Photo: Jason Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR

Throwback Thursday Theater: The Monster Mile Lives Up to Its Nickname

By David Morgan, Associate Editor

A decade ago, Dover International Speedway showed its true colors in the late stages of the 2011 running of the NASCAR Xfinity Series 5-Hour Energy 200, leading to one of the craziest crashes seen at the one-mile concrete oval.

As the laps wound down, Carl Edwards seemed to have the race in the bag, holding a steady lead over the other dominant driver of the day, Joey Logano. That is until Michael Annett spun out on the frontstretch with three laps to go, pushing the race into overtime.

Though Edwards got the jump on the restart for the first attempt at a green-white-checkered finish, the field didn’t even make it a lap before the caution was out again – this time for Eric McClure’s stalled Chevrolet.

On the subsequent restart for the second green-white-checkered attempt, Logano was able to keep pace with Edwards, running side-by-side with him all the way until the two entered Turn 3 heading toward the white flag.

With Logano on the high side and Edwards on the low side, Logano pulled his Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota ahead momentarily before Edwards got loose underneath him and washed up the track. Though the two never touched, the move took the air off of Logano’s car, sending him into the outside wall at the exit of Turn 4.

After contacting the outside wall, Logano came careening back across the track, clobbering Clint Bowyer’s Chevrolet, forcing his car up onto its side and temporarily airborne as it headed toward the pit road retaining wall. Luckily, Bowyer’s car set back down on all four wheels before nosing into the inside wall just as Steven Wallace’s out of control car came sliding into the wreck.

All in all, eight cars were involved by the time the smoke cleared. Thankfully, all of the drivers caught up in the crash, and a crew member struck by flying debris, would be OK after getting checked out at the infield care center.

Edwards would make the final lap around under caution to take the checkered flag and the win, but as soon as he crossed the line, he pulled his No. 60 Ford over at the crash scene and talked with Logano for a few minutes before the two shook hands and went on their way. As another show of respect, Edwards also skipped his usual victory backflip celebration and instead went straight to victory lane.

“Man, I really thought I got into him. That’s why I didn’t do a backflip or anything like that,” Edwards said. “This track is so fast. You can race really, really hard. I saw him wiggle and I wasn’t sure if I touched him or not. I was trying really hard to race as clean as I could. He raced me super clean down here and he hung on for that last restart.

“So, not the way we wanted to finish that race. I would have much rather had a good, solid race, regardless of whether we win or not…We tried to lose this thing about three different times and we end up in victory lane.

“I’m glad I didn’t hit him. I’m glad nobody was hurt. That’s amazing. He did a good job. He did so good on that last restart. I was really loose and I thought I was going to wreck us both, but I was trying to be smart. And then there at the end, I’m just really glad I didn’t touch him.”

Logano provided some additional context on the aerodynamics involved in the crash, lamenting the fact he was in the thick of the fight for the win only to end the day on the hook.

“Those shark fins they’ve got on them, when you’ve got a car underneath you at that point, you feel the car starting to get loose. It’s unfortunate, man. I thought we had something to win this thing with the GameStop car. We had a good day for sure. We were trying to get that little bit there at the end. Just wish we didn’t tear up as many cars as we did.”

The driver that took the hardest hit in the crash, Clint Bowyer, also emerged from the Infield Care Center no worse for wear as he recapped his wild ride.

“I don’t know if Carl got into him or not. He certainly got him loose, but that’s racing,” Bowyer said while watching a replay of the crash. “A green-white-checkered at a place this tight. I mean, they were both way up out of the groove. That was pretty wild, man. I’ll tell you, I thought I was going over the wall. That would have been really scary. I’m glad the wall kept me in the racetrack because I was afraid I might be going over, but pretty wild finish.

“I think a spring flew out of my car and hit one of my guys. His leg didn’t look good at all. That’s just a bummer deal. Freak thing. That’s part of racing, man.”

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David Morgan is the Associate Editor for Motorsports Tribune. A 2008 graduate from the University of Mississippi, David has followed NASCAR since the early 90’s and became hooked at an early age after attending his first race at Talladega Superspeedway in 1993. He has traveled across the country since 2012 to cover some of the most prestigious events both IndyCar and NASCAR have to offer, with an aim to only expand on that in the near future.