR, now named Identity Ventures Racing (which also runs a full-distance entry, the #66 in association with MWR), which has made five attempts and two races after missing two of the first three, or the #93, a fourth entry out of BK Racing that's mostly used as a late entrynote  when the field would otherwise have fewer than 43 cars.
  • Palette Swap:
    • BK Racing's two cars, the #83 and the #93, had the exact same paint scheme in 2013 down to sponsor logo most weeks (both cars run Burger King decals due to owner Ron Devine self-funding the team through his chain of restaurants), except for the basic color (David Reutimann's #83 was red, while Travis Kvapil's #93 was blue). Observe.
      • Largely averted in 2014 - Alex Bowman's Dr. Pepper paint scheme on the renumbered #23 is distinctly different from Ryan Truex's Burger King scheme on the #83. And neither scheme has had much in common with most of the numerous schemes run by mid-season addition Cole Whitt in the #26, except for races where Whitt and Truex both ran the Burger King decals on mostly black racecars. (in those instances, Truex's number was white outlined in red while Whitt's was yellow outlined in white, and Truex also has exaggerated exhaust pipe decals as a leftover flourish from early season sponsor Borla Exhaust.).
    • BK's predecessor, Red Bull Racing, initially just used the exact same scheme on both cars, then played this trope straight from 2009 until their demise in 2011
  • Poor Communication Kills:
    • In the 2012 Lenox Industrial Tools 301, Denny Hamlin dominated for most of the race, but ended up losing to Kasey Kahne. Hamlin took four tires on his final pit stop when everybody else took two, as his crew chief took "just give me tires" as in no setup changes for four tires as opposed to two.
    • This also can also come into play when a driver misses/ignores his call into the pits altogether. For example, Carl Edwards stayed on the track at Bristol in the 2012 Night Race despite his crew chief calling him to the pits with about 140 laps to go, and ended up running out of fuel with four laps to go, taking him from a possible top ten to out of the top twenty.
    • There's also the Biffle/Puccia incident under Cluster F-Bomb, above, which may have derailed Biffle's entire season.
    • Sometimes failure on the spotter's behalf is what can cause a crash to occur. At Talladega in 2010, Jimmie Johnson crashed in a green-white-checkered attempt when his spotter told him the outside lane on the back straightaway was clear. So he moved up, was clipped by Greg Biffle, and crashed.
  • Power Limiter: Restrictor plates are meant to limit the car's maximum speed. They're only used at Daytona and Talledaga because of those tracks' size and steeply banked turns. The plates' speed reduction keeps the cars from going off the tracks, but it also causes the cars to bunch up since it's much harder to pull away from the pack, which almost inevitably leads to a Big One. Plates were introduced after a violent accident at Talladega in spring 1987 where Bobby Allison cut a tire, went airborne and his car tore out a large section of catch fencing in the tri-oval. Evidence from blowover wrecks, such as those taken by Rusty Wallace and Dale Earnhardt, during the 1990s indicates that the rooftop flaps, which break the airflow across the car and keep it planted on the ground during spins, fail above 204 mph, while the average lap speed at Talladega could reach anywhere between 215-230 mph without the plates (the Allison wreck itself took place at 210+ mph, and attempts to limit power by shrinking the superspeedway engines didn't work - Bill Elliott set a qualifying record of nearly 213 at Talladega in the fall of 1987).
    • The Truck Series didn't implement plates until 2008, despite first racing at Daytona in 2000, and Talladega in 2006. However, the trucks are inherently power limited by the nature of their aerodynamics, being far larger than the Cup and Nationwide cars, as well as having blockier noses.note  The trucks also use tapered carburetor spacers to limit airflow to the engine, as a substitute for the plates before 2008, and a supplement to them afterward.
  • Product Placement:
    • A good 50% of a race car's paint job is gonna be covered by advertisements. The drivers' and pit crews' fire suits are likewise smothered in brand logos. Sometimes, this can even affect the car numbers, such as the Richard Childress #30, which changed to #07 in 2005 after Jack Daniels came on as primary sponsor (the 7 car was in use at the time by ex-Childress driver Robby Gordon's self-owned team).
    • Almost every major race has a big-time sponsor whose name is mentioned right along with the track.
      • Unless you forget to pay ESPN; who will gladly dub your race "NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at X, presented by GoDaddy.com"
      • The Spring Talladega races, sponsored by Aaron's, (the 499 in Sprint Cup and the 312 in Nationwide) modify the advertised distance to fit in with the sponsor's slogans. In the Cup race, this has no impact on the actual distance, since mile markers 499 and 500 both take place on Lap 188 (still, the advertised distance is a misnomer more often than not, considering that the race has frequently been extended for a green-white-checkered finish, notably by twelve laps with three attempts in 2010). In the Nationwide race, four extra laps are added on to what would otherwise be a 300-mile, 113-lap event.
    • Most of the time, when a car comes in for fuel, it's going to be called "Sunoco racing fuel", with the company logo prominently displayed on the gas cans.
      • And the checkered flag. (Formerly, it was 'Unocal racing fuel' with the 76 logo on the flag.)
    • "ServiceMaster Clean Caution" ...seriously. Someone sponsors the friggin CAUTION LAPS! (at least, they do on the radio)
      • And the Free Pass, aka "Aaron's Lucky Dog".
    • Often sponsors and/or owners will advise the drivers to, during interviews, mention the sponsor or manufacturer at the first given opportunity ("Our Quicken Loans Chevrolet was performing well today..." is what will be said by Ryan Newman, for instance, while it would be "Our Mobil 1 Chevrolet" for Tony Stewart)!
    • Whenever a driver takes a drink of ANYTHING on camera, 99 times out of 100 you can expect the logo on the bottle/can to be carefully pointed toward the camera. Rumor has it every time they do that they get paid a bonus by that sponsor.
      • Taken Up to Eleven when Brad Keselowski won the championship in 2012, as sponsor Miller Lite gave him a pilsner glass which rivaled the Sprint Cup trophy itself in size, filled to the brim with their product. For extra points, Brad actually drank almost the whole thing right there on the championship stage, with the predicted side effects showing up during interviews with the media.
    • A few of the tracks have gone by sponsor names. For example, Charlotte Motor Speedway was known as Lowe's Motor Speedway throughout the 2000s. Interestingly, Jimmie Johnson took the Lowe's-sponsored 48 car to victory lane at the track four times in a row, and six times in total, during this period. Since Charlotte lost their track sponsorship, Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California is the only sponsor named track (as Infineon withdrew sponsorship of the Sonoma track, rendering it as Sonoma Raceway). All of the other tracks are named for the city or state they are in.
    • The onboard cameras have their own sponsor names (i.e. "Chevy In-Car Camera" has in 2012 been used for on-board cameras with Dale Earnhardt, Jr. for example). The external cameras used in these setups also have an uncanny knack of capturing sponsorships in otherwise improbable places (for example, inside the fuel port, odd spots on the wraparound headrests, and even on suspension pieces when cameras are placed inside the wheelwells).
      • Speaking of branded camera angles, the NASCAR on Fox gyro-cam, a new angle for 2013 that puts a camera on an adjustable mount with gyroscopes that adjust the angle to match that of the track's banking, was rebranded the "Fox Sports 1 Cam" after the official announcement of the new network in March.
  • Public Medium Ignorance / Snark Bait: A common saying is "Go Fast. Turn Left", which forgets that NASCAR has road course events.
    • South Park had an episode devoted entirely to mocking this phenomenon. The episode's title Poor and Stupid along with promos for it gave the impression they were making fun of NASCAR while the episode itself made fun of everyone who makes fun of NASCAR.
      • No Such Thing as Bad Publicity: The episode in question had decent approval from Danica Patrick, Jeff Gordon, and Jimmie Johnson. Gordon himself said, "To me, regardless of what the positive or negative spins are that all these shows put, I think it's still good publicity for the sport. Even if you're making fun of it, I think it's still getting attention. That's pretty cool for us."
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: Whenever a track qualifying record falls when Fox Sports is airing the session: "And it's a NEW! TRACK!! RECORD!!!"

[[/folder]]

[[folder: Tropes R-Y]]

  • Rainmaking: A popular joke among fans and broadcasters is that "if your area is experiencing an extended drought, just build a racetrack and invite the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series to town." This is due to the unusually high number of rainouts NASCAR has had in recent years, with the most notable being the 2012 Daytona 500, which had to be postponed to the next day due to rain.
    • In April 2010, the Aaron's 312 race in the Nationwide Series at Talladega was rained out on Saturday, and pushed back to the next day, which happened to be the scheduled race day for the Sprint Cup Series race, the Aaron's 499, creating a unique doubleheader (they resolved it by having the Nationwide race run after the Sprint Cup race). Many drivers and pit crews participated in both races. Remember that this is the Sprint Cup race that holds the all-time record for most leaders (29) and lead changes (88) in competition. Kevin Harvick actually came very close to sweeping both events, but a caution for a crash on the last lap in the Nationwide race kept him from passing Brad Keselowski.
    • A similar situation occurred in March 2014, when a rainout pushed the Truck Series race at Martinsville from its scheduled Saturday running into a doubleheader with the Sprint Cup race on Sunday. However, some quirks of Martinsville (most notably, the lower age limit at short tracks in the Trucks vs. the Cup seriesnote ) resulted in only one driver, Travis Kvapil, running both races, and he wasn't a factor in either. Both races were reported to have set lead change records for their respective series at Martinsville. In Cup, Kurt Busch finally busted an 83-race winless streak after besting Jimmie Johnson in a late duel, while in Trucks defending series champion Matt Crafton took home his first grandfather clock after several previous close calls.
