Sports rivalries have always added excitement and intrigue, and NASCAR is no exception. Over the years, numerous racetrack rivalries have added fuel to the competition and made fans want to delve deeper into the sport.

Here are some of the more well-known NASCAR rivalries, from the ’60s to more modern-day showdowns. So start your engines, because it’s sure to be a bumpy ride!

Where It All Began: David Pearson vs. Richard Petty

The rivalry between Richard Petty and David Pearson has gone down in the annals of NASCAR history as the one that started it all. It started in the 1960s and continued into the 1970s, and many NASCAR fans know about it, even if they weren’t born in that era.

Petty, also known as “The King,” had a remarkable career, winning 200 races and seven championships. Pearson, known as the “Silver Fox,” was also an accomplished driver with 105 victories and three championships.

These sporting legends created many unforgettable moments on the track, not just for their driving prowess but also because of their clashes. One of their most unforgettable showdowns was during the 1976 Daytona 500. They collided as they approached the finish line, sending both cars spinning out of control. Despite the chaos, Pearson managed to restart his car and cross the finish line, winning the race.

The Petty-Pearson rivalry significantly impacted NASCAR, elevating its popularity and setting the stage for future driver rivalries. Their fierce competition and mutual respect for each other’s talents became a defining aspect of NASCAR culture.

The Wonder Boy and The Intimidator: Jeff Gordon vs. Dale Earnhardt Senior

In the 1990s, two of NASCAR’s biggest names, Dale Earnhardt Sr. and Jeff Gordon, engaged in a legendary rivalry that captivated fans and created an electric atmosphere at the racetrack. Dale Earnhardt Sr., known for his bold and daring approach to racing, earned seven championships. Meanwhile, Jeff Gordon, a young phenom, quickly rose to success with his polished and calculated driving style, winning four championships.

The intense rivalry between the two drivers produced some unforgettable on-track battles. Gordon executed a bold bump-and-run maneuver to snatch victory from Earnhardt Sr. in the closing laps of the 1995 Bristol Night Race. In the ‘90s, this feud helped boost NASCAR’s popularity, as fans were eager to watch when these two were on the track together.

Champion Clash: Jeff Gordon vs. Tony Stewart

Jeff Gordon had not one but two intense rivalries in the NASCAR arena, though it should come as no surprise. With great wins comes great competition, and these two drivers amassed seven championships between them.

Tony Stewart, known as “Smoke,” had passion behind the wheel and off the track, while Jeff Gordon was the complete opposite—calm and calculated in his approach to driving. Due to the contrast in their approaches, they had a compelling rivalry. Their rivalry was intense, as both drivers never backed down from a fight. A memorable example of their fierce competition occurred during the 2000 Watkins Glen race, where they engaged in an exciting duel for the lead, resulting in Stewart winning the race.

Despite their heated confrontations on the track, Stewart and Gordon developed a mutual respect. This respect was evident when Stewart retired in 2016, and Gordon personally congratulated him on his career achievements.

The Contemporary Duel: Brad Keselowski vs. Kyle Busch

Kyle Busch and Brad Keselowski are two highly successful NASCAR drivers who have captivated fans with their feud for many years. Busch’s nickname amongst his peers is “Rowdy,” and there’s a reason for it. He is unapologetic in his approach to racing, but Keselowski gives him a run for his money as a fierce competitor with many race wins to his name.

Their tensions started at the NASCAR Xfinity Series and carried over into the NASCAR Cup Series, resulting in several high-profile incidents. These drivers have used their rivalry to push each other to greater heights and provide much entertainment for many NASCAR fans.