Back in July, 22-year old Cole Custer attained one of the biggest shock individual results in NASCAR’s history, winning Kentucky’s Quaker State 400 at the age of just 22.
Impressively, the victory saw him fight his way up from 29th on the grid, usurping a front row locked out by seasoned heavyweights Kyle Busch, Joey Logano, and Kevin Harvick. The result has also given him fresh momentum, with just one top-ten finish in 16 races prior, but three in ten following.
Here are four more shock results from NASCAR history to rival it!
Trevor Bayne (2011)
Bayne had only experienced one NASCAR Cup Series race before the Daytona 500 of 2011. Held at a motorsport course known and celebrated worldwide, this event takes the spotlight every year, and it was Bayne who stole the show as early as a qualification. He looked strong, and earned the respect of many a better driver, with then four-time champion Jeff Gordon among those identifying him as a potential dark horse.
That respect would be justified emphatically, with Bayne leading a close race in the final few laps, beating off David Gilliland, Carl Edwards, and Bobby Labonte. Having turned 20 just the day before, he was the youngest winner in Cup Series history, but as can be seen below, he was ineligible to gain points:
Brad Keselowski (2009)
It is results such as Bayne’s star turn in 2011 that inspire people to look beyond the usual favorites in FOX Bet’s live wagering markets for NASCAR events during the racing season. With 40+ cars on the track at one time, and flashpoint events often rendering superior machinery or skill irrelevant, NASCAR is unpredictable at the best of times.
Talladega is prime ‘NASCAR country’, with stock car racing akin to a religion in such parts. With just three starts in the main Cup Series under Keselowski’s belt before this breakthrough race, his prior experience had been predominantly in the Xfinity Series – the lower tier of NASCAR, seen as little more than a proving ground for young talent.
Far from honoring the Talladega natives’ demand for blood and thunder, Keselowski’s win came about through conservative driving in the early stages and staying clear of the crashes sustained by drivers going for the early initiative. It was a gamble in itself, and the win was sealed when Keselowski used his extra fuel to move through traffic and fake a move on leader Carl Edwards.
The latter man promptly crashed when he botched an attempted return block and collided with Ryan Newman to grant Keselowski the win.
Wendell Scott (1964)
As the first black driver to race in any top-flight NASCAR race, and win one, this is a true watershed moment in the history of NASCAR. As was the unfortunate legacy of the time, in sports and in wider society, Scott missed out on many opportunities by virtue of his ethnicity. Even by 1964, after 12 years spent in the industry, Scott was unable to compete in every race.
In the heart of Jacksonville, FL, the rank outsider Scott finished first in a formidable field that included all-American fan-favorite Richard ‘The King’ Petty, who led for 103 laps:
However, authority figures in NASCAR did not officially acknowledge the win. It would be written into the official historical results two years later, but Scott never managed to hold the race trophy himself.
Kevin Harvick (2001)
Harvick’s shot came in tragic circumstances, with Dale Earnhardt’s death in the Daytona 500 of that year giving the namesake team owner Richard Childress an unforeseen opportunity to promote the young driver into the #29 car. The Atlanta event of 2001 would be only Harvick’s third-ever start in a senior race, and in a testament to his potential, his main rival for victory was the immortal Jeff Gordon.
As has been the case with victories attained by other motorsport giants, it went right down to the final lap, with the two Californians engaging in what amounted to a drag race. Ultimately, it was the spirit of Earnhardt that gave Harvick the power and pull to neutralize Gordon’s attempted high-side takeover and grab the upset victory.