WATCH: Dale Earnhardt Defeats Bobby Labonte in One of the Closest Finishes

Published 03/18/2021, 9:23 AM EDT
NASCAR- Dale Earnhardt Sr. COURTESY: GETTY


Without a doubt, Dale Earnhardt Sr is one of the most ruthless drivers in the NASCAR arena. Back in 2000 at the Atlanta Motor Speedway, he displayed that kind of skill against Bobby Labonte. Earnhardt was leading the race, but Labonte in the #18 car was breathing down his neck.

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While running down the backstretch for the final time, Labonte got close to Earnhardt’s rear end. Heading into the final corner, Dale Earnhardt took the high line while Labonte went low. As they exited the corner, they were side-by-side as they crossed the finish line.

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Replays later showed that Earnhardt had won by a nose, in what ended up being one of the closest finishes in NASCAR history. Only 0.010 seconds separated the Richard Childress Racing driver from the Joe Gibbs Racing driver. Interestingly, it is not the closest-ever NASCAR finish of all time; that honor goes to the 2003 Carolina Dodge Dealers 400, where Ricky Craven beat Kurt Busch by 0.002 seconds.

This was the penultimate career win for Dale Earnhardt

It is worth mentioning that the Cracker Barrel Old Country Store 500 was the second-to-last Cup Series win for Dale Sr. Beyond that, he only won at the 2000 Winston 500 at the Talladega Superspeedway. The Talladega win marked his 76th career triumph in the NASCAR Cup Series.

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Dale Earnhardt, driver of the the #3 Richard Childress Racing Goodwrench Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet Monte Carlo spinning out of the NASCAR Winston Cup Series The Winston race on 24 May 1998 at the Charlotte Motor Speedway, Concord, North Carolina, United States. (Photo by Craig Jones/Allsport/Getty Images)

Coming back to the Atlanta Motor Speedway, Dale Sr has had a good record at the track. In fact, he has recorded seven Cup wins at the venue through his almost 26-year long career. Truthfully speaking, he definitely could have squeezed out several more races before settling for a happy retirement.

Tragically, the fateful 2001 Daytona 500 snipped the proverbial thread of life and the NASCAR world lost an icon. However, nobody could deny the Intimidator’s greatness, and few could hope to match him. Only Richard Petty and Jimmie Johnson have earned the honor of being mentioned in the same breath as him.

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MORE: WATCH: The Historic Moment When Dale Earnhardt Finally Won the NASCAR Daytona 500

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Dhruv George

11432 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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