Posted: Friday February 18, 2005 9:05AM; Updated: Friday February 18, 2005 9:12AM
Richard Petty (43) and Bobby Allison (22) had a lengthy feud.
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When Kevin Harvick put his No. 29 Chevy into the rear of Jimmie Johnson's car Thursday at Daytona to start a multi-car crash, he helped remind us what makes NASCAR the fastest-growing major sport: a nasty feud. Sure enough, Johnson angrily told reporters afterward that Harvick should not only be fined, but also fired. With Sunday's Daytona 500 looming, here are some of the other great feuds, brawls and scuffles in NASCAR history.
1. Cale Yarborough vs. the Allison brothers The 1979 Daytona 500 helped put the formerly regional sport on the mainstream map thanks to "The Fight." It was the first full NASCAR race shown nationwide on network TV, and a blizzard in the Northeast gave CBS a captive audience. They saw Yarborough try to slingshot past Donnie Allison for the lead on the final lap, with both cars smashing into the wall on Turn 3. Richard Petty swooped by for the win, but what most people remember is Bobby Allison pulling alongside a squabbling Donnie and Yarborough. Yarborough promptly smacked Bobby in the face with his helmet, prompting Allison to get out of his car and rain haymakers. Here's Bobby's version: "He went to beating on my fist with his nose. That's my story and I'm sticking to it."
2. Jimmy Spencer vs. Kurt Busch Spencer isn't the only driver who thinks the brash 25-year-old Busch, the reigning NASCAR champ, needs to learn some manners. But the man known as Mr. Excitement is the only one to make the point with his fist. The drivers knocked heads and fenders in both 2001 and 2002, and Busch called Spencer a "decrepit old has-been" with the "brain of a peanut." At Michigan in 2003, Busch rammed Spencer from behind and was caught on his crew's radio saying that he had intentionally tried to "flatten the fender." After the race, Spencer tracked down Busch and popped him in the nose while Busch still sat in his car.
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3. Dale Earnhardt vs. Darrell Waltrip The Intimidator seemingly feuded with half of NASCAR during his career, notably with Geoff Bodine, but his rivalry with the smooth-talking Waltrip was the most colorful. Waltrip ruled NASCAR in the early '80s and enjoyed denigrating the more rough-hewn Earnhardt, once noting that "for the first time in racing they've found a way to put the hood behind the wheel." Earnhardt turned the tide in their battle at Richmond in 1986, brazenly turning into Waltrip's car as Waltrip passed him for the lead and planting his rival headfirst into the guardrail. From that point on, Earnhardt won 61 more races to 17 for Waltrip, compared to DW's 52-15 lead heading into Richmond.
4. Richard Petty vs. Bobby Allison The longtime drivers feuded for much of their careers and even beyond. In the late '90s, Petty was ticketed for rear-ending a slowpoke in the left lane on Interstate 85 near Charlotte after the other driver had purposefully slammed on the brakes. Allison, who knew the tactic well from his paint-trading days with the King, couldn't resist needling Petty at the next race. "Hey, Richard," Allison said, "that guy on I-85 must have looked like me." Responded Petty, "Naw, he was just acting like you."