The Frontstretch: The Best (and Worst) NASCAR Helmet Throws by Kevin Rutherford -- Wednesday August 29, 2012

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The Best (and Worst) NASCAR Helmet Throws

Kevin's Corner · Kevin Rutherford · Wednesday August 29, 2012


So, it happened again.

No, I’m not talking particularly about the amount of accidents and subsequent cautions in last weekend’s Bristol night races for the Cup and Nationwide series, though I will say they certainly spiced up the action and definitely lead to what I’m going to talk about.

Just a few weeks after Todd Bodine’s helmet toss (and miss) at Nelson Piquet, Jr. to express his displeasure at their Pocono incident, Tony Stewart hurled his in Matt Kenseth’s general direction during the Bristol Cup race — with a direct hit squarely on Kenseth’s hood.

It’s been awhile since we’ve even talked this much about helmet throwing. Remember when it was practically expected during a night short track race, when tempers could get their most flared?

With the advent of YouTube, it’s easier than ever to find footage of said incidents. Of course, that’s not to say that all instances are on the video site (or at least readily available in clip form), but especially following Stewart’s throw, one has a wealth of videos from which to choose.

Let’s go over that which I could find, the incidents that occurred prior to the recent shenanigans. Disclaimer: some drivers, you’ll find, have a slightly better aim than others.

Robby Gordon vs. Michael Waltrip, 2005 Sylvania 300, New Hampshire

Oh, Robby Gordon, how I miss you. Always an unapologetic character of the sport, Gordon was well-known for housing a slightly volatile temper, represented quite succinctly with this tangle with Michael Waltrip in 2005. Gordon’s got balls here — sure, the race is under caution, but he walks out in the path of oncoming traffic regardless, winging his helmet at the side of Waltrip’s No. 15 and nearly hitting the driver window. Mikey’s response? “Well, that’s just rude. It was his fault!”

Elliott Sadler vs. Ryan Newman, 2002 Winston, Charlotte

This one’s my favorite. Why? After being wrecked by Ryan Newman, Elliott Sadler is standing on the apron of turn one at Charlotte, a fairly sizable track. Under caution, Newman’s car is in the outside lane, above Kevin Harvick. Think that’s a problem? Not for a former basketball player. Sadler wings his helmet from the apron, over Harvick’s car, nearly hitting Newman’s window right on the money. Now that’s an arm.

Dale Jarrett vs. Bobby Hillin, Jr., 1993 Food City 500, Bristol

Many decided to compare Stewart’s recent throw with this other Bristol toss, in which Dale Jarrett expresses his frustration at Bobby Hillin, Jr. in the Junie Donlavey-owned No. 90. Funniest to me is Jarrett’s comments afterward — “People just don’t use their head sometimes,” he vented. They do, however, sometimes use their head protection, which is exactly what the up-and-coming driver did. The helmet bounces off Hillin’s car, comes back and almost hits Jarrett.

Tony Raines vs. Robby Gordon, 2007 200, Charlotte

Oh hey, look, Robby Gordon’s involved in one of these again. This time, he’s getting thrown at, following an incident with Tony Raines. Unfortunately, Raines’ throwing arm isn’t the best, and his helmet just kinda bounces off the ground before glancing off Gordon’s car. It’s not very effective.

And on two slightly related notes:

Matt Kenseth vs. Safety Worker, 2009 Aaron’s 312, Talladega

OK, OK, I know Kenseth wasn’t actually trying to hit the safety worker following his accident, but it gives me a good laugh nonetheless.

Bobby Labonte vs. His Own Car, 1996 Goody’s Headache Powder 500, Bristol

…well, at least this way, his helmet still ends up inside his car, rather than getting run over on the track somewhere. Right?

Have any other instances of helmet tossing in NASCAR over the years, documented by video or otherwise? Leave us a comment to let us know some of your favorites.

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08/29/2012 12:09 PM

Maybe they should have a helmet tossing competition at ‘dega.