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Virginia 500
Martinsville Speedway
April 14, 2002



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2002 Points
After
Texas

Pos

Driver

Pts

1

Sterling Marlin

1082 

2

Matt Kenseth

1012 

3

Jimmie Johnson*

963 

4

Rusty Wallace

950 

5

Mark Martin

938 

6

Jeff Gordon

909 

7

Kurt Busch

893 

8

Tony Stewart

887 

9

Ricky Rudd

847 

10

Bill Elliott

837 

11

Dale Earnhardt Jr.

833 

12

Ryan Newman*

826 

13

Ricky Craven

787 

14

Jeff Burton

786 

15

Ward Burton

762 

16

Elliott Sadler

757 

17

Bobby Labonte

738 

18

Jeremy Mayfield

736 

19

Terry Labonte

731 

20

Dave Blaney

714 

21

Jimmy Spencer

696 

22

Kevin Harvick

692 

23

Jerry Nadeau

681 

24

Dale Jarrett

653 

25

Kyle Petty

641 

26

Mike Skinner

618 

27

Michael Waltrip

613 

28

Jeff Green

612 

29

Johnny Benson

611 

30

Bobby Hamilton

588 

31

Robby Gordon

580 

32

John Andretti

540 

33

Ken Schrader

540 

34

Buckshot Jones

495 

35

Stacy Compton

469 

36

Casey Atwood

463 

37

Brett Bodine

448 

38

Joe Nemechek

447 

39

Hut Stricklin

424 

40

Rick Mast

399 

41

Kenny Wallace

386 

42

Shawna Robinson*

281 

43

Steve Park

245 

44

Todd Bodine

218 

45

Geoffrey Bodine

165 

46

Mike Wallace

149 

47

Robert Pressley

97 

48

Dick Trickle

74 

49

Hermie Sadler

67 

50

Frank Kimmel

64 

51

Jay Sauter

52 

52

Dave Marcis

37 

53

Andy Hillenburg

34

 


 
 

 

Latest News and Commentary

Earnhardt Jr. dominates Talladega
by Adam Sewell
April 21, 2002

What's one of the best things to have in a restrictor plate race? A reliable teammate. It came as no surprise that Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and Michael Waltrip worked together on the track today. I doubt anyone would have predicted that they would have had the field covered as well as they did.

Earnhardt's victory today marked Chevrolet's 7th victory in a row at Talladega. The combination of the #8 and #15 seemed to be untouchable. There were a few occasions when other cars got by the pair, but it was only a few laps before the DEI bullets shot by whoever got in their way.

Certainly, the sentimental favorites today had to be the Roush Racing bunch. All four cars today seemed to be hitting the mark. Matt Kenseth and Mark Martin led the race on various occasions, and at one point, the four car team was leading the pack 1st, 2nd, 4th and 5th, with Ryan Newman stuck in the middle of the Roush express in 3rd.

When you think of Talladega, you think of three things, speed, competition, and The Big One. Today was no different. On Lap 163, coming out of turn 2, the exact same spot as the Busch wreck Saturday, Mike Wallace and Tony Stewart got together and then it was on. Seventeen cars were involved. A far cry from the 27 cars involved in the Saturday crash, thankfully. Among the cars collected were Kenseth and Martin.

A late race caution, and eventually the red flag, came out with just a handful of laps to go. The race was red flagged to clean up oil from Stewart's Pontiac. The race went back to green with just 4 laps remaining.

There were a few attempts to pass the DEI pair for the lead, but they failed for the most part as Earnhardt and Waltrip cruised to another 1-2 finish. Rounding out the top 5 at the line were Kurt Busch, Jeff Gordon, and Kenny Wallace. But upon viewing the replay, NASCAR determined that Wallace went below the yellow line in the tri-oval to get by Sterling Marlin, so they dropped him down to the last car on the lead lap, 21st. That moved everyone else on the lead lap one spot higher, and Marlin into the top 5.

