Oh NASCAR, we love to see a fair and clean race, but fans also love to watch drivers fight and cars crash too. Today, we’re covering some of the best five bump-and-runs to ever come out of NASCAR, so grab some popcorn, put on your comfy pants, and prepare to scroll away!
5. Dale Earnhardt and Terry Labonte
At Bristol Motor Speedway, the “bump and run” technique is well-known, with the late-NASCAR legend Dale Earnhardt as its most notorious practitioner.
In 1995, Earnhardt engaged in pretty aggressive driving, starting with his friend Rusty Wallace. Despite damaging his oil cooler, Earnhardt remained determined and continued his pursuit. As the race neared its conclusion, Terry Labonte held the lead, but slower lap times in lapped traffic provided an opportunity for Earnhardt. On the final lap, Earnhardt made his move, bumping Labonte’s rear corner and causing him to slide. However, Labonte managed to regain control, crossed the finish line first, and collided with the wall, showcasing his unwavering determination to secure victory.
Labonte’s triumphant moment in victory lane, with a battered car emitting smoke and a broken radiator, demonstrated his indomitable spirit in the face of adversity. These incidents serve as enduring reminders of the intense racing and fierce competition witnessed at Bristol Motor Speedway.
4. Jeff Gordon and Rusty Wallace
In the aftermath of the 1997 Food City 500, Rusty Wallace downplayed Jeff Gordon’s winning move as a “little love tap.” Over time, Gordon’s last-lap maneuver in that race has become known as the bump-and-run.
The race primarily involved a fierce battle between Wallace, a five-time Bristol winner, and Gordon, who had claimed victory in the previous two spring Bristol races. With Terry Labonte in close pursuit during the final laps, Wallace successfully defended his position against Gordon until the last lap. However, as they exited Turn 2, Wallace’s progress was impeded by Jimmy Spencer, a lapped car.
Seizing the opportunity, Gordon capitalized on the momentum and forcefully bumped Wallace’s rear bumper in Turn 3, causing him to drift upward. Gordon swiftly overtook Wallace, crossing the finish line to claim his third win of the 1997 season. Remarkably, Gordon would go on to secure an extraordinary fourth consecutive victory in the Food City 500 the following year.
3. Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch
In the closing laps of the Foxwoods Resort Casino 301 NASCAR race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Kevin Harvick employed aggressive tactics to challenge Kyle Busch, the race leader. Harvick made contact with Busch’s car twice using his front bumper but was unable to overtake him. However, on lap 295, Harvick executed a forceful move in turns one and two, causing Busch to slide and enabling Harvick to seize the lead. Ultimately, Harvick secured his sixth win of the season, his third at New Hampshire, and the 43rd of his career.
Busch, although losing the lead due to the contact, commended his pit crew’s exceptional performance during a crucial pit stop. However, he acknowledged that his car’s performance on long runs was inferior to the Stewart-Haas Racing cars driven by Harvick and Aric Almirola. Busch accepted the incident with Harvick, understanding that racing dynamics often involve reciprocation.
2. Joey Lagano and Kyle Busch
Joey Logano ended his drought on permanent tracks in the NASCAR Cup Series with a victory at Darlington Raceway. After a late-race restart incident that resulted in Logano hitting the wall while battling William Byron for the lead, Logano patiently regrouped and closed in on Byron as his tires started losing grip. On the penultimate lap, Logano used a bumper-to-bumper move to overtake Byron and secure his first points-paying win of the 2022 season. Tyler Reddick finished second, followed by Justin Haley in third.
The race at Darlington proved challenging for many top drivers. Kyle Larson spun early in the race, resulting in a caution, and later experienced power loss, leading to a last-place finish. Kyle Busch’s solid run was marred by a collision with Brad Keselowski, damaging his steering and forcing him to retire from the race. Ross Chastain showed promise by winning stage two, but his day ended abruptly with a crash involving Denny Hamlin. Ultimately, Logano’s aggressive move propelled him to victory.
In the standings, Chase Elliott maintained his lead with a 65-point advantage over William Byron and Ryan Blaney, leaving 14 races remaining in the regular season.
1. Jimmie Johnson and Denny Hamlin
Denny Hamlin dominated the race at Martinsville Speedway, but Jimmie Johnson proved to be a formidable contender in the closing laps. With 15 laps remaining, Johnson made a decisive move, bumping Hamlin’s car and overtaking him. Johnson secured the victory, marking his fifth win in six starts at Martinsville at the time. However, Hamlin has since emerged as the dominant force at the track, winning three consecutive races after Johnson’s memorable bump-and-run.
What are some of your favorite moments that didn’t make the list? Let us know in the comments below and across social media.