2002 Daytona 500
|Race 1 of 36 in the 2002 NASCAR Winston Cup Series|
Track map of Daytona International Speedway showing mainly the speedway.
|Date||February 17, 2002|
|Location||Daytona International Speedway, Daytona Beach, Florida|
Permanent racing facility|
2.5 mi (4.02336 km)
|Distance||200 laps, 500 mi (804.672 km)|
|Weather||Temperatures reaching up to 70 °F (21 °C); wind speeds approaching 12 miles per hour (19 km/h)|
|Average speed||130.810 miles per hour (210.518 km/h)|
|Qualifying race winners|
|Duel 1 Winner||Jeff Gordon||Hendrick Motorsports|
|Duel 2 Winner||Michael Waltrip||Dale Earnhardt, Inc.|
|Most laps led|
|Driver||Sterling Marlin||Chip Ganassi Racing|
|No. 22||Ward Burton||Bill Davis Racing|
|Television in the United States|
|Announcers||Allen Bestwick, Benny Parsons, Wally Dallenbach Jr.|
(18.8 million viewers)
The 2002 Daytona 500, the 44th running of the event, was held on February 17 at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Florida as the first of 36 races of the 2002 Winston Cup Season. Rookie Jimmie Johnson, driving the No. 48 Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports, won the pole with fellow Daytona 500 rookie Kevin Harvick qualifying second, making this the first time the field would be led by two first-time Daytona 500 participants. Ward Burton, driving the No.22 Dodge for Bill Davis Racing, won the race. This race was the last for long-time veteran driver Dave Marcis.
As part of the television contract signed at the end of the 1999 NASCAR season, the 2002 Daytona 500 was televised by NBC. Allen Bestwick provided the play-by-play in the booth with color commentators Benny Parsons and Wally Dallenbach, Jr. The prerace show was hosted by Bill Weber, who reported from the pits with Matt Yocum, Marty Snider, and Dave Burns. This was the first time NBC televised the Daytona 500.
The 2002 Daytona 500 was the first of 36 scheduled stock car races of the 2002 NASCAR Winston Cup Series, and the 44th running of the event. It was held on February 19, 2002, in Daytona Beach, Florida, at Daytona International Speedway, one of six superspeedways to hold NASCAR races; the others are Michigan International Speedway, Auto Club Speedway, Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Pocono Raceway, and Talladega Superspeedway. Its standard track is a four-turn, 2.5-mile (4.0 km) superspeedway. Daytona's turns are banked at 31 degrees, and the front stretch—the location of the finish line—is banked at 18 degrees.
The Daytona 500 was conceived by NASCAR founder Bill France Sr., who built the Daytona International Speedway. The race was first held in 1959; it is the successor to shorter races held on beaches around Daytona Beach. It has been the opening round of the NASC AR season since 1982, and from 1988, it has been one of four events that require cars to run restrictor plates. The Daytona 500 is often regarded as NASCAR's most prestigious race because it offers the most prize money in American auto racing. Victory is considered equal to winning either the World Series, the Super Bowl or The Masters. The race is often called the "Great American Race" or the "Super Bowl of Stock Car Racing".
In preparation for the race, NASCAR scheduled several test sessions on January 7–9 (for teams who finished in an odd-number position in the 2002 car owner points standings) and January 14–16, 2002 (for teams who finished in an even-number position in the 2002 car owner points standings).[a] Every test session began at 9 a.m. EST, stopped at 12:00 – 1:00 p.m. EST, and concluded at 5:00 p.m. EST. On January 7, Stacy Compton was fastest in the first session with a speed of 183.087 mph (294.650 km/h) and a speed of 183.120 mph (294.703 km/h) by Jimmie Johnson paced the second session. Johnson led the third and fourth sessions on January 8 with respective speeds of 183.109 mph (294.685 km/h) and 183.816 mph (295.823 km/h). On January 9, Johnson and Ward Burton led sessions five and six, respectively, with speeds of 183.415 mph (295.178 km/h) and 184.961 mph (297.666 km/h) respectively. The January 14 test sessions were cancelled due to rain; NASCAR officials elongated testing to January 17. On January 15 and 16, Jerry Nadeau, Michael Waltrip and Jeremy Mayfield paced sessions seven, eight and nine with speeds of 182.905 mph (294.357 km/h), 183.102 mph (294.674 km/h) and 183.221 mph (294.866 km/h) respectively. The final sessions on January 17 were paced by Waltrip and Mike Wallace with respective speeds of 183.255 mph (294.920 km/h) and 184.302 mph (296.605 km/h).
