2004 Daytona 500

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2004 Daytona 500
Race details
Race 1 of 36 in the 2004 NASCAR Nextel Cup Series season
Daytona International Speedway
Daytona International Speedway
Date February 15, 2004 (2004-02-15)
Location Daytona International Speedway, Daytona Beach, Florida
Course Permanent racing facility
2.5 mi (4.02336 km)
Distance 200 laps, 500 mi (804.672 km)
Weather Temperatures reaching up to 73 °F (23 °C); wind speeds approaching 20 miles per hour (32 km/h)[1]
Average speed 156.341 miles per hour (251.606 km/h)
Pole position
Driver Greg Biffle Roush Racing
Time 47.774
Qualifying race winners
Duel 1 Winner Dale Earnhardt, Jr. Dale Earnhardt, Inc.
Duel 2 Winner Elliott Sadler Robert Yates Racing
Most laps led
Driver Tony Stewart Joe Gibbs Racing
Laps 98
Winner
No. 8
Dale Earnhardt, Jr.
Dale Earnhardt, Inc.
Television in the United States
Network NBC
Announcers Allen Bestwick, Benny Parsons, and Wally Dallenbach Jr.
Nielsen Ratings 10.6/24
(17.8 million viewers)

The 2004 Daytona 500, the 46th running of the event, was a NASCAR Nextel Cup Series race held on February 15 at Daytona International Speedway. The race was televised by NBC, with Allen Bestwick, 1975 winner Benny Parsons, and Wally Dallenbach, Jr. calling the action for the second time, following their 2002 commentary. It was the first NASCAR Nextel Cup race to air in high definition.

Dale Earnhardt, Jr. won the race, his first Daytona 500 victory, exactly six years to the day after his father, Dale Earnhardt, won his first and only Daytona 500, while Tony Stewart finished second and rookie Scott Wimmer finished third.

Qualifying[edit]

Greg Biffle won his first career Nextel Cup Series pole, but an engine change during Speedweeks sent him to the rear of the field. The inside column of cars all moved forward one row, promoting Dale Earnhardt, Jr., who had won the Gatorade Duel, to the number one starting spot. Elliott Sadler won the second of Thursday's Gatorade 125s, after holding off two-time 500 winner Sterling Marlin. Of the 45 cars entered, the two who failed to qualify were Kirk Shelmerdine, driving his own #72 Ford Taurus, and ARCA veteran Andy Hillenburg in the #90 Ford Taurus, one of Junie Donlavey's final attempts at entering a Cup car.

Top finishers, Gatorade 125s[edit]

Race summary[edit]

Before the start of the race, several cars had to move to the rear of the field: engine changes for polesitter Greg Biffle, Ryan Newman, Ricky Craven, and 1990 winner Derrike Cope. Rookie and Sprint Cup debutant Scott Riggs started from the rear in a backup car.

This meant that Gatorade Duel #1 winner Dale Earnhardt, Jr. became the polesitter and led the opening laps. Championship hopeful Mark Martin, coming off a disappointing 2003 season, exited the race with a blown engine on Lap 8, causing the first yellow of the day. On Lap 26 his Roush Racing teammate Jeff Burton joined him in the garage, likewise with an engine failure. Kevin Harvick produced the first lead change of the season on Lap 30. 4 laps later, Derrike Cope spun the Arnold Motorsports Dodge in Turn 4, collecting Scott Riggs and causing another caution. After the first round of pit stops, Tony Stewart became the leader. He and Jimmie Johnson swapped the lead a few times while navigating lapped cars (most of whom were on the "tail-end" of the lead lap, given that the Cope/Riggs accident happened during pit stops) before Earnhardt, Jr. reclaimed the lead.

On Lap 60 the third caution flag was displayed when Rusty Wallace, Ken Schrader, and Jeff Green crashed their Dodge Intrepids on the backstretch. After the restart, Stewart and Earnhardt, Jr. dueled for the lead until a large crash occurred on lap 71, when rookies Brian Vickers and Johnny Sauter got together on the back straightaway, also collecting Michael Waltrip, John Andretti, Kevin Lepage, Terry Labonte, Johnny Benson, Scott Riggs, Ryan Newman, Robby Gordon, Sterling Marlin, and Jamie McMurray. Waltrip took the worst ride, as his car was sent into the infield grass. The friction, combined with the fact that the rains that had washed out the Busch race the day before, caused the tire rim to dig into the infield grass, and Waltrip's car flipped over three full times, kicking up a lot of dirt, before coming to a rest on its roof. A temporary delay under a long caution (although the race was not red-flagged) ensued as emergency crews debated whether or not to upright Waltrip's car before extricating him. The problem was exacerbated by Waltrip's size.

