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NASCAR's 10 Most Amazing Talladega Finishes


10. 1984: Putting the “super speed” in “Superspeedway”

200 mph laps in Monte Carlos, Thunderbirds and Regals — cars that actually look stock. If there's a reason we don't use these camera angles anymore, it would be nice to know why. Look how friggin' fast these things are going! The in-car shots are awesome, cars buffeting about, half a turn into the steering wheel without any appreciable change in direction of the cars. And another great Ken Squier last lap Talladega quip: “Dale Earnhardt, winds it up, fires it in there…”

by Vito Pugliese

9. 2009: A Georgia Bulldog Representing in Bama

Not all the best finishes come in Cup races. David Ragan's first NASCAR win would occur at Talladega in 2009, making the type of last-lap, last-second slingshot move that would have been impressive in any era, in any division and under any circumstances. With one lap to go, tell me if Ragan even looked like he had a shot at anything other than a good points day.

by Vito Puglise

8. 2011: Four Rows of Two

After conceding that the CoT was a PoS, NASCAR removed the “Fast & The Furious” surfboard spoiler and Erector Set splitter in favor or traditional aerodynamic accouterments. This brought about the unintended consequence of tandem drafting between teammates. Here, one guy would push and another would steer while each remained in radio contact — kind of like a 200 mph rail cart. It's always hard to beat Hendrick Motorsports on a big track, and the HMS guys make quite a charge at the 3:00 minute mark with two to go … and Junior wouldn’t have any of the flag afterward.

by Vito Pugliese

7. 1975: Ford, Dodge; Plaid Pants, Butterfly Collars

If you have a few minutes, just watch the whole thing. If not, pick it up from the 20:00 mark. Hall of Fame broadcaster Ken Squier touches on why fans cheer for the cars – not just their favorite drivers. Dig the mid 70s music score, sucka – and the last lap battle between two legends of superspeedway competition: Buddy Baker and Richard Petty. Plenty of bowl cuts and Brady Bunch music for all.

by Vito Pugliese

6. 1981: Where’d Bouchard Come From?

Back before the days of Danica, not all rookies were subject to intense scrutiny with regards to their appearance or personal life. Such was the case of Fitchburg, Mass.’ Ron Bouchard. The first year of the downsized car gave hope to those who may have been skeptical about a field full of Buick's. Jump ahead to the 1:17:40 mark to watch the “impossible finish” between Darrell Waltrip, Terry Labonte and Ron Bouchard. This finish remains one of Waltrip's most memorable races and non-wins. Also, check out Brent Musberger, before he started creeping on QB's girlfriends in BCS games.

by Vito Pugliese

5. 2001: Little E and the Big One

The EA Sports 500 at Talladega was a typical plate race affair with the roof wicker rules package. Business picks up around the 7:00 minute mark when some Bobby-on-Bobby violence ensues — Labonte goes for a roll and Hamilton gets turned into the wall — while Dale Earnhardt Jr. cruises through for the win and a million dollar bonus. Ricky Craven gets out of his car and calls it a day, while Sterling Marlin offered his summation of what the response would be to fix plate racing: “I guess we'll do what we done agee-an.”

by Vito Pugliese

4. 2008: A Block by any Other Name …

Thought I'd throw this one in since Tony Stewart is so averse to blocking. I'd include last fall's Talladega melee as well, but the finish wasn't really that close because of it. Regan Smith would have to wait another three years before he'd score his first “official” victory.

by Vito Pugliese

3. 1993: Irvan vs. Earnhardt

What is it with David Hobbs calling a NASCAR race that gives it a little extra sense of legitimacy? Kyle Petty is leading late in the going in his Mello Yello Pontiac, with Dale Earnhardt, Ernie Irvan, Dale Jarrett and Mark Martin in tow. Pontiac vs. Chevy vs. Ford – how's that for parity? These, uh, “Generation 4” cars look every bit the equal of the Gen 6 to me. Check out Earnahardt's Lay-Z-Boy seating position and truck door mirror laid sideways. Gotta love Ken Squire's late race call — “five seconds to pay-dirt,” and his nonchalant call for a .005-second margin of victory.

by Vito Pugliese

2. 1993: Rusty Goes for a Ride

If there is ever a book written about NASCAR's golden era of racing (OK, fine, I'll write it), the 1993 Winston 500 will go down as the definitive superspeedway race. NASCAR rolled the field off early under the threat of thunderstorms, while Mark Martin's crew had to hot wire his car on pit road. The first few laps of the race got so wild and chaotic that Benny Parsons and the broadcast crew gave up trying to call it and just implored fans to sit back, watch and listen for themselves. With one lap to go all hell breaks lose with Martin sandblasting the outside frontstrech wall, guys running out of gas and Rusty Wallace going Orville and Wilbur after contact from Dale Earnhardt. Earnhardt was visibly shaken afterwards, as the interview shows.

by Vito Pugliese

1. 2000: "3" Forever

The final win of Dale Earnahardt Sr.'s illustrious career would happen, predictably, at Talladega — a track he was known for his mastery of. Earnhardt charged from 17th to the lead in just four laps to complete a most unlikely comeback. If NASCAR is looking to improve superspeedway racing, this package may have been the best. Not much more needs to be said — just sit back and watch the master at work.

by Vito Pugliese