NASCAR Drivers Never at Loss for Words after a Wreck

Jackson Wheeler
31 Min Read


In recent years, Ross Chastain has drawn the ire of drivers and a few team owners for his aggressive driving.

However, he isn’t the first and he won’t be the last. Angry comments and sometimes fights have been a part of stock car racing since its birth. One could call them the salt on the meal because they bring flavor to a sport built on passion. Every successful driver in NASCAR Cup racing has drawn the wrath of someone during his career.

Some remarks made in the 1960s resemble those of today, while others take on a life of their own, never to be forgotten. Such was the case with Tony Stewart’s comments to Fox Sports pit reporter Steve Byrnes as he angrily walked through the Auto Club Speedway garage after punching Joey Logano on pit road. It was March 24, 2013, when Byrnes asked Stewart what made him angry at the end of the race.

Stewart replied: “What the hell do you think I was mad about?! The dumb little son-of-a-bitch runs us clear down to the infield. He wants to (expletive) about everybody else. He’s the one that drives like a little (expletive). I’m gonna bust his ass.”

Byrnes ended the interview by saying, thank you, and the three-time NASCAR Cup champion replied, “Thank you!”

“It was pretty flagrant. I hope he chokes on that $200,000.”

Three-time NASCAR Cup champion Darrell Waltrip’s comments following the 1989 NASCAR All-Star race at Charlotte Motor Speedway also will live forever. Waltrip was leading as they headed to the white flag, when Rusty Wallace clipped him and spun him off turn four. Wallace won the race, but that day the black hat passed from Waltrip to Wallace, who collected $200,000 for the victory.

Waltrip, who finished seventh, was interviewed first: “It was an ugly win. He drove into me and spun me out. It was pretty flagrant. I hope he chokes on that $200,000.”

Wallace countered: “If a man thinks this is a leisurely Sunday afternoon ride, he ought not to be in the race.”

Both of those memorable remarks came on tracks 1.5- and 2-miles in length, but most of the time it’s the shorter tracks where rivalries and feuds begin, where drivers simply develop a dislike for a fellow competitor. Such was the case with Chase Elliott and Denny Hamlin in 2017 at Martinsville when Hamlin dumped Elliott in turn three while Elliott was leading. Throughout NASCAR’s 75-year history Bristol, Darlington, Martinsville, North Wilkesboro, Richmond, and Dover have consistently provided emotional fireworks.

Here are a few of the confrontations at those tracks through the decades:

james hylton daytona 500 1971

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James Hylton was on the receiving end of a little rough racing at Bristol in 1971. He was the first nor the last to come out of there with a few dents on the car.

Bristol Motor Speedway

March 28, 1971

James Hylton after an incident with eventual race winner David Pearson:

“He ran me over. There’s no excuse for it.”

April 12, 1987

Sterling Marlin and his team co-owner Wayne King about Dale Earnhardt after Earnhardt sent Marlin into the wall and took the lead:

Marlin: “He hit me from behind and spun me. I’m the leader of the race. He’s supposed to pass me, not spin me out.”

King: “If that’s what it takes to win the championship, they can have it. That’s at least three cars I know of that he’s run over today.”

Earnhardt: “This is Bristol. You’ve got to be aggressive to race here.”

bobby allison

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Bobby Allison was no stranger to racing contact in 1972.

Darlington Raceway

May 6, 1961

Winner Fred Lorenzen talks about runner-up Curtis Turner:

“He bumped me 50 times and I bumped him 50 times in the last 20 laps.”

Turner about Lorenzen:

“If I could have caught him before he got the checkered flag, I guarantee you he never would have finished the race.”

May 13, 1967

Buck Baker after a wreck at the beginning of the race that eliminated him and five other cars: “I don’t understand the folks that run racing. It seems they go out and get some of these drivers out of the cotton fields.”

Sept. 4, 1972

Donnie Allison after he, brother Bobby Allison, Joe Frasson and LeeRoy Yarbrough were eliminated from the race in a multi-car crash on lap 12: “Tommy Gale spun into me, but it was (Fred) Lorenzen’s fault. He was hogging the groove. He should have moved over and let the faster cars go by.”

April 15, 1973

Bobby Allison after his third-place finish in the 500-mile race that had 11 caution flags for 71 laps: “There were some young drivers out there who were absolutely pitiful. I was put in the wall three or four times during the race.”