Jeff Gordon led the field at the Lap 81 restart. The last half of the race (laps 81-200) were run caution free. The main competitors during the second half of the race were still Tony Stewart and Dale Earnhardt, Jr., who combined led 101 of the final 120 laps (Earnhardt, Jr. and Stewart were the two strongest cars of the race, leading for more than 75% of the race, or 156 laps - 98 by Stewart, 56 by Earnhardt, Jr.). When the leaders pitted at Lap 137, rookie Johnny Sauter (5 laps down after accident damage) tried to pit with them, but had evident braking issues. He had to swerve to miss Kurt Busch (one lap down, after contact with Earnhardt, Jr. earlier in the race punctured a tire) and flew through the pitlane at over 100 mph. Wisely, he did not try to stop in his stall, and came around the track to try again. His speeding penalty dropped him further back. During the final round of pit stops, with approximately 30 laps remaining, Bud Shootout pole winner Greg Biffle tried to gain ground on the leaders at the pit entry, but was quite evidently faster than the pack of cars running at pit lane speed. He dropped behind them prior to pitting, but his speeding penalty dropped him out of the Top 10 and from contention for the win.

After the final pit stops, rookie Scott Wimmer of Bill Davis Racing was leading. The crew had only changed right-side tires, elevating him from a likely 7th or 8th place finish to a chance to win. Unfortunately, he had no drafting partner and was caught up by the faster Stewart and Earnhardt, Jr. with 25 laps to go. Earnhardt Jr. passed Tony Stewart on Lap 181 and held him off in the remaining laps to win his first Daytona 500. Earnhardt Jr. won the race exactly three years after his father's fatal crash on the final lap of the 2001 Daytona 500, where Waltrip had won his first race, which itself came three years after Earnhardt's 1998 Daytona 500 win.

This pattern of a driver with some connection to Earnhardt winning the Daytona 500 every three years (since Earnhardt's win in 1998) has continued, with Kevin Harvick, who took over Earnhardt's ride after his death, winning in 2007, Earnhardt Ganassi driver Jamie McMurray winning in 2010, and Hendrick Motorsports (team Earnhardt Jr. was in at that time) driver Jimmie Johnson winning in 2013, though Earnhardt Jr. was second in that race and won the 2014 running.

Results[edit]

Pos Grid Car Driver Sponsor Team Manufacturer Laps Laps Led Status
1 3 8 Dale Earnhardt, Jr. Budweiser Dale Earnhardt, Inc. Chevrolet 200 58 Running
2 5 20 Tony Stewart Home Depot Joe Gibbs Racing Chevrolet 200 98 Running
3 26 22 Scott Wimmer (R) Caterpillar Bill Davis Racing Dodge 200 5 Running
4 10 29 Kevin Harvick GM Goodwrench Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet 200 6 Running
5 6 48 Jimmie Johnson Lowe's Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 200 16 Running
6 14 01 Joe Nemechek U.S. Army MBV Motorsports Pontiac 200 0 Running
7 2 38 Elliott Sadler M&M's Black & White Robert Yates Racing Ford 200 0 Running
8 39 24 Jeff Gordon (W) DuPont Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 200 8 Running
9 12 17 Matt Kenseth DeWalt Power Tools Roush Racing Ford 200 2 Running
10 31 88 Dale Jarrett (W) UPS Robert Yates Racing Ford 200 0 Running
11 13 18 Bobby Labonte Interstate Batteries/Passion of the Christ Joe Gibbs Racing Chevrolet 200 0 Running
12 1 16 Greg Biffle National Guard Roush Racing Ford 200 0 Running
13 29 1 John Andretti Kraft Foods Dale Earnhardt, Inc. Chevrolet 200 1 Running
14 25 41 Casey Mears Target Chip Ganassi Racing Dodge 200 0 Running
15 23 23 Dave Blaney Whelen Engineering Bill Davis Racing Dodge 200 0 Running
16 15 97 Kurt Busch Sharpie Roush Racing Ford 199 0 Flagged
17 19 0 Ward Burton (W) NetZero Hi Speed Haas CNC Racing Chevrolet 199 0 Flagged
18 16 21 Ricky Rudd Motorcraft Wood Brothers Racing Ford 199 0 Flagged
19 17 77 Brendan Gaughan (R) Kodak/Jasper Engines Penske-Jasper Racing Dodge 199 0 Flagged
20 38 5 Terry Labonte Kellogg's Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 199 1 Flagged
21 33 45 Kyle Petty Georgia-Pacific/Brawny Petty Enterprises Dodge 199 5 Flagged
22 43 33 Mike Skinner Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Boats Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet 198 0 Flagged
23 28 32 Ricky Craven Tide PPI Motorsports Chevrolet 198 0 Flagged
24 40 7 Jimmy Spencer Johnny Cat Ultra Motorsports Dodge 198 0 Flagged
25 22 19 Jeremy Mayfield Dodge Dealers/UAW Evernham Motorsports Dodge 195 0 Flagged
26 21 30 Johnny Sauter (R) America Online Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet 193 0 Flagged
27 24 09 Johnny Benson Miccosukee Gaming & Resorts Phoenix Racing Dodge 177 0 Contact BS
28 41 14 Larry Foyt (R) LPGA A. J. Foyt Racing Dodge 176 3 Flagged
29 18 2 Rusty Wallace Miller Lite Penske Racing Dodge 171 0 Flagged
30 42 50 Derrike Cope (W) Thrifty Rent-A-Car/Melling Arnold Motorsports Dodge 153 0 Flagged
31 20 12 Ryan Newman Alltel Penske Racing Dodge 149 0 Flagged
32 32 4 Kevin Lepage YokeTV.com Morgan-McClure Motorsports Chevrolet 132 0 Flagged
33 34 43 Jeff Green Cheerios Petty Enterprises Dodge 110 0 Contact BS
34 36 10 Scott Riggs (R) Valvoline MBV Motorsports Dodge 109 0 Contact BS
35 30 31 Robby Gordon Cingular Wireless Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet 78 0 Contact BS
36 7 42 Jamie McMurray Texaco/Havoline Chip Ganassi Racing Dodge 75 0 Contact BS
37 4 40 Sterling Marlin (W) Coors Light Chip Ganassi Racing Dodge 75 0 Contact BS
38 9 15 Michael Waltrip (W) NAPA Auto Parts Dale Earnhardt, Inc. Chevrolet 70 0 Contact BS
39 35 25 Brian Vickers (R) GMAC Financial Services Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 70 0 Contact BS
40 37 49 Ken Schrader Schawn's Home Service BAM Racing Dodge 59 0 Contact BS
41 27 9 Kasey Kahne (R) Dodge Dealers/UAW Evernham Motorsports Dodge 42 0 Engine
42 11 99 Jeff Burton NBA All-Star Game on TNT Roush Racing Ford 25 0 Engine
43 8 6 Mark Martin Viagara Roush Racing Ford 5 0 Engine
Failed to Qualify
72 Kirk Shelmerdine (R) Freddie B's Kirk Shelmerdine Racing Ford
90 Andy Hillenburg n/a Donlavey Racing Ford
"2004 Daytona 500 - Racing-Reference.info". Archived from the original on 2002-02-15. Retrieved 2013-06-15. 

