Craven claims Carolina Dodge Dealers 400

Published 12:00 am Monday, March 17, 2003

DARLINGTON, S.C. - Ricky Craven won the Carolina Dodge Dealers 400 by inches Sunday, finishing alongside Kurt Busch after their cars hit repeatedly on the closing straightaway.

The unofficial margin of victory was two thousandths of a second - the smallest since NASCAR introduced electronic timing in 1993.

Craven earned the second win of his career by charging from fourth with 23 laps to go. He moved up to second place on lap 271 of the 293-lap event when pole-sitter Elliott Sadler bounced off the wall and lost ground.

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Busch had taken the lead the previous lap after Jeff Gordon banged off the wall while trying to fend off Busch.

Busch appeared to have the race won at that point, but a power steering problem that got progressively worse as the race neared its end gave Craven his chance.

Craven's No. 32 Pontiac inched closer on every lap, and he finally pulled alongside Busch's No. 97 Ford twice on lap 291. As they drove into the first turn on the next lap, Craven bumped Busch and nearly sent him into the wall as he took the lead.

Busch gathered in his sliding car and bumped past Craven in the second turn, nearly putting Craven in the wall.

''When we got together in turn one, I don't know how he saved it,'' Craven said. ''Then, I don't know how I saved it. That was wild.''