2002 Aaron's 499

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2002 Aaron's 499
Race details
Race 9 of 36 in the 2002 NASCAR Winston Cup Series season
Layout of Talladega Superspeedway
Layout of Talladega Superspeedway
Date April 21, 2002 (2002-04-21)
Location Talladega Superspeedway, Talladega, Alabama
Course Permanent racing facility
2.66 mi (4.28 km)
Distance 188 laps, 500.08 mi (804.8 km)
Weather Hot with temperatures approaching 87.1 °F (30.6 °C); wind speeds up to 14 miles per hour (23 km/h)[1]
Average speed 159.022 miles per hour (255.921 km/h)
Pole position
Driver Hendrick Motorsports
Time 51.349
Most laps led
Driver Dale Earnhardt, Jr. Dale Earnhardt, Inc.
Laps 133
No. 8 Dale Earnhardt, Jr. Dale Earnhardt, Inc.
Television in the United States
Network Fox Broadcasting Company
Announcers Mike Joy, Darrell Waltrip and Larry McReynolds

The 2002 Aaron's 499 was a NASCAR Winston Cup Series racing event that was held on April 21, 2002, at Talladega Superspeedway in Talladega, Alabama. Dale Earnhardt, Jr. of Dale Earnhardt, Inc. won the race, his first of the season and the second of his four straight wins at Talladega. His teammate Michael Waltrip finished second and Kurt Busch finished third.

Race summary[edit]

The drivers who failed to qualify were Rick Mast, Shawna Robinson, Bobby Gerhart, and Dick Trickle. Jimmie Johnson won the pole.

From the green flag, Jimmie Johnson got off to a good start, leading the first eight laps. On lap 8, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. passed Johnson and assumed the lead for all but two of the next 42 laps; Jeremy Mayfield led lap 33, and Michael Waltrip led lap 40. On lap 50, Sterling Marlin claimed the lead, and led two laps before Matt Kenseth passed him for the lead. Kenseth led until lap 56, when Earnhardt, Jr. regained the lead. Earnhardt, Jr. led until lap 65, when Mayfield assumed the lead, again for only a lap before losing the lead to Earnhardt. He continued to lead until lap 82 when Waltrip claimed it again. Waltrip led until lap 95, when Ryan Newman passed him and led lap 96. Earnhardt, Jr. claimed the lead on the next lap and led until lap 105, for a cycle of green flag pit stops. During these pit stops, the lead cycled through Mark Martin, Jeff Burton and Kenseth before returning to Earnhardt, Jr. on lap 114. On lap 116, the first caution came out for debris. Kenseth assumed the lead under caution, but Earnhardt, Jr. got the lead back at the restart on lap 120. Over the next few laps, the lead would change between Martin, Kenseth, and Newman, before Earnhardt, Jr. got a big lead on lap 131. He would lead the next 31 laps.

On lap 141, Newman got out of the race when his car had an engine failure, and was credited with a last place finish.

On lap 163, Dale Jarrett managed to take the lead away from Earnhardt, Jr. For the next two laps, Earnhardt, Jr. and Jarrett were racing almost side-by-side. A lap later, a very large crash on the back straightaway brought out the second caution. It started when Jimmie Johnson shuffled Kyle Petty out of line in turn 1. Coming on to the backstretch, Petty found a spot in line, but the whole field bunched up behind him, causing Mike Wallace to force Tony Stewart against the outside wall. A 24-car crash unfolded, one day after the largest recorded crash in NASCAR history (30 cars) occurred in exactly the same location in the Busch race. Collected alongside Wallace and Stewart were Steve Park, Rusty Wallace, Mike Skinner, Terry Labonte, Mark Martin, Casey Atwood, Bill Elliott, Johnny Benson, Matt Kenseth, Bobby Labonte, Jeremy Mayfield, Elliott Sadler, Kevin Harvick, Robby Gordon, Ricky Craven, Jimmy Spencer, John Andretti, Steve Grissom, Bobby Hamilton, Geoff Bodine, and Ricky Rudd. Sadler took the biggest hit in the wreck by slamming the corner of the inside wall on the right side, while Benson had to be pulled out of his car after it caught fire on pit road. However, all of the drivers involved escaped injury. It was the largest recorded Big One in Cup history until the following year's spring Talladega race. [2]

