Carl Edwards may have once channeled Will Ferrell's Ricky Bobby character from the popular 2006 comedy "Talladega Nights", but what happened at the 2009 Aaron's 499 at Talladega Superspeedway was anything but funny.
When Edwards' car flipped into the catch fence on that afternoon in April, it resulted in a seriously banged-up car and eight injured fans.
But, what everyone probably remembers most about that day is a seemingly unharmed Edwards climbing out of his mangled vehicle and running across the speedway's finish line to a standing ovation, making for one of the wildest finishes in the history of NASCAR.
Carl Edwards Wrecks at Talladega in 2009
In the NASCAR Cup Series race's final laps, Edwards, Brad Keselowski, Ryan Newman and Dale Earnhardt Jr. were all battling for the lead. When Edwards attempted to block Keselowski as he came into the tri-oval, Keselowski made contact with Edwards' left rear quarter panel, causing his No. 99 Roush Fenway Racing Ford to spin backwards and go airborne.
To make matters worse, Newman struck Carl Edwards' car in mid-air, which propelled it even higher and sent it into the catch fence. It was a sobering scene, to say the least.
Miraculously, Edwards was able to climb out of his race car and run across the finish line. He received a standing ovation from the crowd in a moment that broadcaster Mike Joy described as having "shades of Ricky Bobby."
Once the dust had settled, eight spectators had to be treated for injuries. Two women had to be airlifted to a nearby hospital, one for a broken jaw and the other for an unrelated medical issue. The incident brought to mind Bobby Allison's crash at 'Dega in 1987, when he blew a tire and went into the catch fence near the start/finish line, injuring several fans in the grandstands as a result.
Not surprisingly, Edwards was angry at both the race winner Keselowski for bumping him (they would go on to have a several-race-long feud) as well as NASCAR for the dangerous style of racing that made the wreck so much worse.
"NASCAR puts us in this box [restrictor-plate racing] and will race this way until they kill somebody," Edwards said in a post-race interview. "Then they'll change it. We're very lucky nobody got [seriously] hurt today."
Just like they did in '87, NASCAR was forced to make big safety chances after the '09 last-lap incident. The Talladega catch fence was strengthened and raised by 10 feet ahead of that year's fall race, while NASCAR — in an effort to reduce multi-car crashes — also implemented a rule that prevented drivers from bump drafting in the corners.
That ordeal was no doubt traumatic for Edwards, but thankfully he was eventually able to have a sense of humor about the intense NASCAR crash, saying in a later "Larry King Live" interview, "I'm kind of a Will Ferrell fan. He did that at the end of 'Talladega Nights.'"
It's no surprise why Carl Edwards was such a fan favorite during his time as a full-time NASCAR driver.
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