In honor of April Fools’ Day today, let’s take a look at some of our past NASCAR Cup Series pranks from the first day of April.
April Fools’ Day has led to some very interesting content being generated on Beyond the Flag over the years.
Unfortunately, there is enough actual “fake news” going around these days outside of April 1 that April Fools’ Day posting is a trend to which we brought an end a few years ago.
Amid the start of the COVID-19 pandemic two years ago, it didn’t seem appropriate to continue that trend and try to trick anybody in 2020, and that sort of stuck in 2021 and 2022 with just how much uncertainty and tension there is in the “real world”.
So in honor of April Fools’ Day today, let’s have a look back at less sensitive days and some *intentional* fake news shared on Beyond the Flag during past April Fools’ Days.
2014 – Danica Patrick marries Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
Danica Patrick and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. were dating at the time, leading to the April Fools’ Day joke that they would not only be getting married but switching teams, with Patrick going from Stewart-Haas Racing to Roush Fenway Racing and Stenhouse making the opposite move.
They did go on to leave their respective teams, however, as Patrick left Stewart-Haas Racing after the end of the 2017 season and made just one more start for Premium Motorsports in the 2018 season-opening Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway. Stenhouse left Roush Fenway Racing and joined JTG Daugherty Racing, swapping seats with Chris Buescher, after the 2019 season.
But Patrick and Stenhouse broke up in December 2017.
2015 – Brian France out as NASCAR CEO
This did end up happening, but not until August 2018 when he was arrested for driving while intoxicated and for criminal possession of oxycodone.
Brian France took a leave of absence from his position as NASCAR chairman and CEO. Stepping in to replace him was his uncle, Jim France. To this day, Jim serves in this role.
2016 – Tony Stewart to retire
In 2016, still competing full-time, Tony Stewart had already announced his plans to retire from the Cup Series after the 2016 season. This joke centered around the idea of him returning for the 2017 Daytona 500.
While that didn’t happen, he did win the race for the first time as a team owner with Kurt Busch.
2017 – N/A
2018 – Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch call it quits
Both Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch are still full-time drivers to this day. But many fans were hopeful that the two most hated drivers in the sport (at the time) had indeed announced their retirement in a “joint statement”.
Of note, Hamlin has gotten some interesting ideas from “fake news” articles before, but this wasn’t one of them.
2019 – Carl Edwards returns, Kyle Busch is fired
This takes the cake for the best April Fools’ Day for multiple reasons.
The Carl Edwards story was actually used as a legitimate source when his return was rumored (despite the literal explanation that it was an April Fools’ Day joke).
The Kyle Busch story was one thought up weeks beforehand, but it depended on three things happening in one weekend — otherwise, it would have been a no-go.
The Carl Edwards story centered around the fact that, for some reason, ever since he stepped away from NASCAR after the 2016 season, fans seem to believe that he is coming back.
So when we falsely reported that he would be joining Team Penske in a fourth because that would be coming from the Team Penske-affiliated Wood Brothers Racing team, Wood Brothers Racing actually had to answer the fans asking if the April Fools’ Day report was true .
They confirmed that, no, we would not be seeing Carl Edwards back in the sport.
Spoiler alert: Despite three more years of rumors since then, Carl Edwards still hasn’t returned.
As for the Kyle Busch story, he needed to win the Truck Series race and the Xfinity Series race at Texas Motor Speedway at the end of March, and he needed to not win the Cup Series race at the track in order for this joke to make any sense.
All of that happened precisely.
He finished in 10th place in the Cup Series race. So the plan moved forward, with Joe Gibbs Racing supposedly “firing” him for winning in the lower series but not being able to win in the top series.
Here was the fake quote we came up with for team owner Joe Gibbs.
“I told Kyle before the weekend that I didn’t want him to win against the kids [in Xfinity] this weekend, and he did it anyway. What about my guys? What about Christopher [Bell] and Brandon [Jones]the guys here for me full-time who go out there each week to win a championship?
“At this point, Kyle’s just taking away all these wins from guys just for the spotlight and to pad his lower series resume and I’ve had enough of it. It’s time for a change. Guy’s got a candy-sponsored race car in Cup and still feels the need to take candy from all the babies. Sad, really. Then he goes out there on Sunday and can’t do anything against guys at his level. 10th place? Come on. It’s just time to move on.”
And here was our fake Kyle Busch response.
“I like winning so that’s what I came here to do. Can’t help it that I’m the best in the business and people like to complain about that. Said it last year when I won here in Cup: nobody likes a winner. Apparently, I’m not even allowed to compete anymore because I’m just too good and Joe doesn’t want to irritate the wrong people with running me, I don’t know.
“Realistically, Richard Petty couldn’t hold a candle to what I’ve done. Plus, I’m only 33 I’m only getting better, so if I haven’t passed him yet, watch me catch up now, for real. Haters gonna hate.”
Busch would go on to win his second Cup Series championship in 2019.
Oh, and no, we did not buy out Winston Cup Scene.