||This article needs additional citations for verification. (September 2009)
||500.08 miles (804.8 km)
||Alabama 500 (1970)
Winston 500 (1971-1993, 1997)
Winston Select 500 (1994-1996)
DieHard 500 (1998-2000)
Talladega 500 (2001)
The Aaron's 499 is a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stock car race held at the Talladega Superspeedway in Talladega, Alabama. The race has always been held in late April or early May. The Aaron's 499 is also one of four races currently run with restrictor plates, the others being the Camping World RV Sales 500 (also at Talladega), plus the Coke Zero 400 and the Daytona 500 (at Daytona International Speedway). The 1997 event, won by Mark Martin, stands as the fastest NASCAR race to date ever run, at an average speed of 188.354 mph (303.126 km/h). It was the first race at Talladega run without a caution flag.
The race, from 1970 until the demise of the Grand Slam as a result of the Ferko lawsuit, was known as the second leg of the sport's Grand Slam. It was also previously part of the Winston Million.
The name is derived from a sponsorship agreement with the Aaron's chain of lease-to-own stores. The "499" advertised distance is designed to mimic the chain's tendencies to offer rentals "For $99" per month. Despite the name, the race is slightly over 500 miles in length.
Past winners 
- 1974: Race shortened due to energy crisis.
- 1987: Race shortened due to darkness - caused by a red flag that lasted for two and a half hours to repair the catch fence after Bobby Allison's lap 22 crash.
- 1991 & 2006: Race postponed from Sunday to Monday due to rain.
- 1997: Race was scheduled for Sunday April 27, but was postponed two weeks due to rain. Qualifying was held as scheduled, but rain washed out any chance to hold the race on Sunday or Monday. To complicate matters, the series was racing at Sonoma the following weekend, and the travel burden for the teams would be too much to overcome if the race were to be held Tuesday as would be the normal policy (next available day). Series officials decided to have the teams pack up and depart for Sonoma, and rescheduled the Winston 500 for the weekend after that (Saturday May 10). It was Mother's Day weekend, a date traditionally left open by NASCAR at the time. The teams arrived to sunny skies, and Mark Martin won the first ever caution-free Talladega plate race.
- 2001: The first restrictor plate race after Dale Earnhardt's death was the second ever caution-free race in Talladega history. It was Bobby Hamilton's last win in Cup before his death in 2007 to cancer.
- 2005, 2007, 2010, 2012 & 2013: Race extended due to a Green-white-checker finish; The 2010 race took three attempts, the first time the new three-attempt rule was used. The one 2013 attempt was deemed "third attempt" on the first because of descending darkness caused by a lengthy rain delay.
- 2010: Set record for most lead changes in regulation (87) and overall lead changes (88).
- 2011: Set record for most lead changes in regulation (88), and tied for closest margin of victory in the Sprint Cup Series (0.002 sec.)
Multiple winners (drivers) 
||2000, 2004, 2005, 2007
||1972, 1973, 1974
||1975, 1976, 1980
||1979, 1981, 1986
||1987, 1989, 1992
||1990, 1994, 1999
|Dale Earnhardt, Jr.
Multiple winners (manufacturers) 
||1977, 1984, 1990, 1993, 1994, 1996, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2011
||1975, 1976, 1979, 1985, 1987, 1989, 1992, 1995, 1997, 2013
||1971, 1972, 1973, 1974
||1978, 1980, 1988, 1991
||1981, 1982, 1986
Notable races 
- 1971: The first Talladega race under Winston sponsorship. Donnie Allison edged Bobby Allison and Buddy Baker for the win; this was Bobby's first race with Holman-Moody since 1967.
- 1973: A massive accident eliminated some 20 cars, leaving David Pearson to ride home almost uncontested.
- 1975: The race featured the first win for Buddy Baker since 1973 and the first Winston Cup Grand National win for team owner Bud Moore since 1971. Tragedy struck on Lap 149 when race leader Richard Petty pitted with a burning wheel bearing; his brother-in-law Randy Owens was killed when he fitted a hose to a pressurized water tank and the tank exploded.
- 1976: Baker became the first driver to win a 500 mile race in under three hours. He drove Bud Moore's Ford to the win in 2 hours 56 minutes.
- 1977: The race produced 63 official lead changes and a four-car scramble on the final lap. Darrell Waltrip had the lead and on the last lap swung low to break the draft; Cale Yarborough blew past Donnie Allison and swung high on Waltrip; Waltrip sideswiped Cale and Benny Parsons dove low and raced Cale all the way to the stripe.
