Daytona 500 2011: The 10 Greatest Late Passes in Daytona 500 History
It's NASCAR's version of a game-winning touchdown pass in the Super Bowl or a game-winning home run in Game 7 of the World Series.
In recent years, the Daytona 500 has seen more than its fair share of thrilling finishes—including one of the closest in the history of the sport. This is clearly due to rule changes such as the "Lucky Dog" and the "green-white-checkered" finish.
On the other hand, the early years of the sport saw thrilling passes in the race's latter stages.
In no particular order, here are the 10 greatest late passes in Daytona 500 history.
Kevin Harvick Survives Chaos, Passes Mark Martin at The Line (2007)
In what may be the wildest finish in the history of the "Great American Race," Kevin Harvick started the final lap in fifth place behind leader Mark Martin. With help from Matt Kenseth and others in the draft, Harvick was able to overtake the line ran by Martin.
The road to victory was far from over. A massive pileup took out most of the field behind Harvick and Martin on the frontstretch. Instead of throwing out a race-ending caution, NASCAR let the two duel to the checkered flag.
Harvick held off Martin by .020 seconds, the 12th-closest finish in Sprint Cup history.
"Busch Push" Gives Ryan Newman Victory (2008)
One year after the Harvick-Martin photo finish, the golden anniversary edition of the Daytona 500 produced a great finish of its own.
During the final lap, Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Tony Stewart and Kyle Busch were battling on the back stretch for their Daytona 500 win. As Stewart moved down to block Busch, Kurt Busch bumped Ryan Newman by the Gibbs cars as the field went into turn four.
Newman held on and earned the victory in what would be his final season with Penske Racing.
Right Place, Right Time for Derrike Cope (1990)
In one of the biggest upsets in sports history, Derrike Cope was the surprise winner of the "Great American Race" after Dale Earnhardt, who dominated the 1990 Daytona 500 until turn 3 of lap 200, suffered a flat tire.
Cope won one more race in 1990, and then essentially vanished into obscurity in lesser rides in all three national NASCAR series.
The Dale and Dale Show (1993)
I don't think anything I could possibly type could compare to Ned Jarrett's call of the final-lap duel between his son Dale and the "Intimidator."
One of the greatest announcing calls in NASCAR history.
Dale Jarrett Ends Johnny Benson's Upset Bid (2000)
The 2000 Daytona 500 was considered by most to be the "Bore at the Beach." The "Great American Race" had just six cautions and nine lead changes to begin the new millennium, and triggered changes that would cause the most competitive restrictor-plate racing in the history of the sport.
That didn't mean the race lacked some drama, however. Johnny Benson—driving for upstart Tyler Jet Racing—led the 500 with four laps to go. Unfortunately for the Michigan native, Dale Jarrett led a line of 10 cars to blow by Benson.
It was the third and final Daytona 500 win in Jarrett's career.
Hendrick Trio Powers By (1997)
The "Rainbow Warrior" received a little help from his teammates in making another entry into the record books, as Jeff Gordon won his first Daytona 500 with assistance from fellow Hendrick Motorsports drivers Terry Labonte and Ricky Craven.
With six laps remaining, the Hendrick trio powered past Bill Elliott and a pileup with five laps left sealed the win for Gordon.
Yarborough and Allison Fight, and Petty Wins (1979)
Lost in the legendary accident and fight between Cale Yarborough and Donnie Allison on the final lap of the 1979 Daytona 500 is the fact that Richard Petty sneaked past both of them to win his sixth "Great American Race."
Pearson Limps Past Petty (1976)
Another classic finish ingrained in the minds of NASCAR fans everywhere.
David Pearson and Richard Petty collided, Petty couldn't restart his car and Pearson snuck by to win the Daytona 500.
Gordon Wins His 3rd Daytona 500 (2005)
Jeff Gordon passed Dale Earnhardt Jr. with three laps to go and survived a green-white-checkered finish to win his third career "Great American Race" in 2005.
Gordon, Earnhardt Jr, Tony Stewart, Kurt Busch and Jimmie Johnson swapped positions repeatedly over the race's final six laps.
Ward Burton Passes Sterling Marlin without Moving (2002)
In what may be the most bizarre pass on this list, Ward Burton pulled out one of the most shocking wins in the history of the Daytona 500.
After beating Burton to the yellow flag after Jeff Gordon spun out ahead of him, a pileup in back of Sterling Marlin caused a red flag. Marlin noticed damage to a bent fender that had the possibility of flattening a tire, and got out of the car during the stop in action. NASCAR officials saw Marlin pulling on the fender, and penalized him once the race resumed.
The end result was Burton holding off Elliott Sadler and Geoff Bodine to win at the "World Center of Racing."
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Ryan Papaserge is a junior journalism/mass communication student at St. Bonaventure University and a Featured Columnist at Bleacher Report.