Pre-race regulation changes
For the race, NASCAR mandated a series of rules regarding the aerodynamics of the cars. Restrictor plates had to have an opening of 7⁄8 in (22 mm) in every car, and their air dams were extended to 1.5 in (38 mm) forward on the front bumpers. The rear spoilers on the Dodge, Pontiac and Ford vehicles were required to be 6.5 in (170 mm), 55 in (1,400 mm) wide and angled at 55 degrees. All Chevrolet cars had their spoilers shortened by 1⁄4 in (6.4 mm).
After the Ford teams reported an aerodynamic deficiency to the remainder of the field during testing, NASCAR allowed them to lower the height of their spoilers by 1⁄4 in (6.4 mm) to 6.25 in (159 mm) and 57 in (1,400 mm) wide. This change created further complications for Ford when the manufacturer had to raise the rear deck lid on its vehicle by 1⁄2 in (13 mm) to 3⁄4 in (19 mm) in order to comply with the minimum height for its rear spoiler. Later, NASCAR installed an additional template on each of the four types of vehicle in an attempt to ensure the spoiler is positioned correctly.
In other changes, NASCAR permitted teams to switch engines between the qualifying session and the race in an exception to its cost-cutting regulation mandating each team to use one engine per race weekend because of the Daytona 500 race format having two qualifying races to determine the majority of its starting order.
Practice and qualifying
Eight practice sessions were scheduled before the Sunday race. The first two were held on February 8 and lasted 120 and 110 minutes each. The next two on February 11 and 12 were shortened to 105 minutes. On February 13, two 45 minute practice sessions were scheduled. A session lasting 60 minutes was held the following day. The final practice session, scheduled for February 16, was cancelled because of rain. In the first practice session, Johnson was fastest with a lap of 48.639 seconds, ahead of his Hendrick Motorsports teammates Jeff Gordon and Jerry Nadeau in second and third. Ricky Rudd, Ward Burton, Dale Jarrett, Robert Pressley, Mike Wallace, Bill Elliott, and Kevin Harvick made up positions four to ten. Johnson led the second practice session later that day with a 48.685 seconds time. Rudd, Gordon, Ward Burton, Nadeau, Terry Labonte, Jarrett, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Johnny Benson Jr. and Waltrip rounded out the top ten drivers.
54 cars entered first-round qualifying on February 9; due to NASCAR's qualifying procedure only 43 could race. Unlike most races during the season, the qualifying session determined the first two position, while the rest of the field qualified by the 2002 Gatorade 125s. Each driver was limited to two timed laps, with the starting order determined by the competitor's fastest times. Johnson was the fourth driver to venture onto the track; he took the maiden pole position of his career, and his first in a NASCAR-sanctioned event since he debuted in the series at the 1998 Busch Series, with a time of 48.431 seconds. He became the third rookie driver in history to claim pole position for the Daytona 500 after Loy Allen Jr. in the 1994 event and Skinner in the 1997 race. Johnson was joined on the grid's front row by Harvick who was sixteen-thousands of a second slower, after a driver error in the third and fourth turns on his second lap. This meant for the first time in history, the Daytona 500 featured two rookie drivers starting in the first two grid positions. After qualifying, Johnson said, "We've shown our hand during testing and practice. We didn't want to fool ourselves into thinking we had a magic three- or four-tenths hidden somewhere. We thought that some other guys had an ace in their back pockets, and we didn't expect Kevin Harvick to jump up there."
After the qualifying session, NASCAR vice-president of communications Jim Hunter stated no regulation changes would be considered until after the qualifying races. Notwithstanding this statement, NASCAR announced from the third practice session onward, teams entering Ford cars would be permitted to lower the height of their spoiler by a further 1⁄4 in (6.4 mm) to 6 in (150 mm) tall in an attempt to decrease aerodynamic drag produced, and in response to the manufacturer getting two of its cars in the first 20 positions in qualifying, and its sub-par results in the 2002 Budweiser Shootout.
