The Adrenalist

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Our Favorite Razor Close Finishes of the Decade



Hair-close finishes are not unusual in NASCAR and since 2000 there have been more and more of them. Regardless of the division, the length of the track or the miles run between the  flags, when it comes to last lap, last corner wins, nothing beats American stock car racing for suspense and excitement.


  • 1. 2003 Darlington – Carolina Dodge Dealers 400

    2003 Darlington – Carolina Dodge Dealers 400

    Kurt Busch/Ricky Craven – .0001 difference

    After finding hard going for most of the race, Ricky Craven and his Tide Pontiac started to pick up time on a dominant Kurt Busch in the closing laps of the Carolina Dodge Dealer 400. Ten laps from the end, Craven finally got within striking distance to a tire-worn Busch, and in the end neither driver was willing to settle for anything other than 'The Win.'

    According to Craven it came down to the following; “With two laps to go I had made up my mind that I was going to do anything to win. I found my strength was in turns three and four and I couldn’t make the mistakes that I made trying to get by Kurt getting into turn one. At that point I knew the only possible way to run side-by-side on new tires was in turns three and four. I went for it and said to myself, ‘This doesn’t have to be pretty, all that matters is who makes it back to the finish line’.”

    “From a purist standpoint, if you’re truly talking about competing and entertainment, we took each other to the very edge, not just for the finish, but for two or three laps and we didn’t knock one another out of the race and that in my mind is what made it so awesome. The reason it was such an awesome finish is we took each other to the edge without taking each other out. I think you could someday see someone win a race by 1/1000 of a second, however I’m not sure you could ever get a better finish.”

    "I did know who won the race when I crossed the start/finish line. When I got to the turn two, I was able to put my window net down, and that’s when I saw the 32 at the top of the scoreboard. That was the first confirmation I got that we had won the race."

    "On a personal note, it was interesting listening to all the stories from people and how everyone had a different aspect of how the race unfolded. In hindsight, everyone knew we were going to win the race, but if you listened to the TV broadcast, even with five laps to go, they said Kurt had another win in the bag. That's what I enjoyed the most: the fact they had taken us for granted. That's what made it more special."

  • 2. 2007 Daytona International Speedway – Daytona 500

    2007 Daytona International Speedway – Daytona 500

    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."

  • 3. 2011 Daytona International Speedway - Gatorade Duel 2

    2011 Daytona International Speedway - Gatorade Duel 2

    Jeff Burton/Clint Bowyer - .005 difference

    The 2011 season has been unusual since NASCAR mandated a new off-season technical rules package, and the changes have created some unique driving challenges. Rather than densely packed groups of cars running in formation at plate tracks, the new technical configuration has created the need for drivers to run two-car trains with one car locked on to the other. This has offered hair-raising racing from start to finish, and the approach has created sliver-close finishes. A perfect illustration of this, was the second Gatorgade Twin 125, when RCR's Jeff Burton and Clint Bowyer came down to wire nose-to-nose and barely .0005 seconds apart.

    “It’s an advantage to have a teammate—there’s no question about it,” Burton said afterward. “Everybody can see that. The difficult part is getting with a teammate. We worked diligently to make sure we were with a teammate. We tried very hard to be with Clint. Everywhere he went, I went. Everywhere I went, he went. (Crew chief) Todd (Berrier) said it best: It’s a shame there wasn’t room in victory lane for both cars.”

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