These are what we call the 'YMMV items.' Things that some people find in this work. We call them 'your mileage might vary' because not everyone sees these things in the same way. This starts discussions in the trope lists, a thing we don't want. Please use the discussion page if you'd like to discuss any of these items.
Jimmie Johnson, with his five straight championships, and six overall, is either one of NASCAR's greatest drivers or the one man ruining NASCAR.
Jeff Gordon got the same reaction in the '90s and early 2000s. Not to mention that he was the one who got Jimmie his ride in the first place. (see below)
Hendrick Motorsports, the first organization to ever win 11 championships, and the first in the modern era (the first ever being now-defunct Petty Enterprises) to reach at least 10 titles and 200+ race wins, are either of the above as a team.
Kyle Busch does this to the Nationwide Series, outright flattening the competition. His controversial temper and occasional Ax-Crazy tendencies do not help at all. At least one website suggested that NASCAR impose restrictions to keep Buschwhackers (Sprint Cup drivers who participate in Nationwide Series races) from being able to win all the races (in part due to Busch winning eight Nationwide races up to and including Indianapolis, and Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski also picking up wins for the Penske #22 team entry). NASCAR responded in 2011 with a new rule that prohibits drivers from earning points toward the drivers' championship in more than one of NASCAR's three national touring series (Cup Series, Nationwide Series, Truck Series).
In general, anyone who rips apart the competition is going to be one of these. Dale Earnhardt was this while he was alive, both as the "greatest driver or ruining the sport" tack mentioned above, and over whether he was the last truly great example of the more aggressive driving style prevalent in NASCAR's earlier years, or merely an Ax-Crazy hothead who should have been banned from the sport. After he died, pretty much everyone agrees that Earnhardt was "NASCAR's greatest driver".
While media overexposure combined with on-track underperformance may yet turn Danica Patrick into a full-blown Scrappy, for the time being, she seems to be this. On the one hand, the Vocal Minority on the internet hates her for the above, especially since so much of the media seems more obsessed with things like her relationship with Stenhouse or her (generally) Fanservice-y GoDaddy ads than her actual racing skills. On the other, she did win the Fan Vote at the All-Star Race, which suggests the Silent Majority still likes her...for now.
Kyle Petty's comments about Danica on an episode of NASCAR Race Hub prompted a group of supporters to make themselves known on NASCAR.com's forum boards (the front page itself exercised a variant on the Rule of Cautious Editing Judgement and disabled the comment feed on the two stories they posted), which naturally led to some Internet Backdraft toward both her and Petty.
Interestingly, Danica Patrick did not win the Most Popular Driver award in 2013, that award going to Dale Earnhardt, Jr. for a record 11th straight season (which for Earnhardt, Jr. broke a tie for most consecutive years with the MPD award with Bill Elliott). While that was perhaps inevitable, according to NASCAR she also got beat by Earnhardt, Jr.'s teammates Kasey Kahne and Jeff Gordon, and also Tony Stewart. One might argue that, since Dale Jr., Kahne, Gordon, and Stewart have been in the Sprint Cup Series for far longer than Danica, they've had more time to build up dedicated fanbases while Danica's fans still consist of more casual fans of the sport who aren't as likely to make their voices heard, and that given time she could rise higher in the popularity rankings. The other side of that coin is that this could be a sign of her overexposure and the accompanying fatigue, and that without the on-track results to justify all the coverage, the wider fanbase is starting to turn against her. Not to mention that the drivers who were higher in the rankings for MPD award won a total of 12 races in 2012, 2013 and 2014 during Danica's first season.
When it comes to TV coverage, the only thing that fans agree on is that TNT is unbelievably awful at it, especially from 2007-'14 after breaking off from NBC (see The Scrappy, below). As for the others:
NASCAR on Fox is either childish, prone to inane gimmicks and plagued by Narm, or are the only ones who successfully give exciting and enthusiastic coverage of the races.
NASCAR on ESPN is either the only team that balances enthusiasm and professionalism in such a way as to show the sport the respect it deserves, or uses a stale, "cheese and wine" approach that tries to target upscale viewers but instead threatens to turn it into as much of a snooze-fest as a Formula One or Indy Car broadcast.
NBC's imminent return is about to either wreck the sport with a boring, not-ready-for-Cup team that's been picked for name recognition rather than actual commentary ability, or save the second half of the season from the TNT and ESPN doldrums with the skilled and knowledgable team of Rick Allen, Jeff Burton and Steve Letarte.
Creator's Pet: Tweaks to the rulebook, points system, or exhibition race formats appear to have often been synchronized with Dale Earnhardt, Jr. coming off of, or in the middle of, a below average season; the All-Star Race fan vote is one example.note Of course, he's only needed the Fan Vote once, in 2011. Prior to that, he had eligibility due to his All-Star win in 2000, not to mention that he didn't have to fall back on that until 2008. In 2012, he won the Showdown to transfer into the All-Star Unsurprisingly, fans often question NASCAR's neutrality by calling any of these tweaks the "Dale Jr. Rule". Becomes ironic when NASCAR tries to do this while also trying to curtail the dominance of Earnhardt's own teammate Jimmie Johnson.note Starting in 2011, the two of them actually share the same group of engineers inside the Hendrick Motorsports garage. Similarly, Jeff Gordon and Kasey Kahne also have their own group of engineers.
Don't Shoot the Message: Detractors of Danica Patrick have taken this stance in the wake of Kyle Petty's comments and the ensuing backdraft.
Ensemble Darkhorse: Boris Said has a surprisingly large fanbase considering he's spent most of his career as a road-course ringer, with only a handful of oval starts. A lot of that probably has to do with the fact that he was actually quite good as a ringer back before the opportunities in top-tier equipment dried up, with multiple top tens and a best finish of third at Watkins Glen in 2005. It also helps that one of his oval starts, the 2006 Pepsi 400 at Daytona, started with him on the pole, which he converted into a top five finish. His fans often refer to themselves as "Said Heads", due to his distinctive hairstyle◊, which they often emulate with wigs at the racetrack.
Fandom Berserk Button: Never, EVER, make the claim that drivers aren't athletes. Donovan McNabb made the claim on November 15, 2013 that Jimmie Johnson isn't an athlete. The online fandom EXPLODED. By midnight, the hashtag #PeopleWhoAreMoreOfAnAthleteThanDonovanMcNabb was trending nationally on Twitter.
Edward Glenn Roberts, Jr. picked up the nickname "Fireball" while playing baseball, but the name stuck when he became a NASCAR star in the early '60s. Unfortunately, he ended up dying when his car burst into flames at the 1964 World 600. After this, NASCAR not only made firesuits mandatory, but began the development of foam-backed fuel cells to prevent the massive fuel spillage that caused his car to ignite in the first place.
During the Michigan pre-race at Michigan in June 2013, TNT ran an interview with Dale Earnhardt, Jr. at a "graveyard" for wrecked racecars that he had set up. The preface included a comment by Ralph Shaheen where he said his car in that race would wind up there if it came back "on a hook" (as in, the hook of a tow truck). Shots of the graveyard itself included a shredded Lowe's 48, from his teammate Jimmie Johnson. Unfortunately for Junior and Hendrick, he wound up suffering engine failure 130 laps into the race, while Jeff Gordon, Kasey Kahne, and Jimmie Johnson all wrecked their cars, causing none of them to wind up in the top 25 - easily the worst result for the team since Infineon in 2005.