    • Whenever rain washes out qualifying, the starting lineup is determined by car owner points and practice session speeds,note  as exemplified at both Talladega races in 2013 - both races featured 44 cars attempting to make the 43 car field, only to have the rain cancel both qualifying sessions. In each instance, the team sent home was an R&D entry from a major team, but running an extremely limited schedule - the Joe Gibbs #81 driven by Elliott Sadler in May, and the Penske #12 driven by Sam Hornish, Jr. in October.note  The rest of the field was then set based on the first practice session from the weekend.note  Also, NASCAR tends to throw a competition caution about 20-40 laps in depending on the track to allow cars to come in and check for tire wear and setup adjustments - the rule being that cars are not allowed to be fueled prior to this caution.
    • The Daytona 500 has had a share of rain incidents in the last six years:
      • 2009: Ended at 152 laps, 48 laps short of the finish, due to rain. Matt Kenseth won.
      • 2012: Rain delayed to Monday night. This race ended well after 1:00 AM EST on Tuesday morning due to the two hour red flag caused by Juan Pablo Montoya's car hitting the jet dryer (the other thing the race is remembered for). This Daytona 500 also went to Matt Kenseth.
      • 2014: Race interrupted by rain under caution 38 laps in, resulting in a 6 hour 22 minute rain delay during which the grandstands were cleared due to lightning and the threat of tornados. Fortunately, the racing was much more competitive when the race finally resumed under the lights, and even though there was a threat of further rain activity, the front in question stalled long enough to allow the race to run the rest of the way to completion. Additionally, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. won the race to break a 55 race winless streak, two things that at least made the race a bit better than the previous year's 500.
    • In 2014, rainmaking reached Overly Long Gag status, as only a handful of weekends have completely ducked rain.note  Among the ones that haven't:
      • All three series were affected at Daytona, with the Nationwide Series only running about 20 minutes of the first round of qualifying before the rains came,note  while the Trucks lost their qualifying session altogether and had their race delayed. The Daytona 500 issues are detailed above.
      • At Phoenix, a 70-day drought was broken the day of the Nationwide race in a Book Ends scenario - the first Cup practice of the day got off to a delayed start for track drying, and the Nationwide race itself was stopped 32 laps short of the end due to rain. Luckily the Cup cars dodged any rain the next day, despite a few pop ups being in the area.
      • Bristol encountered a similar scenario to the Daytona 500, with the addition of a 2-hour delay to the start of the race before the rains returned on lap 125 and pushed the rest of the race under the lights. And then, after the flagman accidentally triggered the caution lights with two laps to go, a sudden squall popped up and forced the race to end under caution.
      • Martinsville's issues primarily affected the Trucks, although a couple of Cup practices also got canceled on Saturday.
      • Texas saw the first instance of the season of a Cup race being forced to the next day, as the rains refused to clear until Monday, and even then they started the race under caution to finish drying the track, only going green on lap 10. (a similar scenario last occurred in the 2004 Pepsi 400)
      • Richmond saw rains come on Friday just after Nationwide qualifying and before the Cup session, moving their line-up to the rulebook (starting lineup set by practice speeds), and then pushed the Nationwide race back by nearly two hours and sent the K&N East race, originally scheduled for just after, over to Saturday morning.
      • Kansas saw a 20-minute delay to the start of the Cup race due to a thunderstorm in the area, with the race only starting after it switched directions and moved off to the north of the track. And even then, for the first 10 or so laps, NASCAR only let Fox use the robotic cameras due to the potential safety risk posed to the camera operators.
      • All-Star Weekend saw rains on Thursday, which canceled a pair of Truck practices, but the rest of the weekend in Charlotte went alright and the Nationwide stand-alone in Iowa was completely unaffected.
      • Dover, which saw the first convergence of all three series at the same track since Daytona, was affected in much the same way as All-Star Weekend, with only the Trucks getting hit, and only on Thursday. The main difference was that with no scheduled Truck practice on Friday, NASCAR decided to replace their qualifying with a practice session and set the starting grid by the rulebook, which didn't happen at Charlotte.
      • Pocono somehow managed to be affected without rain ever actually falling on the track during the weekend - first practice on Friday had to be red-flagged for a half hour due to "weepers", a phenomenon where rainwater trapped under the track forces its way up through the seams in the asphalt and starts trickling down the surface. These were likely caused by rain that had fallen in the days leading up to the start of on-track activities.
      • The Cup cars in Sonoma got bright sunny skies for their entire weekend. The Nationwide cars at Road America in Wisconsin got a canceled practice session on Friday and a quandary on Saturday - when rain fell on the pace laps, it wasn't over enough of the massive 4-mile track to allow them to switch to the treaded rain tires that are only used at road courses,note  but it was also unsafe to run dry-weather tires. As a result, the cars were called back to pit road and the race delayed for an hour. And then a much bigger cell that had been brewing all day passed over the entire track at halfway, after which the cars switched to the rain tires, a sight not seen since Montreal in 2008.
      • The rain was more on the periphery at Kentucky, as a small storm cloud created some drama in Cup qualifying before breaking up just short of the track, while the race itself had a competition caution after a pre-race downpour.
      • The summer Daytona race saw rain cut Sprint Cup qualifying short, and also caused a wreck in Nationwide Series qualifying, although both series completed enough of the sessions to set their fields based off first round results, which led to some weird outcomesnote . The start of the Nationwide race was then delayed by 90 minutes. The Coke Zero 400, scheduled to run Saturday night, was postponed to Sunday morning at 11:00 AM EST, the first time the summer race was held as a day race since 1997. This led to the irony that rain had caused the Daytona 500 (normally a day race) to become a mostly-night race while the Coke Zero 400 (normally a night race) became a day race. And then, there were two red flags for rain in the race, with the second on lap 113 eventually causing the first shortened race of the season, which handed a surprise victory to Aric Almirola two days after the 30th anniversary of boss Richard Petty's final Sprint Cup win.note 
      • The rain thankfully stayed away at New Hampshire, although the Truck Series stand-alone at Iowa saw a canceled practice session.
      • At Indianapolis, the Cup cars saw a significantly delayed and shortened Saturday practice due to an early-morning storm, and both the Nationwide and Cup races had competition cautions. And the Trucks, running at the dirt track at Eldora on Wednesday, also saw plenty of rain throughout their day there, which caused the composition of the dirt on the track to change fairly significantly from the first running of the race in 2013.note 
      • Pocono in August narrowly avoided having rain actually affect any of the NASCAR events, aside from having the Cup race's start time pushed up. However, the semi-affiliated ARCA Racing Seriesnote  did have a delayed start for their race.
      • Michigan in August saw a competition caution due to an early morning downpour, and there was actually an observable fine mist accumulating on the roof cams (but not the track; this is more common than it sounds) throughout the race.
      • The Bristol Night Race tripleheader got off to its annual "early start" relative to other race weekends, with the Trucks running on Wednesday night due to space constraints inside the infield. Unfortunately, the rain decided to get an early start of its own and pushed them to Thursday morning. Then, on Friday, just as it looked like a cell that had been threatening the track throughout Cup qualifying was going to pass by harmlessly, it instead passed over in the middle of the Nationwide pre-race, delaying the green flag by over an hour. Thankfully, all the rain was out in time for the Cup race, which was run under near-cloudless skies.
      • The rain retreated back into the background at Atlanta, only affecting Nationwide qualifying, and even then only with a delay.
      • It then came roaring back to the forefront at Richmond, flooding the Nationwide section of the infield on Thursday shortly after their second practice was called due to the associated lightning.
      • Rain washed out Sprint Cup qualifying in Chicagoland and bumped the Truck race from Friday to Saturday night, after the Nationwide race. Both Nationwide and Sprint Cup races were all run under clear skies, though.
  • Real Men Wear Pink: This is beginning to become a common sight in October, as a tie-in to Breast Cancer Awareness Month, which has pink as its official color.
    • One example in 2013 was when both Matt Kenseth and Brian Vickers, at the time driving the Dollar General-sponsored Joe Gibbs #20 cars in Sprint Cup and Nationwide, respectively, ran bright pink schemes at Charlotte instead of Dollar General's normal bright yellow colors, with the firesuits to match. Charlotte itself repainted the start-finish line with pink checkers instead of the usual white.
    • Clint Bowyer is also well-known for this, as 5-Hour Energy has used a pink paint scheme to promote a special strawberry flavor in October since 2012, with a portion of the profits going to breast cancer research. Bowyer won the 2012 Charlotte race with this scheme.
  • Rule of Three: Or as it should probably called here, the "Rule of Dale Earnhardt". Every three years beginning from Dale Earnhardt's sole Daytona 500 win in 1998, someone related to him has won the Great American Race: his driver Michael Waltrip won the race Earnhardt died at in 2001, his son Dale Earnhardt, Jr. in 2004, Earnhardt's Richard Childress Racing replacement Kevin Harvick in 2007, and the merged DEI/Chip Ganassi team's Jamie McMurray in 2010 (another case of the trope, as he won the first race of the season in his first start in the #1 Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet). The streak was broken in 2013 when Jimmie Johnson won, but Dale Earnhardt, Jr. was a close second. Dale Jr. did, however, win in 2014.
