December 01, 2009
We're counting down the top moments in NASCAR over the last 10 years, and today, we focus on the best races of the decade. Many of them center around one single event, but all had fans' hearts pounding right into the final lap.
10. 2008 Camping World RV 400 at Dover: It was a Roush-Fenway special, as Carl Edwards, Greg Biffle and Matt Kenseth traded the lead in the final laps. Biffle wove through lapped traffic and claimed the win.
9. 2002 All-Star Race: Ryan Newman and Dale Earnhardt Jr. were locked in a tight battle, with Earnhardt chasing Newman. But Junior let Newman slip away, failing to pull an Intimidator-style bump-and-run, giving fans the first hint that maybe Junior wouldn't be running his races as Senior had.
8. 2000 Winston 500 at Talladega: No one at the time could know it, but the 2000 Winston 500 would be Dale Earnhardt Sr.'s 76th and final victory. He rose 17 positions in the final four laps to take the win.
7. 2007 Subway 500 at Martinsville: Jeff Gordon had dominated for most of the season, but the Chase reset had brought Jimmie Johnson back into the hunt. This was Gordon's chance to put distance between himself and Johnson. But in the end, it was J.J. who ran down Gordon in the race's final laps, setting himself up for a run to his second straight Cup.
6. 2008 Sharpie 500 at Bristol: Over the course of the decade, 20 races were run at Bristol, and almost all of them could conceivably make this list. The 2008 night race makes the list, though, because of the fireworks on-track between Carl Edwards and Kyle Busch. Edwards used a bump-and-run move to take the win. After the race was over, Busch hit Edwards, who proceeded to spin Kyle and send the fans into hysterics.
5. 2001 Cracker Barrel 500 at Atlanta: In just his third race, just three weeks after Dale Earnhardt Sr.'s death, Kevin Harvick edged Jeff Gordon to take the win. Harvick held up three fingers through his window in his victory lap, earning him an instant fanbase.
4. 2007 Daytona 500: Everything was setting up perfectly for perennial bridesmaid Mark Martin to finally win the Daytona 500, but at the last second, Kevin Harvick spoiled the party and took the checkers.
3. 2004 Ford 400 at Homestead: Kurt Busch, Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson entered the race in a virtual dead heat for the first Chase championship. And the Cup wasn't determined until the final turn. All three drivers ended up in the top 5, but it was Busch who walked away with the Cup.
2. 2001 Pepsi 400 at Daytona: In his first race at Daytona since his father died at the track, Dale Earnhardt Jr. won going away, and there wasn't a dry eye in the grandstands.
1. 2003 Carolina Dodge Dealers 400 at Darlington: The closest finish in NASCAR history, with Ricky Craven just barely beating Kurt Busch. Here, check it for yourself and see if your pulse isn't racing:
All right, you're up. What did we miss? Where would you place your favorites? Have at it!
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