1. Fight Night in Texas
Mine goes to Texas 2014. Another great race at Texas spiked with memories when Jeff Gordon cut a tire as the result of contact from Brad Keselowski late in the race. The two met near the No. 2 on pit road thereafter. Not many expected Gordon to do what he did, but a little push from Kevin Harvick to Keselowski sparked one of the wildest moments, not only in playoff history, but in the sport’s history, when Gordon had Keselowski by the collar before the two disappeared into the crowd of pit crew members and others. Insane. – Zach Catanzareti
2. Night Night in Phoenix
Staying with the theme of Gordon being involved in a skirmish, there is no better choice than the 2012 playoff race at Phoenix International Speedway.
Gordon cut a tire after contact with Clint Bowyer. Gordon came back on the track with two laps to go and intentionally wrecked Bowyer. The crews collided in the infield and Bowyer chased after a fleeing Gordon. If Gordon had not done that, Bowyer would have likely been the 2012 Cup champion.
Imagine how much Bowyer’s and Michael Waltrip Racing’s trajectory would have changed had this incident never happened. NASCAR hit Gordon with a slap-on-the-wrist penalty; nowhere near as severe as the one it dished out to Matt Kenseth three years later. I have a ton of respect for Gordon, but he deserved for Bowyer to actually catch up to him in the infield that day. – Michael Massie
3. You Picked a Fine Time to Leave Me… well, you know
How about the very first playoffs when Kurt Busch, who had absolutely no chance at that championship without the new Chase, lost a wheel at Homestead and kept his composure, kept the car out of the wall, and went on to win the big trophy? Definitely an impressive feat. – Amy Henderson
4. Logano Is Not Most Popular Driver
I was at this race in the grandstands when so much was on the line for Dale Earnhardt Jr. in Earnhardt Country. Joey Logano didn’t even really need the victory after sweeping the round, and I remember fans booing Logano and throwing beer cans. After that round, Logano would get crashed by Kenseth the following weekend and then a flat tire at Texas would set up a must-win situation for the No. 22 team where weirdly, Earnhardt won the rain shortened race at Phoenix. Just weird to think what could’ve happened had Earnhardt won at Talladega and then at Phoenix. He’d have been in the final four at Homestead. – Christian Koelle
5. One More Time
The other one that stands out to me was Gordon’s win at Martinsville in 2015 to clinch his spot in the final four in his last season as a title contender. Gordon defined so much of the time I’ve been in the sport, and it was actually pretty cool to see how this one went down. While Gordon was one of those polarizing drivers in his younger years, there was nothing but respect from the fans that night.
Night fell along with the checkered flag after some delays, but many fans were reluctant to leave, knowing that they were potentially a part of the last victory for one of the greatest in the sport. As it turns out, they were. Seeing the fans staying to take in the celebration was pretty cool to see. – Henderson