The Most Controversial Drivers in NASCAR History

Antagonist, villain, contentious: These are all words that describe controversial athletes in every sport. In NASCAR, the most combative personalities can make the difference between driving to Victory Lane, or ending the day in a concrete wall. In a sport that has just 43 drivers on the track during any given weekend, NASCAR still has a long list of notorious drivers. Some have even earned monikers like “Rowdy” and “Intimidator” that perfectly encapsulate their personalities behind the wheel. From scandals off the track to causing commotion on the track, here’s a look at three of the most controversial drivers in the sport.


Dale Earnhardt: He may have been a fan favorite, but Dale Earnhardt wasn’t the easiest to share a track with. Earning the nickname “Intimidator” for his brazen style of driving, Earnhardt would use any tactics necessary to earn a win. Spinning out drivers late in a race was a common occurrence for Earnhardt, and it didn't matter who was ahead of him. His untimely death during the 2001 Daytona 500 also helped propel him to icon status in the sport.

Kurt Busch: One of the “bad boys” of the sport, Busch had a run-in with Jimmy Spencer and received a reckless driving citation. Trouble followed him with Penske because he was always upset with the team and members of the media. That all came to a head a few years ago when he earned probation for an altercation with Ryan Newman. He followed that up with a suspension after a volatile conversation with reporter Bob Pockrass. Of course, those issues pale in comparison to what happened off the track. NASCAR suspended Busch prior to the Daytona 500 for actions detrimental to stock car racing after he was arrested for domestic abuse involving his ex-girlfriend. 

Darrell Waltrip: Nicknamed “Jaws" for his aggressive style, Darrell Waltrip lived up to the name nearly every time he hit the track. Getting into altercations with the likes of Cale Yarborough, Bobby Allison and Dale Earnhardt throughout his career, Waltrip didn't make a habit of keeping friends. After a career filled with testing NASCAR and often criticizing the sport, Waltrip went on to become a commentator with Fox.