Friday, November 16th, 2018 am30 6:21am

Watch: Wild and memorable NASCAR crashes at Talladega Superspeedway

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Talladega Superspeedway, NASCAR’s largest and fastest track, is known for three things: tight pack racing, crazy crashes and unpredictable finishes.

These aren’t your average NASCAR wrecks. Some crashes at Talladega have been truly terrifying, while some have decimated large chunks of the field, which can then yield surprise winners.

There’s a reason the term “The Big One” was coined to describe the calamitous collisions that can occur on the 2.66-mile Alabama track. Consider both Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series races in 2017.

In the GEICO 500 last May, a total of 18 cars were involved in a Lap-170 crash. The October playoff race was no different. Only 14 cars finished on the lead lap in the Alabama 500, with more than half the field suffering at least some crash damage by the conclusion.

As drivers and teams prepare for Sunday’s GEICO 500 (2 p.m. ET, Fox), they’ll no doubt be remembering some of these memorable wrecks (in chronological order):

Bobby Allison in the 1987 Winston 500

This is the crash that was the impetus for restrictor plates. Allison blew his right rear tire, spun on the frontstretch and then flew up into the catchfence, tearing up a large section. Allison was uninjured and when he climbed out of the car, the fans gave him a huge cheer.

Dale Earnhardt in the 1996 Die Hard 500

Dale Earnhardt suffered one of the most terrifying crashes of his career before his untimely death following a crash at Daytona in 2001. Earnhardt, a 10-time winner at Talladega in NASCAR’s premier series, bruised his sternum and fractured his collarbone after Ernie Irvan and Sterling Marlin bumped, sending Marlin into Earnhardt’s car. Earnhardt careened into the wall head-on but walked away under his own power.

Elliott Sadler in the 2003 Aaron’s 499

Kurt Busch made contact with the rear of Sadler’s car, sending Sadler into an incredible barrel roll that seems as if it will never end. Sadler’s car does a complete 360 in the air, slides across the infield grass on the roof, and then launches back into a series of flips when the car makes contact with the pavement again.

Carl Edwards in the 2009 Aaron’s 499

Edwards was on his way to victory in the spring race at Talladega, trying to hold off Brad Keselowski on the last lap, when Keselowski made a move, tapped Edwards’ car and sent the No. 99 sailing. Seven fans were hurt by flying debris when Edwards’ Ford crashed into the front-stretch fence. Edwards would eventually climb out of the car and jog across the finish line.

Tony Stewart in the 2012 Good Sam Roadside Assistance 500

With a push from Sam Hornish Jr., Stewart used the outside lane to take the lead at the white flag, then worked hard to hold it. But Stewart’s attempt to block heading into the final turn led to chaos that eventually collected 25 cars. Matt Kenseth, who was battling Stewart for the lead, avoided the pile-up, cruising home for the win. Dale Earnhardt Jr. wasn’t so lucky; he suffered a concussion that caused him to miss the next two races.

Chris Buescher in the 2016 GEICO 500

Buescher did not start this multicar wreck that unfolded shortly after the halfway point, but he sure got the worst of it. Contact between Jamie McMurray and Austin Dillon set off a chain reaction which culminated in Michael Annett colliding into Buescher and sending the No. 34 tumbling down the backstretch.

Matt Kenseth and Danica Patrick in the 2016 GEICO 500

With eight laps remaining in the already wild race, Michael McDowell made contact with Patrick, who careened straight into Matt Kenseth. Kenseth went airborne as Patrick sailed under him and crashed hard into the interior SAFER Barrier and caught fire. Kenseth’s car just missed the infield catchfence before it landed on its hood and rolled to a stop. The two cars sustained the brunt of the damage in the 12-car wreck.

AJ Allmendinger and Chase Elliott in the 2017 GEICO 500

AJ Allmendinger took the biggest hit in this multicar wreck on Lap 170, which he actually initiated. Pushing Chase Elliott’s No. 24 Chevrolet down the backstretch, Allmendinger accidentally got him loose and sent Elliott up and into the wall outside wall, while Allmendinger got hit from behind, which sent him sliding. Elliott rode the wall and landed on Joey Logano’s No. 22 Ford, and the force of the hit sent both Elliott and Logano into Allmendinger’s No. 47 Chevrolet. As Allmendinger flipped and landed upside down in the middle of the track, more than a dozen cars were collected.