Game Breaker: Pit stall #1 at Martinsville has such a disproportionate advantage, even compared to the same pit stall at other tracks, that it (and by extension, winning the pole, since that driver has first pick of pit stall and by default, they always choose that front pit stall) has heavy shades of this. If a driver has pit stall number one, and comes to pit road under caution from anywhere in the top five, the odds that they'll emerge as the race leader are much higher than other tracks. Jimmie Johnson demonstrated this pretty effortlessly at Martinsville in April 2013 - even after he got off and fell behind Matt Kenseth and Kyle Busch in the middle of the race, he was able to gain back the lost spots on pit road largely because he had that number one pit stall. That, plus Johnson having a superior car that, even when it was "off" was no worse than the top five to begin with, was what allowed him to lead a career-high 346 laps on the way to his eighth Martinsville victory. This had also been the case for Johnson in the October 2012 Martinsville race, which was exactly the same way - he sat on pole, had that first pit stall, and had a superior handling car.
Harsher in Hindsight: At Riverside in 1964, back-to-back defending Cup champion Joe Weatherly died when he was partially ejected from his car and his head struck the retaining wall. He had foregone both a shoulder harness and a window net due to his fear of being trapped in a burning car - which happened a few months later to his good friend and fellow NASCAR star Fireball Roberts.
Jamie McMurray and Regan Smith spent much of their early careers being middle-of-the-pack drivers in the Busch Series / Nationwide series, and then won some of the biggest Sprint Cup races on the schedule (McMurray won the Daytona 500 and Brickyard 400 in 2010, rendering him one of only three drivers to have won those two races in the same year (the other sweeps being Dale Jarrett in 1996 and Jimmie Johnson in 2006); Smith won the Southern 500 in 2011).
Tony Stewart's transition from Indy Car to NASCAR is nothing short of amazing. In 1998, he was running a combined Indy Car/Nationwide Series schedule. With five top-5 finishes in 22 starts, Joe Gibbs decided to promote Stewart up to the Sprint Cup Series, believing that Stewart could achieve the same success Gibbs already was having with Bobby Labonte. In Stewart's very first Sprint Cup race, the 1999 Daytona 500, he won the outside pole position. He then won three races, his first coming at Richmond in September, as well as winning back-to-back races at Phoenix and Homestead. He also won two pole positions, 12 top-five finishes, 21 top-ten finishes, and a fourth place finish in the final points, granting him Rookie of the Year honors. He only incurred one DNF - running out of gas at Michigan with two laps to go. Since then, Stewart has always won at least one race every season.
Denny Hamlin had a pole position and three top 10s in his first seven races in the #11 - the last seven of 2005 (for the first 29 races, the car was split between Jason Leffler, Terry Labonte and J.J. Yeley). That was what led Joe Gibbs to up Hamlin to the full schedule for 2006, where he won both Pocono races, made the Chase, finished third in final points, and won Rookie of the Year honors. He's been at the top of the Gibbs charts for the most part ever since, has only missed the Chase once (2013, which was in part due to him missing four races due to a fractured back in a crash at Auto Club in March), and has won at least one race in every season. He even kept the energy from winning the Homestead finale in 2013 alive into Speedweeks 2014, translating it to wins in the Sprint Unlimited and Budweiser Duel, and a second place in the Daytona 500.
David Ragan might be one of those who counts. He had darkhorse wins in July 2011 at Daytona and May of 2013 at Talladega. The latter was one that you probably did not see coming - Ragan led only 4 laps, while Matt Kenseth led 142 laps. For the record, the May 2013 win was Ragan's third straight top ten at Talladega (in fact, Talladega was the only track where Ragan got top-tens in 2012, which indicates that that is one of his better tracks).
Some would think Danica Patrick's record in her 10 Sprint Cup Series starts in 2012 - several finishes off the lead lap, and a couple of DN Fs due to crashes (including accidents with Jimmie Johnson at the Daytona 500, and being wrecked by Regan Smith at Bristol, by Landon Cassill at Kansas, and by Jeff Burton at Phoenix) would say her time in NASCAR's top series would be limited. Then these people got proven wrong when she won the pole for the 2013 Daytona 500, and followed it up with her first career top ten finish of eighth place, beating out Janet Guthrie for highest finish by a woman in a Daytona 500.
Not so fast - she's only had three finishes of better than 15th since then - a 12th at Martinsville, 13th at Michigan, and 14th at the Coke Zero 400. Otherwise, Danica hasn't nabbed another top 20 finish, often going multiple laps down in a given race, and is 27th in points as a result. This is in contrast to Danica's boyfriend Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., who despite having no top-ten finishes has fifteen finishes between 11th and 20ths. Of course, it isn't just her - Stewart-Haas Racing as an organization did poorly in the first third of 2013. Tony Stewart himself didn't finish better than 15th in the eight races between Vegas (11th) and the Coke 600 (7th, only his second top ten in twelve races), and didn't score his first top five until his win at Dover - although he was on his third top five in a row as of Michigan, and just breached the top ten in points temporarily before being knocked out by a broken leg sustained in a sprint car accident. Ryan Newman has been either feast or famine so far this year, with seven top tens (more than his teammates combined, certainly) and five finishes out of the top 30, which has him at 18th place and clinging to the very fringes of Chase contention (although, at an absolute minimum, he did have the organization's sole top-five through the first third of 2013 - all the way back in the Daytona 500). Op-ed pieces speculating on the reasons behind Stewart-Haas' dramatic tumble from Stewart's 2011 championship season have become common on both NASCAR.com and Speed Channel's various NASCAR news programs (though 2012 hadn't been bad for Stewart, as he was in the Chase with three wins; but even then, there were numerous yellow flags, such as the fact that, after winning 3 of the first 6 races of 2012, the only win by the team in the res of the season was Stewart at the Coke Zero 400, not to mention several very bad runs on the mile-and-a-half tracks that make up the biggest part of the Sprint Cup schedule). As for Danica herself, there are growing rumblings that she can't act after all - during a televised qualifying session at Kansas Speedway, her driving technique was deconstructed and roundly criticized by the NASCAR on Fox team of Mike Joy, Larry McReynolds and Darrell Waltrip, who all agreed that she still looked extremely uncomfortable in the car in what was her 18th start in the Sprint Cup series (ironically, Kansas was her only top-25 start at a non-plate track, and even that was just barely a 25th).note while she later managed a 24th on the qualifying charts at Charlotte for the Coca-Cola 600, this was negated by an engine change which sent her to the back of the starting grid
While she showed off some more restrictor plate skills at Talladega by avoiding a 13 car wreck on lap 43 despite a near hit with Kyle Busch, she couldn't avoid the second crash, an 11 car pileup on lap 182. What at one point looked like a possible second top ten instead ended up as a 33rd-place finish in what was simply a bad day for Stewart-Haas as a whole: Tony Stewart took some heavy body damage in the first crash, and finished five laps down in 27th place. Danica Patrick and Ryan Newman were victims of the second crash, with Newman being crushed by Kurt Busch's barrel rolling #78, and finishing 32nd.
