NASCAR driver threatens to kill rival in bloody paddock bust-up

Thomas Maher
Nick Sanchez and Matt Crafton fight in the NASCAR pitlane after truck crash.

Nick Sanchez and Matt Crafton fight in the NASCAR pitlane after collision at Talladega.

While all may be quiet in F1 this weekend, it certainly isn’t the case in the NASCAR paddock.

Two NASCAR Craftsman Truck racers engaged in a brawl following Saturday afternoon’s race at the Talladega Superspeedway.

Footage posted to social media showed 22-year-old Nick Sanchez, with blood on his face, shouting about how he “would kill” 47-year-old Matt Crafton after Crafton allegedly approached Sanchez to punch him in the face after an on-track incident.

On-track collision leads to off-track fisticuffs

Crafton felt that Sanchez had been to blame for contact while drafting that led to a multi-truck collision and, having had time to cool off after visiting the medical centre, went to find Sanchez in the area behind the garages – only to allegedly kick off the violent encounter.

“I was walking back to the hauler, got a tap on my back, got punched in the face,” Sanchez told reporters after being treated and released from the infield care centre.

“Cheap shot, but is what it is I guess. I’m all for fighting, but no cheap shots, and I got a cheap shot. Never really had a chance to get him back, but it is what it is. It’s part of racing.”

Racing on Lap 93 of the event at Talladega, the two drivers made contact exiting Turn 4, with Sanchez’s front touching against the rear of Crafton’s truck as they drafted down the straight. The contact led to Crafton losing control, having been tipped to the left, which triggered the multi-car pile-up.

As for whether he needed stitches, based on the amount of blood on his face after the altercation, Sanchez said: “No, I think they just glued my face and a slight break over here, I don’t know,” gesturing to the tip of his nose.

“But I’m fine.”

In the video clip posted to social media, Sanchez and another person are shown on the ground and are pulled away from each other.

Sanchez, with very visible blood on his face, repeatedly shouts “I am going to f**king kill you at Homestead” as he’s pulled away by another driver, before adding “You f**ked with the wrong guy, motherf**ker!”

Matt Crafton responds to online controversy

While Sanchez’s side of the story was quickly publicised through conducting interviews at the track, it took until Sunday afternoon for Crafton to explain the incident from his perspective.

“First, let’s address the ‘sucker punch’,” he said on X, formerly Twitter.

“Before the cameras started rolling I approached Nick and said “Hey” when he turned around I said “what the —?!” to which he looked right at me and threatened me.

“That is when it all went to hell. I had his attention, and words were exchanged, all before anything physical took place, so I did not ‘sucker punch’ the guy. There may not be video, but there were plenty of eyewitnesses.

“What people don’t take into account is that he all but ‘sucker punched’ me at 200 mph. The way he pushed my truck gave me no ability to get out of the situation and he was told multiple times during that race the way he was pushing people was going to cause a wreck and going to get people hurt. There is a consistent pattern of certain drivers having a lack of respect on the track, and it was time for someone to say something.

“Am I proud that it got physical? No, but last time I checked everyone on that track is a grown adult. If a man looks at me and threatens me, I am going to react. Especially when tempers are already flared from being wrecked on the track.

“I apologise to my team, my sponsors and partners, my family, and the NASCAR community for the negativity and for taking attention away from a good day of racing at Talladega.”

Watch the video below, but we warned you – the language is fruity!

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