2010 Sprint Cup Fan Awards: Best Race of the Year

Talladega Superspeedway

The Aaron's 499 set a NASCAR record as the sport's most competitive in history with 88 lead changes among 29 drivers. (Photo: Getty Images)

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MotorRacingNetwork.com kicks off our annual NASCAR Sprint Cup Fan Awards for 2010 with the category: Best Race of the Year.

The Aaron's 499 at Talladega Superspeedway was selected by the MotorRacingNetwork.com staff as the Race of the Year, with the Goody's Fast Pain Relief 500 coming in at a close second.

Was one of your favorite Sprint Cup races of 2010 one of our selections? Let us know by placing your vote today at MotorRacingNetwork.com's Facebook page or by submitting an email to press@motorracingnetwork.com. Votes will be tallied up on December 19 along with the winners of all upcoming categories and will be featured on MotorRacingNetwork.com that day.

1. Harvick Edges McMurray at Talladega
Kevin Harvick slipped around Jamie McMurray racing to the finish line and took the checkered flag by inches in the Aaron's 499 at Talladega Superspeedway. The race set a NASCAR record as the sport's most competitive in history with 88 lead changes taking place among 29 different drivers. McMurray had the lead on the race's third and final green-white-checkered finish attempt and was shooting for his third straight restrictor-plate race victory. Harvick slid his car right to the rear bumper of McMurray's and the duo was able to draft away from the rest of the field. As they raced off the fourth turn and through the tri-oval, Harvick ducked below McMurray as they sped to the finish line and was ahead by .011-seconds as the checkered flag flew. The win ended Harvick's 115-race winless drought and came after news broke that sponsor Shell-Pennzoil was leaving the Richard Childress Racing No. 29 entry for Penske Racing in 2011. Complete Results

2. Hamlin a Smooth Operator
With the rain delay of the race rescheduling his knee surgery, Denny Hamlin went out and cut through the field on a wild green-white-checkered finish to win the Goody’s Fast Pain Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway. After leading the most laps with 172, Hamlin found himself having to charge from 10th to first in the final six laps after the team opted to pit for four tires during a caution that was brought out by Jeff Burton. A green-white-checkered finish was set up after Kyle Busch slammed the wall while racing Marcos Ambrose and Paul Menard three-wide in Turn 3. When the field went back to green, Hamlin was able to muscle his way from fourth to first to capture his ninth career win and third at Martinsville. Complete Results

If your vote is not for one of MotorRacingNetwork.com's top two races of the 2010 Sprint Cup Season below are some additional options ranked in chronological order. Any of the 36 points paying races can be selected.

Johnson Doubles Down In Vegas
Jimmie Johnson scored his second straight NASCAR Sprint Cup Series win and 49th of his career when he took the checkered flag in the Shelby American at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. A call for four tires on the day's final pit stop proved to be the winning move as Johnson powered around teammate Jeff Gordon in the closing laps to take back-to-back wins after his Auto Club Speedway victory of a week ago. Johnson's win put him in sole possession of 12th on the all-time win list, one behind Ned Jarrett and Junior Johnson. After winning last weekend at Auto Club, today's win also marked the seventh time in Johnson's career that he's won back-to-back races. Before he was able to make his pass for the lead and win, Johnson and Gordon put on a furious battle for the top spot that had the large crowd standing for nearly 20 laps. Complete Results

Busch Wins Wild One At Atlanta
Kurt Busch survived two green-white-checkered finishes and a flurry of accidents in the final laps to score his second straight win in the Kobalt Tools 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Busch won his third straight race on a 1.54-mile speedway and gave new crew chief Steve Addington his first victory with the Miller Lite Dodge team. The first overtime was set-up by a spectacular crash involving Carl Edwards and Brad Keselowski with seven laps to go. The pair, who made contact earlier in the race in an incident that saw Edwards hit the wall and severely damage his Roush Fenway Racing Ford, were racing closely in the final laps despite the 99 car being 156 laps down. Edwards clipped the rear end of Keselowski's Dodge, who was running inside the top five, as the duo raced down the main straightaway. It appeared to be an intentional move and NASCAR parked Edwards after the spectacular aftermath, that saw Keselowski's No. 12 Dodge fly upside down and into the outside wall. Complete Results

Newman Back in Victory Lane
Ryan Newman returned to Victory Lane for the first time in 77 races after he took advantage of a late race caution and a two-tire pit stop to win the Subway Fresh Fit 600 at Phoenix International Raceway. Kyle Busch appeared to be cruising to a victory and a sweep of the Phoenix weekend after his Nationwide Series win the night prior, but a caution came out when Scott Riggs slammed the Turn 3 wall and set up an overtime green-white-checkered finish. As the leaders ducked into pit road, several opted for two tires including Newman and Jeff Gordon. Busch took four and lost several positions in the process. On the final restart, Newman edged ahead of Gordon and stayed there for the final two laps to score his first win since joining Stewart-Haas Racing. Complete Results

