Race Weekend Central

The Frontstretch 5: Closest NASCAR Finishes at Indianapolis

Indianapolis Motor Speedway has produced some great finishes over its more than 100-year history. NASCAR’s history at the track is much shorter, beginning in 1994 when Indiana transplant Jeff Gordon won the inaugural event. Since that race, the finish of a NASCAR race at the track has only been less than half a second five times. Here are the closest finishes at the Brickyard:

1. 1997: Ricky Rudd wins over Bobby Labonte

Margin of victory: .183 seconds

As often happens at Indy, even when the finish is fairly close, it was a two-car breakaway, and Rudd held off Labonte for the win. Things got a little wild behind them though, as a pack of cars jockeyed for top finishes and the points that went with every position.

2. (tie) 2008: Jimmie Johnson wins over Carl Edwards

Margin of victory: .332 seconds

This race will be forever remembered, not for its finish, but for the tire debacle. The tires Goodyear brought to the track were failing left and right, slowing the race time and again. The finish was actually better than the rest of the race though. It’s too bad nobody remembers it.

2. (tie) 2015: Kyle Busch wins over Joey Logano

Margin of victory: .332 seconds

Busch was on a mission in 2015 after missing the first 11 races due to an injury. He needed to not just win but make up enough ground in points to qualify for the playoffs, and Busch was on fire midsummer, with four of his five wins that year coming in the five-week stretch from Sonoma Raceway to Indianapolis. At Indy, Busch made some bold, aggressive moves late to climb into contention and take home the trophy.

4. 1995: Dale Earnhardt wins over Rusty Wallace

Margin of victory: .37 seconds

Before there was Earnhardt and Gordon, there was Earnhardt and Wallace, as the two had a fierce rivalry in the early 1990s. Wallace is using every inch of the track he can here to try and gain on Earnhardt, but he can’t quite make a run in the closing laps.


5. 2009: Jimmie Johnson wins over Mark Martin

Margin of victory: .400 seconds

This race was a battle of teammates, as Johnson works to hold off Martin in the final laps. Martin appears to make gains getting into the corners, Johnson holds the advantage off of them, and he’s able to stretch his lead in the final turns for one of his seven wins that year.

About the author

Amy is an 18-year veteran NASCAR writer and a five-time National Motorsports Press Association (NMPA) writing award winner, including first place awards for both columns and race coverage. As well as serving as Photo Editor, Amy writes The Big 6 (Mondays) after every NASCAR Cup Series race. She can also be found filling in from time to time on The Frontstretch 5 (Wednesdays) and her monthly commentary Holding A Pretty Wheel (Thursdays). A New Hampshire native living in North Carolina, Amy’s work credits have extended everywhere from driver Kenny Wallace’s website to Athlon Sports. She can also be heard weekly as a panelist on the Hard Left Turn podcast that can be found on AccessWDUN.com's Around the Track page.

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