From a Bleacherreport article, "Winners and Losers from NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Dover", this is what they had to say about Patrick: "Any hope Danica Patrick had to rebound from her wreck at Charlotte ended early on Sunday after an ill-handling car and contact with David Stremme. She spent the majority of the race multiple laps down and posted a dismal 24th-place finish. The other bit of bad news for Patrick: Fox ended its 13-race broadcast run at Dover, yielding to TNT and ESPN for the rest of the season. While Fox anchors had a tendency to be patient with her—Darrell Waltrip in particular—her results thus far this season suggest that the next two broadcast teams might be a bit more critical." And TNT analyst Kyle Petty made some critical comments here that criticze her driving abilities.
Brad Keselowski winning the 2012 Sprint Cup Series championship. This was just his third full Sprint Cup season, and just his second in the Blue Deuce. The time between Keselowski's full-time debut and his first championship is the shortest among active drivers, even faster than Jimmie Johnson, who won his first of five straight titles in his fifth season; and Tony Stewart, who won his first title was in his fourth season. Keselowski's strong races in 2011 (where he finished fifth in points) including three wins (Kansas, Pocono, Bristol) also showed he was capable of winning some of the biggest NASCAR races on the schedule. In 2012, he won five times to secure his champion title, including some of the tougher tracks: Bristol, Talladega, Kentucky, Dover, and Chicagoland. The Talladega and Dover wins were darkhorse ones because he didn't lead until the very last laps in both. Keselowski has currently struggled so far in the 2013 season, due to the change from Dodge to Ford, plus accidents and part problems, not to mention the 25 point penalty at Texas, and missed out on the Chase due to a crash at Bristol, an engine failure at Atlanta, and a caution during green flag pit stops at Richmond after leading 142 laps of the race, forcing him to finish outside of the top ten at all three races.
Brian Vickers, after zig-zagging being Out of Focus and Demoted to Extra, was hired to drive the #55 at Michael Waltrip Racing part-time in 2012, and his results were astounding - two top-fives and four top tens in his 2012 starts. 2013 was better for the part-timer: a top-five at Bristol, an 11th place run at Martinsville, one top-ten while driving the #11 as a substitute replacement for Denny Hamlin, and a win at New Hampshire. The win led to Vickers being promoted to the #55 for the complete schedule for 2014 and 2015.
Jimmie Johnson may be the ultimate example. His Nationwide record was fairly middling, with only one win, amidst several drivers who seemed like far surer bets. He probably would've spent years languishing in that series if he hadn't caught the eye of Jeff Gordon, who apparently thought Jimmie had the intangibles necessary to succeed in the Sprint Cup Series, and called in a favor with Rick Hendrick, who had granted him a minority interest in the team as part of his lifetime contract. Hence, Johnson was picked up for a fourth Hendrick car, with Gordon as the listed owner,note this being because of a now-extinct rule that limited team owners to two cars. The obvious workaround was to pick up another partner within the team and list him as the car owner on any efforts that went beyond the official limit, a loophole Hendrick was already employing with the #25, first under Hendrick's late father "Papa Joe", and later under his wife Linda Hendrick (who's still listed as owner for Dale Earnhardt, Jr.'s #88 car). This is why a broader rule limiting teams to a maximum of four cars was installed in the mid 2000's. Cut to eleven years later, and Johnson has six Sprint Cup trophies, four Brickyard 400 wins, an two Daytona 500 wins.
In 2008, Clint Bowyer dubbed Michael Waltrip "The worst driver in NASCAR" after Waltrip clipped Casey Mears and set off a Big One at Bristol that also swept up Bowyer. The next year, Waltrip referred to Bowyer as an "idiot" after Bowyer blamed him for a Nationwide wreck involving the two (replays showed that Waltrip was actually turned by a third car). In 2012, Bowyer is now the undisputed top driver...at Michael Waltrip Racing. He was second in points in just his first season with MWR, and recorded three wins (Infineon, September race at Richmond, and fall race at Charlotte). Also, both full schedule MWR drivers - Bowyer and Martin Truex, Jr. - were in the Chase in 2012.
In this ESPN commercial from the 2011 Chase, Jimmie Johnson will do anything to win. He'll even lock Kasey Kahne in a port-a-potty, then go eat a steak sandwich. That was when Kahne drove the #4 car for Red Bull Racing during his lame duck season prior to joining Hendrick Motorsports in 2012 to become Johnson's teammate. Interestingly, it was already well-known that Johnson and Kahne would be teammates in 2012, as his Red Bull tenure was part of a holding agreement while Hendrick saw out the completion of Mark Martin's three-year contract with the team.
The announcement that Kurt Busch was going to be driving for Stewart-Haas Racing in 2014 is like this when you considered that he was becoming a teammate to Tony Stewart and Kevin Harvick, two drivers Kurt was known for having some not-so-friendly encounters with on and off the track in earlier years.
Hype Backlash: If Twitter is any indication, a chunk of the fanbase suddenly became signifcantly less enamored with the Gen-6 car (at least in restrictor plate configuration) after the 2013 Daytona 500, blaming it for giving a huge advantage to running the top line, so much so that long lines of single-file racing were forming much more quickly than usual after restarts, even for Daytonanote the 500 does have a history of settling down into ruts of single-file racing, but usually during long green-flag runs, and as a consequence of a small group of drivers pulling away from the rest of the pack, which would settle into single-file just to keep up; this time, no one could really get away from anyone else, but no one was passing anyone either; as a consequence, there were relatively few lead changes in the race - only 28, among 14 drivers. Although by comparison, this was three lead changes more than the previous year's Daytona 500, and more competitive than a select number of other Daytona 500s, like 2002 (20 lead changes), 2005 (22 lead changes) and 2007 (14 lead changes), on par with 2004 (26 lead changes), and 2006 (32 lead changes). The backlash may tie into the fact that the Gen-6 has been promised to be more competitive than the Gen-5/COT platform, promises that now look like Blatant Lies given the lack of any sort of pack racing past the first few laps of a run.
Talladega, however, was necessary to see how the Gen 6 cars fared at a restrictor plate track. Talladega is slightly different than Daytona - .16 miles longer, with the finish line being past the pit road exit instead of in the tri-oval, so as a result, lead changes and true pack racing tend to be more frequent even if it and Daytona share similar rules packages. Talladega's track surface is also a few years older than Daytona's, and it's been seen that older track surfaces tend to encourage more side-by-side racing due to decreasing grip for all lanes.
When the cars did go to Talladega in May of 2013, there were only 30 lead changes - two more than the Daytona 500, and substantially lower than the usual 50 or so lead changes - but the race did for the most part see the two and three-wide racing that is typical of the track. The lower lead change number also seems to have been entirely down to Matt Kenseth (who led 86 of 200 laps in the 500) once again being a step ahead of the field, as he led 142 of 192 laps.
The Coke Zero 400, Daytona's July date, also proved illuminating. As the race is run under the lights instead of in the daytime, this tends to change track conditions compared to the 500. Initially, the single-file lines that dominated the 500 were present yet again under twilight conditions at the start of the race. However, two- and three-wide pack racing set in to stay shortly after the sun went down, due to changes in track conditions (specifically, a cooler racing surface, which tends to increase grip). This also caused the number of cautions to equal those in the 500, despite the shorter race distance, with multiple Big Ones in the second half. The only things that didn't change were 1) a low lead change count - only 18, between 11 drivers - which was largely due to 2) one driver once again dominating the race, this time Jimmie Johnson, who led 94 of 160 laps en route to completing the first season sweep of Daytona in 31 years.
