Talladega spring race

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The GEICO 500 (originally the Alabama 500, later the Winston 500, Winston Select 500, DieHard 500, Talladega 500 and Aaron's 499) is a NASCAR Sprint Cup stock car race held each spring at the Talladega Superspeedway in Talladega.

The race has always been held in early May or late April. The GEICO 500 is also one of four races currently run with restrictor plates, the others being the Good Sam Club 500, the Coke 400, and the Daytona 500. The 1997 event, won by Mark Martin, was the fastest NASCAR race to date ever run, at an average speed of 188.354 mph (303.126 km/h), helped by an absence of caution flags during the race.

The race, from 1970 until the demise of the Grand Slam as a result of the Ferko lawsuit, was known as the second leg of the sport's Grand Slam. It was also previously part of the Winston Million.

From 2002 to 2014 the "Aaron's 499" name was designed to mimic the lease-to-own chain's tendencies to offer rentals "For $99" per month. Despite the name, the race remained slightly over 500 miles in length.

Past winners

Photo from the 2010 Aaron's 499

GEICO 500

  • 2020: Ryan Blaney
  • 2019: Chase Elliott
  • 2018: Joey Logano
  • 2017: Ricky Stenhouse Jr
  • 2016: Brad Keselowski, Ford (3)
  • 2015: Dale Earnhardt Jr, #3 Chevrolet (3)

Aaron's 499

  • 2014 Denny Hamlin, #11 Toyota
  • 2013 Davad Ragan, Ford
  • 2012 Brad Keselowski, Dodge (2)
  • 2011 Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet (2)
  • 2010 Kevin Harvick, Chevrolet
  • 2009 Brad Keselowski, Chevrolet
  • 2008 Kyle Busch, Toyota
  • 2007 Jeff Gordon, Chevrolet (4) (192 laps / 510.72 miles due to green-white-checker finish)
  • 2006 Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet (race postponed from Sunday to Monday due to rain)
  • 2005 Jeff Gordon, Chevrolet (3) (194 laps / 516.04 miles due to green-white-checker finish)
  • 2004 Jeff Gordon, Chevrolet (2)
  • 2003 Dale Earnhardt Jr, Chevrolet (2)
  • 2002 Dale Earnhardt Jr, Chevrolet

Talladega 500

  • 2001 Bobby Hamilton, Chevrolet

DieHard 500

  • 2000 Jeff Gordon, Chevrolet
  • 1999 Dale Earnhardt, Chevrolet (3)
  • 1998 Bobby Labonte, Pontiac

Winston 500

  • 1997 Mark Martin, Ford (2) (race postponed two weeks due to rain)

Winston Select 500

  • 1996 Sterling Marlin, Chevrolet
  • 1995 Mark Martin, Ford
  • 1994 Dale Earnhardt, Chevrolet (2)

Winston 500

  • 1993 Ernie Irvan, Chevrolet
  • 1992 Davey Allison, Ford (3)
  • 1991 Harry Gant, Oldsmobile (race postponed from Sunday to Monday due to rain)
  • 1990 Dale Earnhardt, Chevrolet
  • 1989 Davey Allison, Ford (2)
  • 1988 Phil Parsons, Oldsmobile
  • 1987 Davey Allison, Ford (178 laps / 473.48 miles, darkness- caused by long delay caused by repairs to damaged catchfencing in a Lap 22 crash)
  • 1986 Bobby Allison, Buick (3)
  • 1985 Bill Elliott, Ford
  • 1984 Cale Yarborough, Chevrolet
  • 1983 Richard Petty, Pontiac
  • 1982 Darrell Waltrip, Buick (2)
  • 1981 Bobby Allison, Buick (2)
  • 1980 Buddy Baker, Oldsmobile (3)
  • 1979 Bobby Allison, Ford
  • 1978 Cale Yarborough, Oldsmobile
  • 1977 Darrell Waltrip, Chevrolet
  • 1976 Buddy Baker, Ford (2)
  • 1975 Buddy Baker, Ford
  • 1974 David Pearson, Mercury (3) (170 laps / 452.2 miles due to energy crisis)
  • 1973 David Pearson, Mercury (2)
  • 1972 David Pearson, Mercury
  • 1971 Donnie Allison, Mercury

Alabama 500

  • 1970 Pete Hamilton, Plymouth

Notable races

  • In the 1987 race, the catchfencing was severely damaged when a wreck by Bobby Allison caused his car to go airborne and shear it off. Probably as a direct result, the carburetor restrictor plate was mandated for this, the fall race, and the two Daytona races beginning the following year.
  • Brad Keselowski's 2009 first career victory saw him clip Carl Edwards' rear quarter panel on the final lap going into the tri-oval, sending Edwards' car airborne into the catchfence. 8 fans suffered mostly minor injuries. Edwards' exited his totaled car and ran the final distance to the finish line in an homage to the Will Ferrell film Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby.
  • In the 2003 race (which was marred by a crash on lap 4 that damaged 27 cars, including Earnhardt), Dale Earnhardt, Jr. won his fourth consecutive race at the track, but not without controversy. After the 2001 spring race (thanks in part to protestations from Jimmy Spencer over Mike McLaughlin's blocking in the Busch race en route to a win), NASCAR ruled that the yellow line on the bottom of the track at both Talladega and Daytona were to serve as an out of bounds line (with any car that drops below to gain a position to be immediately black flagged unless they gave the position back or were forced below it). Earnhardt Jr. stormed well below the line entering the apron of turn three as he passed leader Matt Kenseth to avoid contact with Kenseth's car and get the win. NASCAR ruled that Earnhardt was forced below the line as the nose of his car had already passed the nose of Kenseth's car, making it a clean pass.
  • Jeff Gordon's 2004 win was marked by a spinout by Brian Vickers with 4⅓ laps to go. NASCAR's rule at that time was that if a race went past five to go and had a caution, they would not throw out the red flag and stop the cars to ensure a green flag finish. Dale Earnhardt, Jr had just raced past Gordon for the lead, but at the previous scoring loop, Gordon was still ahead. The race finished under yellow and while Gordon did his victory burnout, enraged fans littered the track with garbage to protest the finish (it was believed that Vickers' crash and the subsequent cleanup would not have taken very long to clean up). This reaction, following a similar fan bombardment of the track at Daytona International Speedway after the 2002 Pepsi 400 ended under yellow, would result in the green-white-checkered rule being instituted in the Nextel Cup and Busch Series less than two months later.
  • Following Dale Earnhardt Jr's 2003 win, Hendrick Motorsports won four straight - three by Jeff Gordon and one by Jimmie Johnson.
  • The race has exceeded 40 official lead changes 14 times, including a motorsports record 75 lead changes in 1984.
  • The 1975 running featured the first win for Buddy Baker since 1973 and the first Winston Cup Grand National win for team owner Bud Moore since 1971. Tragedy struck on Lap 149 when race leader Richard Petty pitted with a burning wheel bearing; his brother-in-law Randy Owens was killed when he fitted a hose to a pressurized water tank and the tank exploded.
  • The 2020 GEICO 500 was postponed to June and run with only 5,000 fans in attendance due to the 2020 Coronavirus pandemic. The race was the first NASCAR event held after the sport banned the display of Confederate battle flags during events, a response to the 2020 George Floyd protests. During the race the Sons of Confederate Veterans sponsored an aerial banner with a battle flag. Also, prior to the race a noose was found tied at the end of a door pull in a garage assigned to Black driver Bubba Wallace. It was later determined that the noose had been there for months before garages were assigned and thus no hate crime had occurred.

References

  • Aaron's 499. (April 27, 2008). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved April 28, 2008.