The 2019 NASCAR season began with high hopes and exciting prospects. The first few weeks of the season seemed to confirm that the drivers, teams, and racing fans had adjusted well to the new season, as they enjoyed some close and exciting races.
Then the proverbial clouds darkened. On May 12th, 2019, Dale Earnhardt Jr. died in a horrific accident at the Kansas Speedway. The following week, the world of NASCAR was rocked by more devastating news: Tony Stewart was arrested for hitting and injuring another driver – this time, it was Kevin Ward Jr. Who knows how long the current downturn will continue.
After those two tragedies, it seemed a bleak summer lay ahead. But this year’s racing season turned out to be one of the most exciting in recent memory. Although there were difficult weeks, the 2019 NASCAR season ended on a high note, as the drivers, teams, and fans came together to celebrate one of the most incredible years in recent memory.
This past season was filled with amazing moments, some of which are on this list. Here, we take a look back at the top 10 shocking moments from the 2019 NASCAR season.
1. Kevin Ward Jr. Wrecks Out Of The No. 83 Chevy
One accident on the racetrack doesn’t mean much, but two in a week, especially after the death of Dale Earnhardt Jr., was a shock to the entire NASCAR community. The son of the late, great Dale Earnhardt was hurt while racing at the Talladega Superspeedway and had to be transported to the hospital. It was later revealed that he broke both legs and two ribs on the violent twist-and-turn crash. Ward, who was 22 at the time, was also charged with causing injury to a police officer who was investigating the accident.
It was a jarring reminder of the risks of racing – and the dangers that the drivers and the fans face on a daily basis. The young man from Ooltewah, Tennessee, had become a symbol of the dangerous nature of auto racing. Afterward, NASCAR modified their rules, ensuring increased protection for their drivers. Additionally, all cars in the garage must be equipped with more advanced safety features. Ward’s car was also confiscated and will be modified to improve safety.
2. Brad Keselowski Sets The Bar High In A Pre-Season Accident
When NASCAR is on the move, nothing can stop them. And even when they’re not, you can often find them camping out at the tracks, setting up campfires, and having fun. The sport just brings out the best in people. In this case, it was Kevin Harvick who set the bar high, before the 2019 season even began, by crashing in a pre-season testing session at the Daytona International Speedway. The former NASCAR Cup series champion was doing some research on driving styles when he lost control of his No. 29 Chevrolet and slammed into the wall in turn 1.
Harvick’s crash was a shocking blow to the NASCAR community. Not only did it occur during a pre-season testing session, but it was one of the most well-known drivers in the sport who suffered a major accident. Although he walked away from the crash without serious injuries, the incident still weighed heavily on him throughout the season. At one point, he contemplated quitting racing altogether. Luckily, he was talked out of it by his wife, Sandra.
3. Daniel Despres Dies In An Overtaking Scenario
While we’re on the subject of shocking incidents, Daniel Despres’ untimely death at the age of 42 in August of 2019 would have to be included here, as well. The popular French journalist was killed when a truck slammed into the car he was riding in, at a live telecast during the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Road America in Elkhart, Wisconsin. Despres was a well-known and respected figure in the motorsport world, frequently appearing on TV and writing for several publications, including Top Gear and Racetechnica. He is survived by his wife, Bernadette, and their two daughters, Clemence and Mélanie.
The accident initially happened when Kyle Busch, who was driving a few cars behind Despres in the opposite direction, tried to pass him. The attempt went horribly wrong, however, when Busch’s tail-gating caused him to drift towards the outside wall and hit it. This, in turn, caused the truck to fishtail and hit the stationary vehicle. The impact was so great that the truck’s trailer was pulled off and the cab crushed, ultimately causing Despres’ death. Following the incident, NASCAR suspended Busch for three races.
4. Justin Allgaier’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Career Ends In A Nightmare
The most devastating accident of the 2019 season took place at the Milwaukee Mile in early June. NASCAR driver Justin Allgaier was at the track testing his No. 54 Chevrolet when it suddenly crashed and burst into flames. Luckily, nobody was hurt. But the crash was so violent that it leveled the car and sent pieces of metal flying in all directions. The only reason Allgaier wasn’t seriously injured was because he dove out of the way just in time. Had he been any slower, he would have been hit by one of the flying fragments. The 22-year-old had only been racing for a few years, but had already amassed an impressive resume. He had finished 12th, 7th, and 3rd in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series standings in his first three years. Allgaier also drove for Team Penske in the INDYCAR series and in 2019, he competed in 20 races for them, with three Top 5s, eleven Top 10s, and five DNFs (Did Not Finishes).
5. Joey Logano’s NASCAR Career Ends In A Nightmare.
A little over a month later, on July 5th, 2019, NASCAR driver Joey Logano suffered a horrific accident at the Daytona International Speedway. As Logano rounded a corner at high speed, his car hit the outside wall and sent it tumbling down the track. He was unable to control the car and it barrel-rolled several times before eventually coming to a stop, wedged underneath a parked vehicle. After the accident, Logano suffered a stroke, partially stemming from severe concussion. He spent several weeks in a coma and endured several more weeks of intense physical therapy. According to his brother, Jay, it was not until the end of August that Logano was finally allowed to leave the hospital. During those weeks, the entire NASCAR community and family, including friends and fans, had to wait anxiously for his condition to improve. In the end, it was a difficult battle but one that he eventually won. In early October, Logano made his first public appearance in months, showing off his fully recovered tongue and offering to tell anyone who asked that they could all have fun at parties. In December, he returned to the track for the first time, in almost a year, in a private testing session with a group of reporters and photographers. It has been a long road back for the 40-year-old, but he has shown no ill effects from the accident and has returned to racing, including the iconic Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championship. In the summer of 2020, he will make his return to the track in a Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race, as the season gets underway. He will be accompanied by a police escort, due to his celebrity status and fan base.
6. Joey Logano’s Brother Tackles Cancer In His Own Powerful Way.
While we’re on the subject of shocking accidents, let’s not forget about Jay Logano, who took on cancer in his own powerful way in October of 2019. After his close call with death at the hands of the wall at Daytona, Jay turned to social media, where he has more than 500,000 followers, and shared his story. Inspired by his brother’s positive attitude and determined to keep his legacy alive, he established the Jay Logano Fund, a non-profit organization that assists cancer patients by covering medical costs and furnishing them with financial aid. Since its inception, the fund has offered more than $1.5 million in assistance to cancer patients across North America. The fund’s goal is to give back to the community that helped save Jay’s life and continue to support his recovery. In the summer of 2020, Jay will return to the track at the Kentucky Speedway in a Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race, accompanied by a police escort.