The top 10 most iconic moments in NASCAR history

Car racing has seen huge changes over the years. Here are the 10 defining moments in NASCAR history:

  1. Dale Earnhardt’s 1998 Daytona 500 win after 19 tries.
  2. Richard Petty’s last and seventh Daytona 500 win in 1981.
  3. Cale Yarborough’s legendary fight with the Allison brothers in 1979.
  4. Jeff Gordon’s emotional 2001 Daytona 500 win, days after Dale Earnhardt’s passing.
  5. Jimmie Johnson’s five championship wins in a row between 2006-2010.
  6. Alan Kulwicki winning the Cup Championship by 1 point over Bill Elliott at the 1992 Hooters 500.
  7. Richard Petty and David Pearson’s crash in the final turn of the 1976 Daytona 500.
  8. Ricky Craven beating Kurt Busch by 0.002 seconds in the 2003 Carolina Dodge Dealers 400.
  9. The 2001 Pepsi 400, the first race at Daytona International Speedway after the September 11 attacks.
  10. Dale Earnhardt’s ‘Pass in the Grass’ at the 1987 All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

These moments showcase NASCAR’s passion and the passionate fans from all over the world who love car racing.


Here’s a summary of the top 10 most iconic moments in NASCAR history:

  1. Lee Petty won the very first Daytona 500 in 1959, after a 3-day photo finish.
  2. Richard Petty and David Pearson battled it out in the 1976 Daytona 500, ending in a last-lap crash with a surprising win.
  3. Dale Earnhardt’s death during the 2001 Daytona 500 caused NASCAR to improve their safety standards.
  4. Jimmie Johnson earned himself seven consecutive championships between 2006 and 2013.
  5. Jeff Gordon became the youngest champion in 1995, at 24 years old.
  6. Bill France Sr. founded NASCAR in 1948, beginning a racing dynasty.
  7. The 1969 Talladega 500 opened the world’s fastest and most dangerous superspeedway.
  8. Cale Yarborough and Donnie Allison’s brawl in the 1979 Daytona 500 made NASCAR popular.
  9. Dale Earnhardt won his sixth championship in 1994, solidifying his legacy as the Intimidator.
  10. Darrell Waltrip won the 1976 Richard Petty race with an amazing move called “the pass in the grass”, making him a star.

Iconic Moments from NASCAR Races

NASCAR boasts an array of incredible moments on the track. From Dale Earnhardt’s history-making win in the 1998 Daytona 500, to Jeff Gordon’s thrilling conclusion in the 2009 Coca-Cola 600. These moments have been seared into our memory! Let’s take a look at the top 10 most iconic NASCAR race moments.

The 1979 Daytona 500 – The Fight and Finish between Cale Yarborough, Donnie Allison, and Richard Petty

The 1979 Daytona 500 is legendary in NASCAR history. With a few laps to go, Cale Yarborough and Donnie Allison crashed into each other. Richard Petty seized the chance and won the race. But the drama didn’t end there. Yarborough and Allison had an argument that escalated into a physical fight with helmets and fists.

This incident brought NASCAR into the mainstream and made drivers famous. Millions of fans started tuning in to watch the races every week, marking the start of a new era.

The 1998 Daytona 500 – Dale Earnhardt finally wins the Great American Race

The 1998 Daytona 500 was a special event for NASCAR fans. After 20 years, Dale Earnhardt Sr. won the Great American Race. To make it more special, his son, Dale Earnhardt Jr., finished second. They embraced in Victory Lane, creating an emotional moment that is remembered forever.

Other iconic NASCAR moments include:

  • The 1979 Daytona 500 when the sport gained mainstream attention after a dramatic last-lap crash.
  • Sadly, the 2001 Daytona 500 was marred by the tragic death of Dale Earnhardt Sr. in a crash.

The 2001 Daytona 500 – The Tragic Death of Dale Earnhardt

The 2001 Daytona 500 is famous for the sad death of Dale Earnhardt. He was a NASCAR legend and his passing shocked the racing world.

It was also a milestone event as it was the first race with the new “Car of Tomorrow”. This design became the norm in NASCAR.

Other memorable moments include:

  • Richard Petty claiming his 7th championship in 1979
  • The first Daytona 500 in 1959
  • Jeff Gordon getting his first championship in 1995
  • Jimmie Johnson winning five championships in a row from 2006-2010
  • Bill Elliott and Alan Kulwicki’s dramatic finish in the 1992 Hooters 500.

These moments are part of NASCAR’s story and inspire racers everywhere.

The 2011 Daytona 500 – The First Race after the Loss of Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s Father

The 2011 Daytona 500 was an emotional event for Dale Earnhardt Jr. His dad, Dale Earnhardt Sr., had perished at the same track a decade before. As a tribute, Dale Jr. drove his #3 car to the race’s lead with only one lap left. Fans cheered him on as he led for a few moments, eventually finishing second. This showcased NASCAR’s resilience and cemented Dale Jr.’s status as a legend. It’s a moment that will never be forgotten by fans and drivers.

The 2018 Daytona 500 – Austin Dillon’s Emotional Win with the Legendary No. 3 Car

The 2018 Daytona 500 was an extraordinary event in NASCAR history. Austin Dillon’s emotional win with the legendary No. 3 car made it special.

