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Monster Energy NASCAR Cup

8 Crazy Things That Happened at Texas Motor Speedway

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It’s said that everything is bigger in Texas, and that goes for chaos and calamity, too.

Ever since the first race in what is now the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, Texas Motor Speedway has been a place where the weird, the wild and the unpredictable occurs with surprising regularity.

Maybe it’s the speeds here, maybe it’s the difficulty or the banking in the corners, but whatever the reason, some normally sane and smart drivers seem to lose their minds when the get to this track.

Here are eight crazy things that really happened at Texas Motor Speedway:

  1. First cut is the deepest

On the first lap of the very first race here in 1997, the field wadded up in Turn 1, with Darrell Waltrip, Dale Earnhardt, Kyle Petty and Todd Bodine among those who got their cars torn up. Later, another multi-car crash ensnared Rusty Wallace, Jeff Gordon, Mike Skinner, Ernie Irvan and others. The next year, there was another huge crash, this one on Lap 2.

  1. Two shining moments

Dale Earnhardt Jr. had early success at Texas Motor Speedway. Earnhardt won both his first Cup race at Texas as a rookie in 2000 and his first NASCAR XFINITY Series race here in 1998. Both times he was driving Chevrolets for his father’s Dale Earnhardt Inc. team.

  1. Stuck the landing

Back when he drove for Michael Waltrip Racing in 2008, Michael McDowell had a horrible, high-speed rollover crash in practice, with his Toyota actually shedding suspension parts as he did barrel rolls. Fortunately, McDowell, one of the nicest human beings in the sport, was uninjured.

  1. Hard knocks abound

The normally mild-mannered Jimmie Johnson was understandably miffed in the second Texas race of 2009. At the time Johnson was going for his fourth consecutive Cup championship, but he got wrecked by Sam Hornish Jr. on Lap No. 3 of the event. Johnson was furious afterwards.

  1. Going postal

In 2010, Jeff Burton inexplicably drilled Jeff Gordon into the wall under caution in a move totally out of character for one of the most level-headed drivers of his generation. Gordon got out of his car, confronted Burton and a brief scuffle broke out.

  1. Anger management

Kyle Busch got parked for the weekend in 2011, after he deliberately wrecked Ron Hornaday Jr. during a caution in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race. Busch was forced to miss that weekend’s NASCAR XFINITY and Monster Energy Cup Series races as a result.

  1. Smoke signals

Texas is the only 1.5-mile NASCAR track where the qualifying record is faster than 200 miles per hour. Three years ago on Halloween, Tony Stewart set the TMS record, when he ran 200.111 mph in the second of three qualifying rounds. But Matt Kenseth had the fastest lap in the third and final round, so Stewart didn’t get the pole.

  1. The Fight Club

One of the most memorable brawls in NASCAR history occurred at Texas in 2014. In the closing laps of the playoff race, Brad Keselowski made contact with Jeff Gordon, cutting down one of Gordon’s tires and robbing him of a chance to win or at least get a top five. The two had a shouting matching on pit road and just as it looked like Keselowski was going to walk away unscathed, Kevin Harvick shoved him back into the fray and full-on brawl began. It ended with Keselowski getting the worst of it.

Tom Jensen

Tom Jensen is a veteran motorsports journalist. He spent 13 years with, where he was Digital Content Manager. Previously, he was executive editor of NASCAR Scene and managing editor of National Speed Sport News. Jensen served as the president of the National Motorsports Press Association and is the group’s former Writer of the Year.