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Numbers Game: 2007 Daytona 500

*0.020* Kevin Harvick's margin of victory over Mark Martin. (in seconds) *3* Cars that fell to the back of the field at the start of the Daytona 500. (No. 00 - David Reutimann, No. 18 - J.J. Yeley, No. 41 - Reed Sorenson...all for changing their transmissions) *3 hours, 22 minutes, 55 seconds* Time it took to complete the Daytona 500.

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Does A Great Finish Make Up For A Bad Race?

The 49th Running of the Great American Race is all the buzz around the water coolers this week, as the finish was one of the closest in the history of the event. As most everyone knows at this point, Kevin Harvick prevailed over Mark Martin by .002 of a second, taking the checkered flag under controversy as the caution flag failed to wave for a wreck enveloping half the field behind them. As a result, Mark Martin missed out on his chance to win the big race that has always eluded him, while Harvick cashed in on his first 500 win exactly six years after the death of Dale Earnhardt, Sr., the man he replaced. Earnhardt's curse may now have fallen to Tony Stewart, who missed out again on the 500 trophy, involving himself in an accident with Kurt Busch while leading to take himself out of contention. However, all of that took place in the last 50 laps; prior to that, the race was busy focusing on just one concept...putting its audience to sleep.

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2007 Daytona 500 Race Recap

*The Key Moment*: Kevin Harvick got a huge push into turn three on the last lap, riding the momentum to victory by the blink of an eye over Mark Martin. *In a Nutshell*: Well, no one's going to be talking about the cheating scandal for awhile after that finish, will they? *Dramatic Moment*: The Tony Stewart - Kurt Busch wreck eliminated the two dominant cars and threw the final laps into a wide open slugfest; but the pot really boiled over on that last lap, with a wild wreck that left Clint Bowyer on his roof and a nailbiting finish between Harvick and Martin. Up until forty laps to go, though, the biggest drama of the day was waiting to see if the prerace singer was going to experience a wardrobe malfunction.

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Top 35 Vague After Daytona

Now that the 2007 Nextel Cup season is finally underway, the battle for the Top 35 in car owner points is on. The Top 35 from last season remain locked in for four remaining races, but several teams that aren't already find themselves behind the 8-ball. Both Red Bull Racing entries are forced to look toward California after failing to make the Great American Race, while *Michael Waltrip* finished 30th on Sunday, only to find himself 27 points in the hole after a post-qualifying penalty cost him both 100 driver and car owner points.

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Becca’s Big Six: 2007 Daytona 500 Edition

*"So Many Storylines, So Little Time"* *Who ... gets my shout-out of the race?* Congratulations to rookie David Ragan, who finished 5th from a 35th-place starting spot in Mark Martin's old No. 6 ride and just his third Cup start ever. Ragan is under a lot of pressure to perform, and he did so admirably today. After the race, David vowed to run well in California and prove that today's finish was "not a fluke." *What ... will be the newest entry in the Official Darrell Waltrip Dictionary?*

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Frontstretch Breakdown: 2007 Orbitz 300 at Daytona

*In A Nutshell:* Was there even an offseason? You'd never know it to look at Kevin Harvick, who demonstrated once again why he is the reigning Busch Series champ. The rest of the series should probably give a sigh of relief that Harvick is not running full time this year as he made it look easy in Daytona. Most times the lead is a bad place to be toward the end of a race at Daytona with a huge pack of cars breathing down your neck. Most times the guy leading at the white flag gets inhaled on the last lap when he's the only one not getting help from friends behind him. Not so for Harvick.

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Frontstretch Breakdown: 2007 Chevrolet Silverado HD 250 at Daytona

*In a Nutshell:* In true Daytona fashion for the Truck Series, it was another fantastic finish in the season opener. Jack Sprague took the lead from Travis Kvapil just a few hundred feet from the finish line, taking Johnny Benson with him as both attempted to sneak by the No. 6 Truck. Both passed him easily, with Benson diving low to try to take the win himself, but Sprague held on to win the Chevrolet Silverado HD 250 at Daytona by a mere 0.031 seconds, almost breaking the record for the smallest margin of victory. Kvapil had to settle for third, finishing just 0.003 seconds behind 2nd place Benson; Mike Skinner and Todd Bodine rounded out the Top 5 finishers.

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Mark Martin Goes To Kick The Football…And Lucy Picks It Up

As the dust settled in one of the most exciting Daytona 500s in recent memory, all I could think of was…Peanuts. Not the Planters kind…rather, the kind you see in the newspaper every day. You see, in one of the comic's most famous running gags, Charlie Brown, the lovable good guy, is convinced to go kick the football by his conniving friend Lucy. Each time, Lucy convinces Charlie Brown he's going to kick the football halfway across the world; yet every time he runs up to kick it, she pulls it away and watches him fall flat on his face. Laughing as he falls, she comes up with a new saying every time to explain to Charlie Brown how gullible he really is. Charlie Brown, meet Mark Martin. Lucy, meet Kevin Harvick. The Daytona 500 trophy…now, that would be the football Harvick stole away. With one surprising last lap pass that shot Harvick to Victory Lane and Martin into gut-wrenching pain, the whole community watched the whole missed football kick unfold in a state of shock; hours after the win, it's still not sure how to react.

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Random Thoughts On The Eve Of The 500

To anyone who missed Friday night's Craftsman Truck race, shame on you. For the last several years, the trucks have put on the best race of Speedweeks, and Friday night's three-wide finish was outstanding. Yeah, I was pulling for the guy with the Blue Oval in the grille, not the foreign trucks, but that didn't keep me from rising to my feet and letting out a holler as the threesome swept to the finish line.

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Start Your Engines, Already!

At 3:15 PM on Sunday, it'll all be behind us. Manifolds, illegal substances, aerodynamic enhancements, failed shock mounts; the fines, suspensions, and point-dockings. Then, once we get past FOX's frenzied, frivolous and flighty pre-race show — one that will once again highlight all the craziness of this past week — the main event will finally, _finally_ take place. 3:15 PM Eastern Standard Time, the 49th Great American Race will find itself underway down in Daytona Beach. I, for one, can't wait.

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