- 1984: The race has exceeded 40 official lead changes 18 times. In 1984 a motor sports record of 75 lead changes was set, but this record was broken in 2010 as the lead changed 88 times; this record was tied in 2011. The race was won by Cale Yarborough on a last-lap pass of Harry Gant.
- 1987: On lap 22, Bobby Allison (Driving the Stavola Brothers #22 Buick) cut a tire and his car went airborne into the catch fencing in front of the main grandstand. Some 100 feet of the fence was sheared off and Allison's car rebounded back to the track. The race was red-flagged, and track crews spent some two hours repairing the safety fence. Despite the wreckage, no drivers or spectators were seriously injured. As a direct result, the next superspeedway race (the 1987 Firecracker 400 at Daytona), saw the cars using smaller carburetors in an effort to curtail speeds. Starting in 1988, all races at Daytona and Talladega saw mandated carburetor restrictor plates, which are still used today.
- 1991: The race was delayed until Monday due to Sunday rains. A massive battle for the lead erupted into a 20-car crash near halfway when pole-sitter Ernie Irvan got into Kyle Petty and Mark Martin; Petty suffered a shattered leg when he was hit in the door by Chad Little. The race was red-flagged for nearly an hour. Harry Gant won the race on a controversial drafting push by teammate Rick Mast who was a lap down.
- 1993: The last lap saw a ferocious scramble where Ernie Irvan stormed past Dale Earnhardt on the final lap. Rusty Wallace roared to third then was spun out on the front straight Earnhardt, and Wallace shot off the ground and tumbled violently across the finish line, similar to his Daytona crash in the same year. The win was Irvan's final win for Morgan-McClure Motorsports.
- 1994: In 1994, Dale Earnhardt won the race, and dedicated it to Formula One driver Ayrton Senna, who died earlier that day in a crash at the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix in Imola, Italy. There were two consecutive Big Ones that were the highlight of the race: the first one happened on lap 103 in a race for third when Todd Bodine came down on Greg Sacks and spun into Jeff Gordon. The three cars spun, with Sacks escaping, and collected eight other cars. Mark Martin had taken the worst hit, as his car was collected, shot across the infield, struck the inside wall, and plowed through a guardrail, a chain-link fence, and lastly caught by another guardrail protecting the infield road course, coming to a rest feet from a spectator area. After the field bunched up for the restart, another crash occurred in the tri-oval, when Terry Labonte, running 14th, was tapped from behind, starting a chain-reaction crash collecting at least 14 other cars in turn 1.
- 1996: Sterling Marlin rallied from the back of the pack three separate times to take the win. The race saw two airborne crashes; Bill Elliott flew down the backstretch in the air, and suffered a leg injury that sidelined him for several races. Later Mark Martin was turned into the wall by Jeff Gordon and bounced into traffic; Ricky Craven tumbled up the Turn One banking and hit the fencing before bouncing down to the ground.
- 1997: Mark Martin won the fastest NASCAR race ever run at Talladega Superspeedway, and the fastest NASCAR race in history when he averaged 188.354 mph in 2 and half hours.
- 2000: Jeff Gordon scored his 50th career win after starting the race from 36th place, the farthest starting spot ever at Talladega.
- 2001: Bobby Hamilton won the race after overtaking Tony Stewart coming to the white flag. It would be Hamilton's final victory before his death in 2007. It was the second caution-free Talladega race ever, and the first restrictor-plate race since Dale Earnhardt's death.
- 2002: Dale Earnhardt, Jr. dominated the race, leading for 133 laps, and took home his second consecutive Talladega win, and teammate Michael Waltrip finished second. The race was marred by a 24 car crash on the back straightaway on lap 164, in the same location where a large crash had occurred the day before in the Busch race that had involved 30 cars. The wreck is currently the second-largest crash recorded in a modern Sprint Cup race.
- 2003: On lap 4, the largest crash ever recorded in the Sprint Cup Series happened when Ryan Newman (who had suffered a very violent blowover crash at Daytona that February) blew a tire and hit the turn 1 wall, causing a cloud of smoke that collected 27 cars in all. These included Mike and Rusty Wallace, Steve Park, Mike Skinner, Bobby Labonte, Johnny Benson, eventual race winner Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Tony Stewart, Ricky Rudd, Jeff Burton, points leader Matt Kenseth and more.