Then came the fall race at Talladega, which was more of a return to norm in certain aspects. The Camping World RV Sales 500 saw a total of 52 lead changes among 20 drivers, and plenty of pack racing to keep things entertaining note although this is actually the norm rather than the exception, because the fall Talladega race has exceeded 40 lead changes every single year since 2003. However, there were only two cautions (including one on the last lap when Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. got into Austin Dillon from behind, spinning him out and sending him airborne when Casey Mears got into him, which made the finish official since the race was forced to end under yellow), and toward the end there was a lot less pack racing, with a resurgence of the single-file racing that marred the 500 — most of the drama toward the end came from wondering what kind of move Dale Earnhardt, Jr. (who was running second) would make to attempt to pass Jamie McMurray (who was leading, and ultimately won the race), and fizzled out when Dillon was spun. Fans once again cried out about the Gen-6 "ruining" the plate tracks, and NASCAR is experimenting with a slightly taller rear spoiler (4.5 inches, vs. 4 in the 2013 rules package) at 2014 Daytona preseason testing to try to stabilize the cars and encourage pack racing.
When the cars returned to Daytona for Speedweeks 2014 with a taller rear spoiler, the results were obvious. The Sprint Unlimited saw multiple instances of two-lane and three-lanes wide pack racing, although that diminished as they were just eight cars left when it was over due in part to half the field being wiped out in a crash at lap 35. In the Budweiser Duels, single-file freight trains did form at times, but both Duels had memorable finishes, with Matt Kenseth edging Kevin Harvick and Kasey Kahne in a three-wide-finish in the first Duel while Denny Hamlin won as a multi-car crash unfolded behind him in the second Duel.
In the 2014 Daytona 500, the single-file racing was present throughout most of the first 37 laps of the race, and there were only five lead changes during this segment, primarily between Denny Hamlin and Paul Menard. After a record 6 hour 22 minute rain delay, the remaining 400 miles/160 laps of the race (think the equivalent of one Coke Zero 400) were played in nighttime conditions, when cooler temperatures mean the cars grip the track better. Additionally, the threat of overnight rain made the drivers more aggressive up to and past the halfway point in the race, for they could officially call the race if the weather refused to cooperate. This means the mentality of every driver was "race each lap like it's the last lap". Indeed, in the last 160 laps, there were 38 lead changes, ten more lead changes than happened in the full 200 laps of the previous Daytona 500, and much more two- and three-wide racing. Though the lead changed more times, only Dale Earnhardt, Jr. was able to keep his car out front the most consistently, allowing him to score the win.
After about ten races on a mix of intermediate and short tracks, most of the post-Daytona 500 backlash has blown over, and everyone seems to agree that Gen-6 is indeed a success in increasing competitiveness on the intermediate circuits (which, to be fair, were the track type being primarily targeted during the design phase of the new car).
The Ferko lawsuit, which led to the loss of both the original Southern 500 and The Rock from the Sprint Cup schedule, substituting in their place a second Texas Motor Speedway race, was a massive source of this in the mid-2000s and remains contentious to this day.
Danica Patrick. Just mentioning her name on NASCAR.com seems to be enough to bring out the flamers and trolls, and the Friday Press Pass session at Pocono in June 2013 saw the site-based comment feed descend into near-total anarchy when she actually made an appearance - and only moreso after a hapless fan tried to defend her in said comment feed. It only cooled after she left. Now consider that not even Jimmie Johnson could draw that much backdraft.
In tandem with this, Kyle Petty's comments on her ability ignited a backdraft about both her and about his own abilities and career. (keep in mind, he's the son of one of the sport's biggest legends, but only won eight races and finished in the top ten in points just five times in almost 30 years on the track)
Rather improbably, Josh Wise making the 2014 Sprint All-Star Race on the Fan Vote caused some of this, up to and including conspiracy theories that members of the Reddit and Dogecoin communities, who had banded together to crowd-fund the #98 at both the Aaron's 499 and All-Star Weekend, had managed to manipulate the results to get Wise in over other, more "deserving" drivers. And this in spite of the fact that a) every member of the /r/Dogecoin subreddit could've voted once and gotten him more votes than he actually got, and b) the publicity around the crowd-funding had substantially raised his and Phil Parsons Racing's profile in the month leading up to All-Star Weekend, which probably goes a long way toward explaining the surge that carried him to the Fan Vote.
It's the Same, Now It Sucks: The biggest complaint against the proliferation of 1.5-mile ovals on the schedule over the last twenty years is that they all race the same and lack any of the "personality" of certain shorter and longer tracks. Not helping in this perception is that, except for the straight oval at Homestead-Miami, there are only two templates used in constructing these tracks - tri-ovalnote a single dog-leg placed at the halfway point of the frontstretch. This design is also used at Daytona and Talladega (Las Vegas, Kentucky, Kansas, Chicagoland) and quad-ovalnote two bends in the frontstretch (Charlotte, Atlanta, Texas) - which has led to the derisive nickname "cookie cutter" for the 1.5-milers. Despite the overall design similarities, many drivers feel as though many other factors play into how the circuits race, including age of the track surface (particularly noticeable at Texas and Atlanta, whose surfaces date back to the mid-90s, and which therefore tend to cause aggressive tire wear resembling the old Darlington and Rockingham track surfaces; on the other end of the spectrum, Kansas, which was repaved in the summer of 2012, is so smooth and fast that car and driver are being pushed to the edge of their handling capabilities, even with steeper progressive banking - 17-20 degrees, vs. 15 prior to the repave - and has become notorious for crash-fests; the last six races before the repave had no more than seven cautions apiece, while the first three since have totaled fourteen, eight, fifteen, and eight cautions) and the amount of banking (particularly noticeable at Kentucky, the flattest of the 1.5-milers), and like to point out that "no mile-and-a-half is the same".
Just Here For the Big One: Tell me, are you one of the majority of viewers who only watch to see how severe and epic the Big Ones will get?
Love to Hate: People love to dislike Jimmie Johnson when he's dominating the series, simply because in their eyes he's obliterating the competition, ignoring that this is the result of having pure driving talent and skill.
Pictures of Clint Bowyer running toward or away from any number of thingsexplanation originally, him sprinting toward Jeff Gordon's hauler during their Ax-Crazy incident in 2012 at Phoenix are popping up all over the Internet.
No one's ever going to let Juan Pablo Montoya forget his incident with the jet dryer in the 2012 Daytona 500. It doesn't help when some fans blame his supposed lack of talent in stock cars for the incident, rather than remembering that his car broke going into the turn.
No matter what Clint Bowyer accomplishes in his career, to some people he will always be the guy who attempted to rig the Chase field in MWR's favor at Richmond in 2013.
Brad Keselowski seems to be remembered less for winning the 2012 Sprint Cup than for showing up drunk on SportsCenter just after accepting the series trophy. Now, every time he wins, people joke about him giving drunken post-race interviews, even when obviously sober. His 2014 Kentucky win, where he cut his hand on the jagged end of a broken champagne bottle in Victory Lane, likely isn't going to help.
Nightmare Fuel: Some of the blowover wrecks are truly going to fit this trope.
Michael McDowell's terrifying flip in qualifying at Texas in April 2008
The 2001 Daytona 500 truly counts as this all the way through.
Dale Earnhardt crashing and dying on the last lap. He was touched from behind by Sterling Marlin, and went up into the wall head-on in turn 4, collecting Ken Schrader. Earnhardt received a basilar skull fracture from the velocity and angle of the impact. After the two cars came to a stop in the infield, some will never forget the images as Schrader climbed out of his car, went over to check on Earnhardt, and immediately turned away and began signalling frantically to the arriving paramedics.