Sept. 5, 1977

Cale Yarborough gives Darrell Waltrip the nickname “Jaws” during a conversation with D.K. Ulrich following a four-car crash that took Yarbough and Waltrip out of victory contention. Yarborough finished fifth and Waltrip sixth.

Ulrich: You sure knocked the hell out of me. How come you hit me?

Yarborough: “I didn’t touch you. Jaws ran into you.”

Ulrich: Who?

Yarborough: “Jaws. Jaws Waltrip hit you.”

April 15, 1984

Darrell Waltrip after securing his fourth victory at the Darlington track:

“Guys who lose their temperament are usually the ones who get themselves into trouble. This race was like putting a bunch of piranha in a pool with one piece of meat.”

1989 nascar cup race at dover

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Dale Earnhardt (3) shows the way at Dover in 1989.

Dover Motor Speedway

June 4, 1989

Ken Schrader and Dale Earnhardt after Schrader passed Earnhardt for a $10,000 bonus that went to the driver leading at the race’s halfway mark.

Schrader: “I wanted that money bad. When I got up under him a little, I thought what would Dale do? So, I hit him.”

Earnhardt: “That got a little rough. I was really surprised by that because I was giving him plenty of room to pass. I’ve got a memory like an elephant. Somewhere down the road, I just might slip and get into him.”

Sept. 19, 1993

Ricky Rudd after getting wrecked on a restart when Rusty Wallace ran into the back of Hut Stricklin and turned him into Rudd.

Rudd:“Well, they’ve got the Goody’s Headache Award. They ought to have the Rubber Head of the Race Award and I give it to Rusty Wallace. … It was just a dumb, stupid move. I don’t know where he was going. You’ve just got to wait your time. The track’s greasy. Everybody pretty much is biding their time, and that dumb SOB comes up through there like an idiot and causes a chain reaction.”

Sept. 23, 2001

Ricky Rudd after getting spun by Rusty Wallace. Rudd finished third.

Rudd: “I don’t know what was wrong with Rusty. He was off the pace, something was wrong with him. … I was lapping him, I guess he needed a caution and decided to wreck the leader. I’ve never seen nothing like it. I know he’s got the nickname Rubberhead in the garage area now. I never understood it, but I understand it now. … I used to have a lot of respect for that guy. I wouldn’t give him two cents right now.”

Wallace: “He was getting ready to lap me and he ran into me in the back straightaway. As we went into the corner, I stood on the throttle to try to pass him on the outside, he slowed up a little bit and I got into the tail end of him. It wasn’t payback. We’re going too fast to do stuff like that, but his memory is pretty short. He rammed the crap out of me at Bristol and now he forgets about it. I named a guy conehead a long time ago. I think I’m going to name that Dude that.”

martinsville nascar 1962 od 500 line up

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The field lines up behind Fireball Roberts (22) at Martinsville in 1962.

Martinsville Speedway

Sept. 23, 1962

Fireball Roberts after brake-checking a tailgating Fred Lorenzen and destroying the radiator in Lorenzen’s Ford:

“I warned Freddy by shaking my finger at him. That must have made him mad because he shook his finger back at me and began bumping again. I waved my hand at him and told him to lay off. But he kept it up. I didn’t tell him again because I knew how to get him off me.”

Sept. 22, 1963

Nelson Stacy to Holman-Moody teammate Fred Lorenzen’s crew chief Herb Nab:

“I’m sick and tired of being roughed up by Lorenzen. This is my last warning.”

April 24, 1983

After the race on the cool-down lap, Ricky Rudd repeatedly rammed his Pontiac into the back of Joe Ruttman’s Buick starting in turn one, down the backstretch and then plowed into him on pit road as the cars were pulling off the track.

Rudd: “I guess I’m the villain. I got pushed around all day and I retaliated. I’m not going to name any names.”

Ruttman crew chief Buddy Parrott about Rudd: “That boy has got a lot to learn. He might lose his ride over it. That kind of stuff went out with dirt-tracking.”

Sept. 22, 1985

With 58 laps remaining in the race, Dale Earnhardt hit Tim Richmond’s rear bumper and knocked him out of the racing groove. While Earnhardt was beside Richmond, the Ohio native yanked his Pontiac’s steering wheel left and hit Earnhardt’s race winning Chevrolet.

Richmond: “He pulled the same stunt he did at Bristol. As far as I’m concerned, we ain’t even yet. I still owe him one.”