- Earnhardt, Jr. won his fourth consecutive race at the track, but not without controversy: after the 2001 spring race (thanks in part to protestations from Jimmy Spencer over Mike McLaughlin's blocking in the Nationwide race in 2001), NASCAR ruled that the yellow lines on the bottom of the track at Talladega and Daytona were an out-of-bounds line (with any car that drops below to gain a position to be immediately black-flagged unless they gave the position back or were forced below it). As the cars reached the backstretch, leader Matt Kenseth made a lane change, going to the outside to block Jimmie Johnson. Earnhardt Jr. was on the inside and was drafting with Elliott Sadler when Kenseth started making a move low to attempt to block Earnhardt; Earnhardt's left wheels went well below the line entering the apron of turn three as he passed Kenseth. NASCAR ruled that Earnhardt was forced below the line as the nose of his car had already passed the nose of Kenseth's car by the time Kenseth made the block, making it a clean pass, this even though Earnhardt was nowhere close to clearing Kenseth when he hit the turn 3 apron — what the rule was ostensibly intended to prevent. Some sanctioning bodies, such as the Indy Racing League, would have called Kenseth out for violating the blocking rule — a driver may not make two lane changes on a straight, which is a penalty; the ethic against blocking, however, holds no weight in NASCAR given the fendered nature of the cars. The yellow line rule's absurdity belatedly led to discussion in the sanctioning body in January 2010 to possibly rescind it, though it was decided to maintain the rule "for the time being," according to NASCAR official Robin Pemberton.
- Following Dale Earnhardt, Jr.'s 2003 win, Hendrick Motorsports won four straight — three by Jeff Gordon and one by Jimmie Johnson.
- 2004: Jeff Gordon's win was marked by a spinout by Brian Vickers with 4⅓ laps to go. In the wake of a dangerous incident between Casey Mears and Dale Jarrett the previous September at New Hampshire, the beneficiary rule was adopted, prohibiting racing back to the caution. One ruling of the beneficiary rule was that if a race went past a specified point (Lap 183 in this case; five laps remaining) and had a caution, they would not throw out the red flag and stop the cars to ensure a green flag finish. Dale Earnhardt, Jr. was side-by-side with Gordon and attempted a pass on Gordon for the lead at the time of caution. Television replays (which override previous scoring loops when less than five laps remain) declared Gordon was still ahead. The race finished under yellow and while Gordon did his victory burnout, enraged fans littered the track with garbage to protest the finish (it was believed that Vickers' crash and the subsequent cleanup would not have taken very long to clean up). This reaction, following a similar fan bombardment of the track at Daytona International Speedway after the 2002 Pepsi 400 ended under yellow, would result in the green-white-checkered rule being instituted in the Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series less than two months later.
- 2009: A final battle to the finish between Brad Keselowski and Carl Edwards ended in near-disaster, when Edwards' car made contact Keselowski while approaching the finish line and was hooked onto the trioval apron. The car spun into the air and was hammered by Ryan Newman, sending Edwards flipping into the catch fence as Keselowski and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. crossed the finish line. The debris from the wreck injured eight spectators, all non-life threatening. Immediately after the car came to rest, Edwards walked away unharmed after jogging past the finish line as an absurd homage to the finale of the 2006 racing comedy Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby. Keselowski went on to win the race in only his fifth Sprint Cup start, undoubtedly one of the biggest upsets of the decade. Two Big Ones occurred during the race: the first one in turn 3 on lap 7 involving 14 cars, and the second one on the back straightaway on Lap 180 involving eleven cars. There were 56 lead changes among 25 drivers.
- 2010: The race was called "the Greatest Talladega Race Ever" by Darrell Waltrip. Throughout the race, there was a record 88 lead changes, breaking the previous record of 75 in the 1984 Winston 500, with 87 of those in regulation. A record 29 different drivers held the lead at one point or another during the race, breaking the record set in the 2008 AMP Energy 500. Among the strongest cars throughout the day were Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Denny Hamlin, David Reutimann, Jeff Burton (who led the most laps), Kyle Busch, A. J. Allmendinger, and Michael Waltrip. The new Green-white-checker finish rule was implemented for the first time to the maximum of three attempts (the first attempt because Jeff Gordon, Jeff Burton and Scott Speed wrecked in the tri-oval on lap 182; the second attempt began when Joey Logano turned Ryan Newman loose in turn 3 and Newman ran into the wall, collecting Bobby Labonte, Elliott Sadler, Brian Vickers, Kasey Kahne, Marcos Ambrose, Sam Hornish, Jr., and Brad Keselowski; the third attempt happened when Jimmie Johnson was clipped by Greg Biffle and collided with the inside wall on the back straightaway). Jamie McMurray was leader at each GWC restart and on the final lap McMurray and Kevin Harvick pulled away. Coming through the tri-oval, Harvick pushed McMurray up the track and moved low; unlike Carl Edwards the previous year, McMurray gave Harvick room, which allowed Harvick to overtake him and win the race by a wheel, with an official margin of victory set at .012 seconds. This marked Harvick's first win since the 2007 Daytona 500 amid contract talks for the 2010 season and with sponsor Royal Dutch Shell leaving for Penske Racing. Harvick's contract was renewed shortly afterwards, and he picked up primary sponsorship from Belgian brewer InBev, with Rheem, Okuma Corporation, and Jimmy John's alternating.