In the third practice session, Geoff Bodine went fastest with a lap of 47.776 seconds, ahead of Dave Blaney in second and Rudd third. Sterling Marlin was fourth-fastest, with Jeff Burton fifth and Dave Marcis sixth. Harvick, Greg Biffle, Ken Schrader, and Bobby Hamilton followed in the top ten. Second round qualifying was held during the afternoon on February 11 to allow drivers to improve their fastest times or set a lap in the event they were not able to in first round qualifying; the session's fastest driver, placing 27th-fastest was Kyle Petty, qualifying fastest of the four competitors who were in the session. Skinner, Norm Benning, and Kirk Shelmerdine were the three other drivers who competed in the session.
Mark Martin led the fourth practice session with a time of 47.933 seconds, with Johnson, Rusty Wallace, Benson, Jeff Burton, Jarrett, Elliott Sadler, John Andretti, Nadeau and Biffle in positions two to ten. With ten minutes of the session remaining, Brett Bodine experienced understeer exiting the second corner, causing him to slow in a plethora of cars, and drift up the circuit. Hamilton, who was close by Bodine, made contact with the latter's left-rear quarter panel, turning Hamilton into Todd Bodine. That caused a chain reaction accident involving Tony Stewart, Jeff Burton, Jimmy Spencer, and Rudd. Hamilton, Jeff Burton and Todd Bodine ventured to the infield medical center, and were released after precautionary check-ups. Hamilton and Todd Bodine switched to back-up cars for the Gatorade 125s. Casey Atwood topped the fifth practice session with a 47.342 seconds lap. Elliott Sadler, Hermie Sadler, Marlin, Kenny Wallace, Shawna Robinson, Robby Gordon, Spencer, Mayfield, and Todd Bodine placed in second to tenth positions. A lap of 47.721 seconds gave Elliott the lead in the sixth session; Compton, Benson, Blaney, Andretti, Matt Kenseth, Hamilton, Brett Bodine, Waltrip and Sadler rounded out the session's top ten drivers.
Gordon and Waltrip were the winners of the Gatorade 125s. The qualifying grid was finalized with Gordon third and Waltrip fourth. Earnhardt qualified fifth, ahead of Stewart, Schrader, Nadeau, Rudd, and Bobby Labonte. By qualifying for the race, Marcis broke Richard Petty's all-time record of 32 Daytona 500 starts with his 33rd, as Robinson became the second woman to progress to the race, and the first since Janet Guthrie at the 1980 edition. The eleven drivers who failed to qualify were Spencer, Hut Stricklin, Buckshot Jones, Biffle, Rick Mast, Bobby Gerhart, Hermie Sadler, Carl Long, Benning, Shelmerdine, and Dwayne Leik. In the final practice session, Harvick was fastest with a lap of 47.588 seconds; Sadler and Terry Labonte were second and third. Kurt Busch, Rudd, Andretti, Ricky Craven, Brett Bodine, Robby Gordon and Rusty Wallace followed in positions four to ten. Craven's engine failed as he was drafting Jarrett, prompting the latter to steer right to avoid a collision, and causing a four-car accident involving Petty, Terry Labonte, Marcis, and Brett Bodine on the backstretch.
After the final practice session, and before the race, NASCAR allowed teams who entered Ford and Dodge cars to lower the rear spoilers by a further 1⁄4 in (6.4 mm) so that it was 5.75 in (146 mm) tall for Ford entries and 6.25 in (159 mm) on the Dodge vehicles in the series' attempt to continue to seek to create parity within the field.
Early favorite Tony Stewart was struck with an engine failure on lap 3. The race's first caution flew when Dale Earnhardt, Jr. (another favorite) ran over debris and cut a tire on lap 23 while running in second-place. He managed to come through the pack into the Top 10 with a new nose after the tire tore up the right-front fender. On lap 79, Dave Marcis had problems with his engine causing him to exit the race, and this brought his Winston Cup career to an end. Just before halfway, Earnhardt, Jr. got into more trouble, when his brakes failed while trying to pit, bringing out yet a third caution. On the following restart, Brett Bodine spun off of Kenny Wallace's bumper, and the yellow flag came back out for the fourth time.
