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FEBRUARY 18, 2007

Harvick takes Daytona 500 victory

Kevin Harvick, driving a Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet, passed Mark Martin on the outside on the final lap and crossed the finish line 2/100's of a second ahead to win his first Daytona 500.

Harvick said, "My go-kart experience over the winter paid off, because I didn't let off the floor and we just kept hitting things and the wall and bouncing off everything. But man, this is the Daytona 500. Can you believe it?"

The 48-year-old Martin, in his 23rd Daytona start, was in a strong position to take his first win at the event. After leading the final 26 laps of the race a five-car accident brought out the red flag with five laps to go.

When racing restarted with two laps remaining, Martin attempted to hold off Kyle Busch on the low line while Harvick made a run on the high line. Busch lost control on the final corner and a multi-car accident ensued coming to the line.

Martin, racing for the first time for Ginn Racing, said, "I really wanted to win that thing. They were going to have to pry it out of my fingers, man. I didn't ask for a win in the Daytona 500, I asked for a chance. I let it slip away, slip through my fingers, and I'm fine with that. I am very proud of what this team did for me this weekend.''

Harvick's team mate Jeff Burton finished third, while Mike Wallace finished fourth in a top-four sweep for Chevrolet.

NASCAR rookie Juan Pablo Montoya finished 19th, on the lead lap.

Dale Jarrett finished in 22nd - the highest Toyota finisher in the debut race for the Japanese company.