Notable wrecks at Talladega Superspeedway through the years

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Bobby Allison's car becomes airborne during a wreck

Bobby Allison’s car becomes airborne during a wreck in a race at Talladega in 1987.  STEVE BARNETTE, AP
Ken Schrader’s car tumbles along the back stretch of

Ken Schrader’s car tumbles along the back stretch of Talladega Superspeedway as part of a 10-car wreck during the DieHard 500 in 1995.  RacingOne, ISC Archives via Getty Images
Bill Elliott flies through the air on the Talladega

Bill Elliott flies through the air on the Talladega Superspeedway backstretch during the Winston Select 500 on April 28, 1996.  Daniel Dunn, AP
Dale Earnhardt goes airborne during the 1996 DieHard

Dale Earnhardt goes airborne during the 1996 DieHard 500.  DON HAMILTON, Associated Press
Ernie Irvan (36) spins in Turn 1 during the 1998 Winston

Ernie Irvan (36) spins in Turn 1 during the 1998 Winston 500. Irvan’s car was involved in an 11-car crash, and Irvan was airlifted to a Birmingham, Ala., hospital.  Dave Martin, AP
Ted Musgrave (15), Michael Waltrip (7), Tony Stewart

Ted Musgrave (15), Michael Waltrip (7), Tony Stewart (20), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (8), Steve Park (1) and others spin through the tri-oval past the start-finish line during the 2000 DieHard 500. Sixteen cars were involved in the chain-reaction mishap.  Jay LaPrete, AP
The car of Elliott Sadler flies through the air down

The car of Elliott Sadler flies through the air down the backstretch at Talladega in 2003.  DAN LIGHTON, Associated Press
Carl Edwards wrecks into the catch fence coming to

Carl Edwards wrecks into the catch fence coming to the checkered flag during the Aarons 499 at Talladega Superspeedway in 2009.  John David Mercer, USA TODAY Sports
Ryan Newman (39) flies upside down through the air

Ryan Newman (39) flies upside down through the air after crashing with Kevin Harvick (29) during the 2009 AMP Energy 500.  Mark Young, AP
A.J. Allmendinger (43) goes airborne during a multi-car

A.J. Allmendinger (43) goes airborne during a multi-car crash on the last lap of the 2010 Amp Energy 500.  Mark J. Rebilas, USA TODAY Sports
Tony Stewart (14), Dale Earnhardt Jr (88) and Kasey

Tony Stewart (14), Dale Earnhardt Jr (88) and Kasey Kahne (5) got caught up in a last-lap crash at Talladega Superspeedway in 2012.  Marvin Gentry, USA TODAY Sports
Austin Dillon (14) flies into Casey Mears (13) on the

Austin Dillon (14) flies into Casey Mears (13) on the last lap of the 2013 Camping World RV Sales 500 at Talladega Superspeedway.  Marvin Gentry, USA TODAY Sports
Chris Buescher (34) barrel rolls down the backstretch

Chris Buescher (34) barrel rolls down the backstretch in a wreck during the GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway in 2016.  Marvin Gentry, USA TODAY Sports
Danica Patrick (10) and Matt Kenseth (20) crash during

Danica Patrick (10) and Matt Kenseth (20) crash during the GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway in 2016.  Marvin Gentry, USA TODAY Sports
Danica Patrick's car burns after her crash with driver

Danica Patrick’s car burns after her crash with driver Matt Kenseth (20) during the GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway in 2016.  Marvin Gentry, USA TODAY Sports
As multiple cars wreck in front of him, Ryan Newman's

As multiple cars wreck in front of him, Ryan Newman’s No. 31 car, top right, catches fire at the 2016 GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway.  John David Mercer, USA TODAY Spor
Kevin Harvick (4), Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (17), AJ Allmendinger

Kevin Harvick (4), Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (17), AJ Allmendinger (47), Martin Truex Jr. (78) and Cole Whitt (98) wreck on the last lap of the 2016 GEICO 500.  Jasen Vinlove, USA TODAY Sports
Chase Elliott (24) and AJ Allmendinger (47) wreck during

Chase Elliott (24) and AJ Allmendinger (47) wreck during the 2017 GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway.  Marvin Gentry, USA TODAY Sports
AJ Allmendinger (47) found his car flipped upside down

AJ Allmendinger (47) found his car flipped upside down after a big wreck during the 2017 GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway.  Marvin Gentry, USA TODAY Sports
A massive pack of cars get caught in a huge wreck late

A massive pack of cars get caught in a huge wreck late in the Alabama 500 in October 2017. As many as 17 cars were involved, and the race was red flagged.  John David Mercer, USA TODAY Sports
Daniel Suarez (19) and Chase Elliott (24) crash into

Daniel Suarez (19) and Chase Elliott (24) crash into the wall during the final laps of the Alabama 500 in October 2017.  John David Mercer, USA TODAY Sports
Chase Elliott (24) collides with Daniel Suarez (19)

Chase Elliott (24) collides with Daniel Suarez (19) late in the Alabama 500, a wreck that led to the third red flag of the race.  Josh Hedges, Getty Images
Kyle Busch (18), Kurt Busch (41), Martin Truex Jr.

Kyle Busch (18), Kurt Busch (41), Martin Truex Jr. (78), Michael McDowell (95) and Landon Cassill (34) crash during the Alabama 500 at Talladega in October 2017.  Dale Davis, AP
Jamie McMurray's mangled No. 1 Chevrolet gets towed

Jamie McMurray’s mangled No. 1 Chevrolet gets towed back to the garage after McMurray flipped and rolled in a crash during practice for the 2018 GEICO 500 on April 27.  Jasen Vinlove, USA TODAY Sports

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