The 18 car wreck that happened 27 laps earlier, on lap 173, also counts, since when you watch it now on YouTube, it gets chilling watching Tony Stewart flip through the air on the back straightaway, and you see Earnhardt manage to miss this wreck, only to be killed in a simple two car wreck later. In fact, one YouTube commenter said on this video that Tony Stewart sometimes watches the video of this particular wreck and thinks that Earnhardt would have lived if he hadn't tried to avoid the wreck. The the wreck also takes a second layer of chillingness when you see the #01 of Jason Leffler that submarined into Stewart's car, given that Leffler would be killed in a Sprint car race on June 12, 2013.
Pandering to the Base: Some of the changes announced for the 2015 schedule, particularly moving Darlington back to Labor Day Sunday, could be seen as this. That said, the base has some good points about things like an uninterrupted run of West Coast races early in the season (the events at Las Vegas, Phoenix and Auto Club will be arranged in that order from weeks three through five, a stretch called "The West Coast Swing") or running the Bristol spring race in the middle of March (coincidentally, this meant it interrupted the early run of West Coast events under previous schedules), when northwestern Tennessee is vulnerable to snowfall (something that actually struck the track in 2007, which led to the spectacle of Kurt Busch making quasi-snow angels on the frontstretch after his win) - the race has now been moved a full month forward, to the middle of April, which was its position prior to the early 2000s.
Of course, fans of Atlanta might not feel so pandered to - that event is now in the post-Daytona 500 slot, and while central Georgia isn't as bad as, say, northwestern Tennessee or central North Carolina in this part of the year, the odds of it producing good race weather isn't that great, either. In fact, when Atlanta was scaled back to one race in 2011 to make room for Kentucky, it was the spring date (traditionally run in mid-March, two weeks later than the 2015 date) that was canceled by Speedway Motorsports, for poor attendance due to weather issues.
The Problem with Licensed Games: A Sequelitis-induced variant with the EA Sports-published NASCAR video games. There's no consensus on when exactly the problems began (although most insist it began after 2003, when EA grabbed exclusive rights to the license to kill competition from Monster Games and Papyrus; members of the latter company later created iRacing.com, which has hosted a NASCAR-sanctioned virtual racing series since 2010), but it's generally agreed that this was in full effect by the time the series jumped to the 7th-generation consoles. NASCAR 09 in particular was panned for the slim roster of real-world drivers across the available touring series, the lack of manufacturer logos on the cars, the generally underwhelming graphics and most of all a very buggy online infrastructure that never really improved prior to being shuttered in 2011. Unsurprisingly, sales reached apocalyptically low levels, and EA dropped the license after this game. A Broken Base over this same issue has developed around the Activision/Eutechnyx series that began in 2011.
Speaking of the Activision era, NASCAR: The Game 2011 and NASCAR The Game: Inside Line (the latter was re-released for the PC market on July 24, 2013 through Steam as NASCAR: The Game 2013) were each riddled with dozens of problems and were so difficult that even some Sprint Cup drivers had trouble playing them. Because of these issues, Activision ended up losing their contract to Deep Silver when it came time to start development on NASCAR '14. However, Eutechnyx remained the developer, and reviews indicate that, while vast improvements were made, they're still a long way from resolving the game's issues.
Played straight with Dale Earnhardt, Jr's crew chief Lance McGrew (promoted as a replacement for for Tony Eury Jr.), who took the blame for Earnhardt, Jr.'s supposed lack of speed.note even though Eury was only removed as crew chief because Junior's extraordinary struggles at the end of 2008 carried over into 2009 He was then sent to be Mark Martin's crew chief in 2011, sending the five time note as recent as 2009 championship runner-up tumbling even further into the middle of the pack, while Jeff Gordon returned to his winning ways with Martin's crew chief Alan Gustafson and Earnhardt, Jr. made the Chase with Gordon's crew chief Steve Letarte. With Letarte, Earnhardt, Jr. took a win in 2012 at Michigan, a top-five points finish in 2013, and a Daytona 500 and a Pocono sweep in 2014.
In 2012, McGrew was replaced by Kenny Francis (as part of a pre-planned transfer of the #5 to Kasey Kahne). That year, all four teams had wins (counting the Chase, Earnhardt, Jr. had one, Kahne and Gordon had two each, and Jimmie had five) and made the Chase (Earnhardt, Jr. and Jimmie in the top ten positions, with Kahne and Gordon grabbing the two Wildcards).
Interestingly, though, McGrew was kept on within the organization, and wound up as Chase Elliott's crew chief for his 2013 part-time effort in the Truck Series. Elliott finished in the top ten in his first six starts, culminating in a win at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, although bad luck would derail his next two Truck starts.
Inverted when Kevin Harvick replaced Dale Earnhardt after his fatal crash and won at both Atlanta (in a memorable photo finish over Jeff Gordon) and the first Chicagoland race, that same year. And is still in the same car and is undoubtedly the No. 1 driver for Richard Childress Racing. He's also only had three years where he missed the Chase.
Inverted with Kyle Busch and Dale Earnhardt, Jr.: Earnhardt, Jr. replaced Busch at Hendrick Motorsports, however Busch won four times as many races during his tenure there compared to the Pied Piper. However, Earnhardt, Jr. is still the most popular driver while Kyle is one of the most hated drivers. Despite Busch winning more races in the top 3 Series of NASCAR since moving to Joe Gibbs Racing. Even Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson, his teammates at Hendrick didn't seem to like Kyle that much either. Meanwhile, Jr. has only won seven races with Hendrick Motorsports: at Michigan in June 2008 and 2012, the 2008 Budweiser Shootout and Gatorade Duel, the 2014 Daytona 500, and both 2014 races at Pocono.
Some would consider Joey Logano this when he replaced Tony Stewart. As he is definitely not Tony Stewart, and doesn't win as much Smoke, and has a not-as-cool nickname, compare to Sliced Bread. He still doesn't quite fit due having a pretty decent fanbase (albeit a younger one) and the fact that he, just like Tony, isn't afraid of a scrabble or trash-talking. With his most famous feud being a guy that Tony isn't too fond of either.
Logano also seemed to be the most liked driver during his time at Joe Gibbs. But Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch as teammates possibly makes him likeable by default. Whether this holds up at Penske, with Brad Keselowski having been rather popular even before winning the Sprint Cup title, remains to be seen. Also, Matt Kenseth did a good job returning the #20 to its winning ways with seven wins in the first 28 races.
One does think that Logano has become more likeable at Penske simply because he's got a lot of consistency, including being the sole driver to lead laps in each of the first eleven races of the year, including two wins - Texas and Richmond - making this his first multi-race victories season.
Pretty much any new track that pushes an older, well-liked track off the schedule.
