Woody: Ricky Craven Re-Lives Hiccup Finish
Larry Woody | Senior Writer
Nashville, Tenn. – It was a micro-second that would define Ricky Craven’s 25-year racing career.
In a 2003 race at Darlington, Craven nipped Kurt Busch by 0.002 seconds, the closest finish ever recorded in a NASCAR race since the advent of electronic scoring in 1993.
A couple of weeks ago at Talladega, that record was tied by Jimmie Johnson when he squeezed out an identical 0.002-second victory over Clint Bowyer.
Coverage of that record-tying finish resurrected Craven’s past triumph.
“There’s been a lot of talk about it since Talladega,” said Craven, now an ESPN racing commentator. “Wherever I go people want to talk about it. That finish became my legacy.”
Craven, at Nashville Superspeedway to work the Nationwide Series race over the weekend, is in his fourth season with ESPN, calling a limited number of races.
He suffered post-concussion syndrome after a crash at Texas Speedway and ran his
final race in 2005.
“You have a window of opportunity and I’m thankful for the opportunities I had,” he said. “I knew it was time to step away. The tank was empty.”
Craven said he enjoys his second career as a racing commentator.
“I spent 25 years behind the wheel and I can bring the viewer inside the race car,” he said. “I’ve also been on both sides of the mic (microphone). As a former driver I know when it’s a good time to approach a driver to talk to him. If a driver is busy, let him finish what he’s doing, or come back another time. Sometimes folks don’t seem to understand that.’
Craven, 44, maintains a house in his home state of Maine but his primary residence is in Concord, N.C.
He can clearly recall the frantic finish at Darlington that made him famous.
“It had actually started about three laps before,” he said. “Kurt and I had been banging on each other and when I finally took the lead I thought, ‘I’ve this thing.’ But I underestimated Kurt. He came right back on me, and we were banging side-by-side as he headed to the finish line. When we flashed across the line I had no idea who’d won.”
Video of that furious finish is in the NASCAR Hall of Fame, along with Craven’s car.
“At the time I really didn’t think much about it – other than the fact that I’d won a big race on a famous track,” Craven said. “But as the years went by and the finish stood as a record, it became a bigger deal.”
Now the record no longer stands alone. Craven shares it with Jimmie Johnson.
“That’s OK, I’ve still got a piece of it,” Craven said with a smile. “It’s something I’ll always remember — and maybe be remembered for.”
– Larry Woody can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org Comments