    • Following Dale Earnhardt's death, 3 seemed to be a recurring motif throughout the rest of the season. For example:
      • His replacement driver Kevin Harvick won in his third start (the Cracker Barrel Old Country Store 500 at Atlanta) in a photo-finish with Jeff Gordon, then a three time champion (he'd add his fourth that year).
      • Dale Earnhardt, Jr. won three races in 2001 (the Pepsi 400 at Daytona, the Cal Ripkin, Jr. 400 at Dover (which also was the first NASCAR race to be held following the 9/11 attacks), and the EA Sports 500 at Talladega). He also led the most laps at all three. You notice that two of those races were restrictor plate races, and Dale Earnhardt was one of the best restrictor plate drivers.
    • Of Dale Earnhardt's seven NASCAR Winston Cup Championships, six of them came in pairs of two (1986-1987, 1990-1991, and 1993-1994).
      • He also won championships with three different crew chiefs (Doug Richert in 1980, Kirk Shelmerdine in '86, '87, '90 and '91, and Andy Petree in '93 and '94).
    • Richard Childress Racing has won three Brickyard 400s with three different drivers using three different car numbers: Earnhardt (#3) in 1995, Kevin Harvick (#29) in 2003, and Paul Menard (#27) in 2011.
    • Currently, the three networks (four if you count ESPN and ABC separately) like to employ teams of three announcers/commentators in the race booth. They are as follows:
      • Fox: Mike Joy, Larry McReynolds and Darrell Waltrip
      • TNT: Adam Alexander, Kyle Petty and Wally Dallenbach
      • ESPN/ABC: Allen Bestwick, Andy Petree and Dale Jarrett
      • When NBC aired NASCAR races: Allen Bestwick (2001-2004) or Bill Weber (2005-2006), Wally Dallenbach Jr., and Benny Parsons
      • In the ESPN and Fox cases the backgrounds of the commentators are all the same: one sports broadcaster (Allen Bestwick and Mike Joy), one former crew chief (Larry McReynolds and Andy Petree), and a retired driver (Darrell Waltrip and Dale Jarrett). NBC and TNT teams had two former drivers (Wally Dallenbach and Kyle Petty). The future NBC team from 2015 onward will be like the Fox team (Rick Allen as the broadcaster, Jeff Burton as the ex-driver, and Steve Letarte as the ex-crew chief).
    • The last three races of the regular season (Irwin Tools Night Race at Bristol, AdvoCare 500 at Atlanta, and Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond) are all held under the lights. This is the only part of the season with more than two such points-paying events in a row.note 
      • And at least until 2014, Fox's portion of the season (the first 13 races plus the All Star Race and Sprint Unlimited) also included April and May having six weeks that alternated between day note  and nightnote  races. That changed in 2014 when the Texas race became a Sunday afternoon race and it and the Martinsville race were bumped up a week in the Realignment, Darlington took Texas's spot, Kansas's weekend became the spring off-weekend, while Kansas's race became a Saturday night race and moved to the Mother's Day weekend slot that Darlington used to occupy. Of the April and May races, only the Richmond and Talladega race dates (race 9 and race 10) did not change.
    • Three drivers have won a race on their birthday: Cale Yarborough, Kyle Busch, and Matt Kenseth. For the latter, it was in his third start for Joe Gibbs Racing.
    • Three drivers made their Sprint Cup debut in the 2013 Bank of America 500 at Charlotte: Kyle Larson, driving the Phoenix Racing #51 with special Target sponsorship; Brian Scott, driving the #33 as a Richard Childress Racing entrynote  with Shore Lodge on the hood; and Blake Koch, driving the Leavine Family Racing #95. As for their results:
      • Koch was running nine laps down when he reported a vibration, and the team subsequently decided to retire the car, finishing 38th.
      • Larson seemed well on his way to at least a top 20 finish until his engine expired, relegating him to 37th.
      • Scott dropped four laps to the leaders and wound up 27th.
    • Three national touring series: Sprint Cup, Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series.
    • The last three weekends of the season (the fall dates at Texas and Phoenix, and Ford Championship Weekend at Homestead-Miami) are all held as tripleheader weekends, with all three series at the same track. For Cup, this wraps up 17 weeks of consecutive dates. For Nationwide, this comes after a two-week break following their companion event with Cup at Charlotte. For the Trucks, it's five straight companion events, which come after a two week break following their last stand-alone at Las Vegas.
    • As of 2013, three manufacturers: Chevrolet, Ford and Toyota.
    • Prior to 2005, the record for most cautions in a Sprint Cup race was 20, tied on three separate occasions (April 1989, April 1997, August 2003) at Bristol Motor Speedway. As of 2013, those three races are tied for third place in the record books, behind the notorious 2005 Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte (22 cautions), and the October 2007 race at Martinsville Speedway (21 cautions).
    • Hendrick Motorsports is the only team to win Sprint Cup championships with three different drivers (Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson and Terry Labonte). Their current line-up also contains three multi-time winners of the Coca-Cola 600 (Jimmie Johnson with four, Jeff Gordon and Kasey Kahne with three each, the last of whom drives the same car number Terry Labonte piloted with Hendrick), and three multiple time Daytona 500 winners (Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and Jimmie Johnson with two each, and Jeff Gordon with three).
    • Starting in 2015, the three major summer holiday weekends (Memorial Day, July 4th and Labor Day) will all have Sprint Cup races running in primetime on Sunday:
      • The Memorial Day weekend race, the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte, has been run on Sunday night since 1993.
      • The Labor Day race, now back at Darlington, has been run in primetime since 2004, although it's only been a "true" night race since 2009, the year Atlanta took over from Auto Club Speedway, which was forced to run about half the race under the sun in order to facilitate a 7pm start for East Coast viewers. Darlington itself ran a day-into-night race in November 2004 after installing their lights, and then ran Saturday night races from 2005-'14.
      • The July 4th race, the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona, was run on the Saturday night closest to the actual date from 1998-2014, and was moved forward a day for the 2015 schedule.
    • As of 2014, three California natives have won the Sprint Cup: Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson and Kevin Harvick.
    • Tony Stewart's major season long accolades have come in intervals of three years, with one exception: Rookie of the Year in 1999 (with three wins), first driver's championship in 2002, second driver's championship in 2005, 2008 is the exception (although he would declare his intentions to buy into Gene Haas' team that season), third driver's and first owner's championship in 2011, second owner's championship in 2014 (for Kevin Harvick).
    • Three Toyota Tundras doing burnouts on the frontstretch at Homestead following the 2014 Ford EcoBoost 200: Back-to-back driver's champion Matt Crafton (#88), back-to-back owner's champion Kyle Busch (#51) and race winner Darrell Wallace, Jr (#54). While Crafton did donuts on his own, Wallace formed up with his boss Busch to do face-to-face burnouts to celebrate the generally awesome season that Toyota and Kyle Busch Motorsports in particular had in the Trucks - the win was Wallace's fourth of the season, and Kyle and Erik Jones had combined to nab ten more in the #51 on the way to the owner's title.note  (and a full-time ride for Jones in 2015) Crafton, driving for ThorSport Racing, had made his own history by being the first Trucker to go back-to-back in the history of the series, also managing to win two races in one season for the first time in his career.note 
  • Running Gag:
    • Through the first twelve races of the 2013 season, it seemed like there was a points or monetary penalty, or some kind of altercation, in at least one of the three national series every week, whether that be reckless driving, Foot-In-Mouth Syndrome, or major parts violations.
      • At Texas alone, three separate drivers were hit with the last type - the Penske cars of Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski got docked 25 points for illegal rear-end parts that failed pre-race inspection, and Martin Truex, Jr. had a six point penalty after the front end failed to meet minimum height in post-race inspection.
      • The following week at Kansas, Matt Kenseth won the pole, led the most laps, and won the race, getting 48 points, but then got a 50 point penalty and his Coors Light pole reward revoked because of an engine part violation (though he got it back by winning the pole the following week at Richmond), which also would lead to a temporary suspension of crew chief Jason Ratcliff. He had his point penalty reduced when Joe Gibbs appealed the penalty, though the penalty did not slow down Kenseth's momentum, as he led the most laps at the two races after the one where he received his penalty (Richmond and Talladega), and won Darlington even though he had a temporary crew chief, Wally Brown.
      • Then at Richmond, there were some bumps between Kurt Busch and Tony Stewart on the cool-down lap.
      • At Daytona for the Coke Zero 400, sixteen Cup Series Ford and Toyota teams (Roush Fenway and Penske with Fords, MWR and JGR with Toyotas, among others) were discovered to have illegal roof flap spacers during inspection prior to the first practice sessions. Many of these teams braced for stiff penalties (only one Chevrolet team had illegal spacers, and that was Jamie McMurray). 15 Nationwide Series teams were found with the same violation. Ultimately the extent of the violations meant that no penalties were issued for "Roofflapgate", owing to how the points would be very shaken up if penalties were given.
      • Denny Hamlin (who himself was fined $25,000 after criticizing the Gen-6 car at Phoenix) even lampshaded this, joking that he'd be the points leader if they kept docking points from the rest of the field. Keep in mind, he'd already missed five races due to a fractured vertebra at Auto Club.
