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The Scene Vault: The Crash That Changed Ricky Craven’s Career

By Rick Houston

When Ricky Craven crashed at Talladega early in the 1996 season, it was the stuff of YouTube sensation.

The images of Craven’s Chevrolet rolling violently up the race track, and then right back down again after impacting the outside retaining wall and catch fencing, are horrifying. Viewers are left to wonder how Craven could possibly have survived.

Yet Craven today admits that he would experience Talladega two or three times over, rather than go through what he experienced in a crash at Texas Motor Speedway the following season. The Maine native sustained a severe concussion, and would later have nightmares brought on by the helicopter flight out of the race track.

The accident derailed not only Craven’s first year with Hendrick Motorsports, but his career as a whole. He became a more calculating, if not cautious, driver. It is against that backdrop that he would come back to post wins at Martinsville in 2001 and Darlington two years later.

This is his story.

For more than 32 years, Grand National/Winston Cup/NASCAR Scene writers and photographers were there to record NASCAR history as it was being made. Join hosts Rick Houston and Steve Waid each week on The Scene Vault Podcast Presented by Q Ware as they take a look back at the extraordinary people, places and events woven into the rich tapestry that is our sport.

To hear the entire podcast, visit The Scene Vault on iTunes.

To watch the complete interview, visit The Scene Vault YouTube channel.

Fore more on the Scene Vault, check them out on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.

You can further support their efforts at Patreon.