This weekend’s regular-season finale at Indianapolis Motor Speedway holds a lot of prestige for drivers, but the race itself is often a bit anticlimactic for fans. In 25 races, the margin of victory has been 1.3 seconds or more 11 times, with another five races finishing under caution. But the Brickyard has also had its share of tight finishes, with nine races decided by less than one second. These are the closest of the close, and nothing was decided until the final corner of the final lap on any of them. One mistake by any of these winners would have changed the history books forever.
1. 1997, Ricky Rudd over Bobby Labonte by .183 seconds
Labonte got a great run in the final corners, but Rudd was able to hold him off by a slim two car-lengths for his 19th career victory. He went on to win four more races in his career.
2. (Tie) 2008, Jimmie Johnson over Carl Edwards by .332 seconds
The then-two-time champion won his second Brickyard 400 in 2008, holding off Carl Edwards in the closing laps. One mistake be either driver would have been costly, but both put on a clinic with Johnson prevailing by three or four carlengths.
2. (Tie) 2015, Kyle Busch over Joey Logano by .332 seconds
Busch held off Logano on a late restart to take the win, one of five victories for Busch that year en route to his only Cup title to date, despite missing 11 races after a nasty crash in the Xfinity Series opener at Daytona.
4. 1995, Dale Earnhardt over Rusty Wallace by .370 seconds
Earnhardt said before this race that he had two races left he wanted to win before he retired: the Brickyard 400 and the Daytona 500. He went go on to win Daytona in 1998. This Brickyard win was all the sweeter because Earnhardt outdrove longtime rival Wallace for the trophy.
5. 2009, Jimmie Johnson over Mark Martin by .400 seconds
The then-three-time-champion won his third Brickyard 400 in 2009, but lest it sound like a broken record, he beat a charging Martin this time. Johnson went on to win his fourth title in 2009 (and no, he did not win his fourth Brickyard 400 in 2010).