NASCAR has its fair share of fun moments, but things turn serious when the safety of the drivers is put into question. Fortunately, NASCAR’s safety measures over the years have saved countless lives from brutal accidents.
Let’s dive into the five worst wrecks in modern NASCAR history.
5. NASCAR’s 2020 Daytona 500
Ryan Newman was one corner away from winning his second Daytona 500 after achieving the feat in 2008. However, a big run from Ryan Blaney made his day end with a story no one could have imagined.
Newman spun back up the track and ended up flipping after contact with Blaney. While flipping, Corey LaJoie struck Newman on his driver’s side and launched him further into the air and down the track.
The driver of the No. 6 car was taken to a hospital in an ambulance as fans waited for word on his status. Fortunately, Newman was okay but was held out of a few races until he was ready to run again.
Newman lost his full-time seat in the No. 6 car at the conclusion of the 2021 season and has not raced in NASCAR since the championship race at Phoenix Raceway.
Related: Daytona 500 winners, results, and facts
4. 2013 Drive4COPD 300
Kyle Larson’s first NASCAR Xfinity Series race with Turner Scott Motorsports was looking to be a good one as he was on his way to a top-5 finish and possibly a win at Daytona International Speedway.
However, when the sea parted off Turn 4, Larson quickly found himself engulfed by the No. 22 machine driven by Brad Keselowski. Larson would fly back up the track and hit the catch fence.
The car had its engine and rear ripped off due to the impact. The young driver was able to get out of the car under his own power and did not sustain any injuries due to the accident.
It’s one of the worst crashes involving the catch fence in NASCAR history and further laments why it is so important for safety. Larson went on to win the NASCAR Cup Series championship in 2021.
3. 1993 Winston 500
Rusty Wallace was in line to finish in the top five spots at the 1993 Winston 500 as they hit the checkered flag, but a poor bump from Dale Earnhardt changed the narrative forever.
Wallace would spin on the front stretch before the car turned itself backward. This caused the No. 2 machine to take flight and Wallace flipped many times at a very high rate of speed.
The 1989 NASCAR champion’s car was torn to the point where the audience could see him inside the car itself. It was a bone-chilling accident that luckily didn’t cause anything more than some minor injuries and a cast on his hand.
Wallace would go on to win 10 races during the 1993 season, but he struggled in the events following his injuries. It almost certainly ended his shot at winning another championship as he finished second in the point standings behind Earnhardt.
Related: 5 best NASCAR races in the sport’s history
2. 2015 Coke Zero 400
Austin Dillon was an innocent bystander as Dale Earnhardt, Jr. passed the finish line at 2:40 AM ET after a rain delay. This all started when Denny Hamlin spun and chaos ensued afterward.
Dillon was on the bottom and as Hamlin hit the No. 3 car, it got airborne and shot him over two lanes of cars before hitting the catch fence at a dead stop.
The No. 3 car landed upside as the engine and back of the vehicle were torn off due to the impact. Dillon was okay and even made a gesture to the fans as he climbed out of the car.
This was one of the scariest accidents in NASCAR history and shows how the safety of these cars has improved greatly over the years.
1. 2000 Daytona 250
Geoff Bodine suffered, hands-down, the worst wreck in NASCAR history at the 2000 Daytona 250 and it is most likely not even close.
Bodine was among a gaggle of trucks on the front stretch when one of them was turned. They came back up the track and caused Bodine to catch air and violently hit the catch fence.
Flames erupted as Bodine came back to the track and continued to flip. Then, he was struck by another truck while flipping. It was a terrible scene to watch unfold as medical personnel worked on the driver.
Fortunately, Bodine would survive the accident but suffered a concussion, facial laceration, multiple bruises, a right wrist fracture, and a small fracture to a vertebra. Bodine missed 10 races during the season but came back and even ran in NASCAR for another 12 years.