The replacement of the Southern 500 on Labor Day Sunday by a primetimenote for east coasters. The race was run mostly in the late afternoon local time event at California (now Auto Club) Speedway in Fontana starting in '04 got this on two fronts, not only for displacing the 500 (it was moved to the second-to-last Chase slot for one year, before being discontinued and the spring Darlington date being moved to the night before Mother's Daynote and being rechristened as the Southern 500 starting in '09 to compensate) but for causing North Carolina Speedway in Rockingham to lose one its two datesnote the one initially taken over by Darlington to make room for two California dates (joining a spring race that had was first run in '97). The fact that the spring race was moved to the OTHER former Rockingham slotnote the week after the Daytona 500 the next year while the Rock itself was removed completely for a second Phoenix race only increased the uproar and may have been a contributing factor (alongside a pre-existing notion that Fontana was merely a poor man's clone of the more popular Michigan track) for ticket sales and ratings for both races plummeting in '05 and beyondnote basically, the two races sold out in '04. By '08 the two combined weren't even equaling the maximum capacity of the track. NASCAR eventually rectified the situation by moving the Labor Day race to Atlantanote another "old guard" track, dating back to 1960 while attempting to life-support the second Fontana date with Atlanta's former spot in the Chase. When things failed to turn around for Fontana, the fall date was axed and the spring race was moved from second to fifth on the schedule starting in 2011.note Ironically Fontana's fall date was replaced by a spring date at one of NASCAR's newest tracks, Kansas Speedway, and it's spot in the Chase was taken by Chicagoland, Kansas' sister track and another of NASCAR's newest
Indeed, Fontana may have been a victim of this from day one, along with Texas Motor Speedway, especially for fans of the North Wilkesboro short track, which lost both its dates in the same year to the two upstartsnote although, from a corporate standpoint, one of the North Wilkesboro dates was turned into a second date at New Hampshire. Texas also catches some "poor man's clone" flak, in this case for being a quad-oval design in the same vein as "old guard" tracks Charlotte and Atlanta.note ironically, Atlanta was actually redesigned, from a true oval to a quad-oval, in '98, after Texas' introduction to the schedule Further hatred arose when Texas took over a spot in the Chase at Darlington's expense.
Phoenix itself has mostly avoided this, in large part because the racing action (on the previous surface, anyway) is/was actually well regarded. Indeed, it may be something of a Spiritual Successor to the Rock, given that both are one mile ovals and Phoenix currently occupies Rockingham's old dates (2nd and 35th on the schedule). The track also benefits from being a little older than the majority of tracks that fit this, being introduced in '88, as well as not replacing any pre-existing dates (instead, the schedule was increased from 28 to 29 races to make room). That said, the track redesign in 2011 is at best a Base Breaker, given the disputes over whether or not the redesigned "dogleg" on the backstretch has really improved/maintained the action, is safer or more dangerous to the drivers, etc.
Rescued from the Scrappy Heap: Darrell Waltrip's brash and outspoken attitude, coupled with his immense talent and ability, may have rubbed fans and drivers the wrong way, especially in his earlier years as a young hot-shot racing against and beating Legends such as Richard Petty. But he became a fan favorite while leading at the end of the 1989 All-Star Race, (The Winston) he was spun out by Rusty Wallace, which cost Waltip the win and a $200,000 win. Wallace was subsequentially booed by over 150,000 fans. DW however was voted Most Popular Driver for 1989 and 1990.
Waltrip was quoted after the race saying "I hopes he (Rusty Wallace) chokes on it" referring to the $200,000 prize money. I'm sure that helped rescue him.
Waltrip's team also met Rusty Wallace's team on the way to victory lane. They said they would not let Rusty and his team to the winners circle.
On a larger scale, TNT's summer series telecasts have fallen into this, as they're more vulnerable technical issues than the ESPN/ABC or Fox broadcasts, and the control booth sometimes misses incidents (cited particularly at the 2012 Toyota/Save Mart 350). The personalities themselves are prone to making errors (for example, citing Brad Keselowski with only two wins in 2011 when he had three) and, with the exception of Adam Alexander and Larry McReynoldsnote and McReynolds himself definitely isn't putting his all into it, compared to his work at Fox, lack convincing screen presence. Many fans have posted on the NASCAR.com forums that TNT needs to be dropped and their races given to Fox and/or ESPN/ABC.
Those fans will get a variant of their wish starting in the 2015 season. TNT has not renewed their contract, and the races that are currently on the TNT portion of the schedule will be split between Fox (Pocono, Michigan and Sonoma, all three of which were races Fox had broadcasting rights to under the 2001-2006 television package) and a returning NBC Sports (Kentucky, Coke Zero 400 at Daytona and New Hampshire), who will also (re)acquire all of the ESPN/ABC races (which used to be NBC broadcasted races). The new pact, which runs through 2024, also includes split rights to the Nationwide schedule (14 races to Fox, 19 to NBC), which had previously been held entirely by ESPN/ABC. (The Camping World Truck Series will continue to be exclusive to Fox Sports 1, formerly Speed).
Sadly, the short-term effect of the new deal has been a textbook case of They Just Didn't Care for TNT's final run - the commentary no longer even bothers trying to give useful info beyond race conditions and the points, the camera work is more indifferent than ever, and the race audio has picked up a nasty tendency to skip in the same way that a buggy internet stream or a scratched CD would. This has driven fan outrage to new, very vocal peaks, and could become a Never Live It Down moment for the entire Turner Sports division.
Kyle Petty is somehow the least popular by far amongst a widely-hated TNT crew, due to constant accusations of hypocrisy, an unpleasant personality, ridiculous Critical Research Failures that just shouldn't make it onto a nationally broadcast show, and the general feeling that his career as a driver was a failure and his incompetence as a team owner led to the extinction of Petty Enterprises as an independent team. He also falls under Replacement Scrappy, given that he took over for the beloved Benny Parsons after the latter's death in early 2007.
As of late, the Dillon brothers (Austin and Ty) are catching some of this, particularly after Kevin Harvick's scathing remarks about them after Ty dumped him in the Martinsville truck race. A lot of fans see them as the Creator's Pets of RCR, getting all of the focus (and even their rides) because their grandfather is Richard Childress himself. There's even an element of Replacement Scrappy for Austin, as he's driven the #3 — the number that Junior Johnson and especially Dale Earnhardt made famous — throughout most of his career, including his full-time Sprint Cup debut in 2014. The fact that he won the 2013 Nationwide Series championship without winning a single race is not helping matters.
Clint Bowyer was already one with Jeff Gordon fans for pretty much everything that happened between them in 2012, viewing Bowyer as the aggressor in every encounter between the two until Gordon dumped him in turn three at Phoenix, which they see as him "putting Bowyer in his place".note reaction in the general fandom was more mixed at the time, with many saying that nothing ever justifies intentionally wrecking another driver, not even past history between them, of which there was a fair bit between Gordon and Bowyer, including several more incidents after the spring race at Martinsville but before the tipping point at Phoenix Now he's rapidly becoming one with all fans in the wake of Spingate. He was the one who followed team orders to the letter and pulled the most blatantly illegal move in the entire Richmond race, yet he lost next to nothing - his Chase seed wasn't affected, none of his crew personnel (including chief Brian Pattie, the one who relayed the thinly veiled order to spin himself out) have gotten anything worse than probation and monetary fines, and even his sponsor decided to stick with the #15. Many fans now agree that he's a dirty racer and see his once amusing antics with the media as an irritating nuisance. And to add insult to injury, Bowyer still denies that the spin was intentional, in spite of Pattie's comments and Dale Earnhardt, Jr.'s (who was right behind Bowyer when he spun) testimony.
