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Ten greatest Daytona 500 finishes of all time

Submitted by on February 24, 2014

1959 Daytona 500 finish As we close in on the final moments of the 2014 Daytona 500, let’s remember the most thrilling finishes of all.

1998 – Dale Earnhardt gets the win

On his 20th attempt, ‘The Intimidator’ finally breaks his two-decade dry spell to win the Daytona 500.

In what has to have been one of the great NASCAR moments, the entire pit lane population lines the track to congratulate Earnhardt as he returns from victory.

1976 – Synchronized spinning

The 1976 Daytona 500 finished with a bang.

Richard Petty and David Pearson finished a door handle-to-door handle race with a simultaneous pirouette. One ended up in the wall, the other ended up on the grass – glorious. This has been called by many, the best Daytona finish of all time.

1979 – Fistfights and crashes

Three years later and this time it was Cale Yarborough and Donnie Allison side by side in the closing laps of the race.

They came together heavily as they fought and ended up on the grass in the infield.  Richard Petty went ahead to take victory, and was celebrating his 6th Daytona 500 win whilst the others got back to the business of fighting.

1959 – Photo finish (cover image)

A finish so close it took NASCAR thee days to make a ruling on the winner.

Having just moved to the new 2.5-mile Daytona International Speedway, the first running of the Daytona 500 didn’t disappoint. Coming across the finish line after 500 miles of true endurance, Lee Petty, Johnny Beauchamp and Joe Weatherly (a lap down) were so close together that it took three days for NASCAR to make a ruling on the winner.

1988 – Father vs Son

You won’t see this in a Formula 1 race!

A father versus son duel made up the closing laps of the 1988 Daytona 500 – the first race featuring restrictor plates. No love was lost between them as they battled for victory, with Bobby Allison eventually taking the win, becoming the first person to win the race over the age of 50 and securing his third Daytona 500 victory.

1993 – Family values

Speaking of father and son NASCAR teams, this is why the conclusion of the 1993 Daytona 500 was a particularly special one.

After an exciting, back and forth race, Dale Jarrett passed Dale Earnhardt, who had lead more than a hundred of the race’s two hundred laps, as they passed the white flag. With Ned Jarrett commenting, his fellow presenters went quiet and left him to call the last lap as his son fought off Dale Earnhardt to take the win.

1960 – The birth of drafting

Junior Johnson didn’t have the power of the lead cars, and hadn’t even planned to run the race until days prior.

What he did have was a strategy for drafting, one that would ultimately see him win victory. With a year’s experience under their belts, teams attacked the 1960 Daytona with far greater fervour than they had in ’59, putting on a race full of stacks and action as opposed to the completely clean race of the year prior.

1967 – Mario Andretti on the scene

Traditionally NASCAR had always been an all-American affair, so much so that it is said that Italian-born Andretti had to adopt a home town in Pennsylvania to avoid attracting the unwanted attention.

It was worth the effort, with Andretti becoming the first person born outside of the United States to win the Daytona 500 in 1967.

1981 – Richard Petty’s 7th win

Thrills and spills as cars fly airborne!

Richard Petty claims his 7th win, as the field struggles to adapt to setting up the more modern chassis of the time.

2007 – Everyone Crashes

As soon as the white flag drops – it’s on for young and old.

Madness unfolds as a tightly packed field of racers desperately jostle for position coming through the last bends of the 2007 Daytona 500. The slight of the leading pair streaming ahead whilst all in the background crash and burn is an almost too-perfect NASCAR cliche.

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