NASCAR is a very quotable sport.
With microphones located seemingly everywhere – in the garage, on pit road, in a driver’s helmet and in a pit reporter’s hands – it’s hard to miss a controversial or humorous sound bite.
It’s time to look back at the 10 most memorable quotes from the 2010s, as voted on by NBC Sports’ NASCAR writers.
1. “We’ll put it back in the hands of the drivers and we’ll say, ‘Boys, have at it and have a good time'” – Robin Pemberton in the 2010 pre-season.
The 2010’s had barely even started when a sound bite that helped define the first half of the decade was uttered by NASCAR’s then vice president of competition, Robin Pemberton.
The quote by Pemberton was NASCAR’s way of establishing its new approach to how drivers policed themselves on the track. This was put to the test early on in the season when Carl Edwards intentionally spun Brad Keselowski in the Cup race at Atlanta with three laps to go, resulting in Keselowski going airborne, flipping and landing on his roof.
Edwards would be put on probation for three races because of his actions.
Anytime a controversial act happened on the track over the next few years, Pemberton’s quote was quick to come up.
2. “It’s probably not his fault, his wife wears the firesuit in his family and tells him what to do.” – Joey Logano, June 6, 2010
Ten races after the Keselowski-Edwards incident, tensions flared at Pocono Raceway after Joey Logano was spun from contact with Kevin Harvick in the closing laps of the Cup race on the “Tricky Triangle.”
Speaking to the media afterwards, Logano spoke this line that invoked Harvick’s wife, DeLana. The quote led to the Harvicks selling a shirt inspired by it with proceeds going to their charitable foundation.
Nine years later, it came full circle when Logano raced an old Harvick paint scheme in the Southern 500. As part of the announcement, Logano and his wife, Brittany, appeared in a video where Brittany claimed she wore the firesuit in their family.
3. “Is your arm starting to hurt? I bet it’s hot in there. Itch it.” – Crew chief Brian Pattie to Clint Bowyer, Sept. 7, 2013
At 14 words, this is a very loaded quote.
It would come to define “Spingate,” the race manipulation scandal in the 2013 Cup regular season finale at Richmond that cost Michael Waltrip Racing a lot:
A $300,000 fine, 50 point penalties for all of its teams, sponsorship from NAPA Auto Parts and ultimately, helped pave the way for the team to close down after the 2015 season.
4. “He’s just a dipshit! The way he races, I don’t know how he’s ever won a championship. I’m just sick and tired of him.” – Jeff Gordon, Nov. 2, 2014
Jeff Gordon of all people said this.
It came after the 2014 playoff race at Texas Motor Speedway, when contact between Gordon and Brad Keselowski in the closing laps resulted in a cut tire for Gordon, who spun.
Afterward on pit road, following a helpful push of Keselowski by Kevin Harvick, Gordon and Keselowski’s teams engaged in a large scuffle.
Gordon displaying his temper wasn’t new by this point, following his heated confrontation with Jeff Burton at Texas four years earlier.
But imagine the shock to the system had Gordon made a similar statement about a fellow driver during the height of his squeaky-clean “Wonder Boy” days in the late ’90s.
5. “Kyle Busch is an ass.” – Brad Keselowski, Aug. 21, 2010
2010 was a really quotable year, wasn’t it?
It’s not often you can pinpoint the exact origin point for a decade-defining rivalry, but this notorious quote from Keselowski – which all Bristol night race driver introductions are now compared to – is pretty much it.
Keselowski’s comment was a result of him being upset at Busch over contact between the two drivers in the previous night’s Xfinity Series race.
To say the rivals have been at odds with each other for the ensuing 10 years would be an understatement.
6. “That’s quintessential NASCAR.” – Brian France, Oct. 19, 2015 on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
NASCAR’s then CEO and Chairman provided his assessment on a late-race incident in the Cup playoff race at Kansas Speedway, which saw Joey Logano make contact with and spin race leader Matt Kenseth with five laps to go.
That’s the contact that led Kenseth to retaliate against Logano a few weeks later at Martinsville, intentionally wrecking Logano while he led and Kenseth was multiple laps down after a wreck.
NASCAR deemed that not “quintessential” and suspended Kenseth for two races.
7. “Hold my watch” – Richard Childress, June 4, 2011
There’s no audio of this quote, which has become legendary in the garage since Childress reportedly uttered it before putting Kyle Busch in a headlock after a Truck Series race at Kansas Speedway.
The incident in question was the culmination of events that included Kevin Harvick and dated back to the 2010 Cup finale in Miami.
But Childress doesn’t dispute that he said it. During a visit to the Dale Jr. Download in April of this year, he even provided the 1970s origin story of why he always takes off his watch before wading into a fight.
“We used to go out to the bars and have a good time and everything,” Childress recalled. “We were up at an old bar at Daytona one night and a big fight broke out. I happened to be in it. I had a Rolex. First Rolex I ever had in my life. I lost it in that fight. Ever since that you always take your watch off.”
8. “I don’t know what y’all are whining about. If you don’t like that kind of racing, don’t even watch.” – Kyle Busch, July 1, 2018
After a wild and thrilling conclusion to the 2018 Cup race at Chicagoland Speedway between Kyle Busch and Kyle Larson, not everyone was pleased.
Busch, the race winner, ribbed the fans in the stands who booed his victory while also pretending to cry into NBC Sports’ TV cameras.
9. “They’re really good, but they’re really, really lucky, too. Jimmie (Johnson) is a good friend of mine, but there’s no denying how lucky they are. They have a golden horseshoe stuck up their ass.”– Kevin Harvick, Feb. 21, 2010
Yet another quote from the opening year of the decade. Something was in the water that season.
Kevin Harvick was clearly tired of losing, especially to Jimmie Johnson.
This shot from Harvick came after the second race of the season at Auto Club Speedway, which saw him fail to track Johnson down for the lead in the final laps.
Johnson was fresh off his fourth championship in a row and on his way to a fifth. Meanwhile, Harvick was mired in a winless streak dating back to 2007. He’d finally break through seven races later at Talladega and win three times that year.
10. “I’m gonna bust his ass” – Tony Stewart, March 24, 2013
There’s only one quote from the driver nicknamed “Smoke” on this list and it’s a doozy.
Following the dramatic conclusion of the Cup race at Auto Club Speedway, Stewart confronted Joey Logano on pit road and launched a scuffle between their teams because Stewart was furious with the Team Penske driver for blocking Stewart on a restart.
This one line about Logano is the cleanest adult language fit to print from Stewart’s brief exchange with a pit reporter in the garage.
Come back tomorrow for the best drivers of the 2010s.
Now you get the chance to vote. Which of these is your favorite quote of the 2010s?