Jessica Sautter is a Content Writer for with a Bachelor’s Degree from Eastern Michigan University in Elementary Education with a Major in Reading and a Minor in Mathematics.

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Chris Harrigan has an economic degree from Limestone College and an MBA from Clemson University. He previously managed auto insurance claims for Enterprise Rent-A-Car. Currently, he is using his business and insurance expertise to provide insurance data analysis and visualizations to enhance the user experience.

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Reviewed by Chris Harrigan
Former Auto Insurance Claims Manager

UPDATED: Sep 10, 2020

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Key takeaways...

  • It’s no secret, race car driving can be a downright deadly sport and career
  • NASCAR drivers put their lives on the line as they speed around the track
  • During races, some drivers intentionally cause crashes in order to earn first place
  • NASCAR drivers crashing nearly half their races is surprising
  • Kasey Kahne had the highest crash rate of 2017’s NASCAR – 53 percent

The need for speed — for NASCAR drivers, it’s in their blood . . . and their career depends on it.

The fastest recorded speed in NASCAR history occurred over three decades ago when a veteran driver, Bill Elliot, won the race at Talladega and set the record at a shocking 212.81 miles per hour.

According to ESPN, “Bill Elliott’s actual version of fast isn’t the same as it is for us mere mortals.”

Bobby Allison’s crash that very same race “changed NASCAR forever.” (see footage below)

That horrific crash you just saw prompted NASCAR to make some necessary changes before many more people got needlessly injured and killed.

Within two months after Allison’s infamous crash in 1987, “horsepower-choking” restrictor plates were mandated and catchfences were installed to better protect the spectators.

Bill Elliot’s speed should forever be the fastest in NASCAR history.

Speeding isn’t just deadly in NASCAR races. The crash stats are showing that many U.S. drivers need restrictor plates to keep them from pretending to be race car drivers.

NHTSA reports: “For more than two decades, speeding has been involved in approximately one-third of all motor vehicle fatalities.”

Besides risking serious injury and death, speeding has other consequences . . . costly tickets and super-expensive car insurance.

Table of Contents

Top NASCAR Drivers by Crash Frequency & Their Insurance Rates

How would NASCAR drivers’ insurance rates fare if they brought their race car driving habits to the public roadways??

Our team of researchers worked tirelessly to answer that question for our readers. Beginning in the spring of 2017, we began this study to reveal what NASCAR drivers (who crash the most) would have to pay in annual insurance.

Discover which NASCAR drivers have the highest crash frequency, how often those crashes end the race for them, and how these deadly race-car-driving habits affect car insurance rates.

Due to a four-way tie, our 2018 results include eleven NASCAR drivers who crash the most – click here for our methodology.

Enjoy the enlightening countdown full of interesting real-time stats below.

#11 (Tie) – Michael McDowell

Crash Frequency: 33 percent
Number of Crashes in 2017: 12
Number of Race-Ending Crashes: 2
Percent of Races Ending in a Crash: 5.56 percent

If this was a race, Michael McDowell would not be happy about tying for 11th place with three other drivers.

But in this case, crashing only 12 times in 36 races is somehow a victory. As you can see in the below footage, even when McDowell is alone on the race track, near-death collisions are still all-too-possible.

In addition to being able to walk himself to the ambulance after those 12 fiery flips, Michael has some things in his favor when it comes to his car insurance rates – he is married and in his 30s (born December 21, 1984).

Even with those perks, McDowell’s annual car insurance rate would total $2,188!

That is a shocking amount considering in his home state of Arizona a male can get a plan with Progressive for just $582 a year.

#11 (Tie) – Ty Dillon

Crash Frequency: 33 percent
Number of Crashes in 2017: 12
Number of Race-Ending Crashes: 3
Percent of Races Ending in a Crash: 8.33 percent

Ty, the 26-year-old from North Carolina, ties for 11th place. He has a higher percentage of races ending in crashes than McDowell, and he typically clocks higher speeds with many laps traveled at 197 mph and faster!

Race car driving runs deep for Ty with a fellow NASCAR driver for an older brother (his crash stats are even scarier as you’ll see below), a former NASCAR driver and RCR general manager for a dad, and former NASCAR driver and RCR team owner for a grandfather.