RESULTS

Fin

St

Car

Driver

Make

Pts/Bonus

Laps

Status

1

4

#8

Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Chevrolet

185/10

188

Running

2

3

#15

Michael Waltrip

Chevrolet

175/5

188

Running

3

18

#97

Kurt Busch

Ford

165/0

188

Running

4

10

#24

Jeff Gordon

Chevrolet

160/0

188

Running

5*

25

#198

Kenny Wallace*

Chevrolet

155/0

188

Running

6

31

#40

Sterling Marlin

Dodge

155/5

188

Running

7

39

#88

Dale Jarrett

Ford

151/5

188

Running

8

1

#48

Jimmie Johnson *

Chevrolet

147/5

188

Running

9

11

#2

Rusty Wallace

Ford

138/0

188

Running

10

23

#99

Jeff Burton

Ford

139/5

188

Running

11

12

#45

Kyle Petty

Dodge

130/0

188

Running

12

20

#23

Hut Stricklin

Dodge

127/0

188

Running

13

21

#09

Geoffrey Bodine

Ford

124/0

188

Running

14

22

#11

Brett Bodine

Ford

121/0

188

Running

15

36

#28

Ricky Rudd

Ford

118/0

188

Running

16

5

#22

Ward Burton

Dodge

115/0

188

Running

17

28

#30

Jeff Green

Chevrolet

112/0

188

Running

18

30

#41

Jimmy Spencer

Dodge

109/0

188

Running

19

33

#32

Ricky Craven

Ford

106/0

188

Running

20

37

#9

Bill Elliott

Dodge

103/0

188

Running

21

9

#5

Terry Labonte

Chevrolet

100/0

188

Running

22

43

#55

Bobby Hamilton

Chevrolet

97/0

187

Running

23

42

#4

Mike Skinner

Chevrolet

94/0

187

Running

24

34

#36

Ken Schrader

Pontiac

91/0

186

Running

25

32

#44

Steve Grissom

Dodge

88/0

186

Running

26

16

#7

Casey Atwood

Dodge

85/0

186

Running

27

6

#14

Stacy Compton

Pontiac

82/0

184

Running

28

14

#29

Kevin Harvick

Chevrolet

79/0

181

Running

29

24

#20

Tony Stewart

Pontiac

76/0

180

Out of Race

30

35

#17

Matt Kenseth

Ford

78/5

180

Running

31

19

#77

Dave Blaney

Ford

70/0

180

Running

32

13

#25

Jerry Nadeau

Chevrolet

67/0

179

Running

33

2

#31

Robby Gordon

Chevrolet

64/0

176

Running

34

41

#1

Steve Park

Chevrolet

61/0

174

Running

35

27

#26

Frank Kimmel

Ford

58/0

172

Running

36

29

#19

Jeremy Mayfield

Dodge

60/5

167

Running

37

17

#6

Mark Martin

Ford

57/5

166

Out of Race

38

26

#43

John Andretti

Dodge

49/0

164

Out of Race

39

7

#10

Johnny Benson

Pontiac

46/0

164

Out of Race

40

38

#21

Elliott Sadler

Ford

43/0

163

Out of Race

41

15

#18

Bobby Labonte

Pontiac

40/0

163

Out of Race

42

40

#33

Mike Wallace

Chevrolet

37/0

162

Out of Race

43

8

#12

Ryan Newman *

Ford

39/5

141

Out of Race

*Kenny Wallace was penalized for going below the yellow line on the last lap and moves to 21st.

FRANK KIMMELL-26-Advance Auto Parts Taurus-"Broke a right-front shock. They kind of put me three-wide there pretty early and moved me to the back, which I kind of expected. Kind of riding back there with Jimmy Spencer and those guys and just biding our time, and drove off in the turn and the thing started bouncing across the race track, and I knew I broke a shock."

RYAN NEWMAN-12-ALLTEL Taurus-"Something happened in the motor. We just dropped a cylinder and then another one, and that's when it started smoking a little bit, so I brought it into the pits."

ELLIOTT SADLER-21-Motorcraft Taurus-"I didn't really see anything, I just looked in rear-view mirror and I saw the 33 sideways, I don't know what happened. And then all of a sudden, somebody clipped me in my left-rear and sent me head-on to the wall. It's about the hardest his I've ever taken, so I commend NASCAR again on the safety of these race cars, what they make these teams go through. My HANS device did great. I'm just going to have a little headache in the morning. Just tough. The Motorcraft Ford Taurus was running good. I had a lot of fun out there." MORE ON THE WRECK. "I just don't know what happened. All I know is somebody got in my left-rear and turned me head-on to the wall." TAKE YOUR BREATH AWAY? "It took my breath away. That's probably the hardest hit I ever had." ARE YOU OKAY? "Yeah, I'm okay." THE DRIVERS WERE PATIENT FOR A WHILE. "Like I said before, I did not see the wreck, I don't know what happened. Again, that's the last pit stop. Everybody wants to be up front. We were running pretty close up there, but that's what the fans want to see, so they got to see it today."

KURT BUSCH-97-Rubbermaid Taurus-"It was just an awesome run. This is so much like a college course. You go out there and you go attempt to take the test, and I didn't fare very well in college. Luckily, I got an opportunity to race race cars for a living, and that's what this was, it was a big mind test today, to understand what to do when, and this was just a pure education that I have received from these guys. We were best in class today. I believe that the Fords really balance with the Chevys. It seemed like the 12 could run real strong. He had engine problems at the end. But there's no stopping the DEI cars. They're strong, we're missing something, so we have to go and find it." BUT YOU WERE STRONG, TOO, ALL DAY. "We were a good Ford. We could do things. We just weren't able to break the draft and lead." ON HIS THIRD-PLACE FINISH. "It was an awesome run for us. This is like a college course right here. You go out and try and learn from all these guys, try to make the right answers and the right decisions on when to draft, when to rub who, when to go with what lane, and I believe that I've learned from the best. These guys are good, you just got to be smarter, and that's the only thing that you can do. These cars are so equal. I believe the cars were balanced with the Chevys, the Pontiacs and the Dodges, but there's no stopping those DEI cars. They were strong. Congratulations to Junior and Waltrip. I tried to get rid of Waltrip, because I knew he was an alias for the 8 car and it was such a tough row to hoe. But a third-place effort, it's awesome, we matched what we did here last year. This Rubbermaid team is for real. We're doing it."

