Can You Finish A NASCAR Race On Foot?

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NASCAR, like other forms of motorsport, is all about crossing the finish line first. This means drivers do all they can to get to the line ahead of those around them. But just how far drivers will go to do this may leave you wondering if you could finish a NASCAR race on foot.  

You cannot finish a NASCAR race on foot. Both the car and driver must cross the finish line to be scored. In 2009, Carl Edwards jogged to the start-finish line after a fiery crash rendered his car incapable of finishing the race. However, NASCAR did not score Edwards for finishing on the lead lap. 

Below, we will reveal why you cannot finish a NASCAR race on foot, and we will also discuss whether you can push your car to the finish line in NASCAR, finish a race backwards, or even on your roof. We will also explore whether you can finish a race on foot in other motorsports. 

Can You Push Your Car To The Finish Line In NASCAR?

You can’t push your car to the finish line in NASCAR and still be credited with having finished on the lead lap. In order for your finishing position to be counted on the lead lap, you must cross the finish line under the car’s power, or you will be classified in the relevant position one lap down.

You may have watched NASCAR races that entailed a pit crew pushing a stalled car to reboot it. So, it is natural to wonder whether a NASCAR team can push a car over the start-finish line on the last lap of the race

While pit crew members cannot venture out onto the track during the white flag to push a car that ran out of fuel across the start-finish line for safety reasons, drivers do have teammates whose cars have the power to. For example, Jimmie Johnson did push Chase Elliott across the start-finish in 2018. However, this occurred on the cool-down lap. 

NASCAR’s rules and regulations pride themselves on safety before all else, and to maintain a safe driving environment, they have long-prohibited cars being pushed to the start-finish line after the white flag waves. If a driver receives a push from another car, they will not be scored for that lap. 

In 2011, Matt Kenseth received a push, and though NASCAR penalized him for the push, he posted on Twitter at the time that he agreed with the rule

Examples Of Pushing In The Past

There have been instances where drivers have gotten out of their car to push it over the start-finish line in the past. Although this, because of safety implications, would not happen anymore

In the NASCAR Southwest Series (defunct since 2006, and officially a late model stock car racing league), Ron Hornaday Jr. pushed his car over the start-finish line at Phoenix en route to winning the 1992 Championship

But the sport was different 30 seasons ago, and while NASCAR did make adjustments in terms of safety, the sport did not yet mandate HANS devices, SAFER Barriers, or until 1990, even strict specs with seat mounting. So, to push a car over the start-finish line then was not the big deal as it would be today, although it didn’t happen in the Cup Series.

Has Anyone Ever Finished A NASCAR Race On Foot?

Nobody has ever finished a NASCAR race on foot and been credited with having finished on the lead lap. However, Carl Edwards did cross the finish line on foot during a race in 2009, although his finishing position was classified as 24th, one lap down, as he never managed to finish on the lead lap.

In 2009, Carl Edwards and Brad Keselowski, two of NASCAR’s brightest young stars, found themselves in a budding rivalry. The rivalry came to a head at the 2009 Aaron’s 499 at Talladega when Keselowski spun Edwards out. Edwards’ car flew into the catch fence and came to a rest on its wheels

Edwards, unhurt, exited the car and ran across the start-finish line, signifying that he finished the race. However, this finish was symbolic, as Edwards was instead credited with a Did Not Finish (DNF), and a 24th place finish (you are still classified in the standings even if you don’t finish on the lead lap). 

Therefore, both the car and the driver must cross the finish line. Some sources may suggest that drivers can get disqualified if they attempt to finish the race on foot, but this is untrue. Edwards was not disqualified, and he was paid in both winnings and points for finishing 24th

KEY POINTS

• You cannot push your car across the finish line in NASCAR

• Not only is it dangerous, but you would also not be credited with having finished on the lead lap

• Carl Edwards did once run across the finish line, but this was purely symbolic

Can You Finish A NASCAR Race Backwards?

You can finish a NASCAR race backwards and one such incident occurred in 2021 when Brandon Brown crossed the start-finish line in reverse at the Charlotte Roval. However, this is not a recommended method of finishing a race, since doing so gives NASCAR drivers limited control over their cars. 

In Brandon Brown’s case, a wreck near the start-finish line at the final turn forced him into making contingency plans when his car spun and stayed turned around. Video of the event shows Brown zig-zagging his way across the start-finish line to a 22nd place finish

Can You Finish A NASCAR Race On Your Roof?

You can finish a NASCAR race on your roof. This can happen when an on-track incident occurs just before the race ends, leaving a car upside down. There are two notable examples of when this has happened, with one involving Ryan Newman in 2020, and the other involving Clint Bowyer in 2007. 

Newman was on his way to winning the Great American Race for the second time in his career, when incidental contact with Ryan Blaney sent Newman into the wall. His car flipped onto its roof only for Corey LaJoie, who had nowhere to go, to crash into him at the worst possible angle

Newman finished ninth, but he was unfortunately injured in the crash and listed in serious condition afterward. He would recover and return to NASCAR later that season before racing full-time once more in 2021. 

In 2007, Clint Bowyer was involved in The Big One (a multi-car crash) during the final lap of the 2007 Daytona 500. His car flipped onto its roof and, in a shower of sparks, he crossed the start-finish line in 18th. Bowyer’s car eventually flipped back onto its tires, and he climbed out unscathed. 

KEY POINTS

• While obviously far from ideal, NASCAR drivers can finish a race either backwards or on their roof

• This has happened a few times in the sport’s history

• Unfortunately, it’s usually as a result of a crash, so it’s not what drivers want to happen

Examples Of Crossing The Finish Line On Foot In Other Motorsports

Formula One

Three-time F1 world champion Jack Brabham once pushed his car over the start-finish line to finish fourth at the 1959 United States Grand Prix. Brabham also won his first World Championship that year. 

F1 driver Nigel Mansell also pushed his car across the start-finish line during the Dallas Grand Prix in 1984. This occurred when his gearbox gave out. But with the start-finish line in sight, Mansell exited his car and pushed his way across the line. However, Mansell was not credited with finishing the Grand Prix, but was credited with having completed over 90 percent of the race. 

MotoGP 

There have also been instances of riders crossing the finish line on foot in MotoGP. However, unlike in Brabham’s case in F1, which did count as he was one of four drivers to finish on the lead lap, MotoGP did not start considering rules for riders separated from their bikes as finishing their respective races until 2019

Had this rule been in effect before 2019, Bo Bendsneyder (racing in Moto3 which was also affected by the rule change) would have been credited with a 10th place finish when he crossed the finish line behind his bike. However, he was instead given a DNF

Final Thoughts

You can’t finish a NASCAR race on foot, nor can you push your car over the start-finish line. However, you can finish a race in reverse and you can also finish a race on your roof. The reasoning behind the latter 2 scenarios is that you are not separated from your car and can therefore score points.