A Look Back In Talladega History: Close Finishes

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Over the years, Talladega Superspeedway has produced some of the most memorable finishes in racing history, and each of the four series that currently competes at the track (ARCA RE/MAX, NASCAR Craftsman Truck, NASCAR Nationwide and NASCAR Sprint Cup), has a finish that stands out above the rest.  This is a look back at the best of the best.

 
ARCA RE/MAX Series
One of the closest finishes at Talladega in ARCA RE/MAX Series history is also one of the most recent.  In the 2007 ARCA RE/MAX Series 250, rookie driver Michael Annett notched his first ARCA win in his first start at Talladega Superspeedway.  The margin of victory was a miniscule 0.042 second over veteran driver Frank Kimmel.  That a rookie driver could win in such dramatic fashion is impressive enough on its own, but coupled with the fact that he did it against a field stacked with a former Formula One competitor (Scott Speed) and an Indy Car champ (Dario Franchitti), easily makes this one of the most memorable ARCA RE/MAX Series victories.
 
NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series
Although the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series is a relative newcomer to Talladega Superspeedway, it didn’t take long to produce a thrilling finish.  In only its second year of competition at NASCAR’s Most Competitive track, the Truck Series featured drivers Todd Bodine, Rick Crawford and Johnny Benson roaring across the line three-wide in the 2007 Mountain Dew 250.  Bodine nipped Alabama native Crawford by a mere 0.014 second, with Benson just behind in third.  The finish ranks as sixth-closest in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series since the use of electronic timing and scoring.
 
NASCAR Nationwide Series
When the checkered flag fell on the 1999 Touchstone Energy 300 (now Aaron’s 312), both Terry Labonte and Joe Nemechek headed to Gatorade Victory Lane.  The finish was so close that neither driver knew who had won the race.  In actuality, Labonte had just edged Nemechek by 0.002 second, tying the record for closest finish in NASCAR Nationwide Series history.
 
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
A close victory over veteran drivers can catapult a relatively unknown driver into the spotlight.  Such was the case for rookie driver Ron Bouchard at Talladega Superspeedway in 1981.  Coming to the line in the DieHard 500 (now Aaron’s 499), Bouchard beat Darrell Waltrip and Terry Labonte by a mere foot in a classic three-wide finish.  The win would catapult Bouchard to Rookie of the Year honors, but unfortunately would be his first and last in NASCAR Sprint Cup Series competition.

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While Bouchard’s win came before the use of electronic timing and scoring, Talladega has other close finishes that rank in NASCAR’s Top-10 Closest Finishes.  Tied for second is the 0.005 second margin of victory of Dale Earnhardt over Ernie Irvan in 1993 and in tenth is the .025 second margin of victory of Jimmy Spencer over Bill Elliott in 1994.
 
Race fans should make plans now to experience part of Talladega’s history in 2009 during the triple-header Aaron’s Dream Weekend, featuring the ARCA RE/MAX Series, the NASCAR Nationwide Series and the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.  For tickets, visit www.talladegasuperspeedway.com or call 1-877-Go2-DEGA. For our hearing impaired guests, please call TDD 1-866-ISC-TRAK (1-866-472-8725). Tickets also are available in person by visiting the Talladega Superspeedway Ticket Office from 8 a.m. - 4 p.m. CDT, Monday- Friday.
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