Tuesday, December 28, 2010

5 Best Finishes of 2010

As 2010 comes to a close, let’s take a look at the five best races from the past Sprint Cup season. 

5. Daytona 500 – The only reason this race wasn’t the best of the year is because of the infamous pot hole incident.  If you get past that, however, then you have one of the best Daytona 500’s in a long time.  The 52 lead changes were the most for the track in 17 years, and your race winner, Jamie McMurray, led only the final two laps – the fewest for a 500 winner.  McMurray’s off-season story added to the drama of the race as well.  Unsure he would even have a ride after being the odd man out at Roush-Fenway Racing, the 2003 rookie of the year was reunited with former owner Chip Ganassi shortly before the season started.  The emotional McMurray was a perfect example of a storybook ending in NASCAR.

4. Sylvania 300 (Loudon II) – Round one of the 2010 Chase certainly provided us with a nice precursor for the final nine races.  Chase favorite Denny Hamlin overcame a late race spin to finish second, and Mr. Four-Time Jimmie Johnson, had a rare mistake in a Chase race, finishing 25th. The race was dominated by two Chase underdogs, Clint Bowyer and Tony Stewart who led all but 23 of the races 300 laps.  Stewart, who was leading with less than two to go, ran out of gas coming off of turn 4, giving the lead and win to Clint Bowyer for his first victory in over two years.

3. AAA Texas 500 (Texas II) – This race had it all – a one finger salute by Kyle Busch, two veterans scuffling on the backstretch, a close championship battle, and a thrilling finish.  I know I jumped out of my seat on two separate occasions during this event when normally I don’t even jump once.  Matt Kenseth, who finished second at Texas yet again, overcame a one lap deficit to put a on a thrilling two lap duel with race winner Denny Hamlin for one of the best finishes since, well, our next two races on the list.

2. Goody’s Fast Pain Relief 500 (Martinsville I) – The only time I miss a race is the rare occurrence my DVR fails me on a rain delayed Monday race.  Of course it had to fail me for this race. Still to this day, I don’t know how in the world Denny Hamlin went from ninth to the lead in such short time.  I know he was aided with four fresh tires and a couple of green-white-checkered finishes, but it was purely amazing what he was able to do.  I have yet to get tired of watching this finish on Youtube, as he, Jeff Gordon, Matt Kenseth, make it three wide with a lap and a half to go. 

1. Aarons 499 (Talladega I) – After such a successful Daytona 500, there was some speculation that NASCAR may leave the wings on for restrictor plate races.  Luckily, they went with the spoiler, and allowed drivers to bump draft in the turns. This was something there were not allowed to in the previous Talladega race and it was met with harsh criticism from both drivers and fans.  With the new rules for the April race, the end result was the most lead changes in NASCAR history, including a last lap, last second pass by Kevin Harvick over defending Talladega race winner and Daytona 500 champion Jamie McMurray.  The 0.011 margin of victory was the eighth closest finish in NASCAR history. And to the delight of the drivers and safety gurus, no cars went airborne.

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