NASCAR’s done a great job in recent years of making its cars safer than they’ve ever been. But as we learned at Kansas Speedway on Saturday, there’s no way to entirely eliminate the dangers of racing.
During the final stage of the Go Bowling 400, Aric Almirola, Danica Patrick and Joey Logano were involved in fiery wreck that resulted in Almiorola being airlifted to a hospital with a fractured back. Prompted by a broken brake rotor in Logano’s No. 22, the crash offered the latest reminder that some things on the track are beyond drivers’ controls.
There’s no doubt that racing fans love crashes. But every once in a while, as we saw Saturday, a wreck occurs that quiets the crowd and leaves everyone concerned.
Here are some of the most violent crashes in recent NASCAR memory:
2017 Go Bowling 400: Aric Almirola, Danica Patrick, Joey Logano
As jaw-dropping as this flame-heavy wreck was, the enduring visual will be of Almirola getting cut from his car and taken off on a stretcher. And, as Danica Patrick mentioned after the incident, Almirola’s car seemed to suffer the least damage of the three involved. Almirola eventually was released from the University of Kansas Medical Center with a compression fracture of his T5 vertebrae.
2013 DRIVE4COPD 300: Kyle Larson
One of the more infamous wrecks in NASCAR history, Kyle Larson’s collision with the catch fence at Daytona International Speedway left many fans injured, including some critically. In the aftermath, Daytona and Talladega Superspeedway added cables and tethers to reinforce their fences.
2008 Samsung 500 Qualifying: Michael McDowell
It’s not uncommon to see drivers wreck during qualifying, but few, if any, ever are this bad. After crashing head-on into the SAFER Barrier at Texas Motor Speedway at speeds near 190 mph, McDowell’s No. 00 barrel-rolled eight times. Remarkably, he walked away uninjured.
2015 Coke Zero 400: Austin Dillon
One of the worst wrecks to happen after after the waving of a checkered flag, this crash is best known for Austin Dillon going airborne and hitting the Daytona catch fence. Though not to the extent of Larson’s wreck two years prior, fans were injured as a result of the crash, one of which sued NASCAR.
2010 Sunoco RedCross Pennsylvania 500: Elliott Sadler
Although the on-board footage failed to produce a good view of this wreck, the crash was nonetheless vicious. Sadler somehow wasn’t hurt by the face-first collision, but the same can’t be said for his No. 19’s engine, which ended up on Pocono Raceway’s infield grass.
2009 Aaron’s 499: Carl Edwards
Once again, a plate-race track has its catch fence put to the test. During the final lap at Talladega Superspeedway, Brad Keselowski clipped Edwards, sending him and his No. 99 into the fence. The front of his car was completely destroyed, but Edwards left the incident uninjured.
Thumbnail photo via Reinhold Matay/USA TODAY Sports Images