Kevin Harvick/Mark Martin - .020 difference
The 2007 Daytona 500 was very special for a couple of reasons. First, perennial 500 bridesmaid Mark Martin was in the midst of deciding whether or not he wanted to make the '07 season his swan song. He had already made the decision to run a partial-season schedule with Hendrick that year, but was clearly surprised at his speed during practice and in the Twins, followed by a strong run throughout most of the race itself.
On lap 176 Martin assumed the lead of the race after Jimmy Johnson's day-ending backstretch crash collected Hamlin, Green, Reutimann and Raines, followed by an even bigger mashup on lap 185 when Edwards got together with Reed Sorenson, who in-turn collected Blaney, Mike Wallace, Schrader and Bowyer, then continued to lead until lap 197, when Kenseth got into teammate MacMurray. The log jam put Dale Jr, Rudd and Truex on the truck, and the ensuing mess necessitated a twelve-minute red-flag period to clean things up.
This quiet period set up a green-white-checkered finish, and on the start a drafting line emerged with Martin leading, and Harvick, Kyle Busch and Jeff Burton trailing - all of them smelling blood. Busch tried every way he could get around Martin, but the old man had the bit in his teeth and was not to be denied. Meanwhile Harvick was getting closer and closer to Busch, and the kid finally lost focus and went loose and allowed the charging Harvick to pass him at turn three. From then until the end Harvick was on the leader, and he managed to reach Martin's outside side-panel by turn four. The final run to the line was nothing more than old fashioned Saturday Night door slamming, with Harvick trying to impeded Martin on the inside, while Martin did everything he could do to put his foot through the floorboard and will his car to the line.
According to Harvick it was all or nothing, "My go-kart experience paid off, because I didn't let off the floor and we just kept hitting things and the wall and bouncing off everything. But man, this is the Daytona 500. Can you believe it?"
And as usual Martin was graceful in defeat, "I really wanted to win that thing. They were going to have to pry it out of my fingers."