WATCH: The Five Biggest Crashes at the Daytona 500

Published 02/11/2021, 10:07 AM EST
DAYTONA BEACH, FL – JULY 06: Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide Stars and Stripes Chevrolet, takes the checkered flag to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coke Zero 400 Powered by Coca-Cola at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Chris Trotman/NASCAR via Getty Images)

One of the most common sights in NASCAR is of multiple cars crashing, a phenomenon popularly known as ‘The Big One.’ In these kinds of situations, things usually start when a few cars clip each other and trigger a chain reaction. Obviously, there have been multiple wrecks at the Daytona International Speedway during the Daytona 500.


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So, this does beg the question, ‘what are the biggest crashes at the 500’?

Fortunately, a large majority of these crashes have been non-fatal. On the other side of the fence, NASCAR did serve a couple of reminders on why the sport is so dangerous, case in point, Dale Earnhardt.

1960 Daytona 500

Around this time, the race was still in its infancy, as this was the second-ever race. However, this race was memorable because it bore witness to the largest car accident in history. The carnage was so great that it wiped out an astounding 37 cars. Apparently, the crash took place on the fourth and final corner and a vast majority of drivers were sitting ducks.

Chaotic finish in 2007

Back in 2007, Kevin Harvick barely defeated Mark Martin by 0.02 seconds. However, the real drama unfolded behind the two race leaders. Around the time of the incident, Martin was in the lead, while Harvick was somewhere in the top five.

However, the latter managed to use the slipstream to his advantage and rocket up the order, alongside Martin. In the last couple of corners, Kyle Busch got turned around after hitting the apron, and everyone else reacted to the spinning Hendrick Motorsports car. At some point in the crash, Clint Bowyer’s #07 Chevrolet slid upside down while on fire.

Danica Patrick takes flight at the Daytona 500

With 16 laps to go, Danica Patrick brought out the sixth caution of the day. While jostling for position, Greg Biffle got a massive tow from her and made to overtake, but the #10 car clipped him and spun off.

Luckily, she didn’t flip out of control or have a smoky spin out. However, during her trip across the grass, she hit a few bumps and briefly got some air time.

Ryan Newman gets serious air time

In 2003, Michael Waltrip clinched victory at the Daytona 500 for the second time in three seasons. However, the real story was a gnarly accident for Ryan Newman.

After his #12 Dodge clipped the wall, the car spun out of control before going airborne and flipping head-over-heels. All the while, metal confetti and tires rained down on everyone.

Even the ‘King’ is not immune to crashing at the Daytona 500

Evidently, NASCAR crashes care little about legendary status. Back in 1988, seven-time Cup Series champion Richard Petty got involved in a violent accident that sent a literal shower of debris.

It was fortunate that he lived to tell the tale and walk away from the crash. Since then, he has gone on to race in four more Daytona 500 races before retiring at the end of the 1992 season.



Dhruv George

12013 articles

Dhruv George is a senior Formula One and NASCAR analyst for EssentiallySports, having authored nearly 12000 articles spanning different sports like F1, NASCAR, Tennis, NFL, and eSports. He graduated with a PG Diploma in Journalism from the Xavier Institute of Communications. Dhruv has also conducted interviews with F1 driver Pierre Gasly and Moto2 rider Tony Arbolino.