Thursday, April 1, 2010

The 10 Best Cup Finishes Over the Past 10 Seasons

During Sunday's rain delay, FOX showed their list of the ten best finishes during their ten year's of broadcasting cup racing. I certainly agree with the list - however, these were only finishes televised by FOX. I decided to show NBC/TNT and ESPN some love too and come up with my list for ten best Sprint Cup finishes over the past ten seasons.

Barely missed the cut - 2005 Coke 600, 2006 Chrysler 400 (Las Vegas), 2001 EA Sports 500 (Talladega), 2008 Camping World 400 (Dover)

10. 2009 Coke Zero 400 (Daytona) - Tony Stewart had the fastest car, but found himself trailing Kyle Busch on the final lap. Coming to the checkered, Tony juked to the outside and Kyle did the only he could do - block. Unfortunately for Kyle the block came too late and he found himself in the fence, not victory lane. It was Tony's second points win as an owner/driver.

9. 2005 Ford 400 (Homestead) - This race was officially the eighth closest finish in the history of NASCAR. Greg Biffle, who led only nine laps, had to hold off hard charging teammate Mark Martin. Martin unsuccessfully tried passing Greg on the inside off of turn four, losing by .017 seconds. Another interesting note - the top four drivers were all Roush Racing.

8. 2004 Subway 400 (Rockingham) - The margin of victory here makes the Homestead race look like a yawner. Matt Kenseth had led most of the day, but found himself holding off young rookie Kasey Kahne and third year driver Jamie McMurray. On the white flag, McMurray overdrove his car off the second turn leaving the race between Kenseth and Kahne. Kahne dove to the inside at the line, but came up .010 seconds short. Boy I miss this track!

7. 2009 Aarons 499 (Talladega) - With two to go, this looked to be a Ryan Newman-Dale Earnhardt Jr. runaway. Then out of nowhere Carl Edwards and Brad Keselowski not only caught them, but flew past the two leaders on the last lap. Keselowski, in only his 5th start, wasn't content with finishing second. Brad went low and Carl tried to block. Like Kyle Busch at Daytona, Carl blocked a little too late and found himself flying into the fence. Brads win was the first for a single car team since 2003.

6. 2003 Ford 400 (Homestead) - This was a race that had historical significance going in - the last Winston Cup race ever. The 2003 Ford 400 turned out to be Bill Elliott's final full time season and was the last win for Bobby Labonte (for now). The race ironically came down to these two guys. Elliott was well on his way to the victory until a cut tire with half a lap to go gave the win to Bobby.

5. 2005 Golden Corral 500 (Atlanta) - I still enjoy watching replays of this finish on Youtube. Jimmie Johnson was pulling away in final ten laps. The only driver who appeared to have any chance of catching him was Greg Biffle who had an equally fast car. The problem for Biffle was he was stuck in third trying to pass rookie teammate Carl Edwards. With about three to go Edwards car suddenly took off towards Johnson. Like few have done before, Edwards was able to pass Jimmie on the final lap, final turn, final few feet and pick up his first career Nextel Cup victory.

4. 2007 Daytona 500 - If this was the Daytona 400 it would have been a good finish between Kurt Busch and Tony Stewart. A lap 154 wreck between Busch and Stewart allowed other players to enter the game. Mark Martin, who had never won the 500, looked like he was going to finally conquer Daytona. With a mile to go Kevin Harvick flew out of nowhere to drag race Mark coming to the stripe. Behind all of this Kyle Busch got loose and triggered the big one. Harvick barely nips Martin at the line in one of the closest, if not the closest, Daytona 500 finishes of all time.

3. 2007 Pepsi 400 (Daytona) - The second closest finish in NASCAR history. The last 6 laps looked like pace laps at 190 miles an hour. The two leaders, Kyle Busch and Jamie McMurray, traded the lead 5 times in the final 6 laps. McMurray side drafted Busch coming to the finish to beat him by .005 seconds.

2. 2003 Carolina Dodge Dealers 400 (Darlington) - The only finish closer than the one listed above? That would be this one, with a .002 second margin of victory. The final laps were reminiscent of old school racing with beating and banging for the lead. Kurt Busch, whose power steering pump had failed earlier, was doing everything he could to hold off hard charging Ricky Craven. After three amazing laps of hard, intense racing, Busch and Craven finished with their cars tangled together. Craven, by an inch, picked up his second and final career victory.

1. 2001 Cracker Barrel 500 (Atlanta) - I have to give this my first place vote because of the emotions involved. No race has ever left me shaking except for this one. Kevin Harvick in only his third race beat Jeff Gordon in a side by side battle to the checkered. Any race would be pretty cool to see a young rookie hold off one of the sports all time greats. What made this even more exceptional was that Harvick was the late Dale Earnhardts replacement. NASCAR fans were still reeling over the death of Earnhardt and this victory provided some solace to everyone.


  1. 1, 2, 8 and 10 are some of my personal favorites.

    What about the 2008 400. Kyle Busch passes Jimmie Johnson after the restart with 2 laps to go and takes the win. Everyone in the stands was booing after that one.

    And who could forget about the '99 Goody's 500? Earnhardt spins Terry Labonte on the final lap, causing a massive wreck. Meanwhile, Jimmy Spencer has a great run on Earnhardt and passes him... only to realize that the race has already ended!

  2. A sentimental favorite for me, the October 2000 Talladega 500. Earnhardt in 16th place with 5 to go. I was there with the greatest NASCAR fan I know, and big "E" was my driver. The number 3 on the right side of his car was almost completely obliterated by tire marks from him bumping and pushing his way to the front. The 'dega train was four and even five wide in those final laps, and of course it ended up being Big E's final win.