As NASCAR celebrates Halloween weekend at Martinsville Speedway, it is the perfect time to reflect on some of the weirder moments in the sport to date. Here are the top-10 weirdest happenings so far, with more undoubtedly to come.
10: The 2015 season got off to an admittedly weird start with both Busch brothers sitting out the biggest race of the year, the Daytona 500.
The elder Busch, @KurtBusch, was out of his Stewart-Haas Racing No. 41 Chevrolet after being suspended indefinitely by the sanctioning body after a family court judge in Delaware ruled that there was a ‘preponderance of the evidence’ that the driver ‘committed an act of domestic violence’ against Patricia Driscoll, Busch’s girlfriend at that time.
Regan Smith was tapped to replace Busch in the Great American Race and finished 16th.
Younger brother @KyleBusch was also out of the Daytona 500 but for very different reasons. The driver of the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota suffering a hard crash in the season opening XFINITY race, which resulted in a compound fracture of the right lower leg and a left mid-foot fracture.
Matt Crafton substituted for the ailing Busch brother in the Daytona 500 and finished 18th.
In spite of both of their absences from the early part of the season, both drivers have eerily managed to bounce back to compete this year in the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship.
9: There must have been something very strange in the water nine months ago with the plethora of NASCAR babies that have appeared on pit road. The newbies include Brexton Busch, Cash Bowyer, Owen Larson, Scarlett Keselowski, and Tanner Kahne just to name a few.
8: There have been a number of racers injured or taken ill this season, from Kyle Busch to Brian Vickers to Denny Hamlin most recently, however, one of the weirdest illnesses to strike was a fainting spell for Kyle Larson.
In fact, at the last race at Martinsville Speedway, @KyleLarsonRacin fell ill at an autograph session and was rushed to the hospital. The 2014 Rookie of the Year was evaluated at the hospital and it was determined that dehydration led to his fainting spell.
Regan Smith was again appointed the relief driver and again weirdly finished 16th in his substitute role, the same finishing spot that he had finished in relief of Kurt Busch at the Daytona 500.
7: The seventh weird occurrence in the season to date occurred at Pocono Raceway where three drivers had hard crashes into the pit wall that were eerily similar.
Ray Black Jr. suffered the first hit into pit wall during the Pocono Mountains 125 NASCAR Camping World Truck race. Jeb Burton then suffered the same fate when his race car plowed into the pit wall in Saturday’s final practice session.
The worst and almost identical crash into the pit wall was incurred by Kasey Kahne in the Windows 10 400 Cup race when his No. 5 Aquafina Chevrolet hit so hard that pit crew members went flying and the pit wall was so heavily damaged that the race had to be red flagged for almost 15 minutes for repairs.
@kaseykahne finished dead last in the race in the 43rd position, undoubtedly impacting his future inability to participate in the Chase.
6: Various types of critters created some very weird scenes at several different tracks this season. At Pocono Raceway, there was a weird sighting of what some called a squirrel, others called a cat, and still others deemed it a fox.
There was also a bunny at Bristol that stopped the Truck Series practice and a baby duck at Dover International Speedway that was indeed tough to corral before action could resume.
5: The fifth weirdest happening of the season to date occurred at the Richmond race in September. Racer Michael McDowell led the field in prayer to start the race and then strangely hit the safety vehicle while under caution.
@Mc_Driver was circling the track with the field under caution on Lap 288 when he slammed into the rear end of the safety truck after telling his team that he never saw the vehicle. McDowell went from prayer captain to troublemaker, having to take his own trip to the NASCAR hauler after the race.
Thankfully, there were no injuries and no inferno a la Juan Pablo Montoya when he hit the jet dryer at Daytona in the 2012 Daytona 500.
4: One of the most recent weird occurrences occurred when Austin Dillon and his girlfriend were almost taken out by pre-race pyrotechnics gone wild. A piece of fireworks misfired during opening ceremonies for the NASCAR XFINITY Series Drive for the Cure 300 at Charlotte Motor Speedway and came down right next to @austindillon3, burning his backside.
The No. 33 Richard Childress Racing driver soldiered on to win the race from the pole, however, showed off his burnt driver’s suit bottom in the media center after the race.
“I was praying with my girlfriend and I think it was a sign from God,” Dillon said after the race. “He said, ‘you’re getting ready to have a good night or something.’ Get your butt in gear.”
3: Many fans would no doubt say this has been one of the weirdest Chase runs to date as well, particularly with six-time champion Jimmie Johnson eliminated on the very first round of competition.
And on the flip side, not many had predicted that Joey Logano would win three races in a row and now sit on the pole for the Martinsville race, poised to potentially make history with four consecutive trips to Victory Lane.
2: With a track built on an ancient burial ground, there is no doubt that weird things do just happen at Talladega. Both races this season have oozed strangeness, with the ‘Big One’ occurring early at the first Talladega race.
Sixteen cars were involved in a wreck which occurred on Lap 47 when Trevor Bayne lost control, taking out Paul Menard, Kurt Busch, Joey Logano, Kevin Harvick, Kyle Larson, David Ragan, Danica Patrick and Kasey Kahne to name a few.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. went on to win the Geico 500, his first victory at Talladega Superspeedway in 20 races.
Strangely enough the fall and most recent Talladega race also involved @Tbayne6, who was crashed by Kevin Harvick, sparking the controversial ending to the CampingWorld.com 500. That race featured an aborted attempt at a green-white-checkered finish and then the wreck involving Harvick and Bayne.
Earnhardt Junior finished in second, however, was officially eliminated from the Chase as were Matt Kenseth, Denny Hamlin, and Ryan Newman.
1: The weirdest moment in the season has no doubt been the transformation of Tony to Tanya. Thanks to a tweet from Stewart-Haas Racing’s crew chief Tony Gibson that has gone viral, there was a ‘new’ driver apparently practicing in the No. 14 machine at Martinsville Speedway, with the name above the door magically transforming from Smoke to Tanya.
Just take a look at what drivers may be seeing in their rear view mirror on Sunday when the Goody’s 500 takes the green flag.
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