Penske Teammates Rusty Wallace and Ryan Newman race side
by side during the Daytona 500. Rookie Newman finished 7th
with Wallace ending up in the 18th position
In one of the most
dramatic and bizarre Daytona 500 in recent years, Ward Burton
outlasts Elliot Sadler in a 3-lap shootout to win the 44th
running of the Great American Race. Rounding out the top 5
were Geoffrey Bodine, Kurt Busch, and defending race
championship Michael Waltrip. This race was full of drama,
hysteria, and many twist and turns.
"I didn't know if we was going to
win it or not, but I know we were going to have one hell of a
chance at it" Ward Burton said in victory lane. This is his
first Daytona 500 victory. Second place finisher, Elliot
Sadler, was a little more relaxed with his second place
finish, "To struggle all week like what we have, and to come
in here and finish second, it's unbelievable". Another
surprise was the 3rd place finish of veteran driver, Geoffrey
Bodine, who almost lost his life at the same track just 2
years ago. He is running a limited 6-race deal with James
Finch. "I think a lot of people had written me off, but they
shouldn't have done that, because I'm back". Bodine said with
a smile after the race.
This race was drama from start to
finish. Tony Stewart, one of the favorites to win this race
and one of the most dominant all of speedweeks, lost his
engine in just the second lap. "Whatever happened was a freak
deal," Tony Stewart said after getting up to as high as 4th
place but bringing it to the garage when said "We're done,
It's junk" speaking about the motor that just died on him.
Then there was Dale Earnhardt Jr.
another favorite to win the 500 had a right front tire go out
on him on lap 22. He managed to keep it off the wall but
sustained serious damage to the body of the car. That did not
dampen his spirits though, he came in got it fixed and still
was on the lead lap contending for a while with a beat up car
lots of tape and a new nose.
From the time of Dale Jr.'s mishap till about lap 146, there
was not a lot of action to speak of. Ford and Dodges got what
they wanted as this race was pretty much and even playing
field with all the manufactures getting a chance to share the
Then on lap 148 came THE BIG ONE. Kevin Harvick in the #29 GM
Goodwrench car went down to block the #24 Dupont car of Jeff
Gordon. When he did, Gordon got a piece of his left rear
fender and that sent Harvick spinning. Since they were
fighting for the 2nd place position, there were at least 25
cars behind him and when he started spinning, he was hit 2 or
3 times by different cars that were in the mix. All in all the
wreck ate up 17 cars in all, including Ricky Rudd, Todd
Bodine, Kenny Wallace, Jeremy Mayfield, Bobby Labonte just to
name a few.
Matt Kenseth, Ricky Craven and Kurt Busch race through
turn 4 during the Daytona 500. Kenseth crashed out and
finished 33rd while Craven finished 17th and Busch an
After that it turned into a Ford
and Dodge show with a few Chevy's and Pontiac's. On lap 161,
sophomore driver from Roush racing, Kurt Busch took fellow
Fords Elliot Sadler and Rusty Wallace with him to overtake
Marlin for the lead.
With 23 laps to
go, Jeff Gordon takes the lead and keeps it all the way till 9
laps to go, and that's when it gets crazy. On lap 191, Robby
Gordon, hits the wall and we have a single file restart with 5
laps to go. On the restart, Mark Martin spins around Waltrip
and Marlin, going under the yellow line, spun out Jeff Gordon.
At the time of the yellow, NASCAR Called the red flag to make
sure that the race ended under the green flag. At that time
NASCAR was trying to make a decision weather or not they were
going to give the black flag to Marlin for advancing his
position under the yellow line. While that was happening, and
while the cars were stopped and shut down, Sterling Marlin
jumps out of his car and starts to check out his right front
fender that he made contact with Gordon just a lap before.
While looking at it, he starts to pull it out from rubbing the
tire, which is a NASCAR no-no. Subsequently, he ended up
having to go to the tail end of the lead lap.
In my personal point of view, he should have been black
flagged for going under the yellow line, but that was not to
With just 3 laps to go, Ward Burton restarted the race in the
lead and was not really threatened with the other top 5 that
could not get together to make a formidable run on him, thus
Ward Burton wins his first Daytona 500.
It was a race filled with drama and excitement, and if this is
just a prelude to this 2002 season, it's going to be a great
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