As you can hear him say in the above post-race interview, Ty Dillon loves what he does — it’s a good thing because race-car driving is hardly the safest career out there.

Ty is married, which helps his rate, but all those crashes and his age bring him to an annual car insurance rate of $2,440.

That’s a drastic difference compared to the average resident in his home state, which has some of the lowest car insurance costs in the nation. In NC where Ty lives, a male who owns his car can be covered by Progressive for an entire year for only $438!

#11 (Tie) – David Ragan

Crash Frequency: 33 percent
Number of Crashes in 2017: 12
Number of Race-Ending Crashes: 4
Percent of Races Ending in a Crash: 11.11 percent

The third driver tied for 11th place is David Ragan, the 31-year-old married NASCAR driver from Georgia.

Not only did Ragan start racing at the age of 12, but by the age of 13 he had already won 12 races and the national championship!

The below video shares the inspirational story of how racing started in the Ragan family, and a big part of his success — one of the most dedicated fans in NASCAR history, his older brother Adam.

He might have more races ending in a crash, but thanks to his age, the fact that he’s married, and where he lives, David crosses the finish line with lower car insurance rates than both Michael McDowell and Ty Dillon, $2,192.

Even though his home state is ranked in the top ten for having the most expensive car insurance, David’s crashes make his minimum coverage cost about $42 more each month than what the average Georgian is paying.

#11 (Tie) – Jimmie Johnson

Crash Frequency: 33 percent
Number of Crashes in 2017: 12
Number of Race-Ending Crashes: 6
Percent of Races Ending in a Crash: 16.67 percent

He might be tied with three other NASCAR drivers at a 33 percent crash frequency, but Jimmie has 11.11 percent more race-ending crashes than McDowell who started this countdown at 11th.

The age Ragan started competitively racing almost seems old compared to Johnson’s start at only five-years-old! Most kids were learning to read while Jimmie was out racing on his motorcycle.

The above compilation of race clips shows that Jimmie can have a fiery temper, which makes for deadly decisions behind the wheel.

He has admitted this “irritation” bubbles over to his driving on public roads: “I don’t need to break the speed limit. But if I’m not passing other vehicles on the interstate, I get a little irritated.”

Fortunately, Jimmie has his age (42) and marital status on his side, or his insurance coverage in one of the most expensive states to drive, California, would be even higher than the $2,260/year.

It doesn’t sound like Jimmie will be earning any safe driver awards from his insurance company to help lower those monthly bills.

#7 (Tie) – Clint Bowyer

Crash Frequency: 36 percent
Number of Crashes in 2017: 13
Number of Race-Ending Crashes: 3
Percent of Races Ending in a Crash: 8.33 percent

The four-way tie brings us straight from last place to 7th place and yet another tie — this time between two drivers.

Interestingly, Bowyer is ranked 7th for having the highest crash frequency in NASCAR, but he has a lower percentage of race-ending crashes than the majority of the drivers on this list.

Thankfully, Clint has a great sense of humor (enjoy the video above), because most people would cry if they had to pay the car insurance bills this NASCAR driver’s coverage comes to: $2,160 annually.

To put that in perspective, car insurance in Bowyer’s home state, Kansas, can be as low as $322 a year!

This NASCAR driver (who also started motocross at the age of five) is married and in his late 30s. His annual coverage price could be even higher if those personal factors weren’t in his favor.

#7 (Tie) – Austin Dillon

Crash Frequency: 36 percent
Number of Crashes in 2017: 13
Number of Race-Ending Crashes: 5
Percent of Races Ending in a Crash: 13.89 percent

Austin is two years older than his brother, Ty (the second driver in 11th place above), and he has won more races. BUT, Austin almost didn’t make racing his career.

It seems Austin chose wisely, since he won “the most important and prestigious race on the NASCAR calendar” — the Daytona 500 in 2018.

With recorded race win speeds over 196 mph, a nearly 14 percent crash frequency is a scary thing.