Earnhardt, Jr. assumed the lead from Jarrett after pit stops under caution and led the last 23 laps to win. With ten laps to go, oil leaked from Stewart's car and Martin's wounded car stalled. The race was temporarily red-flagged to clean the track. With four laps left, the green flag waved. Earnhardt, Jr. led the four lap shootout, managing to hold off Waltrip and beat his teammate to the line by 0.100 seconds.[3] Attendance figures were never recorded for this event. All of the drivers were born in the United States of America. This would primarily become the status quo of the Sprint Cup Series until the introduction of Juan Pablo Montoya at the 2006 Ford 400.[2]

Ryan Newman's last-place finish was the only DNF due to a problem other than crash damage.[2] Winnings for this race ranged from the winner's purse of $184,830 ($262,728.75 when adjusted for inflation) to the humble last-place winnings of $58,022 ($82,476.05 when adjusted for inflation).[4] Compared to the previous day's Busch race crash, in which only three cars had finished on the lead lap, 21 cars finished on the lead lap in the Cup race.

Race results[edit]

  1. 8-Dale Earnhardt, Jr., led 133 of 188 laps
  2. 15-Michael Waltrip, led 14 laps
  3. 97-Kurt Busch
  4. 24-Jeff Gordon
  5. 40-Sterling Marlin, led 2 laps
  6. 88-Dale Jarrett, led 2 laps
  7. 48-Jimmie Johnson, led 8 laps
  8. 2-Rusty Wallace
  9. 99-Jeff Burton, led 1 lap
  10. 45-Kyle Petty
  11. 23-Hut Stricklin
  12. 09-Geoff Bodine
  13. 11-Brett Bodine
  14. 28-Ricky Rudd
  15. 22-Ward Burton
  16. 30-Jeff Green
  17. 41-Jimmy Spencer
  18. 32-Ricky Craven
  19. 9-Bill Elliott
  20. 5-Terry Labonte
  21. 98-Kenny Wallace
  22. 55-Bobby Hamilton, 1 lap down
  23. 4-Mike Skinner, 1 lap down
  24. 36-Ken Schrader, 2 laps down
  25. 44-Steve Grissom, 2 laps down
  26. 7-Casey Atwood, 2 laps down
  27. 14-Stacy Compton, 4 laps down
  28. 29-Kevin Harvick, 7 laps down
  29. 20-Tony Stewart, 180 laps (accident damage)
  30. 17-Matt Kenseth, 8 laps down; led 18 laps
  31. 77-Dave Blaney, 8 laps down
  32. 25-Jerry Nadeau, 9 laps down
  33. 31-Robby Gordon, 12 laps down
  34. 1-Steve Park, 14 laps down
  35. 26-Frank Kimmel, 16 laps down
  36. 19-Jeremy Mayfield, 167 laps (accident); led 2 laps
  37. 6-Mark Martin, 166 laps (accident); led 5 laps
  38. 43-John Andretti, 164 laps (accident)
  39. 10-Johnny Benson, Jr., 164 laps (accident)
  40. 21-Elliott Sadler, 163 laps (accident)
  41. 18-Bobby Labonte, 163 laps (accident)
  42. 33-Mike Wallace, 162 laps (accident)
  43. 12-Ryan Newman, 141 laps (engine failure); led 3 laps

Race Facts[edit]

  • Race Time: 3:08:41
  • Average Speed: 159.022 mph
  • Margin of Victory: 0.060 sec
  • Cautions: 3 for 19 laps
  • Lead changes: 26
  • Percent of race run under caution: 10.1%
  • Average green flag run: 42.2 laps


  1. ^ Weather information for the 2002 Aaron's 499 at The Old Farmers' Almanac
  2. ^ a b c 2002 Aaron's 499 racing information at Racing Reference
  3. ^ Race facts for the 2002 Aaron's 499 at NASCAR.com
  4. ^ NASCAR race results for the 2002's Aaron's 499 Archived 2013-01-07 at the Wayback Machine at Driver Averages
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2002 Virginia 500
Winston Cup Series
2002 season
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2002 NAPA Auto Parts 500