The No. 3 car hadn’t won the Daytona 500 for 20 years, before Dillon crossed the finish line with the checkered flag. Dillon, a life-long fan of Dale Earnhardt Sr., was overcome with tears. He thanked his grandad, Richard Childress, Earnhardt Sr.’s former team owner, for choosing him to drive the renowned No. 3 car.

Dillon’s victory at the 2018 Daytona 500 was inspiring for NASCAR fans globally. It reminded them of the sport’s long history and the vital role legendary drivers and their cars have played in its formation.

NASCAR in Pop Culture

NASCAR has been a part of the public’s culture for a long time. It has featured in movies, TV programs, and more. Certain memorable moments in NASCAR history have become legendary in pop culture. Here we look at the top 10 most iconic NASCAR moments captured in pop culture.

Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby (2006)

The 2006 movie “Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby” was a funny look at NASCAR and its culture. It was fun and had some real racing drama, yet it can’t match the thrill of actual NASCAR events. With over 70 years of history, NASCAR has given us many iconic moments. Here are the top 10 most iconic NASCAR moments:

  1. The first Daytona 500 in 1959.
  2. Richard Petty’s 200th win.
  3. Dale Earnhardt’s win at the 1998 Daytona 500.
  4. Ricky Craven and Kurt Busch’s exciting finish at Darlington in 2003.
  5. Jeff Gordon’s championship win in 1995.
  6. The fatal last-lap crash at the 2001 Daytona 500, in which Dale Earnhardt Sr. passed away.
  7. Alan Kulwicki’s amazing 1992 championship win.
  8. The 1979 Daytona 500 fight between Petty and Cale Yarborough.
  9. Jimmie Johnson’s five consecutive championships from 2006-2010.
  10. Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s victorious Daytona race in 2001, his first after losing his dad.

These remarkable moments will always be remembered in NASCAR history, inspiring fans for many years.

Days of Thunder (1990)

The movie “Days of Thunder” became a significant symbol of NASCAR in pop culture. It inspired many fans globally and featured moments that became part of NASCAR’s history. Here are the top 10 iconic moments inspired by the movie:

  1. The “rubbing is racing” scene.
  2. An exciting final race with a dramatic finish.
  3. Harry Hogge explaining the importance of pit crews.
  4. Cole and Rowdy crashing and their crews racing to repair the cars.
  5. Aggressive driving and drafting scenes.
  6. Drivers arguing and brawling off the track.
  7. Showcasing the strategy and precision of pit crews.
  8. Crew chiefs making quick decisions about the cars.
  9. Capturing the thrill and excitement of the sport.
  10. The iconic line: “loose is fast and on the edge of out of control“.

Pro tip: “Days of Thunder” may have been fictional but it had a huge impact, immortalizing some of the sport’s most iconic moments.

NASCAR on TV and in Media Today

NASCAR has been a big part of pop culture. Here are the top 10 most iconic moments:

  1. Richard Petty’s 200th win.
  2. Dale Earnhardt’s “pass in the grass”.
  3. Jeff Gordon’s first Daytona 500 win.
  4. Bill Elliott’s Winston Million win.
  5. The 1992 Hooters 500.
  6. Darrell Waltrip’s first Daytona 500 win.
  7. Dale Earnhardt’s last win at the 2000 Winston 500.
  8. Rusty Wallace’s 1993 Cup Series Championship.
  9. Alan Kulwicki’s 1992 Cup Series Championship.
  10. Jimmie Johnson’s five consecutive Cup Series championships.

These moments are legendary. Millions of fans have watched them on TV. NASCAR’s history is full of these iconic moments, that helped it grow and become popular.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is the top 10 most iconic moments in NASCAR history?

A: The top 10 most iconic moments in NASCAR history are the following: Dale Earnhardt Sr.’s 1998 Daytona 500 win, Richard Petty’s seven championships, Jeff Gordon’s 1997 Daytona 500 victory, Jimmie Johnson’s five consecutive championships, Bobby Allison and Cale Yarborough’s 1979 Daytona 500 finish, Rusty Wallace’s dramatic 1989 win at Bristol, Dale Earnhardt Sr.’s 1987 “Pass in the Grass” move, Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s emotional 2001 victory at Daytona, Darrell Waltrip’s three championships, and Bill Elliott’s 1985 “Million Dollar” win.

Q: Why are these moments considered iconic?

A: These moments are considered iconic because they represent some of the most memorable and significant events in NASCAR history. They showcase incredible driving skills, intense competition, and emotional victories that have made a lasting impact on the sport.

Q: Who holds the record for most championships in NASCAR?

A: Richard Petty holds the record for most championships in NASCAR. He won seven championships between 1964 and 1979.

Q: What is the “Pass in the Grass” move?

A: The “Pass in the Grass” move was a daring move executed by Dale Earnhardt Sr. during the 1987 Winston All-Star Race. He drove his car through the grass on the front stretch to pass Bill Elliott and win the race.

Q: Why was Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s 2001 victory at Daytona so emotional?

A: Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s 2001 victory at Daytona was emotional because it came just five months after his father, Dale Earnhardt Sr., tragically passed away at the same track. It was a bittersweet moment for Earnhardt Jr. and his family.

Q: What was the significance of Bill Elliott’s 1985 “Million Dollar” win?

A: Bill Elliott’s 1985 “Million Dollar” win was significant because it was the first time a driver had won a million dollar prize for a single race. Elliott had a dominant season in 1985 and his win at the Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway cemented his place in NASCAR history.

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