Johnson Battles Back to Win
Jimmie Johnson battled back from a bad pit stop early on, and then exchanged blows with Kurt Busch in the closing laps of the Lenox Industrial Tools 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway to score his second straight NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victory. Busch bumped Johnson out of the lead on a restart with nine laps to go but it didn't take long for Johnson to return the favor and do the same to Busch seven laps later. Johnson rolled into victory lane for the 52nd time of his career and tied Denny Hamlin, at that point in the season, with five wins in 2010. Complete Results

Reutimann Reigns in Chicago
David Reutimann scored his second career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series win when he drove to victory lane in the LifeLock.com 400 at Chicagoland Speedway. Reutimann's first series win came in a rain-shortened Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway in May of 2009. But the Michael Waltrip Racing driver didn't need any help from Mother Nature to pick up the checkered flag in The Windy City. After a heated battle with Jeff Gordon, Reutimann was able to pass the No. 24 for good on lap 213. Reutimann then led up until his last pit stop on lap 231 and then regained the top spot on lap 236 to go on to take the win by 0.727 seconds over Carl Edwards. Complete Results

Historic Sweep for Busch
Kyle Busch became the first driver in history to sweep a weekend in all three of NASCAR's top three divisions when he won the IRWIN Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway. Busch passed David Reutimann for the top spot with 71 laps to go and drove to his 19th career Cup victory and third of the 2010 season. Jimmie Johnson started from the pole and was dominant in the early going of the race leading 169 of the first 171 laps. But he ran into trouble on lap 262 when Juan Pablo Montoya made contact with the Lowe's Chevrolet and Johnson slammed hard into the wall. Johnson's car suffered heavy damage and he returned to action but wound up finishing 35th in the final rundown. Complete Results

Stewart Strikes Gold in California
Tony Stewart scored his first career victory at Auto Club Speedway in the Pepsi Max 400 in a race that saw 23 lead changes among 14 drivers. Stewart, who won the race by .466 seconds, held off Clint Bowyer and Jimmie Johnson on a two-lap shootout to the checkered flag to pick up his second victory of the 2010 season. The win helped Stewart erase some of his deficit in the series point standings as he left Fontana 107 behind leader Johnson, with six races remaining in the Chase. Complete Results

Talladega a Treat for Bowyer
In a race that saw 87 lead changes among 26 drivers, Clint Bowyer survived a wild last lap dash to the checkered flag and was able to edge teammate Kevin Harvick for the win in the AMP Energy Juice 500 on Halloween at Talladega Superspeedway. Bowyer was ahead of Harvick when a caution came out for a multi-car pile-up on the frontstretch just after the white flag had waved on the 188-lap event and declared the winner. The melee behind the leaders included AJ Allmedinger winding up on his roof while cars slid and crashed behind him. Caution flew but no one knew who was in front of who on the race track and it took NASCAR several minutes to sort out the running order through video and electronic scoring loops. Jimmie Johnson’s lead in the Sprint Cup Series point standings was cut to 14 over Hamlin while Harvick was only 38 behind with three races left in the Chase for the Sprint Cup. Complete Results

Hamlin Texas Winner and Chase Leader
Denny Hamlin completed the sweep of Texas Motor Speedway this season with a win in the AAA Texas 500 and took over the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series point lead in the process. Hamlin followed his April win at Texas with a thrilling victory over Matt Kenseth to become the first driver since Carl Edwards in 2008 to sweep both races at the 1.5-mile speedway. Hamlin had the lead on the final restart of the day after Patrick Carpentier’s spin set up a three-lap dash to the checkered flag. But Kenseth passed with two laps to go, only to have Hamlin slide by again for the top spot as the duo raced down the backstretch. From there Hamlin went on to score the victory and grabbed the lead in the Chase with only two races left in the season. The win gave Hamlin a 33-point lead over Jimmie Johnson in the standings with Kevin Harvick slipping back to 59 points in third after he finished sixth. Complete Results

Edwards Finishes Season Strong
Carl Edwards was one driver that did not want to see the 2010 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series come to an end. The driver of the No. 99 Aflac Ford closed out the season with back-to-back wins after he took the checkered flag in the Ford 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Edwards followed up his win at Phoenix the previous weekend with a dominating performance in the season finale. He led 190 of the 267 laps and clinched the most laps led in one race for the first time this season. Edwards took the win by 1.6 seconds over Jimmie Johnson, who recorded his fifth straight championship, with the runner-up finish. All eyes were on the three championship contenders as the points were changing throughout the race, but it was Johnson, who had to come from behind for the first time in his championship runs. Complete Results

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