The Harvick-Hamlin Battle, a Wild Talladega Race: Most Intense Finishes of the 2020 NASCAR Season

Published 12/29/2020, 12:11 PM EST
AVONDALE, ARIZONA – NOVEMBER 10: Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M’s Toyota, and Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, lead the field to turn one after taking the green flag to start the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Bluegreen Vacations 500 at ISM Raceway in Avondale, Arizona. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)


The 2020 NASCAR Cup season has borne witness to a variety of exciting races. There have been last lap crashes, comebacks, photo finishes, and many more. However, one has to wonder what the most exciting or intense finishes are in this current season. From the Daytona 500 to Talladega, the 2020 season has been full of edge-of-the-seat action.

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NASCAR Daytona 500 last-lap crash

At the season-opening Daytona 500, Ryan Newman got involved in a violent crash. At the time, Ryan Blaney, Newman, and Denny Hamlin were battling for the lead, when it all went horribly wrong. Newman got slammed into the wall before a startled Corey LaJoie hit him head-on.

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DARLINGTON, SOUTH CAROLINA – AUGUST 31: Ryan Newman, driver of the #6 Oscar Mayer/Velveeta Ford, stands on the grid during qualifying for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Bojangles’ Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway on August 31, 2019 in Darlington, South Carolina. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

The impact sent Newman airborne, and when the car decided to obey the laws of gravity, it came down hard. Owing to this, the veteran had to spend a few days recuperating in hospital. Luckily, he lived to fight another day and returned to the fray at Darlington. Since then, he went on to take a season-best 6th place at Talladega.

Aric Almirola crosses the finish line backwards

At the Talladega Superspeedway, there was a wild finish, as Ryan Blaney won the race. However, it was the third-placed man, Aric Almirola, who grabbed all the eyeballs. As it turned out, he got pitched into an uncontrollable spin and crossed the finish line backwards.

BROOKLYN, MI – JUNE 12: Aric Almirola, driver of the #51 Graceway Pharmaceuticals Toyota, stands on the grid during the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series VFW 200 at Michigan International Speedway on June 12, 2010 in Brooklyn, Michigan. (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images for NASCAR)

While all this was happening, Blaney barely managed to squeak ahead of Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Meanwhile, so many other drivers were crashing and spinning around them.

Kevin Harvick barely defeats Denny Hamlin

This was a duel between the two most dominant drivers of the regular season. The Stewart-Haas of Kevin Harvick reigned supreme at Michigan. However, Denny Hamlin truly made him fight for one of those wins.

HAMPTON, GA – SEPTEMBER 05: Kevin Harvick (L), driver of the #29 Shell/Pennzoil Chevrolet, talks with Denny Hamlin (R), driver of the #11 Farm Bureau Toyota, during qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Pep Boys Auto 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on September 5, 2009 in Hampton, Georgia. (Photo by Todd Warshaw/Getty Images)

Harvick staved off a stiff challenge from Hamlin by .093 seconds. What makes this win well-earned, is the fact that it is the second-closest margin of victory at Michigan. With that dual win at Michigan, Harvick became the first driver to take back-to-back wins since Richard Petty in 1971.

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Kurt Busch ends his NASCAR win drought

At the Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Kurt Busch managed to win on home soil. That lone 2020 win came at the behest of Matt DiBenedetto, making it 46 races since he last won a race.

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – SEPTEMBER 27: Kurt Busch, driver of the #1 Monster Energy Chevrolet, celebrates with a burnout after winning the NASCAR Cup Series South Point 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on September 27, 2020 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

To make matters even better, that triumph managed to seal him a Playoff berth in the Round of 8. The veteran driver timed his run to perfection, as he found himself at the front during the caution period. It also helped that DiBenedetto was on pit road when the caution came out, and Busch put himself in striking distance.

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Dhruv George

11402 articles

Dhruv George is a senior Formula One and NASCAR analyst for EssentiallySports, having authored nearly 12000 articles spanning different sports like F1, NASCAR, Tennis, NFL, and eSports. He graduated with a PG Diploma in Journalism from the Xavier Institute of Communications. Dhruv has also conducted interviews with F1 driver Pierre Gasly and Moto2 rider Tony Arbolino.

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