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Top 5 Talladega Nail-Biting NASCAR Finishes

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Brian McLaughlin

McLaughlin is a veteran sports writer who has covered 4 Daytona 500s. He loves the sport and is pumped to be with The Daily Downforce. Follow on Twitter @BrianMacWriter.
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Restrictor-plate racing is designed to keep the cars from going insane (and unsafe) speeds, and one of the results of it is massive packs of cars.

Obviously, those packs — with bump-draft racing on full display — can still be intact when the race hits the checkered flag, and that can make for some insane endings.

Sometimes three or four cars that are going for the win can produce insanely close finishes.

Here’s a look at the five closest race endings at Talladega, during either the spring or fall races.

Talladega’s Crazy Endings

2011 Aaron’s 499 (0.002 seconds)

Jimmie Johnson ended up nudging out Clint Bowyer for the win in this one, but it didn’t necessarily look like the seven-time Cup champion would be the winner when the pack was in turn four. However, he got a massive push from Hendrick Motorsports teammate Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and won the race for what is the closest margin ever at 0.002 seconds (tied with one other race — Ricky Craven over Kurt Busch in 2003 at Darlington).

1993 DieHard 500 (0.005 seconds)

On a brutally hot day in July (Talladega wasn’t in April that year), Dale Earnhardt, Sr. raced past Ernie Irvan, Mark Martin, Kyle Petty, and Dale Jarrett to take the win. The winning margin measured in distance? It was just six inches that differentiated Earnhardt and Irvan.

2019 1000Bulbs.com 500 (0.007 seconds)

Ryan Blaney had a couple of good races at Talladega between 2019 and 2020 (see below). Racing in the October race, Blaney fought off a challenge from Ryan Newman and picked up a postseason victory that guaranteed him a spot in the next round.

2020 Geico 500 (0.007 seconds)

The next season, with the CoVID pandemic hanging over sports, Blaney won the rescheduled event (held in June) by edging out Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. at the end. A large wreck in the last stretch of the race knocked out a bunch of the contenders, but not Blaney.

2010 Aaron’s 499 (0.011 seconds)

Kevin Harvick waited until the last seconds to pass Jamie McMurray at the very end of this April race, capturing the race by three feet. In a race that saw 88 lead changes and 29 drivers who led at least one, it was a crazy ending — one that took all three of the green-white-checked overtime periods.

Some of the most exciting race endings in NASCAR history have happened at Talladega. Could this weekend’s finale provide an ending that makes this top five list on Monday? We’ll know soon.

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Picture of Brian McLaughlin

Brian McLaughlin

McLaughlin is a veteran sports writer who has covered 4 Daytona 500s. He loves the sport and is pumped to be with The Daily Downforce. Follow on Twitter @BrianMacWriter.
All Posts