      • On a related note, since about 2010, it seems like every time a parts violation goes up on appeal, it gets reduced, especially if it makes it to Chief Appellate Officer John Middlebrook (who's only completely upheld one penalty out of the six appeals he's heard since getting the office in 2010). For example, he completely rescinded Jimmie Johnson's 2012 parts violation from the Daytona 500, except for the monetary fines leveled against Chad Knaus (but since Knaus was also facing a multi-race suspension, that was still a big win). Of the two big parts violations in the first quarter of 2013, he reduced suspensions on the Penske crew chiefs, car chiefs and team engineers, as well as the team's competition director, from six races to two (although he upheld the 25 point penalties sent to Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano). Meanwhile, it didn't sound like he would hear Matt Kenseth's engine penalty from Kansas - the three-man Appeals Board that forms round one of the appeals process already reduced Kenseth's points penalty from 50 (when he scored 48 points for the win) down to 12, restored the win's contribution to Chase points and/or Wildcard eligibility, reduced crew chief Jason Ratcliff's suspension from six races to one, and rescinded the six-week revocation of Joe Gibbs' owner license, which would've prevented the #20 from scoring owners points (which are used to determine priority for provisional spots if a driver doesn't qualify in the top 36 on time).note 
    • There's no doubt that the Generation 6 car has a lot more speed in it than the Generation 5 car ever had. How much so? The Gen-6 platform set new qualifying speed records at fourteen of the 26 regular season races, with three new records after seven Chase races. This includes a streak late March through mid-April of four records in a row, and another in July through mid-August where there were new qualifying records in five straight points races:
      1. Phoenix served as a prelude to this - while it wasn't a track record, it was a record for the spring race (Mark Martin, 26.073 seconds. note )
      2. Bristol (Kyle Busch, 14.813 seconds)
      3. Martinsville (Jimmie Johnson, 19.244 seconds)
      4. Texas (Kyle Busch again, 27.509 seconds)
      5. Kansas (Matt Kenseth, 28.145 seconds)
      6. Richmond (Matt Kenseth again, 20.716 seconds)
      7. Darlington (Kurt Busch, 27.032 seconds)
      8. Charlotte (Denny Hamlin, 27.604 seconds)
      9. Kentucky (Dale Earnhardt, Jr., 29.406 seconds)
      10. New Hampshire (Brad Keselowski, 28.022 seconds)
      11. Indianapolis (Ryan Newman, 47.992 seconds)
      12. Pocono (Jimmie Johnson, 49.819 seconds)
      13. Watkins Glen (Marcos Ambrose, 1 minute, 8.777 seconds)
      14. Michigan (Joey Logano, 35.303 seconds)
      15. Richmond was the first instance of a record set in the spring being topped in the fall (Jeff Gordon, 20.674 seconds)note 
      16. New Hampshire saw the repeat of the first race's qualifying record being topped in the fall race (Ryan Newman, 27.904 seconds)
      17. Dover (Dale Earnhardt, Jr., 22.243 seconds)
      18. Martinsville became the third track to see a spring qualifying record topped in the fall (Denny Hamlin, 19.013 seconds)
      19. Phoenix became the fourth track to see a spring qualifying record get broken (Jimmie Johnson, 25.858 seconds)
      20. Phoenix's track record was once again broken the following spring (Brad Keselowski, 25.828 seconds)
      21. Las Vegas saw its qualifying record broken in 2014note  (Joey Logano, 27.939 seconds)
      22. Bristol rebroke its qualifying record in March 2014 (Denny Hamlin, 14.761 seconds)
    • Ryan Newman wrecking at Talladega has sort of become a gag of the last four years. Especially wrecks that involve someone flipping. This record seems to stretch all the way to April 2009:
      • April 2009: Struck Carl Edwards on the last lap in the renowned catchfence accident, though he was third behind Brad Keselowski and Dale Earnhardt, Jr.
      • November 2009: Blew over in the back straightaway on lap 183 and landed on top of Kevin Harvick, then flipped a few more times and ended up on his roof
      • April 2010: Was turned by Joey Logano on lap 188 in turn 4 and started a ten car crash
      • April 2011: Involved in a late race bump with Juan Pablo Montoya and then spun a few laps later
      • October 2011: Crashed after being dumped by Tony Stewart on lap 81
      • May 2012 averted this: he dropped out with engine failure
      • October 2012 also an aversion: Newman missed a 25 car wreck on the last lap and had a top-ten finish.
      • May 2013: Was in the top-ten on lap 182 when he got into a 13 car wreck that saw Kurt Busch flip and land on top of him
    • Kasey Kahne has been wrecked by Kyle Busch three times in the first 11 races of the 2013 season: at Daytona, it happened on lap 33 at the front of the pack, and the result was a seven car wreck at the entrance to turn 1. At Talladega, Kahne was on the outside of Jimmie Johnson on lap 43 when approaching turn 1, Busch turned him into the wall. Kahne came back down on Busch and an additional 12 cars were collected. The following week at Darlington, Kahne knocked the wall after trying to challenge Busch for the lead.
  • Scandalgate:
    • Bobby Allison's controversial 1982 Daytona 500 win is called Bumpergate as it was alleged the crew had rigged his car so that the rear bumper would fall off early, as tests had shown that the car ran faster without the bumper.
    • The 2002 Daytona 500 is also known as Fendergate. Sterling Marlin spun Jeff Gordon on a late restart, rubbing a tire against the fender. The cars were stopped under a red flag to try to finish the race under green flag conditions. Marlin got out and pulled on the fender, which of course you are not allowed to do under the red flag. The result was that everyone in America saw this idiotic move, and he had to take a stop-and-go penalty, losing to Ward Burton as a consequence.
    • The rash of illegal roof flap spacers found at Daytona International Speedway during the 2013 July 4th weekend (31 violations across Sprint Cup and Nationwide) is being referred to by some as Roofflapgate.
    • Clint Bowyer's spin at Richmond in September 2013 is alternately referred to as Spingate or Spinnergate, as there is a sizeable contingent of fans, drivers (such as Dale Earnhardt, Jr., who was right behind Bowyer and had the best view), and quite a few commentators who believe (or at least suspect) he intentionally spun himself out in an attempt to benefit teammate Martin Truex, Jr.
      1. The in-car camera footage and team audio seems to support this, with crew chief Brian Pattie pointing out Ryan Newman taking the lead and then asking a suspicious string of questions mere seconds before Bowyer spun.
      2. Bowyer claimed it was a flat tire that sent him around, and indeed the right front was down after the spin, but the behavior of his car was noted to be inconsistent with the normal behavior of a car with that condition (which is - for example like when Dale Earnhardt, Jr. blew his right front at Michigan in August - for the car to wash up the track and slam the outside wall with its right side without steering, then come back down onto the track, rather than spinning onto the apron. A spin like Bowyer's onto the apron is only unintentional if it is because the car's handling suddenly snaps loose in the turn without warning, like the way Kyle Busch crashed his car at Kansas in April), not to mention that the popping noise associated with a flat tire only happened after the spin.
      3. Without the spin, Newman would very likely have won the race and taken the second Wildcard over Truex. The ensuing pit stops under the resulting caution put Newman back to sixth and allowed Truex to squeak into the Wildcard on a tiebreaker. The incident also adversely affected Jeff Gordon, as without the caution, he would have squeezed Joey Logano out for 10th place due to Logano being two laps down while Gordon was running eighth. Logano took advantage of the caution to take the wave-around, and wound up improving four spots while Gordon was unable to improve his previous running position and got squeezed out of 10th (and the Chase) by a single point due to Logano now being able to improve his own running position. Even this part of it was manipulated by the MWR drivers - both Bowyer and Brian Vickers were ordered to make unnecessary green flag pit stops on the ensuing restart by GM of Competition Ty Norris, in order to cede their positions on the track to Logano, since he would've taken the second Wildcard instead of Truex if Gordon squeezed him out of the top ten in points.
      4. However, NASCAR almost immediately announced that the incident was under review, and on the following Monday threw the book at MWR : Bowyer lost fifty points, assessed to his pre-seeding total. Truex also lost fifty points, again assessed to his pre-seeding total, meaning he was thrown out of the Chase and his spot given to Newman. Even Vickers, who isn't eligible to receive Sprint Cup points, was nailed with this penalty, meaning he'll finish dead last in the 2013 standings. All three teams were also hit with owner point penalties, along with a $300,000 fine, their crew chiefs were put on probation for the remainder of the year, and Ty Norris was indefinitely suspended. The next week, Truex's sponsor NAPA Auto Parts decided to abort their partnership with the team effective at the end of 2013, with two years left on their most recent agreement with the team. This ultimately led to the #56 becoming a part-time team, with Truex ultimately moving to Furniture Row Racing's freed-up #78. note  In addition, the 50 points docked from Bowyer is just a slap on the wrist, since they were docked from his pre-Chase points total, and he was over 50 points ahead of 10th place, meaning there's no change to his seed, not to mention that 5-Hour Energy's review of their deal ended with them staying on the #15.
      5. Allegations then arose of Logano and Penske Racing collaborating with Front Row Motorsports to have David Gilliland give up a spot to Logano on the track via an arrangement,note  so that Logano clinched tenth by one point over Jeff Gordon. NASCAR put both teams on probation for the year, and citing "unfair disadvantages" that Bowyer's spin and Logano's actions had done, compensated by adding Gordon to the Chase field, although Logano was allowed to keep his Chase spot. Logano would fall victim to karma in the first Chase race at Chicagoland, being one of two Chasers to blow an engine,note  and ultimately ended up finishing eighth in the points.