The above NASCAR footage full of flipping, flying, and flaming race cars gives a glimpse of just how deadly crashing at those speeds truly is.

After leaving the care center following that horrific 24-car-crash you saw above, Austin told the reporters:

“It’s not really acceptable…We’ve got to figure out something. Our speeds are too high…everybody could get good racing with slower speeds. We can work at that, and then figure out a way to keep the cars on the ground.”

Car insurance companies agree that high speeds and frequent crashes are a recipe for disaster, which is why Austin’s annual rate would be a whopping $2,404.

#5 – Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Crash Frequency: 39 percent
Number of Crashes in 2017: 14
Number of Race-Ending Crashes: 5
Percent of Races Ending in a Crash: 13.89 percent

Finally, in our countdown we get to a spot that isn’t a tie! Dale Earnhardt Jr. — have you heard of him? Here’s a video to let you get to know him a little better:

It would be fair to say that racing and NASCAR runs deep in Dale Junior’s family; just take a look at some of his relatives:

Now a part-time NASCAR driver, Dale Jr. has an extremely successful career under his belt.

Nicknamed the “Pied Piper of Daytona,” he has 26 career wins including two championships each for the NASCAR Xfinity Series and Daytona 500 and has consistently been a top 20 NASCAR driver during his career.

He’s been quoted saying, “Hunting and racing are a lot alike. Holding that steering wheel and holding that rifle both mean you better be responsible.”

He’s right. You need to be responsible behind the wheel, and that’s why 14 crashes in 2017 would bump his insurance coverage up to an annual sum of $2,260! That’s crazy high for a married NC resident in his 40s.

#4 (Tie) – Trevor Bayne

Crash Frequency: 44 percent
Number of Crashes in 2017: 16
Number of Race-Ending Crashes: 5
Percent of Races Ending in a Crash: 13.89 percent

As you can see from his website, Trevor Bayne is a dedicated dad with a strong social presence who really lets his fans get to know him and his family.

Well, he’s also honest and lets us know when a crash hurts — in more ways than one. The below crash footage might not look all that bad, but just after impact, Trevor said “That hurt so bad.”

Crashes don’t just cause painful injuries (and death) and costly damage to the vehicle, but they also cause drastic spikes in insurance payments as the driver becomes riskier to cover.

Even though Trevor is married, his race-car-driving record would bring his annual car insurance bill to $2,360.

That sure stings when a male car owner in Trevor’s home state of TN can get the same coverage for $472!

#4 (Tie) – Kurt Busch

Crash Frequency: 44 percent
Number of Crashes in 2017: 16
Number of Race-Ending Crashes: 6
Percent of Races Ending in a Crash: 16.67 percent

Trevor and Kurt’s tie for 4th place brings our third and last tie of the countdown.

Not only does this driver crash nearly one out of every two times he races, but he also has one of the highest percentages of race-ending crashes in NASCAR at 16.67 percent.

His crashes aren’t the only thing that have harmed Kurt’s NASCAR career.

ESPN reported, “NASCAR suspended Sprint Cup driver Kurt Busch indefinitely Friday, two days before the Daytona 500, for actions detrimental to stock car racing after a judge ruled he almost surely choked and beat a former girlfriend last fall.”

Despite any bumps along the road, this NASCAR driver certainly isn’t struggling. Take a look at his “Chateau de Busch” below:

Kurt said, “I’ve been fined probably more than any driver, and I’ve probably paid it out of my own pocket more than any driver.”

It’s a good thing he has money in his pockets because his annual insurance cost comes to $2,188. When you factor in all those crashes and the fines he admits to, his real-life insurance probably isn’t much cheaper.

#2 – Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

Crash Frequency: 47 percent
Number of Crashes in 2017: 17
Number of Race-Ending Crashes: 6
Percent of Races Ending in a Crash: 16.67 percent

In regards to the man he’s named after, Ricky Jr. said: “Everything that I know about racing I learned from him.”

He said that just moments after his dad was nearly arrested for climbing a fence and darting down a tunnel to get to his son after Ricky Jr. won the Geico 500.

Not only has Ricky Jr. been in his fair share of crashes, but he has a bad reputation for causing them. Especially after the not just one, but two multi-car crashes he caused at Daytona on July 7, 2018.