The tandem draft seems to have become one of these with both the fans and NASCAR themselves. They took great pains to ensure that the Gen-6 package made this pretty much impossible in Cup, both from an aerodynamic standpoint and from the fact that the cars would get insufficient air to the radiators and overheat in a hurry. In Nationwide and Trucks, starting in 2014, they've not only implemented changes to the cooling system that will again make it all but impossible to pull off, they've announced that even attempting anything more than split-second contact (i.e. the "bump draft" that was prevalent in the mid-2000s) with another car's bumper will result in a black flag for both drivers, thus banning it ouright in those series. The vast majority of fans have cheered NASCAR for taking these steps.
A lot of the antipathy seems to have originated from the increased tendency of drivers using the tandem to align with members of the same team or at least the same corporate/R&D alliance, and the final straw that led to the first batch of changes was an unconfirmed team orders incident at the 2011 fall Talladega race, where Wood Brothers driver Trevor Bayne attempted to strike an emergency tandem pact with Hendrick Motorsports driver Jeff Gordonnote the two had worked together successfully during the Duels and the early stages of the Daytona 500 earlier in the year, and Bayne cited Gordon's guidance in helping him to figure out the draft in a hurry, which led to Bayne becoming the youngest 500 winner in NASCAR history after their prior partners were knocked out of the race by a late wreck. However, once the race restarted, Bayne only briefly worked with Gordon before dropping back and picking up Matt Kenseth, a Roush Fenway driver, leaving Gordon to get hung out to dry, and ultimately producing little benefit for either Kenseth or Bayne. A quickly deleted post-race tweet on Bayne's part claimed that he had been instructed to abandon Gordon, a member of a rival technical alliance, by Jack Roush himself, or else Roush would pull technical support from the Wood Brothers, something that would likely kill the team. While NASCAR was unable to gain enough evidence to prove that team orders were actually issued, they nonetheless took stepsnote besides a dramatically shorter spoiler and the cooling changes, the first round of changes, for 2012, included a ban on multi-channel radios in the cars, something that allowed drivers to communicate directly to each other and arrange the tandem pairings mid-race to eliminate the tandem to reduce the likelihood of another such scandal.
Other sources of unpopularity of the tandem included the conclusion that it didn't "look natural", since much of it included one driver subordinating himself to another. For their part, NASCAR also cited safety issues when issuing the Truck and Nationwide bans, citing the race-ending Big Ones at Daytona in Nationwide and Talladega in the Trucks and the possibility that the "pushing" cars were unable to see around their partners and were essentially "driving blind".
Restrictor plate racing in general is one of these with the drivers, who dislike the fact that it's basically a Luck-Based Mission with a higher-than-usual likelihood of wrecks and even injury. Fans are split on the matter.
The advent of a harder tire compound in the early 00s made it possible to make fewer pit stops for new tires during a race. Elliott Sadler was the first to take advantage, scoring an upset win at Bristol in 2001 due to pit strategy. Making no more stops for tires once there was enough fuel to make it to the end became the standard strategy for the top teams soon thereafter.
For that matter, the Wood Brothers team, which was at the forefront of numerous innovations in NASCAR during the '60s and '70s, the most important of which was the original rapid-fire pitstop (in the early days of NASCAR, pit stops could take several minutes as the pit crews serviced their cars in a manner similar to a suburban dad changing a flat tire on the side of the road, and the drivers were even known to get out of the cars to take smoke breaks during pit stops), and gained a huge advantage on everyone else as a result. However, these tactics and innovations soon became widespread, and with several teams eventually getting better at it than the Wood Bros., they were gradually Demoted to Extra beginning in the early '80s.
Stop Helping Me!: Sometimes drivers will complain over the radio during the race about when their crew chief tries to motivate them with a few positive words or lap times.
In one 2011 race, Clint Bowyer didn't want to hear motivational chatter, he just wanted to hear lap times.
Jimmie Johnson once told crew chief Chad Knaus to stop with the cheerleading when it was not helping with him. Once, Knaus also told him lap times during a race after each lap, and Jimmie responded along the lines of, "If you don't stop that, I'll come down pit road and choke you."
Also happens if a spotter does a bad job helping his driver navigate through a crash and makes it worse.
Rick Allen opened the July 1, 2014 episode of NBC Sports Network's NASCAR America by asking co-hosts and former drivers Bill Lester and Kyle Petty if they ever wanted to either turn off their own radios or their spotters'. Both were blunt in answering yes, even describing things like a spotter saying "Right behind you" when the nearest driver is nearly a half-straight back.
They Changed It, Now It Sucks: NASCAR rivals all other fandoms in this department. The Chase? The Car of Tomorrow? The schedule? Go to any NASCAR forum and see what the prevailing opinion is.
Not as much of this attitude with some changes introduced over the past eight years that have had better reception.
In 2004, after the Aaron's 499 at Talladega controversially ended under caution, the backlash from angered fans led to NASCAR introducing the green-white-checkered finish rule.
Beginning at Pocono in June 2009, lots of new rules came in: double file shootout-style restarts in points-paying races (previously only used in the non-points Bud Shootout at Daytona and All-Star Race at Charlotte) and the implementation of the beneficiary rule for the entire race (instead of being discontinued with ten or fewer laps to go), and introduction of the wave-around system that allows lap-down cars to gain back a lap by not pitting under a caution (done likely to prevent crashes that occurred on restarts where cars at the tail end of the lead lap were in front of the leaders).
In an effort to prevent aborted green-white-checkered finishes (as happened at least twice at Talladega), NASCAR altered the GWC rule in February 2010 so that up to three attempts were allowed to finish the race under green if the scheduled distance was completed under caution (beforehand, only one attempt was allowed) and a caution-causing incident like a crash occurred during the first lap of the GWC.
See Hype Backlash for the reactions of fans to the Generation-6 car following the 2013 Daytona 500.
He Just Didn't Care: If past conversations with Dale Earnhardt, Jr. are to be believed, Lance McGrew basically didn't care about Little E's duties to the team beyond showing up for the race, and allowed him a very loose schedule in terms of showing up to the Hendrick garage for team meetings and the like. Steve Letarte, on the other hand, seems to care very much, as he put Junior on a strict schedule of working with the team at the shop as well as devising new workout routines and the like. If his performance under Letarte is any indication, this seems to have helped him as a driver.
The North Carolina Education Lottery 200 Truck series race.
Back around 2007-08, Jack Roush made some...controversial...statements about Toyota and their involvement in NASCAR, as well as attacking specific Toyota teams with claims of stolen parts and other cheating, particularly Michael Waltrip Racing. He definitely strayed into this realm by invoking Pearl Harbor in one such statement.
Jeff Burton is generally considered to be one of the friendliest drivers in the garage, and a very smart racer on the track, as evidenced by both his generally clean record and his 21 career Sprint Cup victories. He's even been elevated to an unofficial "spokesman of the garage" status because of his generally level-headed nature, earning the nickname "The Mayor" in the process. So, there were more than a few eyebrows raised in the NASCAR community when he risked this reputation by punting Jeff Gordon into the wall under caution at the AAA Texas 500 in November 2010 (the caution occurring because of Martin Truex, Jr. bumping into the wall in turn 3). The TV replay showed him very clearly turning down on Gordon's rear bumper, and accelerating before doing so - all of which pretty clearly refuted Burton's claim that the initial contact was incidental, and that the bumpers were simply "hooked together" afterward. Gordon, for his part, made sure Burton knew how angry he was, by jogging down from the remains of his car in turn 2 to where Burton had come to rest halfway down the backstretch, and proceeded to land a couple good punches on Burton before NASCAR officials separated the two. The next year, Speed Channel's "The 10", a series of Top Ten countdowns of well-known NASCAR moments, named this incident Number One on their list of "Biggest Bonehead Moves in NASCAR".