    • The controversy that arose around Joe Gibbs Racing's airguns at Atlanta in August 2014 was dubbed Airgungate by NBC Sports Network's NASCAR America. The guns on Matt Kenseth and Denny Hamlin's pit crews were noted as having a higher pitch than the guns used by the rest of the field, including polesitter Kevin Harvick, who had the dominant car on the track but kept losing the lead to Hamlin on pit road after the #11 crew knocked down a string of sub-12 second pit stops. Nothing came of this, as NASCAR announced that the guns, for whatever differences they may have had, were still within the rulebook. Not to mention that none of these drivers won - Harvick wound up wrecked on a green-white-checkered restart, while Hamlin restarted on the outside of Kenseth on the final green-white-checkered and, thanks to Atlanta's notoriously slick outside frontstretch, spun his tires. Kenseth in turn had only taken only two tires on his final pit stop, and ended up getting overhauled by Kasey Kahne, running on four fresh tires and having restarted on the inside of row two on the final GWC.
  • Score Multiplier: In 1974, the points were multiplied by races a driver competed in as an incentive to run the full schedule.
  • Second Place Is for Losers: Played up in the Daytona 500 more than any other race. In most cases, the runner-upnote  is forgotten the next morning...and the few instances that said runner-up are actually remembered are usually instances like Tony Stewart in 2004 or Dale Earnhardt's second place finishes to Dale Jarrett in 1993 and 1996, where it's only brought up as part of the "jinx" these drivers seemingly had/have in The Great American Race. Bear in mind, these two examples are NASCAR drivers who won multiple Sprint Cup championships, not to mention that their stats at Daytona in general are actually quite impressive.note 
  • Special Effects Failure: invoked
    • On lap 122 of the 2013 Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte, one of the cables supporting a FOX Sports Skycam hanging over the front straightaway broke, causing cable to fall onto the track and the turn 4 grandstands, injuring ten spectators, and giving significant damage to Kyle Busch, Marcos Ambrose, and several other cars. A temporary red flag was brought out, but unlike normal circumstances, NASCAR allowed those drivers with damage a 15 minute period to repair their cars without any penalties or loss of positions, given that this was caused by something beyond NASCAR's control.
    • The 2014 Truck Series race at Phoenix was book-ended by a region-wide power failure that prevented the track from being able to run the full batter of track lights that NASCAR needs to be able to run night races. The initial failure led to an approximately one-hour delay while local substations struggled to resolve the issue, and shots during the race showed the rest of the surrounding suburb of Avondale still in darkness even in the middle of the race. Ultimately, the power would fail again 24 laps from the end, and with warnings from the local power company that they could not reliably provide power to run the lights even if they got it back, NASCAR decided to call the race, giving defending race winner Erik Jones his second straight at the track.note 
      • Similarly, there was a partial power failure midway through the 5-Hour Energy 400 at Kansas Speedway in the spring when the lights on the outside of the backstretch failed for about 15 to 30 laps. The race was not stopped because the backstretch was still lit by the track lights on the infield.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Kurt Busch is a fan of Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, and has driven Ricky Bobby cars at Talladega's two Sprint Cup races. The two times he did it probably were also Self-Deprecation, since the premise of the movie is that Ricky Bobby's high flying career at a high profile race team suddenly unwinds due to off-track and on-track antics and he must work to rebuild himself and his reputation with an independent team, a story that can easily be used to describe Busch's 2012 and 2013 seasons by substituting every instance of "Dennit Racing" with "Team Penske", Larry Dennit with Roger Penske, and so on. note 
      • In May 2012, Busch's Phoenix Racing #51 Chevrolet received the "ME" paint scheme with a cougar on the hood of the car (the paint job of the car Ricky Bobby drives when he makes his comeback race). In every way except for the number (Ricky's in the movie was #62), it was a spot on accurate recreation (even though this was being done with a Gen 5 car instead of a Gen 4 car), achieved by acquiring the rights from the movie's producers.
      • In the October 2013 race, Busch's Furniture Row #78 Chevrolet took on Wonder Bread, who sponsors Ricky Bobby's in-universe ride at Dennit Racing in the first part of Talladega Nights. This one was both as a shoutout, and also was for sponsorship dollars, as Wonder Bread had signed on and endorsed this as part of their re-launch following Hostess' bankruptcy and sell-off of their sub-brands (of which Wonder Bread was one; it's now owned by Flower Foods).
    • Both Busch brothers are also fans of Days Of Thunder, as Kyle has the nickname "Rowdy Busch" while Kurt drove a car with the City Chevrolet paint scheme in a Nationwide race at Daytona in July 2013.
  • Super Road Course Ringer: Subverted on road courses. Road course specialists from other forms of racing rarely beat the regulars, whose experience from low-banked short ovals translates well to road courses. Recent years have only played up this subversion, to the point where the "ringers" often don't even have the equipment to run in the top thirty (even ten years ago, some of the best ringers, like Boris Said and Ron Fellows, were capable of pulling off top ten finishes).
    • Similarly, Michael Waltrip at the restrictor plate races (where all four of his Cup wins have come from). He hasn't won since he focused on being a plate track ringer, but he's still capable of running at the front; he finished 4th in the May 2013 race at Talladega, even providing some drafting assistance that allowed David Ragan to win, and had a chance to win the October 2012 race at Talladega before Tony Stewart blocked him and caused a last lap crash.
    • Within the same team, Brian Vickers has been playing both road course and short track ringer since his hiring. Since he's actually double subverted the trope with some strong top fives in that time, even winning at New Hampshire in July 2013 before returning full-time in the car in 2014.
    • Road course ringers have had more success in Nationwide and Truck Series races though, where power teams, often those using Sprint Cup drivers in companion events, are more eager to offer their rides to established ringers. Ron Fellows and Boris Said both have multiple victories across these two series, with others such as Max Papis and Jacques Villeneuve in contention several times. Juan Montoya's Mexico City win in 2007, and AJ Allmendinger's Road America and Mid-Ohio wins in 2013, could also count for this, as Montoya's Cup career was still in its infancy, and Allmendinger was splitting his schedule between Cup and Indy Car.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Sonoma replaced Riverside in 1989 when the latter shut down. Both were road courses in California in dusty terrain at least in summer. At that time tracks outside the Southeast were rare, and Watkins Glen in New York was the only other road course (which still applies, at least in the Cup seriesnote ).
  • Synchronous Episodes: Up until the 1960s there were points-paying races in different locations on the same day, usually one in the Southeast and one on the West Coast. Naturally no driver competed in both events, and the full-time drivers stayed in the Southeast.
    • In 2013, NASCAR decided to return road course racing to the Camping World Truck Series (the last such event being Watkins Glen in June 2000) by slotting a race at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park in Bowmanville, Ontario. This race was run on Labor Day Sunday, a few hours before the Sprint Cup Series race at Atlanta Motor Speedway. It managed to make an immediate impact on fans when the top four at the white flag tangled in two separate accidents in the final corner, with three of them failing to make it back to the checkers. The one who did was Chase Elliott, who set new records for the youngest winner in the Truck Series, and the first driver under 18 to win on NASCAR's national level,note  after surviving a bad block by Ty Dillon, which sent them both into the outside tire barrier. Also notable was a post-race incident called "The Pap-Slap", wherein Mike Skeen's girlfriend slapped Max Papis across the face after Papis and Skeen wrecked each other battling for third.note  Because of the event's popularity, it will return on the same date in 2014.
      • By the time the Trucks got back there in 2014, Mosport, as the track is commonly known, had already been announced to return on Labor Day Sunday again in 2015, this time running day-and-date with Darlington. Fittingly, the 2014 event ended with another classic finish - this time, after dueling bumper-to-bumper for the final several laps, Ryan Blaney briefly lost the lead to German Quiroga through turn nine, only to get it back with a brilliant crossover move in turn ten that led to a photo finish.
  • Talkative Loon: NASCAR on FOX analyst and three time Cup champion Darrell Waltrip. Hence his nickname, "Jaws", given to him by Cale Yarborough after a run-in between the two at the 1977 Southern 500.
  • Technology Marches On: Originally, the sorts of cars in these kinds of races were like the cars on the roads. But some bans on unfair cutting-edge tech were not lifted even when the tech became common. NASCAR cars were required to have carburetors long after most cars on American streets used fuel injection. Fuel injection (banned since the late 1950s!) didn't come to Sprint Cup until 2012, and the Nationwide Series still uses carburetors, likely because of a piece called a tapered spacer, which is used at all tracks to limit horsepower, both for safety and to handicap specific manufacturers (i.e. Toyota, who cleaned up Nationwide in 2008 in a manner similar to Chevy in '57, when the original fuel injection ban went into place).
  • Tempting Fate:
    • In the 2013 Aaron's 499 at Talladega, the NASCAR on FOX commentators and Denny Hamlinnote  were commenting on lap 182 that there was no way the field would be able to complete the last six laps without there being a big crash. Hamlin was making the strongest predictions of a wreck. Literally within seconds of one comment from Darrell Waltrip about the likeliness of a wreck occurring (with darkness approaching), Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. tried to squeeze between J.J. Yeley and the outside wall, sending Yeley across Marcos Ambrose and starting a frightening 13 car wreck that saw Kurt Busch flip once and land on top of Ryan Newman, also ending the day for Clint Bowyer, Danica Patrick and several others.
    • The commentators in general like to do this at plate races. When the field crossed the white flag at the 2012 Camping World RV Sales 500 at Talladega in four-wide formation about eight rows deep, Allen Bestwick's commentary included the question "Will they make it back?!" which was answered moments later when a bad block by Tony Stewart trying to stop Michael Waltrip from taking the lead in turn four caused a 23-car pile-up.