- 2011: The race saw a Hendrick Motorsports sweep of the top four starting positions, with Jeff Gordon winning the inside pole and Jimmie Johnson taking the outside pole. During the race, Gordon and Johnson drafted respectively with Mark Martin and Dale Earnhardt, Jr., who filled out the second row on the grid.
- The race set the record for most lead changes in regulation (tying the all-time record for most lead changes overall, but the 88th lead change took place on lap 188, the last lap of regulation, unlike the previous year, when Harvick's last-lap pass on McMurray took place on Lap 200, the final lap of the third green-white-checkered finish), and also tied the 2003 Carolina Dodge Dealers 400 for the closest Sprint Cup finish in the electronic timing era (1993–present) at 0.002 seconds. Coming into the tri-oval, Gordon was being pushed by Martin and duelling with Clint Bowyer, who was being pushed by Kevin Harvick. Entering the tri-oval, Johnson, pushed by Earnhardt, Jr., squeezed low to Gordon's inside. A brush between Earnhardt, Jr. and Martin killed Martin's momentum, and Johnson was able to edge ahead of Bowyer and Gordon to win.
- 2012: This was the first Talladega race after NASCAR mandated a smaller spoiler and also radiator changes to induce greater risk of overheating. The changes were made to break up tandem drafting; the lead changed only 34 times and drivers such as Jeff Gordon protested after the race that the rules package made them race "too conservative." The race saw two crashes in the last 60 laps: one on lap 142 involving five cars in turn 3 cause by some cars running out of gas, and another in turn 1 during a late restart on lap 186 (after Kurt Busch's spin in the tri-oval). In the final laps a tandem draft of Brad Keselowski and Kyle Busch stormed into the lead; Keselowski shook off Busch's bumper and blasted away to win by two car lengths, the first time in several years that the race win had not been decided by a last lap pass.
- 2013: A green-white-checker finish set up a frantic final lap as David Ragan stormed from midpack to the win, his second Sprint Cup win and his first with Front Row Motorsports. Teammate David Gilliland finished second, giving FRM a 1-2 finish and its first NASCAR win. Matt Kenseth led 142 of 192 laps, the most laps led at a Talladega race since Jeff Gordon led 139 laps in 2005, but was shuffled back on the final lap. The race was interrupted by a 3 hour 36 minute long red flag for a rain storm around lap 126, which pushed the end of the race into basically complete darkness. There were two Big Ones: the first one in turn one on lap 43 involving 16 cars, instigated by Kyle Busch touching Kasey Kahne from behind, and the second one on the back straightaway on lap 182 involving 13 cars which saw Kurt Busch flip over and land on top of Ryan Newman. It was David Ragan's second win in the Cup Series (after winning the 2011 Coke Zero 400 at Daytona driving for Roush Fenway Racing). This race is sometimes referred to as "The 7 hours of Talladega", as the field first received the green flag at 1:07 PM EST/12:07 CDT and finished at around 8:15 PM EST/7:15 CDT, causing NASCAR to do just a single attempt at a green-white-checkered finish due to darkness. It was also the NASCAR's first major test/workout for their new Air Titan track-drying technique, which did double duty, also working the Nationwide race the day before. Nationwide race winner Regan Smith was in contention toward the end but was shuffled back and finished sixth.
Television broadcasters 
- 2006: Scheduled for Fox, but was rained out and shown on FX and some Fox affiliates.
- 1995: Benny Parsons was feeling ill and didn't attend.
- 1997: Dave Despain filled in for Joe Moore on MRN's call because of scheduling commitments after the race was postponed by rain to Mother's Day weekend.
External links