Earnhardt: “I bumped him in the corner, but he backed off. He gave me a shot to let me know he didn’t like it. But I grew up watching guys like Ralph Earnhardt, Tiny Lund and Dink Widenhouse. If I hollered every time I got hit, you’d think I was a crybaby.”

Sept. 21, 1986

After an incident between Ricky Rudd and Kyle Petty that eliminated Rudd from the race, Rudd called Petty a “spoiled brat” and “an idiot.” Petty was later fined for rough driving.

Sept. 27, 1987

A last lap incident involving Darrell Waltrip, Dale Earnhardt, and Terry Labonte, resulted in a victory for Waltrip and an irate Earnhardt and Labonte.

Labonte: “I was on the outside of Dale as we went into the second turn. He tried to put me into the wall and he damn near succeeded. Then we went into the third turn and Darrell never lifted. I guess it’s one of those deals where you win any way you can.”

Earnhardt: “Darrell wrecked Terry. He knocked Terry into me. They should have put him in the penalty box.”

bobby allison and richard petty

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Bobby Allison (12) and Richard Petty battle at North Wilkesboro in 1972.

North Wilkesboro Speedway

March 27, 1960

Runner-up Rex White’s comments about winner Lee Petty:

“Something’s got to be done. The Old Man (Petty) is getting rougher and rougher. If this sort of thing keeps up, there is going to be a lot of equipment torn up and some drivers badly hurt.”

Oct. 5, 1969

Richard Brickhouse’s car owner Bill Ellis about the furious bumping match Brickhouse and James Hylton got into early in the race:

“He (Hylton) came here with an old beat-up car with one thing in mind – to wreck or spin Richard (Brickhouse) out. He is mad that Richard is in line to get a factory ride since he won at Talladega.”

Oct. 1, 1972

Comments by Richard Petty and Bobby Allison after their legendary car slugfest in which Petty emerged the winner, Allison the runner-up, and Maurice Petty hit an intoxicated spectator with his brother’s helmet after the spectator attacked Richard Petty in victory lane.

Petty: He (Allison) could have put me in the boondocks. There’s not going to be any more trouble until he hurts me. If he does that, there’s going to be real trouble. He’s playing with my life out there. That I don’t like.”

Allison: The other competitor (Petty) had to wreck me in order to win, and that’s what he did. I had so much smoke in my car I could hardly see.”

Oct. 14, 1979

Bobby Allison and Darrel Waltrip after their sheet metal swapping duel that eliminated Waltrip from victory contention and relegated Allison to a second-place finish:

Waltrip: “Bobby intentionally wrecked me. I won’t forget that. I can’t believe he’d do something like that knowing the point race I’m in.”

Allison: “We were both out of shape. But it started when he hit me three times going by me. He had to learn that when you want to pass someone, you go around him, not through him.”

April 18, 1982

Terry Labonte’s remarks about Bobby Allison after the two hooked fenders with three laps remaining. Allison spun and Labonte hit the wall.

“It’s not the first time it’s happened. It happened at Richmond. I’m getting fed up with it.”

Oct. 16, 1988

Ricky Rudd and Dale Earnhardt got into two bumping incidents during the race. After the first one with 41 laps remaining, NASCAR sent both drivers to the rear of the field. The two got into another fender bumping match with five laps remaining. Earnhardt finished sixth and Rudd placed seventh. Rudd accused Earnhardt of “dirty driving.”

Rudd: “He wrecked himself and he wrecked me. It hurt him worse than it did me because he’s in a race for the championship. But if this is the game he wants to play, he can forget the championship.”

Earnhardt: “(The race) was his or mine to win, but he got rough. He turned me sideways, then I got into him a little. I backed off, but he went on around. He got into me again, but NASCAR didn’t penalize him.”

Oct. 15, 1989

Entering the race’s final lap, Ricky Rudd and Dale Earnhardt were racing for the lead. Neither would give an inch and they crashed in the first turn. Geoff Bodine passed the wreck and won the race. Earnhardt tried to get to Rudd after the race and was restrained by two NASCAR officials.

Earnhardt: “I gave him the whole (expletive) bottom lane and the (expletive) knocked the (expletive) out of me. They ought to fine that son-of-a-bitch and make him sit out the rest of the year. We had a good run going and could have been back ahead of Rusty (Wallace) in the points, but then this (expletive) comes along and deliberately wrecks me.”