On lap 138, rookie Shawna Robinson and Mike Skinner touched exiting turn 2, bringing out the fifth caution of the day. But the course of the race took a twist on lap 148 when contact between Jeff Gordon and Kevin Harvick (both racing in the Top 5) triggered the "Big One", collecting 18 cars. Matt Kenseth, Ricky Rudd, Ken Schrader, John Andretti, Jerry Nadeau, and Earnhardt, Jr. (his third incident in the race) were eliminated.
In a restart with five laps to go, 1997 and 1999 winner Jeff Gordon led 1994 and 1995 winner Sterling Marlin. A chain reaction began between the eighth and ninth positions after one driver missed a gear. Five cars were damaged, including the defending Daytona 500 winner Michael Waltrip, who spun into the pits and nearly hit the pace car being driven by Jay Leno. Up front, Marlin came through the gears a bit quicker than Gordon, and took his momentum to the inside. Gordon went to block only to turn himself. The two incidents brought out the caution flag, but under the rules at the time the field continued racing at full speed back to the start/finish line, and Ward Burton pulled alongside of Marlin on the outside. Marlin, his car smoking from damage to the right front fender, beat Burton to the line by a nose, only for the red flag come out. Rather than have the race finish under caution, the officials stopped the field on the backstretch so the track could be cleared by course officials and the drivers could race to the finish. Concerned about damage on his right front fender, Marlin got out of his car and tried to pull the fender away from the tire while the cars waited, and was told to stop by pace car driver Buster Auton. Because NASCAR rules forbid working on the car under a red flag except for non-points events, he was penalized before the restart and was sent to the rear of the field. Burton (a resident of South Boston) and Elliott Sadler (from Emporia) were first and second for the state of Virginia. 1986 race winner Geoffrey Bodine was the feel-good story of the day, as he finished third just two years after a crash that nearly took his life in the Craftsman Truck Series' Daytona 250 at the same racetrack.
Burton's Daytona 500 win was the first for Dodge since Richard Petty's win in the 1974 race. This was Phoenix Racing's best finish until Brad Keselowski won the 2009 Aaron's 499 at Talladega. As of 2017, this has been the only Daytona 500 to feature more than one trio of brothers. All three Bodine brothers (Geoff, Brett, and Todd) had started the Daytona 500 together, as had all three Wallace brothers (Rusty, Mike, and Kenny), but never all three brothers from both families in the same year.
Notes and references
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- "2002 Daytona Testing Jan 7-9th". Jayski's Silly Season Site. Archived from the original on January 11, 2002. Retrieved September 29, 2019."2002 Daytona Testing Jan 14-17th". Jayski's Silly Season Site. Archived from the original on April 11, 2002. Retrieved September 29, 2019.
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- Coble, Don (February 9, 2002). "Johnson wins Daytona 500 pole position". The Florida Times-Union. Archived from the original on March 12, 2002. Retrieved September 30, 2019.
- Long, Dustin (February 10, 2002). "Johnson rocks, rolls to pole Chevrolets record 7 of top 10 qualifying times". The Roanoke Times. p. C1. Retrieved September 30, 2019 – via Gale OneFile: News.
- Blake, Ben (February 9, 2002). "Rookie Johnson Wins Daytona 500 Pole". Speedvision. Archived from the original on February 12, 2002. Retrieved September 30, 2019.
- Korth, Joanne (February 10, 2002). "First 500 test easy for pair". St. Petersburg Times. Archived from the original on February 24, 2003. Retrieved September 30, 2019.
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- Long, Gary (February 14, 2002). "Dave Marcis, Shawna Robinson secure spots". Knight Ridder/Tribune News Service. p. K6106. Retrieved September 30, 2019 – via Gale General OneFile.
- "Practice 7 Speeds: Daytona 500". NASCAR. Archived from the original on February 20, 2002. Retrieved September 30, 2019.
- Rodman, Dave (February 15, 2002). "Winston Cup cars damaged in practice accident". NASCAR. Archived from the original on February 20, 2002. Retrieved September 30, 2019.
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- Minter, Rick (February 18, 2002). "Burton wins dash to finish in Daytona 500". The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Cox News Service. Archived from the original on March 22, 2002. Retrieved September 29, 2019.
- "Report: Burton scoops 500 thriller". Autosport. February 17, 2002. Retrieved September 29, 2019.
2001 New Hampshire 300
|Winston Cup Series
2002 Subway 400