The 'Best of' the Daytona 500 Best Daytona 500s By the Decades: Harvick Edges Martin In 2007 Photo Finish (This is the final installment in a six-part series on the best Daytona 500s, divided by decades. Today, as the choice for the 2000s, ...
The 'Best of' the Daytona 500
Best Daytona 500s By the Decades: Harvick Edges Martin In 2007 Photo Finish
(This is the final installment in a six-part series on the best Daytona 500s, divided by decades. Today, as the choice for the 2000s, the 2007 race is featured.)
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Feb. 12, 2008) -- Two memories from the 2007 Daytona 500 will last a lifetime, and make the race's finish arguably the most electrifying in the history of the event.
First, of course, was the split-second finish. Kevin Harvick nipped Mark Martin at the line by .020 second -- the closest Daytona 500 margin of victory since the advent of electronic scoring.
Second was the melee that went on behind the leaders. While Harvick and Martin were banging door-to-door down the frontstretch, a pack of cars got together. The poster boy for that accident was Clint Bowyer, whose No. 07 Jack Daniel's Chevrolet slid across the finish line on its roof. An upside-down Bowyer climbed out of his window safely and stood staring at his wrecked, smoking machine.
The win was Harvick's 11th of his career, and clearly the biggest. It also was the first Daytona 500 win for owner Richard Childress since 1998, the year the legendary Dale Earnhardt finally took his No. 3 GM Goodwrench Chevrolet to the Daytona 500 Victory lane.
Martin, a fan favorite who ran a part-time schedule in 2007, was running his first race not in a Roush Fenway Racing Ford.
Rundown: The 2007 Daytona 500
The Favorites in '07: Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Tony Stewart.
The Intangible: Mark Martin, running a partial schedule in 2007, was racing pressure-free, knowing he would take himself out of the series points battle several weeks after the 500.
The Winner's Stats: Kevin Harvick led four laps, which tied Benny Parsons' record set in 1975 for the fewest by a Daytona 500 winner. Havick had an Average Running Position of 10.3 and a Driver Rating of 109.0.
The Rundown: Surprise pole winner David Gilliland proved his talent at restrictor plate racing, leading the first 18 laps of the race. He finished an impressive eighth. ... The early-race story pitted 2004 series champion Kurt Busch against two-time series champion Tony Stewart. The two traded the top spot a number of times -- Busch led a race-high 95 laps and Stewart led 35 laps. They also traded paint. On Lap 152, Stewart tapped Busch's back bumper and the impact sent both drivers careening into the wall. Stewart's day was ended and he finished 43rd. Busch was able to get his car back out racing, but was only able to finish two spots higher in 41st. ... After the Stewart-Busch incident, a buildup for the finish took place. Martin looked like he might pull out an improbable win. He took the lead on Lap 176 and kept it through a Lap 197 red flag and the four caution laps that followed. It was only on the final lap that his dream was dashed. According to NASCAR's Loop Data statistics, Harvick stormed ahead 28 positions in the final 20 laps.
Harvick's Take: "My go-kart experience over the winter paid off, because I didn't let off the floor and we just kept hitting things and the wall and bouncing off everything. But man, this is the Daytona 500. Can you believe it?"
Martin's Take: "I really wanted to win that thing. They were going to have to pry it out of my fingers."
The Follow-Up: In 2007, Harvick proved to be a money driver adding the NASCAR Sprint All-Star race -- and its $1 million purse -- to his win tally. Martin would take the points lead after the second race of the season, but relinquished it after the fourth race, at Bristol Motor Speedway.