The 2014 NASCAR season was one to remember. Through action, drama, and intensity, each race featured excitement around every corner. From the drop of the green flag in Daytona back in February, to the final checkered-flag in Miami a few weeks back – many memorable moments came out of the last nine months.
Some of the most popular include Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s Daytona 500 victory, Chase Elliott rising to fame with three NASCAR Nationwide Series victories and a championship, and the next generation of drivers succeeding in the Camping World Truck Series. Whichever highlight happens to be your favorite, it likely was captured in a photo. Relive one of the most exciting seasons the sport has ever seen through these pictures.
(All photos are from Getty Images, unless noted otherwise)
The opening race of the year, the Sprint Unlimited , featured its fair share of carnage.
In the No. 3’s historic return to NASCAR Sprint Cup Series competition in 2014, Austin Dillon began the season by winning the Daytona 500 pole.
The Budweiser Duels remained rather calm until the final lap of the second duel as a major wreck broke out coming to the checkered-flag. Drivers involved included Jimmie Johnson, outside pole-sitter Martin Truex Jr., and Clint Bowyer who is pictured upside down.
The anticipation leading up to the 56th annual Daytona 500 was put on hold after about 40 laps for a lengthy rain delay. The cars roared back to life under the lights.
In one of the most intense Daytona 500’s of all-time, a familiar last name made it to Victory Lane – Earnhardt. This was Dale Earnardt Jr.’s second victory in the race – coming ten years after his first in 2004.
After changing teams in the off-season, it didn’t take long for Kevin Harvick to find success as he won his first race with Stewart-Haas Racing during the second event of the year.
The first of Brad Keselowski’s six victories came at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in March.
Fans faced another delay to a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race just a few weeks following the first when more rain halted the action in Bristol. The race would later resume under the lights.
What more fitting way to end a race delayed by rain than with some more rain? A mysterious caution came out with only a few laps remaining when a switch was accidentally hit, and then the rain returned. NASCAR decided to call the race a few laps short and Carl Edwards picked up the victory.
Like Harvick, Kurt Busch made the move to SHR during the off-season and found Victory Lane early in the season when he took the win at Martinsville Speedway.
An impressive start to the season soon led Chase Elliott to the winners circle when he claimed his first-career NASCAR Nationwide Series victory in Texas.
A wild wreck ended Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s day early in Texas when he hit the infield grass and shot up into the wall.
Another rain-filled raceday forced the Duck Commander 500 to run on a Monday. Joey Logano ended up taking his first win of the season. Later that night, the Final Four championship game was held near the speedway in Dallas, Texas and Logano’s home-state team, the University of Connecticut Huskies, took the championship.
Just one week after his first Nationwide Series victory, Elliott took the checkered-flag again at the historic Darlington Raceway.
Another entertaining Talladega race concluded with Denny Hamlin in Victory Lane. The win ended up being his ticket to the Chase, and eventually the title race.
Harvick led the field to the green flag in the first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series night race at Kansas Speedway on Mothers Day Weekend.
David Gilliland’s destroyed car sat on the frontstretch after being involved in a violent wreck with Justin Allgaier. Both machines eventually made it to Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s “car graveyard.”
Jeff Gordon claimed his first victory of the season in Kansas.
In a Sprint All-Star Race upset, Jamie McMurray won the million dollars, adding to the list of major events the 38-year old has won, including the Daytona 500 and Brickyard 400.
After completing the Indianapolis 500, Kurt Busch landed on the fronstretch grass prior to the Coca Cola 600 in Charlotte.
Jimmie Johnson celebrated for the firs time in 2014 after winning his fourth Coca Cola 600.
For the first time since 2004, Earnhardt Jr. won multiple races in a season as he took the checkered-flag in Pocono.
After coming close many times, Johnson scored his first victory at Michigan International Speedway in June.
Brendan Gaughan picked up the win at Road America, his first-career NASCAR Nationwide Series victory and first in the sport since 2003.
Carl Edwards performed his final backflip for Roush-Fenway Racing in Sonoma after taking his second victory of the season.
Front Row Motorsports pulled off an upset for the second consecutive year when David Gilliland won the pole for the Coke Zero 400 in Daytona.
Kasey Kahne edged out JR Motorsports teammate Regan Smith at the line to win his first Nationwide Series race since 2007.
After rain delayed the Coke Zero 400 until Sunday, an early wreck took out many contenders, including 2013 winner Jimmie Johnson.
Late in the race, a 26-car pileup left Kyle Busch upside down and only a handful of cars in the race.
Florida-native Aric Almirola celebrated his first career Sprint Cup Series victory in the rain after NASCAR called the race following 112 laps.
