5 Unforgettably Heated Dustups From the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series Season
What would a NASCAR Cup Series season be without controversy and, better yet, confrontations?
Thankfully, the 2022 campaign for NASCAR’s premier series featured plenty of them — and they involved quite a few drivers.
Next up, we’ll take a look at the five biggest dustups from the season that recently ended, ranking them in order from least memorable to most.
5) Brad Keselowski vs. Austin Dillon at New Hampshire
This one didn’t get a lot of attention, probably because it happened in one of the season’s more inconsequential, midyear races — and because it involved two drivers who rarely ran up front and contended for wins in 2022.
Nevertheless, Austin Dillon and Brad Keselowski were none too pleased with one another both during and after the race at Loudon, where they took turns swerving into each other on purpose under caution.
“We’ve gone at it a couple times the last two years,” Dillon said in a televised postrace interview on NBC Sports. “One time I hit really hard. I just don’t like the way certain people race me.”
Asked if the dustup warranted a conversation with Keselowski, Dillon replied tersely.
“Nah, I don’t talk to him.”
Keselowski, meanwhile, took a more conciliatory approach during a postrace interview, which you can watch on Youtube.
“It’s pretty hot in the cars, and when it’s hot in the cars, it ain’t no cooler in the helmets,” Keselowski said, adding that Dillon “has a right to be mad” because of contact they made last season at Michigan that caused Dillon to crash hard into the outside wall.
4) Chase Elliott vs. Kyle Larson at Fontana
It didn’t take long at all — only the season’s second race — for tempers to really start to flare among competitors. And in this case, it involved teammates, no less.
In a three-way battle for the lead with Joey Logano with just over 20 laps to go at Auto Club Speedway, Hendrick Motorsports teammates Chase Elliott and Kyle Larson touched as they neared the entrance to Turn 1. The contact — which occurred after Larson inexplicably slid up the track — left Elliott with nowhere to go, resulting in Elliott’s No. 9 Chevy hitting the wall and then spinning shortly thereafter.
His chances of a win ruined by Larson’s bold move, Elliott minced no words over his in-car radio. “That wasn’t even f***ing close,” an irate Elliott said. “I mean, I’m like way, way outside [of Larson].”
Before Larson went on to score a playoff-clinching win, the reigning Cup Series champion apologized over his in-car radio, claiming the contact was unintentional.
“Damn it, I’m sorry. I didn’t know he was there,” Larson said.
Check out the radio exchange between Larson and his team, and the exchange between Elliott and crew chief Alan Gustafson, in the video below.
3) Joey Logano vs. William Byron at Darlington
Take two of the NASCAR Cup Series’ more aggressive drivers and put them in a fierce battle for the lead with under two laps to go at the track “Too Tough to Tame,” and chaos is almost certain to ensue.
So it was in the Cup Series’ first trip to Darlington when Joey Logano executed a classic bump-and-run-style move on William Byron in turns 3 and 4 coming to the white flag.
Byron subsequently slid up into the wall and lost multiple positions before the checkered flag waved, while Logano cruised to his first victory of 2022 by a comfortable margin.
Afterward, a fuming Byron had nothing nice to say about Logano.
“He’s just an idiot,” the Hendrick Motorsports driver said in a televised postrace interview, which is preserved on Youtube. “He does this stuff all the time. I’ve seen it with other guys, and he drove in there 10 miles an hour too fast. … He’s just a moron. He can’t win a race, so he does it that way.”
Logano claimed the contact was retaliation for Byron running into him a few laps earlier.
“You’re not going to put me in the wall and not get anything back,” the Team Penske driver said in his televised postrace interview. “That’s how that works.”
2) Denny Hamlin and Chase Elliott vs. Ross Chastain at Gateway
Ross Chastain spent a large portion of the season as public enemy No. 1 in the NASCAR Cup Series garage, angering driver after driver with his no-holds-barred, exceedingly aggressive approach.
Among those whom Chastain rubbed the wrong way, both literally and figuratively, were Chase Elliott, Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch, and Martin Truex Jr.
Hamlin and Elliott’s frustration with Chastain boiled over, however, in the June race at World Wide Technology Raceway, where both drivers took opportunities to retaliate against the Trackhouse Racing driver after Chastain ran into each of them earlier in the event.
Hamlin was especially livid, attempting multiple times to exact revenge on Chastain despite competing with a car that was damaged from contact with the wall following Chastain’s initial bump.
Although Chastain apologized profusely after the race for his collisions with Hamlin and Elliott, Hamlin was in no mood to forgive when told during a televised postrace interview that Chastain admitted responsibility.
“We all have learned the hard way, and we’ve all had it have to come back around on us,” Hamlin said. “It’ll be no different [for Chastain].”
1) Bubba Wallace vs. Kyle Larson at Las Vegas
Hands down, the biggest brouhaha of the 2022 season took place in the Round of 8 opener at Las Vegas. The combatants were Kyle Larson and Bubba Wallace, and the feud started when Larson’s No. 5 car wobbled off Turn 4 while running inside of Wallace’s No. 45.
Contact between the two cars sent Wallace bouncing off the wall and prompted Wallace to retaliate in short order by driving straight down the track and deliberately clipping Larson in the right-rear quarter panel, which sent Larson barreling toward the outside wall at rough 160 miles per hour. The contact also ended Wallace’s day.
Both drivers thankfully walked away uninjured, but Wallace wasn’t done letting Larson know exactly how he felt. The 23XI Racing driver jumped out of his wrecked car and headed straight for Larson, yelling in the Hendrick Motorsports driver’s face and shoving him multiple times before finally walking away.
Wallace’s consequence for intentionally wrecking Larson at such a high speed was a one-race NASCAR suspension, which Wallace claimed to be OK with despite later suggesting that NASCAR had treated him unfairly.