At least two spring Martinsville examples where a caution was caused by a car stopping on the track intentionally - David Reutimann in 2012, and then an incident with Ryan Newman in 2013 where he stopped on the track and got penalized three laps.
Stopping on track to draw a caution in the vein of Newman is actually surprisingly common at the short tracks, and sometimes even larger tracks, too. NASCAR's pretty consistent in stripping the laps that would've been lost if they had just stopped under green, and the only real logic behind this move seems to be if the driver couldn't get to pit road in the first place (which can be hard to do with a couple dozen drivers coming toward you at twice the speed you're trying to run so your blown tire doesn't rip apart the fender).
Lap 71 of the 2008 Aaron's 312 at Talladega is a notorious example: watch here. Kevin Lepage was returning to the track after making a pit stop when he moved off the apron....right in front of the pack that was bearing down on him. The field checked up as Lepage was running almost 60 MPH slower than the pack, and a total of 15 cars were wrecked including Lepage. This one landed at number five on the above-mentioned episode of "The 10".
In a Nationwide Series race at Bristol in April of 1994, Mark Martin had the race won after it ended under caution, and turned off the track to make his way to Victory Lane. Unfortunately, he did so without crossing the start/finish line to actually complete the final lap, causing him to be registered as the last car on the lead lap and the win to go to David Green instead.note Green would find his way to the Nationwide championship that year, with Bristol being his only win of the season Mark himself called it "The stupidest thing I've ever done" at the time, something that likely holds up nearly twenty years later. "The 10" crowned this one Number Two on the Biggest Bonehead Moves list.
Two incidents involving Marcos Ambrose and/or his team, both of which happened when he drove for JTG Daugherty Racing:
March 2009 at Atlanta: one of his tire changers lost control of a tire, causing it to roll halfway across the apron toward the racetrack. Said crew member then had a profound brain spasm and chased the tire across the apron, with cars coming at him from all sides, including pit road, as a cycle of green flag stops was underway. This forced a caution that trapped most of the serious challngers in the race a lap down, and but for the crewman may not have been necessary until after the green flag stops cycled through, since the tire was still well out of the racing groove. This allowed Kurt Busch to cruise away to winning the race, as anyone who could've hung with him were trapped a lap down and couldn't find their way back to the lead lap (this being because the wave-around rule wasn't implemented until later that year, at the June Pocono race).
June 2010 at Sonoma: In a bid to save fuel while leading late, Ambrose shut down the engine to lessen the amount of fuel being used while the cars are cycling around under caution. This is a common tactic, and works perfectly as long as one is able to restart the car after a few seconds to keep the coasting speed from dropping below that of the pace car, at which point any passes by another car would be deemed legal per the NASCAR rulebook. Unfortunately, Marcos chose to shut down the engine at the beginning of a steep incline in the race course, and with all the fuel running away from the pickup (that was located in the front of the fuel cell), he was unable to restart the car in time to avoid stalling completely. At least five cars passed him while stalled, including eventual race winner Jimmie Johnson. In effect, Marcos' brain spasm cost both him and JTG Daugherty a shot at their first win. (Ambrose would find success when he moved to Richard Petty Motorsports and got back-to-back wins at the other road course, Watkins Glen, in 2011 and 2012. JTG Daugherty, after struggling for several more years with an aging Bobby Labonte, would eventually get their own redemption after swapping him out for A.J. Allmendinger in 2014 - A.J. ended up outbattling Marcos at Watkins Glen that year to score both his and their first Sprint Cup winnote For A.J. it was also the completion of his own road to redemption, ending his two years of turmoil that started with a failed drug test in July 2012 at Daytona costing him a ride at Penske Racing).
A certain amount of Ax-Crazy is to be expected with Kyle Busch, but nothing compares to what he did to Ron Hornaday in the November 2011 Texas race in the Camping World Truck Series. After Hornaday came up from behind to try to pass, both got a little loose and ended up grazing the wall, bringing a caution out. But then, Kyle proceeded to get right on Hornaday's bumper and chuck him (and himself, for that matter) headfirst into the wall under caution. Kyle was not only black-flagged for the remainder of the race, he was also prohibited from taking part in that weekend's Nationwide and Sprint Cup races, mathematically eliminating him from winning the Sprint Cup championship that year. Oh, and he still hasn't lived it down two years later, as a move he pulled on Brad Keselowski under green at Kansas in a fall Nationwide race drew a lot of comparisons to this incident, particularly after Kyle claimed that he has never intentionally wrecked another driver.
June 2013 at Sonoma: As the field was pulling off of pit road to begin the pace laps, Alex Kennedy, making his Sprint Cup debut in the #19, was forced to stop short after the #83 of David Reutimann slammed on the brakes without any apparent prompting. Unfortunately, the #52 of Paulie Harraka, also making his Sprint Cup debut, was apparently entirely unaware of what was going on ten feet in front of him, and rear-ended Kennedy at something approaching pace car speed, tearing up both the 19's rear end and his own front bumper. This moment made Sportscenter's weekly "Not Top 10" list at number five.
Let's not forget Sterling Marlin in the 2002 Daytona 500. Leading with less than five laps to go and under a red flag, Marlin, worried about possible tire rub from a collision with Jeff Gordon, gets out of his car and, in front of millions of horrified viewers, begins pulling on his fender to pull it away from the tire. NASCAR immediately blasts him for working on his car under the red flag and sends him to the back of the longest line. He was able to slide his way back into 8th, but had to watch Ward Burton take the checkered flag.
Martin Truex, Jr. in the wake of Spingate. Simply put, of the three Michael Waltrip Racing drivers, Truex was the only one who didn't do anything illegal in that race, but he was the one who lost anything in the fallout - his Chase spot to Ryan Newman, his sponsor NAPA Auto Parts, and eventually even his ride. He's gained the sympathy of a growing number of NASCAR fans, and there were some obvious cheers and a lot of support when Furniture Row Racing announced they were picking up not just Truex, but also his entire pit crew, all of whom were also out of a job due to the elimination of the #56 as a full-time team.
Brian Vickers has been seen as this toward the end of 2013. He was involved in Spingate, but radio communications show that he was confused by Ty Norris's order to pit and that he was Just Following Orders, so while the fans think he should have known better, they have also cut him slack. He was also a part-time driver in 2013, so he had nothing to either lose or gain. But what really sealed him as this was the resurgence of his circulatory problems that shelved him in the first place — a blood clot was discovered in his leg, so he ended up on the sidelines for the remainder of the season (NASCAR won't clear drivers on blood thinners to race in the event of an open wound occurring in a crash). This cleared up by February in time for the Daytona 500.
And now Trevor Bayne, as well, following his diagnosis with MS (this coming after his sister was also diagnosed with the disease).
Yoko Oh No: Theresa Earnhardt. Everyone blames her for DEI's downfall, and Dale Earnhardt, Jr.'s leaving the company to Hendrick. The fact that Chip Ganassi is the public face of the merged Earnhardt-Ganassi race team (not to mention that the team's veteran driver, Jamie McMurray, got his Cup break with Ganassi instead of DEI), as well as her being eliminated from what little ownership she did have during the 2013-14 offseason, further shows how low her reputation is.