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NASCAR’s current top rivalries

During the cycle of new drivers in and old drivers out, drivers of all ranks have been getting into with each other over the past few seasons. Some drivers have bad blood with one other driver, and others with multiple. Let’s take a look at who has a beef with who, and for what reasons.

Denny Hamlin and Chase Elliott

The Hamlin and Elliott incidents were some of the most interesting storylines to follow near the conclusion of the 2017 season. Although a win for either driver would lock them into the Championship 4, Hamlin was in a solid points position to advance. Elliott, on the other hand, wasn’t in as great of a position. A win was the most likely scenario for him to advance to the Championship 4. With only four laps to go at Martinsville, Elliott was leading the race and looking like he may get his first win in NASCAR’s top series. But, after a late restart, Denny Hamlin put the bumper to the rear end of Elliott’s 24 car and sent him spinning into the outside wall. Although Elliott’s car wasn’t totaled, it was damaged enough to take him out of contention for a win, and significantly hurt his Championship hopes.

Watch the Martinsville incident:

Two weeks later at Phoenix, Elliott returned the favor. Both drivers were running in the top-10 when things began to heat up. Elliott was all but knocked out of the playoffs, clinging to the hope that a could win his way into the Championship 4. Hamlin was sitting in the Championship 4 on points as the laps wound down. As Elliott passed Hamlin, he squeezed Hamlin’s car into the wall and forced contact between his car and Hamlin’s, and Hamlin’s car and the wall. Hamlin developed a tire rub and eventually, the tire blew. When his tire blew, it sent his car straight into the outside wall, damaging his car enough to take him out of the race.

Watch Elliott’s retaliation at Phoenix:

Hamlin finished 35th after leading a race-high 193 laps. The finish didn’t gain enough points to advance to the Championship 4.

Denny Hamlin and Darrell Wallace Jr.

This might be the newest rivalry brewing on the track this season. During the season-opening race at Daytona, the final lap, or maybe the last hundred feet or so, is where Hamlin and Wallace Jr.’s first on-track incident occurred.

As they came to the start-finish line for the final time the two slammed together door-to-door. Each driver tried to edge the other for the second place finish. Darrell “Bubba” Wallace Jr. was awarded the runner-up finish as he beat Hamlin by a mere few inches.

Watch their door-to-door finish and post-race interview:

Although incidents like this aren’t very uncommon, the post-race interview is what really added fuel to the fire.

While talking to a reporter, Wallace was asked about the end of the race and how Hamlin and himself collided at the finish. He commented, “I wanna see the replay before I say anything stupid, but he might need to take some Adderall for that one.”

His Adderall comment was referring to something Hamlin said in the days leading up to the 500. Hamlin estimated that nearly 70% of NASCAR drivers use Adderall, which is only allowed on a prescription basis. Many drivers, including Kevin Harvick, took exception to the comment and weren’t happy with Hamlin heading into the 500.

After Hamlin heard Wallace’s post-race interview, he was extremely displeased with what was said. He told reporters that he was fine with how the race ended, but he didn’t like the “personal comments” Wallace made about him.

Watch their post-race confrontation:

Since then, Hamlin kicked Wallace Jr. out of his two recreational sports leagues. “The Hoop Group” and “The Golf Guys” were the two leagues he was kicked out of. Both leagues include several other NASCAR drivers. Hamlin used intermediaries to text Wallace and let him know he wasn’t welcome back in the league.

We’ll have to see how this new and budding rivalry plays out this season on the track. Also, we’ll have to see if Bubba ever gets any time on the court or the greens with Hamlin ever again.

Kyle Busch and Brad Keselowski

Kyle Busch and Brad Keselowski have an ongoing rivalry that started years ago and seems to be rekindled every season. A large reason behind it is that the two are both at the top of the sport. There can only be one winner each week and one champion at the end of the season.

Both drivers have won a championship, Keselowski in 2012 and Busch in 2015. Busch has accumulated 43 NASCAR Monster Energy Cups Series (NMECS) wins, while Keselowski is a few behind with 24.

The two drivers haven’t just had run-ins at the NMECS level, they’ve also had incidents in NASCAR’s second-tier series, the Xfinity Series. In this series, Busch leads with a series-high 90 wins, while Keselowski sits fifth on the all-time list with 37.

Some of their incidents that have built up this rivalry didn’t even occur on the track.

Keselowski claimed that the Toyota drivers were “sandbagging” at Michigan International Speedway in 2017. The Fords and Chevrolets were running fastest but Keselowski believed it was because the Toyotas were holding back and didn’t push the limits to the advantage that they had.

Then at Chicagoland the Toyotas ran 1-2-3-4 at opening practice, which prompted Keselowski to fire off this tweet.

Photo from @KyleBusch twitter

Brad tweeted “We are all in for a rude awakening. Haven’t seen NASCAR let a manufacturer get this far ahead since the 70s,” Busch took exception to the comment and responded with the “NSFW” tweet pictured above.

Catch up on the Busch vs. Brad incidents here:

The two haven’t had any incidents yet in 2018, but we’re only a handful of races into the season. With 30 plus races to go, the two are sure to find each other and trade some serious paint.

Kyle Busch and Joey Logano

Kyle Busch doesn’t just have a beef with one Team Penske driver, he has a beef with two of them! Joey Logano and Busch have a handful of incidents over the past few years that have built this rivalry up. Plus, Logano and Busch were teammates for four years when Logano first entered the series back in 2009.

Their most prominent incident occurred at the end of the Las Vegas race in 2017. On the final lap, literally the final turn, Logano got underneath Busch and spun him out. Busch was running third with Logano in fourth just feet behind him. Logano dumped Busch, sending him spinning down pit road. Busch would end up finishing 22nd and Logano fourth.

After both drivers parked there cars, Busch made his way over to Logano’s car and things got heated, and physical.

Watch how their heated interaction played out here:

It appeared that Busch landed a solid right hook on Logano before he was mobbed by members of Logano’s crew. Busch is seen being dragged out of the mess with a bloody forehead and a raged look on his face. Surprisingly, neither driver was punished for this incident

The two drivers have been relatively incident-free since then, but who knows how long that lasts. If you ask Kyle Busch, he’ll say that he owes Logano one, but if you ask Joey he’ll probably say they’re good.

There’s a lot of racing to go this season, watch out for this rivalry to heat up. Both drivers have been fast and running at the front of the pack all season long; they’re bound to tangle late in a race for a win.


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