After 2016 saw Denny Hamlin edge out Martin Truex Jr. by .010 seconds in the closest finish in DAYTONA 500 history, it got us thinking about the other epic DAYTONA 500 finishes. Join us over the next few weeks as we highlight the five closest finishes in 58 years of “The Great American Race.”
Coming in at fifth-closest is the 2010 DAYTONA 500. The 52nd running of the iconic race would be the last on the original surface before a massive track repave would begin later in the year. The old pavement gave us a finish to remember with a margin of .119 seconds separating race champion Jamie McMurray from second-place finisher Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Starting in his eighth career DAYTONA 500, 33-year-old McMurray was back with Chip Ganassi Racing, the team he started his career with, after a four-year hiatus at Roush Fenway Racing.
Starting on the front row alongside pole winner Mark Martin, runner-up Dale Earnhardt Jr. was near the front of the pack all race long, but Kurt Busch took command early, leading 29 of 38 laps during one stretch. Busch’s main competitor was Kevin Harvick, with the two combining to lead 49 of the first 82 laps.
With less than 50 laps to go the action heated up. Scott Speed led 11 laps but, running on old tires, was eventually shuffled back while McMurray and Harvick began knifing their way through traffic.
It was Martin Truex Jr. and Greg Biffle on the front row for a Lap 203 green-white-checkered attempt, but McMurray pushed Harvick back into the lead and both showed the way during the Lap 207 restart. McMurray, running the faster outside line, was pushed to the top spot by Biffle and led his first lap of the day. McMurray and Biffle ran 1-2 as the white flag was shown, however Earnhardt Jr. was on the move. By Turn 4 Earnhardt had caught the leader but was unable to navigate around him as McMurray fiercely guarded the inside line.
McMurray outlasted a hard-charging Earnhardt to claim the victory and take the No. 1 Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet to Gatorade Victory Lane after an emotional celebration in the trioval grass.
McMurray’s win marked the first-ever DAYTONA 500 victory for the legendary Chip Ganassi and remains his only DAYTONA 500 victory to date.
Join us for the race that means more than any other - at the place that's unlike anything. Guarantee your seats for the 2017 DAYTONA 500 on February 26 before they sell out. For tickets and more information, visit DAYTONA500.com or call 1-800-PITSHOP.