Here’s the footage caught live of the first wreck Ricky started where 20 race cars collided, spun out of control, caught flame, and lost the race:

He angered fans and fellow drivers and wasn’t too pleased with himself: “It’s a bummer we basically crashed all of our teammates out of it. I was frustrated with myself causing crashes like that. You don’t ever really want to do that.”

He dated his competition, NASCAR star Danica Patrick, but after five years they broke up, and Ricky Jr. is currently unmarried. Being single (the only single driver on our list) certainly didn’t help his insurance rate, which rings up to $2,348 a year.

At least the insurance companies provide some savings for his age now that he has entered his 30s (October 2017).

#1 – Kasey Kahne

Crash Frequency: 53 percent
Number of Crashes in 2017: 19
Number of Race-Ending Crashes: 7
Percent of Races Ending in a Crash: 19.44 percent

The race car driver winning first place on this list will certainly have trouble earning first on the track if he continues to crash over half of his races.

As you can see in the below video featuring this fan-favorite, Kasey had a shockingly successful start with NASCAR:

“Race car driver Kasey Kahne made a splash like no rookie before him in the history of NASCAR’s top series” says “His appeal with fans was instant.”

Even though Kasey lives in Washington, (some of the lowest car insurance costs in the U.S), he’s married, and he’s in his late 30s, his traffic accidents bring his annual coverage to $2,276.

Despite a reported 16 percent price increase over five years, a male in Washington state who owns his car can get a year’s worth of car insurance coverage through Progressive for only $494!

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Highlights and Trends

Out of 11 NASCAR drivers that made our list this year (2018), only three of them had the highest crash frequency two years in-a-row.

Here are those repeats and their rankings:

As you can see, Jimmie improved by two spots, Dale Jr. held constant at 5th, and Ricky Jr. jumped four whole spots, which means many more potentially fatal crashes for him!

What’s impressive is that Ryan Newman — who earned 3rd place in 2017 — has one of the lowest crash rates of any NASCAR driver this year. Newman went from a crash frequency of 44 percent all the way down to just 17 percent in one year!

With it being our area of expertise, we can’t help but mention the car insurance companies who sponsor some of the race car drivers who crash the most.

  • AAA – Austin Dillon (7th this year)
  • AAA – Joey Logano (7th last year)
  • Farmers Insurance – Kasey Kahne (1st this year)
  • Fifth Third Bank – Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (6th in ’17 and 2nd this year)
  • Geico – Ty Dillon (11th this year)
  • Liberty National – Ryan Newman (3rd in ’17)
  • Nationwide – Dale Earnhardt Jr. (5th in ’17 and ’18)
  • Nationwide – Jimmie Johnson (9th in ’17 and 11th this year)

Although crashes out in the real world (public roads, not racetracks), don’t involve the same speeds (around 200 mph), they can be even more deadly!

Our everyday cars and roads don’t have any of the following life-saving devices NASCAR vehicles and tracks do:

And, your average motorist doesn’t go around sporting fire-retardant full body suits, full-face helmets, or the head-and-neck supports (watch NASCAR’s video on the mandatory HANS device).

Moral of the story, when it comes to the driving habits of America’s NASCAR stars, “Don’t try this at home.”

You don’t want to end up like Kasey Kahne and say: “I finally crashed. I drove like an idiot all day.”


The above ranking is based on crashes during the 2017 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.

Below is the profile our researchers used to determine each driver’s annual insurance rates:

  • Premium Coverage
  • Driving and insurance since 2017
  • 50k-75k miles per year
  • Driver’s age
  • Driver’s marital status
  • Driver’s home location (zip code)
  • Driver’s gender
  • Number of crashes
  • Chevrolet drivers – 2017 Corvette Stingray 8 cyl 2 door coupe
  • Ford drivers – 2017 Mustang GT Coupe 8 cyl 2 door

The NASCAR drivers’ personal information used in the calculations above can be found here.

All of the data for this study was derived from the following sources:

Click here for the full stats.

For all media inquiries, please email: Joshua Barnes

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