Welcome to Power Rankings! During the season, we rank your favorite drivers based on who's up, who's down, who's grooving and who's sliding. But now? Now, we dig into the vaults and the memory banks. Today, we offer up the best feuds of 2011. And oh, do we have a bumper crop from which to choose ...
1. Kyle Busch-Richard Childress. One of the most legendary throwdowns in NASCAR history, this Kansas scuffle began when Childress had all he could stand and couldn't stand no more. Busch apparently (and wisely) didn't fight back as the old man threw a punch or two. And "taking off your watch" became an instant NASCAR euphemism for when things are about to get real.
2. Kyle Busch-Kevin Harvick. The perpetually simmering Busch-Harvick feud boiled over at Darlington, as the two traded paint on the track. When Harvick confronted Busch on pit road following the race, Busch shoved Harvick's car forward to get out of the way of the Flying Fists of Happy. This one resonated for months.
3. Kurt Busch-The Penske team. Busch feuded with his team, his owner, his car and himself for most of the year, and ended up the loser when he finally got the boot from the 22.
4. Greg Biffle-Boris Said. The best soundbite of the year, as Said called Biffle an "unprofessional scaredy-cat" and a "chump" after a dustup at Watkins Glen. No word on whether Said ever found his way to Biffle's house to deliver his message in person.
5. Matt Kenseth-Brian Vickers. This feud stretched over several races, as the drivers retaliated back and forth so many times that nobody can quite remember how the whole thing started. Kenseth got the last laugh, though; when asked at Champions Week if he'd spin Vickers to win a race, Kenseth replied, "He wouldn't be leading a race."
6. Ryan Newman-Juan Pablo Montoya. An early battle that's all but forgotten now because Montoya dropped off the radar. Newman allegedly threw some punches in the NASCAR hauler, and apparently got one of those secret fines for it. But nobody who's talking about it knows anything, and nobody who knows anything is talking about it.
7. Kurt Busch-Jimmie Johnson. Busch tried hard to convince everyone that he was "in Jimmie's head," but after getting spun by the 48 at Richmond and self-destructing in the Chase, Busch convinced everyone that he couldn't get out of his own head long enough to find his way into anyone else's.
8. Tony Stewart-Brian Vickers. The Sonoma battle between Vickers and Stewart very nearly cost the eventual champion a berth in the Chase. Stewart decided to play NASCAR sheriff and dump Vickers for blocking; Vickers responded by putting Stewart tail-up onto a tire pile. Stewart's poor finish there almost cost him his Chase spot. Which, as it turned out, would have changed matters dramatically.
9. Kevin Conway-Robby Gordon. If these two were bigger names, this would've been the fight of the year, hands down. As it is, it's the undercard, but a contract battle and alleged garage fisticuffs are nothing to laugh off. Laugh at, yes, but not laugh off.
10. Kasey Kahne-Juan Pablo Montoya. Notable because Montoya managed to get under the skin of the usually low-key Kahne at Pocono. Watching drivers try to sort out who did what to whom is like listening to middle-school girls try to figure out who backstabbed whom.
Honorable mentions: Kyle Busch-Ron Hornaday Jr. (the move that got Kyle benched), Kyle Busch-Elliott Sadler (a case of mistaken identity, as Kyle crashed Sadler apparently thinking he drove for Harvick), Kurt Busch-the NASCAR media (transcripts and facts have no chance against an angry driver), Tony Stewart-the NASCAR media (you'd better ask a good question or else), Clint Bowyer-Juan Pablo Montoya (trouble on the track at Atlanta pretty much iced Bowyer's Chase chances), Jimmie Johnson-Juan Pablo Montoya (no shower is safe from the Montoya Apology Tour), Tony Stewart-Darian Grubb (not a feud per se, but a disagreement that ended, strangely enough, in both a championship and a firing).
All right, your turn. What was your favorite disagreement of the 2011 season? Have your say below.