    • At the 2003 Aaron's 499 at Talladega, on lap 4, the FOX team started to comment about how the previous day, in the Busch race, the Big One had occurred when Johnny Sauter blew a tire in turn 4. As soon as Joy said that, Ryan Newman blew a tire in turn 1 and started a 27 car crash.
  • 10-Minute Retirement: Mark Martin has been going through this trope since the 2004 announcement that he would retire after the '05 season. Originally, Carl Edwards was Martin's designated successor in the 6 car, but with Jeff Burton's career going down in flames during the '04 seasonnote , Jack Roush was forced to call Edwards onto the Cup tour more than a year ahead of schedulenote , and place him in the 99 instead of the 6, which he still drives today. Martin extended his retirement tour with Roush into the '06 season after being informed that neither of Roush's development drivers (Todd Kluever and David Ragan) would be ready for Cup full-time until at least '07. While Roush placed Ragan in the 6 for '07, Martin decided not to fully retire, as was his original plan, and instead moved to a part-time role at MB 2 Motorsports, later moving to DEI after MB 2 folded into them. Then Hendrick Motorsports coaxed Martin into returning full time in the #5 car, which had floundered throughout '08 with Casey Mears. In 2009, Martin had a strong season, winning five races, making the Chase, and finishing the runner-up to teammate Jimmie Johnson in the points standings at the end of the year, and drove the car full-time for 2010 and 2011 as well. Once Kasey Kahne came over to take the 5 car, Martin once again only semi-retired. Even then, his current contract with Michael Waltrip Racing had him driving the #55 Aaron's Dream Machine Toyota in 25 of the 36 races of both 2012 and 2013 (with Waltrip and Brian Vickers splitting the remaining races). Still, Martin's starts are quite impressive: 4 top-five finishes, and 9 top-five finishes, plus three pole positions.
  • The Roast: On February 19, 2011, during the Daytona 500 weekend, Kevin Harvick's sponsor Budweiser hosted "The Roast of Kevin Harvick".
  • They Call Me Mister Tibbs: It is always the legendary Junior Johnson.
  • Thirteen Is Unlucky: Averted in that NASCAR allows for the selection of the #13, which is currently in use in all three national series.
    • Unfortunately played straight in Cup, in that the current #13 is used by Germain Racing for Casey Mears. Mears is historically a mid-pack driver, and even with new RCR-built Chevrolets for 2014, Germain appears to still be using second-tier equipment.
    • Also played straight in Nationwide, where the #13 is a part-time start-and-park effort out of JGL Racing, which uses old Dodge Challengers off-loaded by Team Penske after their switch to Ford.
    • Zig-zagged in the Trucks - there, the #13 is part of ThorSport Racing, which also runs the #88 for defending champion Matt Crafton and the #98 for perennial contender Johnny Sauter. The #13 is driven by Ward Burton's son Jeb, who is in only his second full season in NASCAR national series competition. One could say that Jeb got very lucky with the number, in that he started the season driving on a race-by-race basis for ThorSport after being forced out of his previous ride at Turner-Scott due to sponsorship issues,note  and was only guaranteed a full season ride after Estes Express Lines agreed to come on board in late May. However, Burton has had problems finishing races all year, usually crashing out when trying to drive beyond the limits of his trucks,note  and unlike Crafton and Sauter failed to seriously contend for the title in 2014.
  • Throwing the Fight: The Spinnergate scandal - Michael Waltrip Racing manipulating the last laps of the 2013 Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond - has traces of this, with Clint Bowyer's intentional spin, and subsequent suspicious "team orders"
  • Time Trial: Prior to 2014, used to set the starting order for the races. The vast majority of these are two laps, with the fastest single lap being the driver's time.
    • The time trials for the Daytona 500 are unique: it only sets the front row for the race itself. Everyone else gets their starting positions in the 60 lap Budweiser Duels, which are run the Thursday before the 500. The starting placement of all drivers in these races is based on the earlier time trial round, while the finishing order of both races combined determines the starting lineup for the Daytona 500 (duel 1 for the inside line, and duel 2 for the outside line). The polesitter for the 500 is also the polesitter for Duel #1, while the outside pole starter is the polesitter for Duel #2.
      • To elaborate a bit, the top 15 finishers excluding the polesitters from each Duel are positioned 3rd through 32nd on the grid based on their finishing order. After that, the four fastest drivers from the previous Time Trial session who aren't already slotted are awarded 33rd-36th based on those speeds, while the remaining drivers are slotted based on the previous year's owner points and the past champion's provisional. (awarded to the most recent former champion who isn't already qualified for the race. This is available at the other 35 events as well)
    • The Sprint All-Star uses a three-lap system, with the total time taken to run the three laps being used. A four-tire pit stop must be performed on lap two.
    • For Sprint Cup cars in 2013, a "group qualifying" system was introduced at the road courses, similar to the system used at the same tracks in Nationwide Series competition. Multiple cars are sent out onto the course at once, with a five-minute clock for each group - but the goal is still the same, for each driver to lay down the fastest single lap time that they can. NASCAR considered moving to this format at all tracks for the 2014 season, but ultimately went to the procedure laid out below.
    • Starting in 2014, NASCAR moved all three national series to a "knockout qualifying" system similar to Formula One and Indy Car. The intention of knockout qualifying is that it makes qualifying happen in more race-like conditions, and also speeds up the qualifying process (NASCAR realized what fans had realized - that single car runs were outright boring, and took hours to complete). These are the basic rules:
      • At oval tracks 1.25 miles in length or longer, a three round system is used, with all cars attempting the race rolling out in the 25-minute first session and laying down the fastest lap they can. The 24 fastest cars then move on to the ten-minute second session and again lay down the fastest lap they can. The 12 fastest cars from this session move on to the five-minute final round, where the fastest laps determine the pole winner. Drivers eliminated in the previous rounds are set according to their speeds from whichever round they made it to.
      • At oval tracks under 1.25 miles in length, as well as road courses, the first round is 30 minutes, and only the top 12 advance to the ten-minute final round, where the pole is set.
      • The Daytona 500 retains its unique qualifying system (single-car qualifying on the Sunday before the race determines who composes the front row, and sets the starting lineups for the Budweiser Duels; the finishing order from the two Duel races on Thursday night sets the final starting lineup for the Daytona 500), as does the Truck Series race at Eldora, which has its own combination of single-car Time Trials and heat races.
  • Took a Level in Badass:
    • Toyota as a manufacturer, starting in 2008. At the end of 2007, even they were forced to admit that they hadn't met their projections for entry into the Sprint Cup Series - not only had none of their drivers won a race, but only one team, Bill Davis Racing, even had a car in the top 35 in owner points (from 2005-2012, the top 35 teams were guaranteed a spot in the race each week, regardless of qualifying speeds, and the top 35 at the end of the season were guaranteed entry into the first five races of the next season). It was widely believed that without some sort of earth-shaking shift in the current NASCAR climate, that Toyota would be out of the Cup series in just a few short years. Lucky for them, they got that - Joe Gibbs Racing, feeling like a third wheel in a Chevrolet camp that also included Hendrick and Childress, decided to defect to the Toyota banner. In 2008, Toyota won ten races and nabbed three Chase berths, albeit all of them were the Gibbs cars, while the other Toyota teams slowly got better about qualifying on time and began clawing their way toward the top 35. Toyota got a lot of victories, especially from Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin, from 2009 to 2011, while Michael Waltrip Racing and Red Bull Racing also found a few scattered victories and even a Chase berth in '09 for the latter team. Toyotas won 10 races in 2012. By 2013, Toyota has become firmly entrenched in NASCAR, to the point of another manufacturer, Dodge, being the one forced out of the sport.
    • On the subject of specific Toyota teams, Michael Waltrip Racing took a big leap in 2012.
      1. After struggling mightily for their first couple of years, even losing three major sponsors in this time (only long-time sponsors Aaron's and NAPA Auto Parts remained with the team by the end of 2008), they eventually found some solid footing in 2009 with better cars and David Reutimann's slow but steady growth as a driver - a rain-shortened Coca-Cola 600 win at Charlotte in 2009 and the Chicagoland race in 2010.
      2. However, nearly all of that was seemingly undone when Reutimann slumped in 2011, and with Martin Truex, Jr. doing little better, some wondered if, even with an increased infusion of cash from co-owner Rob Kauffman, whether Waltrip would be able to keep the team alive.
      3. Then the team managed a major coup in the free agent market by signing on Clint Bowyer and Mark Martin in the same season. Hence 2012 saw all three teams solidly in the top 20 in owners points, Bowyer winning three races (more than had been scored under the MWR banner than in the entire history of the team to date) and a personal career best runner-up in the points, and in a case of a rising tide lifting all boats, Truex nabbed a second Chase berth.
      4. 2013 saw some improvement: Truex broke a 218 race winless streak at Sonoma, while he and Bowyer managed to return to the Chase until the Spinnergate scandal undid Truex's berth. And despite running part-time in 2013, Brian Vickers gave the #55 a chance to make the owners' points Chase by winning at New Hampshire, and got signed to take over the #55 full-time for 2014 and 2015.
    • Furniture Row Racing is a single car Sprint Cup Series team based out of Denver, Colorado (they're unique by being the only major team not based in the Charlotte area), racing the dark black #78 Chevrolet. They were mostly a mid-to-back-of-the-pack team for their first few years, though they did have high notes like winning the pole at Talladega in April 2008 with Joe Nemechek, and winning Darlington in May 2011 with Regan Smith. The team's performance took off with six races left in the 2012 season when the team put Kurt Busch in the car.
