2002 Daytona 500
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.
|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, and Wally Dallenbach Jr.|
(18.8 million viewers)
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.
Qualifying and Gatorade 125'sEdit
Jimmie Johnson qualified on the pole with a speed of 185.831 miles per hour (299.066 km/h). Two-time race winner Jeff Gordon and defending Daytona 500 champion Michael Waltrip both won each of the Gatorade 125's.
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 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. 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.