- 01/24/2011, 08:20PM ET
Outlaw... said 01/24, 08:20 PM
Must be in order.
1. 1959 Daytona 500. In terms of significance, nothing tops this. People said that Daytona was too big for for the racing to be exciting. Then after 500 miles, Lee Petty and Johnny Beauchamp crossed the line side by side along with a laped car. The laped car blocked the view of the photo finish camera. Beachamp was declared the winner, and 3 days later the decision was reversed giving Lee Petty the win.
2. 2001 March race in Atlanta. Just weeks after the death of Dale Earnhardt, and 1 year after Dale had had a great finish with Bobby Labonte, Kevin Harvick, driving Dale's car repeated history. This time the finish was closer, and he was holding off Jeff Gordon in one of the closest victories ever.
3. 1979 Daytona 500. The infamous fight on the infield on NASCAR's first nationally televised race.
4. 1976 Daytona 500. Petty and Pearson crash crossing the finish line. Pearson slides across the line first. Considered one of the best races of all time.
5. 2003 Darlington. Ricky Craven edges Kurt Busch for the closest finish in NASCAR history.
noydbyj said 01/24, 09:25 PM
A few agreements, a little re-ordering, a few changes.
1. 1979 Daytona 500. Agree completely. Bump it up to the top spot because of it's importance for NASCAR in the national consciousness. Bonus for Benny Parsons carrying the first live in-car camera, ignoring the added weight.
2. 1992 Hooters 500 at Atlanta. Final race of the season, final race of Richard Petty's career. It also was Jeff Gordon's first race, although that's more important in hindsight. What was important (and incredible) that day was the championship battle. Three drivers started the day in true contention. Within a year, two of them would be gone. The championship went down to the final lap, with Bill Elliott winning the race, but losing the title by just 10 points.
3. 1959 Daytona 500.
4. 2003 Darlington. With a TON of respect to Kurt Busch for hugging Craven in victory lane.
5. 2000 Winston 500 at Talladega. Earnhardt's last win of his career. In the last 4 laps, he made up 17 positions to capture his 10th Talladega win (most all time) and a million dollar bonus. To see that 3 car work the draft, and then, leading on the final lap, break the draft, so perfectly, it truly was a thing of beauty.
Outlaw... said 01/25, 01:02 PM
I'll focus on your replacements moreso than the order.
I've watched replays of the 92 Atlanta race, an all though it was a good race, the finish itself was not so exciting.
If this had not been the last race of the season that determined the championship, it wouldn't even be in the discussion.
This is the best race finishes, not championship finishes.
Amazing championship race, not so much amazing race finish.
The Altlanta race in 2000 was just 3 weeks after Dale Sr died. His replacement Kevin Harvick won by .006 seconds. Dale Earnhardt had a similar finish one year ealier, except Kevin's win was closer and was against Earnhardt's biggest rival, Jeff Gordon.
There is no way the 2001 March Atlanta race isn't on here at all.
There have been few race finishes that brought happy tears into the eyes of nearly every driver and fan at the track.
I was at this race, and there wasn't a dry eye around.
This was Kevin Harvick's third career race, he had huge shoes to fill, and he had one of the closest finishes of all time against Dale's biggest rival.
March race in Atlanta 2001>92 Hooters 500.
noydbyj said 01/25, 04:23 PM
Great finishes have to be about more than the final quarter second. I'm not saying that you should judge the last 100 miles of a race as the "finish," but surely the last 5, 10, 15 laps are key. Another great end to a race was the 2003 (then) Busch Series race at IRP. Brian Vickers and Jason Keller battled on the variable banking lap after lap after lap, until finally Vickers pulled away just enough to win the race and go on to win the championship. My 5th pick was Earnhardt's moves over the final 5 laps of that race at Talladega.
The 1992 Hooters 500 was a great finish on so many levels. It was a great finish to a career. It was a great finish to a season. And, with a championship hanging in the balance, it was a great finish to a race. Take the moment out of context and you take something away from it. But paint that 29 car black make it the #3, and put Earnhardt back behind the wheel, and while you still have a great finish, you don't have the same drama that you do that day in Atlanta. Context matters. And that finish in 1992 was not just a great finish, but one of the great moments in modern NASCAR history, and helped set the stage for the next decade of the sport.
Outlaw... said 01/26, 08:41 AM
1992 Atlanta was a great championship finish, but the actual race finish saw Bill Elliott win by a straightaway.
No way does it make the list much less go second over the 2001 Atlanta race.
I remember Earnhardt's last win like it was yesterday, but making up 17 spots in 3 laps is not unheard of at Talladega, in fact it happens quite a bit.
All you need is a couple draft partners and you're good to go.
The race finished with the top 3 cars finishing in single file. Front Row Joe and Kenny Wallace never really even tried to pass Dale.
It was great because it was Dale's last win, but not so much a great finish.
The 1976 Daytona 500 is considered one of the best races in NASCAR history.
Petty and Pearson was the biggest rivalry in the sport, and they were side by side coming out of turn 4.
Both drivers hit the wall, and it looked like Petty's car would slide across the start finish line, but it stopped just short while Pearson limped across the finish line in a severely torn up car to steal the win.
Remember, these are best finishes, and the 76 Daytona 500 had a better finish than Earnhardt's last win.
noydbyj said 01/26, 06:33 PM
You can't have it both ways. Either the context matters, or the context doesn't. If it matters to the 2001 Atlanta race, then it matters to the Talladega race 6 months earlier. And then it matters to the 1992 Atlanta race, too.
Sure, there was drama at the end of the '76 500. Two great drivers going at it. But I'm more impressed with the guy who can make those cuts through traffic. While it may not be unprecedented for a guy to make up a number of spots like that, it doesn't make it any less spectacular. And what you saw that day was probably the greatest restrictor plate racer ever doing what he did best, doing it as well as he ever did, and doing it for the last time. And those other cars did try to pass the #3. That's why, if you watch the video, Earnhardt went high and low on the final lap, weaving back and forth to break the draft so that they could not build up the momentum needed to pass him.
What is a great finish? Is it the instant the winner crosses the line? The final stretch run building up to the checkered flag? A great finish leaves you in awe. 1992 Atlanta and 2000 Talladega couldn't do anything but leave you in awe and wonder. That's a great finish in my book.
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