The 2007 Daytona 500, the 49th running of the event, was the first race of the 2007 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series season, taking place on February 18, 2007, at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Florida. Mark Martin won the race by 0.02 second over Kevin Harvick in the closest finish since the first race at Daytona International Speedway when it took three days to declare Lee Petty the winner in 1959. The race was decided by a green-white-checker finish for the third year in a row, with two extra laps added for a total of 202 laps and 505 miles (813 km). Mark Martin would be driving the 01 for DEI for the 2007 season exclusively as he was under contract with Ginn Racing when they merged with DEI prior to the opening of the 2007 season.
David Gilliland was in the front of the field when the green flag waved. The first caution came on lap 16 when Boris Said moved up the track coming off of turn 2, most likely unaware that David Reutimann was there, and spun. He had very minor damage and continued the race from there. The race then stayed under the green flag for about 60 laps, during which Tony Stewart took the lead from Kurt Busch. On lap 79, Kyle Petty hit the wall after his rear tire done blown out, bringing out another yellow flag. He went behind the wall for repairs. Reutimann obtained the free pass to return to the lead lap. Ku. Busch took the lead again during most of the next green flag period, only being passed by Ryan Newman for one lap on lap 128, and then by Stewart again on lap 150.
On lap 152, Stewart got on the apron in turn 4, got loose, and spun into Ku. Busch. He spun to a halt, while Ku. Busch kept the engine going and went to the garage area for repairs. However, with 46 laps to go, he was unable to continue and did not finish the race. A fourth caution came on lap 175 when a 5-car crash involving Reutimann, Denny Hamlin, Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Green and Tony Raines occurred in the backstretch. Mark Martin took the lead shortly before the yellow flag came out.
Another crash which took out Ken Schrader happened on lap 186, after contact from Dave Blaney (who may have been unaware of his right front tire being flat according to Darrell Waltrip). With 5 laps to go, Matt Kenseth ran into Jamie McMurray, who hit the wall and collected Dale Earnhardt, Jr. with him. Ricky Rudd and Martin Truex, Jr. were collected as well. Rudd remained on the lead lap, but Truex fell a lap down. McMurray and Earnhardt, Jr. both were out of the race, finishing 31st and 32nd, respectively. The race was delayed for approximately 12 minutes for cleanup under the red flag. This set up a green-white-checkered finish.
With 2 laps to go, an outside line began to form, with Kevin Harvick, Kenseth and Jeff Burton. Martin came to the white flag looking for a victory. On the backstretch, Kyle Busch, sitting 2nd place, tried both ways to get around Martin. At this time, Kenseth began to bump-draft Harvick, with Burton in tow. Harvick flew by David Stremme, Gilliland, Mike Wallace, David Ragan and Greg Biffle. On the last lap, Busch's shifting around, trying to get around Martin and block Harvick at the same, caused him to get loose.
Harvick zipped past Busch. Harvick and Martin, Busch and Kenseth, and Biffle and Burton were side-by-side out of
turn 4. Busch hit the apron, getting him loose. He spun out and started a chain reaction collecting many cars. Clint Bowyer took the worst hit, turning over on his roof, skidding across the finish line on it while on fire before uprighting himself in the grass. Martin beat Harvick by .02 of a second to claim the victory. After being 6th place out of turn 4, Burton finished 3rd. Mike Wallace and David Ragan were surprises, rounding out the Top 5.
Suprisingly, to many, Dale Earnhardt was the first to arrive in victory lane to congratulate Mark Martin on his victory; not only because he owned the 01 car but also because he knew how it felt to finally win the Daytona 500 (teammate and second place Kevin Harvick also arrived to congratulate Mark thereafter).