The accident happened just before 4 a.m. on I-40 between Fayetteville Road and Highway 751.
Officials said a Chevrolet Tahoe driven by 24-year-old Nigel Juan Cruz, of Smithfield, rear ended a Saturn Vue. The Tahoe rolled over and came to rest near an exit sign off the right-hand side of the highway. Cruz was ejected from the vehicle.
The driver of the Saturn, 18-year-old Luke Dowling, of Cary, was uninjured.
Cruz was taken to Duke Hospital, where he is listed in critical but stable condition.
Police said speed, alcohol, and careless and reckless driving were all factors in the collision.
All lanes of I-40 Westbound reopened just before 7 a.m.