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2002 EA Sports 500

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2002 EA Sports 500
Race details[1]
Race 30 of 36 in the 2002 NASCAR Winston Cup Series
Layout of Talladega Superspeedway
Layout of Talladega Superspeedway
Date October 6, 2002 (2002-10-06)
Location Talladega Superspeedway, Talladega, Alabama
Course Permanent racing facility
2.66 mi (4.2829 km)
Distance 188 laps, 500.1 mi (804.83 km)
Weather Hot with temperatures approaching 89.1 °F (31.7 °C); wind speeds up to 6 miles per hour (9.7 km/h)
Average speed 183.665 miles per hour (295.580 km/h)
Pole position
Driver Hendrick Motorsports
Time No time trials
Most laps led
Driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. Dale Earnhardt, Inc.
Laps 56
No. 8 Dale Earnhardt Jr. Dale Earnhardt, Inc.
Television in the United States
Network NBC
Announcers Allen Bestwick, Benny Parsons, Wally Dallenbach Jr.

The 2002 EA Sports 500 was a NASCAR Winston Cup Series stock car race held on October 6, 2002, at the Talladega Superspeedway in Talladega, Alabama.


The race was the 30th in the 2002 Winston Cup season, and was broadcast by NBC. Jimmie Johnson of Hendrick Motorsports was awarded the pole position after qualifying was canceled,[2] while Dale Earnhardt Jr. of Dale Earnhardt, Inc., who won the previous race, led the most laps and won his second consecutive EA Sports 500. The race was also the first Winston Cup race at Talladega after the track had installed SAFER barriers. Vocal group Little Big Town performed the national anthem, while former National Football League quarterback Ken Stabler was the grand marshal.[2]

To spread out the tightly-grouped packs, NASCAR officials reduced the size of the fuel cells from 22 US gallons (83 L) to 13 US gallons (49 L).[2] The race also featured a record $250,000 leader bonus if the winner of the race becomes the Cup points leader, with Johnson, Mark Martin, Tony Stewart, Jeff Gordon and Rusty Wallace being the eligible drivers.[3]


On the warm-up lap, Mark Martin's steering box locked, causing him to crash into pole-sitter Jimmie Johnson.[4] As a result of the incident, Martin was black-flagged, while Johnson's crew chief Chad Knaus requested NASCAR to inspect the car and repair the damaged right front fender. Johnson made a pit stop on lap one.[2] Jeff Gordon led the first three laps, but on lap 125, he was forced to move the car to the garage after his crew found smoke under the hood, ending his race. Gordon was not the only Hendrick Motorsports to fail to finish; the other Hendrick drivers, Johnson, Terry Labonte and Joe Nemechek, also failed to finish due to engine problems.

In the end, Dale Earnhardt Jr. won his third consecutive Talladega race after leading the last 39 laps,[5] making him the first driver to win both Talladega races (EA Sports 500 and the Aaron's 499) since his father accomplished the feat in 1999.[2] Though Talladega has been known for featuring crashes known as "The Big One",[6] no cautions occurred during the race. It would be the last incident-free race in NASCAR's premiership until the 2012 Auto Club 400, which raced 125 laps of 200 before the caution took place for rain that ended the race on Lap 129, and the 2019 Pennzoil 400, which only was stopped twice for end-of-segment breaks.[2]



* Driver failed to finish race

Standings after the race[edit]

Pos Driver Points[5] Differential
1 Tony Stewart 3958 0
2 Mark Martin 3901 -72
3 Jimmie Johnson 3886 -82
4 Ryan Newman 3821 -137
5 Rusty Wallace 3811 -172
6 Matt Kenseth 3757 -201
6 Jeff Gordon 3757 -396
8 Bill Elliott 3729 -229
9 Ricky Rudd 3712 -246
10 Sterling Marlin 3703 -255


  1. ^ "2002 EA Sports 500 weather information". The Old Farmers' Almanac. Retrieved 2013-05-22.
  2. ^ a b c d e f "EA Sports 500". Jayski's Silly Season Site. Archived from the original on 2013-10-02. Retrieved 2013-04-03.
  3. ^ Korth, Joanne (2002-10-06). "Drivers, chiefs like the small gas tanks as attempt at safety". St. Petersburg Times. Retrieved 2013-06-22.
  4. ^ "40 years of Talladega -- Birmingham News special report". The Birmingham News. 2008-10-02. Retrieved 2013-04-03.
  5. ^ a b c "2002 EA Sports 500". Racing-Reference. Archived from the original on 2013-11-04. Retrieved 2013-04-03.
  6. ^ Caraviello, David (2012-10-08). "Caraviello: Talladega's Big One is just around the corner". NASCAR. Retrieved 2013-04-03.
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2002 Protection One 400
Winston Cup Series
2002 season
Next race:
2002 UAW-GM Quality 500