      • The statistics speak for themselves: with Smith, the car had only led 42 laps across the 2010, 2011 and 2012 seasons and had only gotten 3 top five and 9 top ten finishes, the Darlington win included. In the first 21 races of the 2013 season, Kurt Busch gave the #78 a pole position (Darlington), 5 top five and 9 top ten finishes, and led a total of 270 laps. Two of these were third place finishes: the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte and the August race at Pocono (Kurt, Kyle Busch, Ryan Newman, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and Greg Biffle, were among a small group of drivers to have top-tens at both Pocono races). The car also began qualifying and spending more time up near the front of the field. Busch strung the team their first set of three straight top-ten finishes - fourth at Sonoma, and back-to-back sixth place finishes at Kentucky and Daytona. After the Coke Zero 400, Busch actually sat ninth in the points, the first time the #78 had been within the top-ten in points, although he slipped back to 13th by Watkins Glen due to a crash at New Hampshire that led to a 31st place finish, and then a 14th place finish at Indianapolis. But in August, Busch had some very competitive cars, led laps, and finished in the top ten in every race after Indianapolis (the exception being a 31st place finish at Bristol caused by a loose wheel bearing), including a surprise runner up finish at Richmond, which ultimately led to FRR securing a Chase berth.
      • Even with the changing of the guard and the replacement of Busch with Martin Truex, Jr., FRR earned their first official Daytona 500 front row startnote 
  • Two First Names: Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart, Mark Martin, Robby Gordon, Danica Patrick, Rusty Wallace, Mike Wallace, Kenny Wallace, and Rusty's son Steven, Marcos Ambrose, and others.
  • Unexplained Recovery: Seeing a car that is running towards the front late in the race when it was struggling in the beginning to stay on the lead lap or took damage in a crash.
    • One example is the 2014 gobowling.com 400 at Pocono. Kevin Harvick was involved in a major pileup that happened on a restart on lap 117. He had some pretty serious contact with the inside wall on his left side, but he led for four laps from lap 132 to 135, merely 15 laps after the crash, and during the last few laps he almost was able to pass Dale Earnhardt, Jr. before finishing second to him.
  • Unfortunate Name: Dick Trickle.
  • Visual Pun: When a driver gets in trouble with NASCAR, they are said to have been summmoned to the Oval Office, the trailer which is the workplace for NASCAR President Mike Helton, Vice President for Competition Robin Pemberton and/or Sprint Cup Series Director Richard Buck. The nickname comes from the fact that the logos for all three series are oval-shaped since 2004 and this logo is displayed prominently on the side of the hauler. Before NEXTEL sponsorship in 2004, it was called the Big Red Truck for the Cup races and the Big Blue Truck in the Busch races because of the series' respective sponsor colors.
  • Wingman: When the two-car drafting was prominent with the Generation 5 car, the car pushing was often referred to as the "wingman".
  • invokedWhat Could Have Been: Jeff Gordon had originally planned to race in the Indy Car Series.
    • Speaking of Jeff Gordon, he originally broke onto the Nationwide circuit with Bill Davis Racing, and was even set to jump into the Sprint Cup driving Davis' #22. However, after watching Gordon take a noticeably ill-handling racecar to Victory Lane at Atlanta in 1992, Rick Hendrick decided to do whatever he could to sign Gordon for his team, which resulted in Gordon taking the 24 and Davis picking up Bobby Labonte to drive the 22 instead. For Gordon, of course, the rest is history. For Davis, although he later had a few solid years fielding the 22 for Ward Burton,note  including a Daytona 500 win in 2002, he eventually fell well behind the big multi-car teams,note  and sold his team to Penske after the 2008 season (the owner points were assigned to the now-dormant #77 of Sam Hornish, and Penske changed his second team's car number to 22 in 2011, which is now Joey Logano's car).
      • This NASCAR.com article, written shortly after Gordon's 700th start at Darlington in May 2013 (the race ended with his 300th top five, making him the fourth driver in Sprint Cup history to reach that mark. He passed David Pearson for third on that list later that season.), details the string of chance encounters and fortuitous friendships which led to Hendrick being able to contact Gordon and offer him the #24.
    • Tim Richmond won six races in 1986 driving for Rick Hendrick but contracted AIDS and fell ill and eventually died from complications of the disease in 1989. Richmond was notable for being an outsider to the then-prevalent Southern good-ol'-boy crowd, lived a playboy lifestyle and was considered a James Dean-like heartthrob figure who largely inspired the Cole Trickle character in Days Of Thunder. Long time fans speculate that Richmond could have had a great rivalry with Dale Earnhardt years before Jeff Gordon showed up and did the same thing, albeit without the charismatic personality of Richmond.
    • In the space of a few months in 1993 both the defending Winston Cup champion and the defending Daytona 500 winner both died in aviation incidents:
      • Alan Kulwicki died in April 1993 in a plane crash months after winning the Winston Cup championship in 1992. He was the last owner/driver to win a Cup championship until Tony Stewart in 2011, and his one car team could have become much more powerful during the 1990s. Kulwicki's championship was a Book Ends case as it came in between Dale Earnhardt's 1991 and 1993 championships.
      • A few months after Kulwicki died 1992 Daytona 500 winner Davey Allison, and son of Cup champion Bobby Allison, died after crashing his helicopter in the infield at Talladega. Allison had won 19 Cup races in his career and was only 32, and many believe that had he lived, he would've cut into the win and championship totals of both Dale Earnhardt and Jeff Gordon.
    • Adam Petty's death at Loudon in 2000 aged only 19 has echoes of that of Davey Allison as Petty was the next generation of a famous racing dynasty, although he had yet to begin his Cup-level career in earnest so his full potential will never be known.
    • In a living example many people wonder what David Pearson could have done in more seasons (Pearson never raced a full season except the years he won the championships but still won 105 races).
    • There are websites that have analyzed the scoring point systems and calculated who would have been the NASCAR champion of the Chase for the Sprint Cup seasons (2004-present) had the Chase formula not been used. For instance, Jeff Gordon would have won the championships in 2004 and 2007 under the old points system (as he scored the most points overall, but struggles he had in the Chase, after the points reseeding, were what allowed Kurt Busch and Jimmie Johnson to take those trophies), while Carl Edwards would have won the titles in 2008 and 2011 (Chase reseeding and at least one DNF at Talladega caused him to lose to Jimmie Johnson in 2008, while the title in 2011 would not have been lost to Tony Stewart due to a points tie). Jimmie Johnson would have won regardless in 2006, 2009 and 2013, Tony Stewart would have won regardless in 2005, and Brad Keselowski would have won regardless in 2012.
    • Elliott Sadler was originally picked to drive the MWR #55 at Bristol in March 2012. However, because he drove for Richard Childress Racing in the Nationwide Series at the time, he was ultimately forced to back out of the car due to a conflict of interest between the manufacturers, leading Waltrip to pick Brian Vickers instead. Ironically, the next year, Sadler moved to Joe Gibbs Racing's Nationwide program, which not only put him in a Toyota, but also made him a teammate to Vickers after the latter was also picked up for Gibbs' Nationwide team.
  • What the Hell, Hero?:
    • At the 2012 AdvoCare 500 at Phoenix, Richard Childress was reportedly very upset with how caution flags were thrown. When the Axe Crazy incident between Jeff Gordon and Clint Bowyer happened, race leader Kevin Harvick was about to cross the finish line to start the last lap. Also, he was unhappy that NASCAR failed to throw a caution on the last lap when Danica Patrick was wrecked by Jeff Burton on the frontstretch, despite Danica's car leaking oil as it limped around (ironically, Jeff Burton is one of Childress's drivers). The result was that Paul Menard (Childress's third driver), Ryan Newman, Mark Martin and Kurt Busch crashed coming to the checkered flag.
    • Many questioned Tony Stewart's decision to participate in Sprint car racing despite the safety risks after Stewart broke his leg on August 6, 2013 and ended up missing the last 15 races of the season. Those questions intensified when his car struck and killed another driver, Kevin Ward, Jr., on August while driving in yet another Sprint car race on August 9, 2014, exactly one year and three days after Stewart broke his leg.
  • Why Do You Keep Changing Car Numbers?:
    • Kurt Busch has been subjected to this trope since 2010.
      • 2010: Penske #2 Miller Lite Dodge Charger (aka the Blue Deuce)
      • 2011: Penske #22 Shell-Pennzoil Dodge Charger
      • 2012: Phoenix Racing #51 Chevrolet Impala
      • 2013: Furniture Row Racing #78 Chevrolet SS
      • 2014: Stewart-Haas Racing #41 Haas Automation Chevrolet SS
    • Bobby Labonte has most recently gone through a number of different teams and car numbers after departing Joe Gibbs following the 2005 season, including the #43, the #96, the #71, the #47, #51 and #52.
    • Kasey Kahne recently had this trope, which also applied to car models he drove:
      • 2004-2009: #9 Budweiser Dodge Charger for Evernham and later Richard Petty Motorsports.
      • 2010: In the first part, RPM had changed to Fords so Kahne drove a Ford Fusion.
      • Late in 2010, Kahne departed to join the #83 Red Bull Racing Toyota to replace the ailing Brian Vickers.
