NASCAR rivalries accelerate interest

Multiple clashes between Denny Hamlin and Brad Keselowski the last year and a half gave NASCAR something it has desperately needed - a spicy rivalry. That kind of bad blood was common in NASCAR's previous eras and gave race fans heroes, villains and something to cheer for or against.

CALE YARBOROUGH VS. THE ALLISONS: The most heated parts of this rivalry captivated America back in 1979. The first live Daytona 500 nationally televised from start to finish ended with Donnie Allison and Yarborough banging into each other and wrecking. They jumped out of their cars and fought, with Bobby Allison joining the fray. Each has his own version of who won. Few remember Richard Petty won that race.

DALE EARNHARDT VS. DARRELL WALTRIP: The Intimidator vs. Jaws. Waltrip liked to make fun of Earnhardt's rough nature and did it often. Then, in 1986 in Richmond, Earnhardt made his mark on the rivalry. Waltrip briefly passed Earnhardt, who had led most of the race. Earnhardt clipped Waltrip's car, starting a wreck of massive proportions. Waltrip accused Earnhardt of trying to kill him.

DALE EARNHARDT VS. JEFF GORDON: This one wasn't about the drivers. Earnhardt had a lot of respect for Gordon. At the same time, Earnhardt liked making fun of Gordon's youth, too. At the time of Gordon's ascension, Earnhardt was beloved. Fans didn't want to see some slick, young kid stealing his show. In 1995 Gordon did just that. With Earnhardt going for a third consecutive championship, Gordon won it instead. Thus a rivalry was born.

RICHARD PETTY VS. DAVID PEARSON: For NASCAR's inaugural Hall of Fame class, voters did not select David Pearson. This caused eyebrows to raise throughout the sport, especially among those who remembered the epic battles between Pearson and Petty. They made each other better, and some argue that Petty would not have been The King if it weren't for Pearson pushing him.