Ricky Bobby is a NASCAR driver who wants to go fast. While he was working as the pit crew of Dennit Racing driver Terry Cheveaux, Ricky replaces him and ends up finishing in third place, despite starting mid-race in last place. Ricky quickly soars to the top of NASCAR by achieving fame and fortune at Dennit Racing and meeting his future wife, Carly. Ricky eventually persuades Dennit to field an additional car and arranges to have his best friend, Cal Naughton, Jr, on his team. While he and Cal are on top of the racing world, Ricky challenges his flamboyant French Formula One arch-rival, Jean Girard, who outperforms him on the track and becomes Dennit Racing's next top driver. Desperate to regain his dominance, Ricky pushes himself too hard during the race at Charlotte Motor Speedway and ends up going airborne. While paramedics attempt to take him to the hospital, Ricky ends up running around on the track in his helmet and underwear erroneously insisting that he is on fire. While recovering from his accident, Ricky persists in believing that he is paralyzed, but realizes that he is not after intentionally stabbing a knife into his leg. Attempting to regain a spot for his team, Ricky test drives at Rockingham Speedway before the next race, but fear causes him to flashback to his earlier delusions. Desperate to remain married with Ricky, Carly dumps him and later marry Cal, who moves to Ricky's old home before he returns from the speedway. Ricky soon finds out about his divorce upon his return, but despite Cal's desire to remain best friends, Ricky suddenly breaks off his friendship after he accused Cal of wrecking his life.