      • 2011: Kahne switched to the Red Bull team's #4 in 2011 for one lame duck season before he was supposed to join Hendrick Motorsports.
      • 2012-present: #5 Farmers Insurance/Quaker State Chevrolet SS
    • Mark Martin's 2013 season saw him drive in three different cars throughout the year: he drove 14 of his first 15 starts (out of the first 23 races of 2013) in the #55 Aaron's Toyota Camry with Michael Waltrip Racing. He also had a cameo appearance in Joe Gibbs Racing's #11 FedEx Toyota at Martinsville substituting for Denny Hamlin. From Bristol through the end of the season, Martin drove the #14 Bass Pro Shops/Mobil 1 Chevrolet at Stewart-Haas Racing as Tony Stewart's replacement, except for Talladega, where Austin Dillon drove the car.
  • Women Drivers: NASCAR has not had many women in the Sprint Cup Series, and they almost never outdid male drivers.note  Although there have been a lot of women who have and do still race in the Nationwide and Truck Series. In the 1970s, Janet Guthrie had five top-tens and was the first woman to compete in both the Indianapolis 500 and the Daytona 500. Shawna Robinson made a limited number of starts from 2001 to 2002 in the Cup Series. The most recent foray by a woman into the Sprint Cup Series has been Danica Patrick, who looked set up to have a lot more success than either Guthrie or Robinson, being at a top-flight organization in Stewart-Haas Racing. Other than her pole in the 2013 Daytona 500, however, it hasn't panned out - it took her until May 2014 at Kansas, her fifty-seventh start at the Cup level, to find her second top ten finish (7th, a career best). Most weeks she circles around the middle of the pack, racing such non-entities as Reed Sorenson, Casey Mears and David Gilliland while the leaders (including her own teammates, who have won nine times since her debut, including three wins in the first eight races of 2014 alone) put her multiple laps down almost every race.
    • Note that Danica Patrick's 10 Sprint Cup starts in 2012 were not very promising:
      • Speedweeks at Daytona: On the last lap of the Gatorade Duel, she smashed violently into an inside wall on the back straightaway after Aric Almirola got together with Jamie McMurray, causing Patrick to get into Almirola's spinning car. She was uninjured. In the Daytona 500, she took damage in contact with Jimmie Johnson in a crash on lap 2. She finished 38th.
      • There were three occasions at non-plate tracks were Patrick had a pretty good racecar but was wrecked by another driver: by Regan Smith at Bristol in August (to which she responded by Flipping the Bird at him), by Landon Cassill at Kansas, and got turned by Jeff Burton at Phoenix coming to the white flag, keeping her from completing the last lap.
  • Worth It: If a driver's team locks up a Chase position at either Atlanta or Bristol, the two races prior to the Richmond cutoff, it isn't unusual that those teams might try experimental setups on their cars to get an idea of what they want to use at the Chase tracks. For example, Clint Bowyer tried an experimental new engine package at Atlanta as he had locked up his Chase spot, then the engine blew out while he was leading.
  • Xtreme Kool Letterz: Team XTREME Racing, a part-time back-of-the-pack Sprint Cup team in 2013 and '14. Their previous name, XXXtreme Motorsport, was an instance of the Double X variant, as well as Accidental Innuendo. (the X's stood for "eXceed, eXcel, eXcite")
  • You Are Number Six: Technically speaking, NASCAR averts this, because the rules for car numbers state that the team owners have right of first refusal, as long as they keep paying a fee to the front office to retain any one of the 109 available numbers (#0-#99, except for #61, which is officially retired in tribute to Richie Evans, and #00-#09).
    • For example, when Matt Kenseth left Roush Fenway, the #17 stayed behind with the team, going to Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., while Kenseth assumed the #20 at Joe Gibbs that had been Tony Stewart's and then Joey Logano's car. Similarly, Dale Earnhardt, Inc. refused to release the rights to the #8 with Dale Earnhardt, Jr., forcing Hendrick Motorsports to compromise by convincing Yates to release the #88 (formerly the number used by Dale Jarrett and Ricky Rudd used at Yates) for Earnhardt, Jr. to use in 2008 and beyond.
    • In practice, though, big-name drivers can become highly associated with a particular number if they spent the majority of their career racing that number. The most obvious examples being Dale Earnhardt (#3), Richard Petty (#43), Jeff Gordon (#24) and Jimmie Johnson (#48). The latter two have actually raced their entire Sprint Cup careers to date in those numbersnote .
      • Dale Earnhardt's car number history actually has a bit of irony behind it - before driving the #3, Earnhardt was the first drivernote  to have piloted car #2 to a championship, back in 1980 for Rod Osterlund. The #2, meanwhile, is much more closely associated with Rusty Wallace, Earnhardt's biggest rival during the late 1980s and the 1990s, despite Rusty having won his only Sprint Cup in the #27 in 1989, two years before Penske picked him up for his newly-formed #2 team, while Earnhardt picked up four of his championships after 1989. Those four, he picked up with his signature GM Goodwrench sponsorship.
    • David Pearson is associated with the #21 even though he drove and won with many different teams. Pearson's 3 Championships came in the #6 for Cotton Owens and the #17 Holman Moody. Pearson also won his first race in the #3 (Not the same one Dale sr drove) However David Pearson did win one race in Earnhardt's #2 as a replacement driver when Earnhardt was sidelined due to injuries).
    • There have been a few occasions where a particular owner/team became this. For example, Morgan-McClure Motorsports was #4 for pretty much their entire existence. During the early-to-mid nineties, popular drivers Ernie Irvan and later Sterling Marlin made Morgan-McClure and the #4 a fixture in the top ten in points while delivering a combined three Daytona 500 wins to the team. Unfortunately, the team never made a serious effort to expand past the original #4, and began to slip back in the field as multi-car efforts proliferated across the late '90s and through the 2000s. Their last full season, 2007, saw them hire Ward Burton off the bench, where he'd sat since the end of 2004, and after making just 16 starts in 35 attempts, they released Burton and shut the team down for 2008. A handful of scattered attempts to restart operations across 2009 and 2010 came to naught, and 2011 brought forth the final nail when Morgan-McClure released the #4 and it immediately went to Red Bull for use on Kasey Kahne's car during his one year holding deal with Hendrick Motorsports. The #4 will return in 2014 under the Stewart-Haas banner for Kevin Harvick.note 
    • As much as David Pearson is Driver #21, the Wood Brothers are Team #21 to an even greater extent. The only time they've used another number since the late '50's was during Kyle Petty's tenure in the mid-80's, when they switched to #7 due to sponsor 7-Eleven. When they bailed and Citgo stepped up onto the hood, the team switched back to #21, which they still use today.
    • In the hearts and minds of many fans, the literal #6 of NASCAR is still Mark Martin, even though he hasn't used that number since 2006, and no one's used that number full-time since Martin's successor, David Ragan, left Roush Fenway after 2011.note 
    • Still, it's a far cry from the sports-car racing that also developed in the '50s where car numbers were assigned on a race-by-race basis, often in the order the teams arrived at the track.
  • Younger and Hipper: The long list of drivers in their early 20s ascending to NASCAR's top series during the late 90s and early 00s.
    • Inverted in the mid 1990s due to teams not wanting a young driver wrecking their cars, opting for older, more experienced drivers. It becomes Fridge Logic when you realize some of those drivers deemed too young to get a Full-time Cup ride are now too old. And as stated directly above, the long list of young guys force the older drivers into lower racing series or part-time rides in the top-level, mostly racing in the back and/or barely qualifying for races.
      • As described in this NASCAR.com article written in early June 2013: "These [drivers] were the direct successors to Jeff Gordon, his race victories and championships enough to convince team owners that yes, young drivers could indeed compete in top-tier equipment — a concept that stood in stark contrast to previous generations, where young drivers had to prove themselves in junk before they went anywhere. Good cars were too expensive to be entrusted to rookies apt leave them a heap of crushed metal, or so the thinking went. Now, that belief is as outdated as hand-operated leaderboards or manual timing and scoring."
    • The Camping World Truck Series is undergoing this trope in a big way. For much of its early history, it was perceived as a sort of "senior's tour", and even young guns who made waves in Trucks before jumping to Nationwide or even straight to Sprint Cup (Kurt Busch and Carl Edwards are good examples of the latter type) didn't entirely dispel this notion. As recently as 2009 and 2010, the champions were 50-year-old Ron Hornaday and 44-year-old Todd Bodine.note  The next two champions were 21-year-old Austin Dillon (who made the leap to Nationwide and a limited Cup schedule after that title) and 22-year-old James Buescher (who beat Austin's 19-year-old brother Ty, along with other young guns like Joey Coulter and Parker Kligerman, to do it). 2013 initially went back in the other direction thanks to the ThorSport Racing duo of Johnny Sauter (age 35) and Matt Crafton (age 37), but after the first three races, the Young Guns largely took over again, winning six of the next nine races (of the other three, two were taken by Kyle Busch and the third by 32-year-old Timothy Peters) and proliferating across the top ten. Besides the returning Dillon (now 21), Buescher (now 23) and Coulter (age 23), prominent young guns include second-generation drivers Ryan Blaney (age 19), Jeb Burton (age 21) and Chase Elliott (age 17, and on a part-time schedule due to an age limit of 18 on ovals larger than one mile), along with minority drivers like Darrell Wallace, Jr. (age 19). The only major intruder on this story is Matt Crafton, who has top tens in each of the first fourteen Truck races and a 47-point lead over Buescher.

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