13 Years Ago: The Closest Finish In NASCAR History Remembered

Photo Credit: NASCAR via FOX
Photo Credit: NASCAR via FOX /

13 years ago, the world witnessed the absolute closest finish in NASCAR history.

As far as closest finishes go this year, we’ve had quite a few doozies. There was the Good Sam 500 with a .01  gap between Kevin Harvick and Carl Edwards. And earlier in the year was the Daytona 500 with a photo finish of .01 seconds between Denny Hamlin and Martin Truex Jr.

But 13 years ago yesterday the world witnessed the #1 closest finish in NASCAR history. During the 2003 Carolina Dodge Dealers 400, drivers Ricky Craven and Kurt Busch finished with Ricky Craven stealing first by a margin of .002 seconds. That’s right, 2 milliseconds. To give you an idea how infinitesimally small that gap was, consider that one flap of a honeybee’s wing is slower at just 5 milliseconds. We’ve provided a link to that heart-pounding moment that happened 13 years ago below.

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Around this time, Kurt Busch was remembered for being one of the most hated drivers among all NASCAR fans. Some remember Kurt Busch as the driver who made contact with Dale Earnhardt Junior on lap 85 of the 2001 Daytona 500 with Earnhardt flipping Busch off at 185 MPH. Earnhardt fatally passed away on the last lap in no way related to what Busch did. But still.Not to mention his rivalry that often turned nasty with Jimmy Spencer. Busch bumping Robby Gordon on purpose at the All-Star Challenge the year prior didn’t help either.

Rickey Craven on the other hand, was a downright underdog coming into the Carolina Dodge Dealers 400.

During the race, a loss of power steering on Kurt Busch’s car let Ricky Craven catch up on the closing laps of the 400 mile race. With two laps to go, Craven finally caught up to Kurt Busch. At the inside of turn three, Craven made his move on Busch and they entered the white flag lap virtually tied. It was clean running in turns one and two but turns three and four were anything but clean. Both drivers ran parallel, up next to each other until the finish with both of them smashing into each other. Craven narrowly defeated Busch by 2 milliseconds and the rest was history.

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If you listen closely to the broadcast, the legendary finish was called by Fox in one of the most epic ways possible. “It’s going to be a drag race! Wow! They touch, they touch . . . Craven got him!” At that time, it was the best racing NASCAR ever saw. Some say 2016 and beyond sees the return of that legendary kind of racing again.