Stat Wrap[edit]

  • Time of the Race: 3 hours, 11 minutes, 53 seconds (22 minutes, 58 seconds longer than Buddy Baker's 1980 record)
  • Average Speed: 172.284 mph (Baker's record: 177.602 mph)
  • Cautions: 4 for 23 laps
    • Laps 8-11 (oil from Martin's blown engine)
    • Laps 34-38 (Cope, Riggs Turn 4 accident)
    • Laps 60-64 (Green, Schrader, Wallace backstretch accident)
    • Laps 72-80 (Andretti, Benson, R.Gordon, T.Labonte, Lepage, Marlin, McMurray, Newman, Riggs, Sauter, Vickers, Waltrip backstretch accident).
  • Lead Changes: 26 among 10 drivers;
    • Dale Earnhardt, Jr. (1-29)
    • Kevin Harvick (30-35)
    • Tony Stewart (36-39)
    • Jimmie Johnson (40-41)
    • Tony Stewart (42-43)
    • Jimmie Johnson (44-52)
    • Dale Earnhardt, Jr. (53-58)
    • Tony Stewart (59)
    • Dale Earnhardt, Jr. (60)
    • Tony Stewart (61-71)
    • Dale Earnhardt, Jr. (72)
    • Kyle Petty (73-77)
    • Jeff Gordon (78-84)
    • Tony Stewart (85-104)
    • Jimmie Johnson (105-107)
    • Matt Kenseth (108)
    • John Andretti (109)
    • Tony Stewart (110-136)
    • Jeff Gordon (137)
    • Matt Kenseth (138)
    • Jimmie Johnson (139)
    • Terry Labonte (140)
    • Tony Stewart (141-168)
    • Dale Earnhardt, Jr. (169)
    • Jimmie Johnson (170)
    • Scott Wimmer* (171-175)
    • Tony Stewart (176-180)
    • Dale Earnhardt, Jr. (181-200).
  • Led the Most Laps: Tony Stewart, 97 of 200 laps
  • Cars running at the finish: 31
  • Rookie of the race: Scott Wimmer
  • Dale Earnhardt, Jr.'s win was the 3rd Daytona 500 win for DEI, after Michael Waltrip's wins in 2001 and 2003. Overall, it was DEI's fifth Daytona race victory, counting Waltrip's and Earnhardt, Jr.'s Pepsi 400 victories.
  • For the third year in a row, the Pole winner (Greg Biffle) did not lead a lap
  • Nextel Cup debut for Brendan Gaughan, Kasey Kahne, and Scott Riggs.
  • Only Daytona 500 for Larry Foyt.
  • Final Daytona 500 for Johnny Benson, Derrike Cope, 2002 winner Ward Burton, Ricky Craven, and Jimmy Spencer.
  • Detailed Results

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Weather of the 2004 Daytona 500". The Old Farmers' Almanac. Retrieved 2013-06-19.