Rudd:“I guess he didn’t want to give up the lead. It’s a shame, too, because I got under him cleanly. He pinched me off and tried to wreck me. I really don’t know what he was doing but I hate it happened.”

darrell waltrip

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A young Darrell Waltrip was just learning how to race the likes of Dale Earnhardt.

Richmond Raceway

Feb. 23, 1986

With three laps remaining, Dale Earnhardt clipped Darrell Waltrip’s right-rear quarter-panel and turned his Chevrolet head-on into the steel guardrail. That triggered a massive pileup with eventual race winner Kyle Petty the only lead-lap car able to thread his way through the carnage. Earnhardt was initially fined $5,000 and placed on one-year probation. Following an appeal, his fine was reduced to $3,000 and the probation period eliminated.

Waltrip: “I haven’t ever had a run-in with Earnhardt before. Everyone else has and he’s not choosy. He turned left into me. I want to win as much as anybody, but I’ve never tried to hurt anyone.”

Waltrip team owner Junior Johnson saying Earnhardt’s tactics “were no different than if he had put a loaded gun to Darrell’s head and pulled the trigger.”

Earnhardt after the appeal hearing: “It was a case of driver error. I had no intentions of wrecking anyone. There were a lot of wrecks at Richmond and every one of them was caused by driver error. If I was trying to wreck Darrell, I wouldn’t have wrecked myself, that’s for damn sure.”

Sept. 11, 1988

Rusty Wallace gives Geoff Bodine the nickname “Conehead” after Bodine fails to slow under caution and his Chevrolet climbs over the rear of Wallace’s Pontiac, eliminating Wallace from the race after 18 laps.

Sept. 6, 2003

Ricky Rudd bumped Kevin Harvick and sent him into the wall near the end of the race. That resulted in a pit road skirmish after Harvick walked across the top of Rudd’s Ford.

Harvick: “Ricky Rudd took a G..Damn cheap shot at us. If he’s going to take a cheap shot, he’s going to get one back. I promise you that!”

Rudd: “Kevin had trouble on the restart. He couldn’t get going or something. He went down into turn one and I guess he just put on the brakes a little harder than he had been and I got in the back of him. It was my fault. It wasn’t on purpose. It was an accident. This stuff here is absolutely ridiculous that NASCAR will put up with this. This is our car going next week to the race. Look at the hood. Look at the damage. This is totally ridiculous after the race stuff like that. I couldn’t hear him (when he climbed out of the car). He’s got that little yelp, yelp mouth. I couldn’t tell what he was saying.

Tempers Flare On Large Speedways, Too

The fact that it’s often the shorter tracks that prompt the temper outbursts doesn’t mean the larger speedways are immune. Today, tempers usually flare after the “big one” at Daytona and Talladega. However, those tracks as well as Michigan, Pocono, Charlotte, and Texas sparked anger in drivers long before the current decade.

Charlotte Motor Speedway

May 30, 1982

Darrell Waltrip’s response to the fans who cheered after his Buick blew an engine and spun off turn two.

“Meet me in the Big K parking lot … and we’ll duke it out.”

May 17, 1987

The fireworks that flew during the final 10 laps of the All-Star race triggered a feud between Bill Elliott, Dale Earnhardt and Geoff Bodine. It created the painting “The Pass In The Grass” even though Earnhardt’s maneuver wasn’t actually a pass. Bodine and Earnhardt continued to wreck each other the next week in the Busch (now Xfinity) Series race and the Coca-Cola 600.

Elliott about Earnhardt: “If a man has to run over you to beat you, it’s time for this stuff to stop. He pulled over and let me pass, then ran me into the wall. I’d say that was done deliberately.”

Earnhardt claimed Elliott “put me on the grass, and that upset me—like it would any normal person. So, I carried him high in the third turn, but I never touched him. Bill just got hot and frustrated today because he had the race won and got into that wreck with Bodine.”

Oct. 11, 1987

After two multi-car accidents that eliminated a total of seven cars, drivers pointed a finger at Derrike Cope for the first accident. Lake Speed was blamed for the second multi-car crash.

Dale Earnhardt: “Cope wrecked all of us. I think some guys were running over their heads trying to impress come people.”

Rick Wilson: “The 83 car (Speed) just ran into me. I don’t know what some of these guys are thinking about.”

Geoff Bodine: “It was all Speed’s fault. Guys like that shouldn’t be allowed to race.”

cotton owens and buddy baker

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Team owner Cotton Owens, left, and Buddy Baker, right, were a formidable pair in 1968.

