Today in sports history (2007), Kevin Harvick won the 49th edition of the Daytona 500 in a race that featured an unforgettable finish. Harvick’s victory came by all of 0.020 seconds over Mark Martin. To this day, that ranks as one of the closest margins of victory in the history of the Great American Race.
Harvick etched his name into NASCAR lore with a thrilling victory in the sport’s biggest event.
Kevin Harvick Edges Mark Martin to Win 2007 Daytona 500 | Today in Sports History
To say Kevin Harvick came out of nowhere to win the 49th annual Daytona 500 would be an understatement. After all, he was running in the fifth position with just half a lap to go in the green-white-checkered overtime finish. Harvick managed to pick up a push from Matt Kenseth in the outside lane to pull up alongside leader Mark Martin. A veteran of the sport, Martin was one of the best at blocking his position out in front of the field at the superspeedways. However, he had no answer for the momentum Harvick carried on the outside.
After getting loose heading into Turn 3, Martin was able to steady the ship and side draft back up even with Harvick. After Kyle Busch lost control of his car after running on the apron, “The Big One” ensued behind the two leaders. That left Harvick and Martin alone with a drag race to decide the winner. The No. 29 Chevrolet crossed the start/finish line first by the nose of the car. Two-hundredths of a second was all Harvick won the 2007 Daytona 500 by. Not that the size of his victory mattered to the newest champion of the Great American Race.
Massive Wreck Adds to Drama on Final Lap
While Kevin Harvick and Mark Martin raced for the win, the contact Kyle Busch made with Matt Kenseth coming back up off the apron sent both cars around. Given that they were occupying the inside and outside lines of the second row at the time, their spinning triggered a massive crash. As it so often does in the Daytona 500, “The Big One” struck on the very last lap.
The domino effect of Busch and Kenseth making contact led to cars wrecking left and right. Perhaps the most unforgettable image of the race was Clint Bowyer’s No. 07 car crossing the line upsidedown! The car then flipped back over upon reaching the infield grass before lighting ablaze. Bowyer quickly climbed from the wreck and was able to walk away unscathed.
How Kevin Harvick’s Daytona 500 Margin of Victory Stacks Up in NASCAR History
To this very day, the 0.020 seconds by which Kevin Harvick won the 2007 Daytona 500 still stands as one of the closest margins of victory in NASCAR history. When it comes to the Great American Race specifically, Harvick’s win is the third-closest of the 63 editions to date. Denny Hamlin actually owns both of the two closest victory margins in the Daytona 500. His 0.010-second win over Martin Truex Jr. in 2016 tops the list.
When it comes to all NASCAR Cup Series races at Daytona International Speedway, Harvick’s 2007 win still ranks among the top-10 closest finishes. The smallest margin of victory at Daytona came in 2001 in the Gatorade Duel 2. Mike Skinner edged Dale Earnhardt Jr. by a tiny 0.004 seconds. Not only is that the closest race ever run at The World Center of Racing, but it is also the third smallest winning margin in NASCAR history.
Speaking of the all-encompassing list, the 2007 Daytona 500 ranks as the 23rd-closest margin of victory in the history of the sport. As for the closest NASCAR race ever? Well, there are actually two tied atop the leaderboard. In 2003, Ricky Craven beat out Kurt Busch to win the Carolina Dodge Dealers 400 at Darlington Raceway. Then, in 2011, Jimmie Johnson won the Aaron’s 499 over Clint Bowyer at Talladega Superspeedway. Both races had an official victory margin of 0.002 seconds!