Logano looked to have the best car in the field at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, until being involved in an incident with Morgan Shepherd.
Ty Dillon performed a burnout following his victory at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
For the fifth time in his career, Gordon was victorious at the Brickyard.
Earnhardt Jr. continued his stellar season by picking up another Pocono victory, completing the season sweep.
Marcos Ambrose took his final NASCAR victory in the Nationwide Series event at Watkins Glen International.
A major wreck in Watkins Glen destroyed the cars of Michael McDowell and Ryan Newman.
A.J Allmendinger and Ambrose battled late in Watkins Glen for the victory and a spot in the Chase.
Allmendinger held on for the win, his first in Sprint Cup Series competition.
Chris Buescher put on quite the performance at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, and took the checkered-flag for the first time in his NASCAR career.
Rain caused problems in Bristol once again, delaying the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race. Once the event was completed, Brad Keselowski would go on to win his first career NCWTS race.
Ryan Blaney beat Bristol master Kyle Busch on a late restart to take the victory in the Food City 300.
Logano’s career season continued as he scored victory in the Irwin Tools Night Race at Bristol.
In a nail-biting finish, Blaney edged out Quiroga to claim his only NCWTS win of the season.
With only two races remaining before the start of the Chase, Kasey Kahne needed a victory in order to run for the title. His team threw a Hail Mary and ended up victorious in Atlanta.
The Chase field is set after Richmond. Notably absent from the photo is Jimmie Johnson who suffered from extreme dehydrated following the race.
The inaugural Chase Grid field poses for a photo in Chicago during Media Day, with Johnson this time.
Keselowski celebrated after taking the first Chase race in Chicago. His three-wide move late sealed the deal for the 2012 Champion to advance to the Contender Round.
16-year old Cole Custer becomes the youngest winner in NASCAR history after dominating the Truck Series race in New Hampshire.
Hamlin was among the many Chasers to find trouble in a carnage-filled day at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
Team Penske secured its spot in the next round with Logano following in his teammates footsteps and claiming the victory in the second Chase race.
Gordon won the concluding race of the Challenger Round in Dover and moved on to the next series of races.
Another troublesome day for Chasers as Earnhardt Jr. joined Johnson and Keselowski in the garage after all three were involved in separate incidents at Kansas Speedway.
For the first time since April, Harvick celebrated in Victory Lane at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Keselowski is interviewed following a brawl in the Charlotte Motor Speedway garage-area with Matt Kenseth.
NASCAR brought a condensed version of the new qualifying format to Talladega in order to prevent too many games from being played during the session. However, more problems arose as some big name drivers including Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Justin Allgaier missed the race after not being able to complete a lap in the opening round.
Busch all but had his spot in the Eliminator Round locked up coming into the day in Talladega. He remained in the back of the pack for a majority of the race until a wreck destroyed his car and put him on the outside of the eight drivers advancing.
Keselowski needed to win the GEICO 500 to move on in the Chase and he did just that.
Many high-profile drivers including six-time champion Johnson were eliminated from the Chase following the Contender Round. Earnhardt Jr. also missed the cutoff line, ending his title hopes.
Classic Martinsville hot tempers brought a series of payback incidents between Kahne and Brian Vickers, which resulted in NASCAR putting an end to the on-track feud.
Harvick and Keselowski were among the drivers to find trouble in Martinsville as both were involved in wrecks. This added immense pressure for the upcoming races in Texas and Phoenix.
Earnhardt Jr.’s storybook season continued as he held off teammate Gordon and claimed his first career win at Martinsville Speedway.
A controversial on-track move by Keselowski led to hot tempers following the Texas race as Gordon, Harvick, and many crew members were involved in this brawl.
In a must-win situation, Harvick put on a clinic and captured the Phoenix victory and moved on to the Championship race in Miami.
A very tight battle to make the Championship 4 led to disappointment among the four drivers who missed the cut; Gordon, Keselowski, Kenseth and Edwards.
Crafton made Truck Series history by becoming the first back-to-back series champion.
Elliott had clinched the Nationwide Series championship a week earlier in Phoenix, but finally celebrated in Miami with his entire No. 9 and JR Motorsports team.
The four drivers eligible to win the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship posed prior to the start of the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Three of the four title contenders ran in the top three positions late in the running of the Ford EcoBoost 400.
Prior to the final restart of the season, Harvick and Newman prepared to fight it out for the championship.
In the end, Harvick held up the trophy after winning the race, and his first Sprint Cup Series Championship.
Share your favorite 2014 season memory below in the Comments section.