RICKY RUDD-28-Havoline Taurus-"It was a typical restrictor-plate race for us. We couldn't get any track position at the end of the race. We're happy that the car is in one piece. We had a really good car at Daytona, but lost it in the wreck down there. Now we got something here that we can take back to the shop and work on. We drove right through the big wreck. I was down on the grass and hurt the valence, but nothing too serious there. I think I got hit just a little in the back, but that was it."

DALE JARRETT-88-UPS Taurus-"Our car was good when we had another car shoved up behind us. Otherwise, it was like someone threw a parachute when we were out in front with clean air. But we were able to get a good finish out of it and we're happy about that."

GEOFFREY BODINE-09-Miccosukee Indian Gaming Reserve Taurus-"Well, we missed the wreck again. We were looking like we were going to have another good finish like Daytona, but the caution re-start, then we got ganged-up and just couldn't get in the right place. Nobody wanted to help me. Of course, everyone's working for themselves at that point. We're still happy with it. The car's in one piece, we'll take it back to Daytona and try again down there. I'm just glad we missed the wreck. I hope nobody got hurt, I haven't heard. It always happens, doesn't it?"

JEFF BURTON-99-Citgo Taurus-"I don't know why anybody should be surprised, we couldn't run at Daytona with them, and they gave us more spoiler coming here. I mean there is no way we can run with them. It's common sense. We couldn't run with them at Daytona, they took the spoilers off so we could run with them, then they give the spoiler back and they want us to run with them. Chevrolet never comes on the short end of the stick. They never have. I don't know why. They never have. And you couldn't win. There wasn't a Ford in the field that could win. No way."

KURT BUSCH Press Conference

"We're ecstatic about it, and we've got heavy hearts in the back of our minds, trying to continue forward. Jack's just an incredible individual. He's given me so much in my career, the least I could do would be go out and win a race for him. So, we're going to continue to press forward. Things were great today. It just seemed to flow together. We learned some things in the draft, obviously, from 2000, 2001, and it's just been a matter of time, working with these guys, developing the repoire and working towards the front. I knew we had a great car. The Fords seemed to be balanced with the Chevys, the Pontiacs and the Dodges. They just weren't balanced with the DEI cars. They're strong. We've got to figure out what they're doing. I tried to get rid of Michael Waltrip about 30 laps to go, maybe it was 60, 70 laps to go and Dale Jr. ran the top line, everybody gathered it back up. It's just a hard race. You're just trying to take away aliases out there, and that's teammates, and we even struggled with our teammate at the end of the race, he just didn't seem to want to go with me to help out, and so I tried to put things that I've learned together and move forward and we ended up with a third-place finish."

WAS IT ALMOST IMPOSSIBLE TO GET UP TO THE 8 CAR TO CHALLENGE HIM? "It wasn't impossible, it was great part on DEI workmanship to get those cars up front and for this cat here, Michael Waltrip, to stick behind him and have the 98 up there messing around with them. It was something that could be dealt with. I ended up roughing up Michael a little bit. I apologized for that, but I'm trying to isolate one of the DEI cars out of there so that Junior could be worked upon. And it was just a struggle to do that. Those guys are strong, they've got it figured out, and like I said, there was a balance between all the four cars."

YOU GOT TOGETHER WITH DALE JARRETT NEAR THE VERY END. HOW MUCH DID THAT HURT YOUR CHANCES? "It's tough for me to recall that event right now. With six to go or four to go when the green dropped, I knew what my objective was, I understood what I had to do, I didn't look at any particular car, except for the red one and the blue one up front, whether is was a white one or a yellow one next to me, I don't know. And what I was trying to do was stay attached to those two Chevys. I don't remember us getting together. It didn't seem to slow either one of us down. He still finished top-10, he may not've. I don't think he'll be upset with what happened. I don't really recall that event. It really wasn't anything that led to the final outcome, I don't believe."

WHERE WERE YOU WHEN THE WRECK HAPPENED? "I was ahead of it. I saw the 29 and 31 together the lap before. I really don't know what happened. My car, I was positioned on the inside lane, which might not end up being that good when the cars swerve off the wall and come down low. For us, we were lucky to get through unscathed."

ON THE FORDS WORKING TOGETHER. "It was awesome. I saw the 12, the 6, the 99, the 77, we just all lined up and went, and I'm like, 'Wow, this is odd. I've never seen this before. By 12 laps later it was done with, but I did see the same thing that you saw, and that was with us Fords working together. It seemed like once we all just decided that, hey, 'If I push this Ford, I'm going to help my own Ford and that Ford behind me is going to go.' And it worked. It worked for a good segment."
 

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