Daytona International Speedway

Feb. 25, 1968

After being eliminated from the Daytona 500 in a three-car crash, Buddy Baker commented about Mario Andretti after Andretti’s third straight accident at the 2.5-mile track.

Baker: “That guy takes out one or two contenders every time he races down here. He just lost it. He had a chance to let up and correct it, but he kept standing on it.”

July 4, 1974

Richard Petty after his second-place finish to David Pearson. On the final lap, Pearson suddenly backed off and swerved into the low groove entering turn one. He then closed back in on Petty after he passed him. Pearson caught Petty in the fourth turn and used the slingshot maneuver to pass him for the victory.

Petty: “David usually drives a safer, saner race. … I think it was a mistake on his part to show just how fast his car is. Besides that, we both could have crashed. I was mad because what he did was risky and unnecessary.”

Feb. 18, 1979

Cale Yarborough shortly after the race’s famous last lap that ended with Yarborough and Donnie Allison wrecked on the third- and fourth-turn apron. Bobby Allison, who was several 100 yards ahead of the two when they were dueling for the lead, stopped when he came back around. And then came Ken Squier’s famous four words: “And there’s a fight.”

Yarborough: “It’s the worst thing I’ve ever seen in racing. Bobby waited on us to try to block me. I knew how to win the race. Donnie carried me onto the grass. After that, I lost control.”

Donnie: I made up my mind that if he was going to pass me, he would have to pass me high. When he tried to pass me low, he went off the track. He spun and hit me.”

dale earnhardt

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Dale Earnhardt (2) earned a reputation of sticking his car’s nose where many didn’t think it belonged.

Michigan International Speedway

June 17, 1979

Darrell Waltrip about rookie Dale Earnhardt:

Waltrip: “I like the kid, but he overdrives his car. He almost took us all out in the fourth turn with five laps to go.”

June 20, 1982

Cale Yarborough after he and Darrel Waltrip tangled on the cool-down lap following Yarborough’s victory and Waltrip’s second-place finish.

Yarborough:“I reckon I’ll have to go meet him in the Big K parking lot. I bet he felt pretty silly getting stuck in the mud like that.”

Pocono Raceway

July 27, 1980

Buddy Baker and Cale Yarborough trade barbs after a tight battle for second on the final lap. Baker finished second and Yarborough third.

Yarborough:“If Baker would spend as much time driving his car as he does shaking his fist, he wouldn’t have anything to worry about.”

Baker:“I didn’t give him a fist. I just told him what position he was in. I don’t know anyone in racing who has been in more feuds than Cale. I suppose that means everybody else is wrong and he is right.”

Talladega Superspeedway

Aug. 22, 1971

Richard Petty after finishing second to Talladega 500 winner Bobby Allison:

“Everybody wants to win, but different folks go about it in different ways. I’ve been racing 13 years and the only cat I’ve ever had any trouble with is Bobby Allison.”

duck commander 500 practice

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Jeff Gordon was all business at Texas Motor Speedway in 2014.

Texas Motor Speedway

Nov. 2, 2014

Brad Keselowski and Jeff Gordon tangled on a restart late in the race. The incident knocked Gordon to a 29th-place finish. Gordon was trying to get to Keselowski, who finished third, on pit road after the race when Kevin Harvick came up behind Keselowski and shoved him towards Gordon. That triggered a pit road brawl that left both drivers with bloody lips.

Gordon: “We went down into (turn) one. I just wanted to get to the outside of the 48 (Jimmie Johnson) and out of nowhere I just got slammed with the 2 (Keselowski) and it cut my left-rear tire. He’s just a dipshit. The way he races I don’t know how he’s ever won a championship, and I’m just sick and tired of him. That’s why everybody is fighting him and running him down. You can’t have a conversation with him. To them (NASCAR), I’m sure it’s just a racing incident, but to me it’s a bunch of crap. The kid is doing stuff way over his head.

Keselowski: “I’ve been through a lot of rivalries. I’ve got a little blood on me right now. I’ve been roughed up … I’m still here fighting. I’m not going to change the way I race.”

And none of them ever change the way they race. They simply learn how to handle their aggressiveness.

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Jackson Wheeler is a skilled editor at Speedofdaily.com, specializing in automotive content. With a background in Journalism and Automotive Engineering, he combines his passion for cars with his writing expertise to deliver captivating articles. Jackson's deep knowledge of automotive technology and his racing experience make him a valuable asset to the team, providing readers with informative and engaging content.
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